Mora Wants More "Dirtbags"

Seahawks head coach Jim Mora on Wednesday said that his team lacks tough players, stating that Seattle needs more "dirtbags" -- players a little rough around the edges.

"If you're going to be a good offensive lineman, I think you've got to be -- can I say it? - you've got to be a little bit of a dirtbag," Mora said. "Not as a person, but on the football field. In the pit, where all that stuff goes down, if you don't have some freakin' toughness, you're going to fail."

Mora later qualified his dirtbag comment, reiterating that it only pertains to play on the field. "I don't mean a guy that goes out and drinks and drives and speeds, or is bad to women or treats people poorly -- you understand what I'm saying?" he said. "I'm talking about within the confines of those six seconds between the snap and the whistle, is a dirtbag."

Mora's comments about the offensive line's toughness followed the announcement of changes he's made to that group this week. Mora said on Wednesday that rookie Max Unger is switching positions from right guard to center, and center Chris Spencer will move over to right guard, where he will split time with second-year player Mike Gibson. Mora is making the moves because Spencer has struggled snapping with his left hand after injuring his right thumb. The Seahawks had three botched center exchanges against Houston last week.

Unger played center at the University of Oregon for two seasons before Seattle drafted him in the second round this year, and considers center his best position. Unger said that everyone on the line would have liked to stay at their positions, but because of the issues Spencer had snapping with his left hand, the coaching staff felt it necessary to make the change.

"It's not optimal for really anybody on the line," Unger said about the position change. "We'd like to stay at our spots that we started at for most of the season."

Unger said the line calls will be the toughest adjustment in making the move from guard to center, although Greg Knapp said part of that responsibility will be shared by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Knapp said one of the primary reasons for making the switch was to improve the beginning of the offensive play, which is the center-quarterback exchange, and that Spencer was struggling to consistently do that with his left hand.

"It's a good opportunity for Max to play center for us," Knapp said. "I went back and reviewed for the thought of making this transition what Max did in preseason. ... He played quite a bit of snaps and did a fine job, so that was encouraging to review. And this is the reason why he came, was to help compete at the center position for us."

However, Unger did not get any live snaps with Hasselbeck during the three preseason games that he played in, so he will have to quickly develop a rapport with Seattle's starting quarterback.

SERIES HISTORY: 10th meeting. Seahawks leads the series, 7-2. The Seahawks lost to the Bucs in Tampa last year, 20-10, snapping a three-game series winning streak.


--Seattle head coach Jim Mora said after watching film of his team's 34-7 loss to Houston on Sunday that he still believes his team played hard, and that the Seahawks' struggles had more to do with a lack of execution. "The way I judge effort on the field on Sunday is, is a guy giving all he's got on every play?" Mora said. "Is he playing with energy and hustle from snap to whistle? I don't see that as being a problem with our football team.

"Now, consistency of execution -- absolutely an issue with our football team right now."

--Mora said he expects improvement from offensive tackle Sean Locklear and believes he can perform better. Locklear is likely competing for time with backup Damion McIntosh, who played solid when Locklear was out with a high-ankle sprain. "I want to see him take a right end and keep him away from our quarterback for the entire game," Mora said. "That's what I want to see. I want to see him when we run the football, knock someone on his ass. When we run the football away, I want to see him cut someone down. That's what I want to see. I want to see some nastiness."

Locklear understands that he and the rest of his teammates on the offensive line have been put on notice. "He's upset," Locklear said about Mora. "He's angry, and rightfully so. We went down there and from the opening snap we got embarrassed. And he told us. We all knew it. We don't need to be told that. We were on the field playing. So he's upset. He's been upset. Even now he's still got a chip on his shoulder. So we all got to take it to heart, and get ready for Sunday."

--Mora also addressed the league-wide perception that the Seahawks are a soft team. It's something that developed and took hold during Mike Holmgren's tenure in Seattle because of the team's pass-first, offensive-oriented philosophy, which is much different than a team like Baltimore, which has been known as a defensive, ground-oriented team exemplified by linebacker Ray Lewis.

"I don't think any one of us would venture to say, or would be brave enough to say that Mike Holmgren wasn't about toughness, because he is, he was and he will be for always," Mora said. "So you have to be very careful when you sit in my shoes and say, 'Well, they weren't tough.'

"I know this though: there are teams out there that say, 'If you walk into Seattle and punch them in the face, they won't react.' I know that's what I always said. I know that's what Mike Singletary said on Saturday night before we played them two weeks ago. I don't think that's true, and we're going to work hard to make sure that it isn't true.

BY THE NUMBERS: 329 -- The number of passing yards Matt Hasselbeck needs in the last three games to move past Dave Krieg for the top spot on the franchise's all-time list. Krieg passed for 26,132 yards from 1980-91. Hasselbeck has 25,804 since joining the Seahawks in 2001.

8 -- The number of interceptions Tampa Bay rookie quarterback Josh Freeman has thrown in the last two games.

19 -- The average number of points the Seahawks have lost by this season on the road.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "All I know is I'm going to have an opportunity to play and I plan on taking full advantage of it and hopefully give them a chance not to take me out of the game. That's the plan." -- Seahawks second-year offensive guard Mike Gibson on getting an opportunity to play for the first time this year against Tampa Bay.

The Seahawks did not make any personnel moves this week. However, they did shuffle the offensive line around this week after head coach Jim Mora made some critical remarks about that group's play after a 34-7 loss to Houston. Right guard Max Unger has been moved to center, and center Chris Spencer has been moved to guard, where he will share time with Mike Gibson.


--LB Aaron Curry (hip) was limited in practice on Wednesday but could be available for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay.

--WR Nate Burleson (ankle) will not play this week and could be out for the last three games of the season.

--LB D.D. Lewis (knee) did not play last week at Houston but was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.

--QB Matt Hasselbeck, who's been struggling with a sore shoulder for the last few weeks, did not show up on the injury report and was a full participant at practice on Wednesday.

GAME PLAN: Tampa Bay rookie quarterback Josh Freeman has thrown seven touchdowns and 13 interceptions in six starts so far this season, so expect Seattle to try and pressure the Kansas State product into some mistakes. Offensively, Seattle will attempt to run the ball and control the clock against the Bucs' defense, ranked 31st in the league and giving up an average of 161 yards a contest.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman, who has thrown eight interceptions in the last two games, vs. Seahawks DE Patrick Kerney. The rookie quarterback has struggled of late, but so has Seattle's top pass rusher. Kerney leads Seattle with only five sacks on the year, with his last sack coming three weeks ago.

Buccaneers TE Kellen Winslow vs. Seahawks SS Deon Grant. Winslow has a franchise-record 65 receptions for a tight end, along with five touchdowns. The Seahawks have played against some of the best tight ends in the game in Dallas Clark of Indianapolis (eight catches for 80 yards against Seattle), the Cowboys' Jason Witten (four for 36) and the 49ers' Vernon Davis (two for 32 and six for 111).

INJURY IMPACT: WR Nate Burleson has a high-ankle sprain and could miss the last three weeks of the season. LB Aaron Curry has a hip pointer, but could be available on Sunday. Top Stories