Thursday, March 31, 2022

Wednesday Round-Up: Austin Blythe's "Historic Wrestling Background"


In high school, Austin Blythe set Iowa state records and was recruited to wrestle at a NCAA Division 1 level, experience he says created more than just physical advantages.

Mar 30, 2022 at 03:16 PM

Graham Kinsinger Contributor

Good morning, 12s. Here's a look at what's out there today — Wednesday, March 30 — about your Seattle Seahawks.


Austin Blythe's "Historic Wrestling Background"


A good pancake block by an offensive lineman is similar in many ways to pinning an opponent on the wrestling mat, and center Austin Blythe knows both feelings well.


"He's a different makeup with his historic wrestling background being from Iowa and all shows up. He's got a knack about it and how he moves and all that," head coach Pete Carroll said earlier this week at the NFL Annual Meeting.


When Carroll uses the word historic, he's not exaggerating. As a high school wrestler in Williamsburg, Iowa, Blythe dominated opponents on his way to three consecutive heavyweight state championships. His career record of 188-11 included 146 wins by fall, which was a state record at the time and is still the fifth most in Iowa state history more than a decade later.


"A lot of the skills that make a successful wrestler are what make a successful offensive lineman," Blythe said in his first press conference as a member of the Seahawks. In addition to physical similarities like hand placement, he notes that his "instincts are good and that comes from wrestling."

It didn't take long for the University of Iowa, just 30 minutes from his hometown, to notice both the physicality and the intangibles.


"The theory I developed," said Iowa football’s head coach Kirk Ferentz, "was that if a guy was a great wrestler, it didn't mean he was going to be a great football player, but rarely was he a bad football player. It's not a dealbreaker necessarily if a guy isn't a wrestler, but boy, I tell you, it's certainly a bonus."


So when it came to the standout athlete from Williamsburg? Blythe says he "received a written offer the day it was legal for the University to send me one." Just as Iowa was early to offer, he was early to commit, making the decision as a junior to play college football.


"I might be able to be good or decent in both," he said during his senior year, "but I don't think I could be great in one if I did both.


"I chose football because I love everything that goes along with football. I love the preparation and everyone working toward a common goal. I'm not saying they don't do that in wrestling, but just working within the team. I love that part about football."


He went on to excel as a member of Iowa's offensive line. A four-year starter, he was named a team captain, earned an All-American third-team selection by Associated Press, and won the program's internal Iron Hawk Award, which he says "goes to the guy who shows up day in and day out and just lifts hard."


Now he'll pair the spirit of that Iron Hawk accolade with Carroll's "always compete" mantra in hopes of earning a starting spot and making a difference on the offensive line.


Click here to read Corbin Smith's detailed piece on Blythe's readiness to compete.


Monday, March 28, 2022

Tom Brady’s easy Super Bowl path, NFL execs share top free-agent deals


by Matt Lombardo (March 24, 2022)

The 10 best free-agent signings made so far

The NFL sought to by moving the Super Bowl back one week truncate the offseason to create 24/7 buzz and fill the news cycle to the brim in its constant march to becoming a 12-month per year American centerpiece.

If the first two weeks of free agency are any indication, mission accomplished.

Four blockbuster quarterback trades have already gone down, two of the premier players at the position are returning to their Super Bowl-caliber teams, dozens of Pro Bowlers and All-Pro players have changed zip codes. And we haven’t even reached the NFL Draft.

These are the 10 free agent signings that — at least in my opinion — have the potential to make the most impact, with insight from coaches, scouts, and executives from across the NFL:

Brandon Scherff, OG, Jacksonville Jaguars

For the Jaguars, this offseason was all about making amends with franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence for his tumultuous rookie season, especially all the drama surrounding former head coach Urban Meyer.

Jacksonville came out swinging, not only signing wide receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones to mega-deals to bolster Lawrence’s supporting cast, but also added one of the top offensive guards in the league, All-Pro Brandon Scherff, to keep last year’s No. 1 overall pick upright.

