SEATTLE — Richard Sherman called the Seattle Seahawks a “middle of the road” team.
A few days later, those same Seahawks plastered Sherman’s San Francisco 49ers 43-16 on Dec. 2. They followed that victory with a 21-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.
Those supposedly “middle of the road” Seahawks are 8-5, winners of four straight, with a playoff berth all but secured.
Next, Seattle meets Sherman and the 49ers for the second and final time this season.
And defensive end Frank Clark made his opinion on the matter perfectly clear.
“At the end of the day, ‘middle of the road,’ that’s Richard Sherman being Richard Sherman. He’s not in this locker room anymore, so his opinion really doesn’t matter,” Clark said Monday night. “You know what I mean? They’ve got problems over there in San Fran that he needs to be worried about. At the end of the day, this is my team now. This is my defense. Richard Sherman and his era is over here.
“If he’s got anything to say about our defense, he can say it on the field. We’re 1-0 against Richard Sherman right now, and we’re 1-0 against the San Francisco 49ers this year. Our plan is to be 2-0. So we’re going into their stadium next week with pure aggression. We’re going to stop that run and we’re going to have fun on third downs.”
The Seahawks’ defense did both of those things Monday, limiting the Vikings to 77 rushing yards and 3.7 yards per carry while forcing quarterback Kirk Cousins and Co. to convert just 2 of 10 third downs (and 0 of 2 fourth downs). For his part, Clark finished with four tackles and two quarterback hits and picked up his 11th sack of the season.
Yes, this was a dominant Seahawks defensive effort.
But this wasn’t the Legion of Boom.
These are the new, Salty Seahawks.
“For so long, I feel like we’ve had this spirit over us — that Super Bowl lingering from 2015. You know what I mean?” Clark said. “I feel like for the longest (time) we had that cloud over us, like people wouldn’t get over it. But I feel like there were some changes here. We were called a team that was going to have a rebuilding season, quote (unquote).
“The one thing we want to do is just continue to go out there every week and prove all the doubters, all the haters, wrong and continue to show them that we’re a team and we’re a force to be reckoned with.”
The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Clark wasn’t a member of the Seahawks teams that went to the Super Bowl in back-to-back seasons. He wasn’t on the field when they were turned back at the goal line by the New England Patriots on Feb. 1, 2015.
Regardless, he feels like the Seahawks franchise is just now starting to recover from that disappointment.
“When I showed up in 2015, the first (draft) coming after that year, it was hectic around here,” Clark said. “You had a lot of guys that still felt their (negative) ways and stuff like that. But at the end of the day it was just a lingering effect. You could tell. You could tell the whole vibe. I don’t want to dwell into the past too much because I didn’t have anything to do with that. Most of the players here didn’t have nothing to do with that. That’s how crazy it is. Change happens so fast in the NFL.
“But the difference from then to now is we’re finally starting to let that off — we’re finally starting to let that off our shoulders and take that weight off.”
These are no longer Sherman’s Seahawks. These are Bobby Wagner’s Seahawks, Chris Carson’s Seahawks, Russell Wilson’s Seahawks, Frank Clark’s Seahawks.
These are the New Seahawks.
And if one of the New Seahawks didn’t say it, Clark doesn’t really care.
“At the end of the day, Richard Sherman and what anyone else has to say about the Seahawks and what we’re doing this year, I obviously don’t care and I’m sure nobody else in here cares, as you can tell,” Clark said. “It’s not bothering us. We’re just sipping our tea and relaxing and going on to the next game.”