“Scherff is one of the top two or three offensive guards in the game,” an AFC coach tells FanSided. “He’s physical. He’s smart. He’s the best puller and out in space guard that there is in today’s NFL.”


3 things to know about new Jags OG Brandon Scherff


Zachary Huber 


The Jacksonville Jaguars gave second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence one of the best right guards in the NFL in former Washington Commander Brandon Scherff to help ensure he won’t be sacked 32 times next season. Scherff signed a three-year contract worth $52.5 million with $30 million fully guaranteed to play with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the next few seasons.

Jacksonville’s 32 sacks allowed from 2021 still sits ninth-best in the NFL from last season, but the eye test said Lawrence was under pressure a lot more than that.

Scherff comes to the Jaguars after spending his first eight seasons with Washington.

The only risk Jacksonville is taking by signing Scherff is that he has an injury history and just turned 30 years old. He has only played in every game in a season twice, which came during his first two years in the NFL. He has only played in more than 11 games once in his last four seasons.

Here are three other things to know about Scherff:

Highly decorated

Nov 29, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Football Team guard Brandon Scherff (75) at the line of scrimmage against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Scherff is a five-time pro bowler, including making the annual all-star game in each of his last three seasons. He was also named first-team All-Pro in 2020.

For the Jaguars, the last time they had an offensive lineman be named All-Pro or a pro bowler was now Hall-of-Famer Tony Boselli in 2000.

Former top-5 pick

Jan 9, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson (24) celebrates his touchdown with guard Brandon Scherff (75) and center Keith Ismael (60) and teammates during the second half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Scherff entered the NFL highly touted. Washington drafted him out of Iowa with the fifth overall pick in the 2015 draft.

With the Hawkeyes, he started all 26 games over the last two seasons. He took home a flurry of accolades in his senior season, including taking home the Outland Trophy and being named a consensus All-American.

Played under Jaguars offensive line coach Phil Rauscher

Nov 14, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Football Team guard Brandon Scherff (75) smiles while leaving the field after the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville’s decision to sign Scherff made a lot of sense because of his experience playing under Rauscher when he coached Washington’s offensive line in 2018 and 2019 as the assistant under Bill Callahan.

Scherff only played in eight games during Rauscher’s first season with the team but started 11 the next and made the Pro Bowl the following season.

Rauscher joins the team after spending the last two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

New OG Brandon Scherff wants to help rebuild the culture with the Jaguars


Zachary Huber 


The Jacksonville Jaguars need a major cultural rebuild after the franchise’s tumultuous stint under former head coach Urban Meyer and only winning four games over the last two seasons. General manager Trent Baalke and owner Shad Khan’s decision to hire head coach Doug Pederson and signing guard Brandon Scherff were good starts.

Scherff met with the media last week and discussed how he can help the struggling organization. During his seven seasons in the NFL, he has developed a reputation of being a locker room leader while also becoming a five-time Pro Bowler.

I just try to do everything the right way, just try to be that leader on and off the field for anybody,” he said about why he’s described as a cultural leader. “If we have young guys, I try to lead by example and show them the right way to do things. And just go about my business and do everything at 100 percent.”

He added that Pederson, offensive line coach Phil Rauscher, and quarterback Trevor Lawrence played a significant factor in his decision to sign with the Jaguars. Scherff said he reached out to several players he knew that had experience of playing under Pederson and heard nothing but great things.

Scherff believes he can help Jacksonville’s offensive line unit that gave up 32 sacks last season and struggled to develop push in the run game by leading by example.

“I would say just continue to do what I’m doing and just, like you said, just focus on taking care of myself first,” Scherff said. “If I’m not doing the right thing, then I can’t help them. So, just doing the right thing and trying to be that leader for them. If they have questions, I’m going to try to help them out as much as I can.”

Scherff, who is also a one-time All Pro is a much-needed addition who should help the franchise on and off the field. And while it will be hard to top the leadership that Calais Campbell once brought to the mix, his presence could have a similar effect on the young group around him.

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