|Josh Brown braces for return to Seattle|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 20 September 2008 18:06|
``I'm praying for 50-50. I'm praying I get booed half the time and 'yay' the other half,'' St. Louis' first-year kicker said while bracing for Sunday's game between his former Seahawks and his new Rams, a matchup of winless, desperate teams.
Most homecomings for kickers don't have fans drawing love-hate lines. Then again, most kickers don't have their own morning radio shows, as Brown did on a country FM station in Seattle.
Most kickers don't have the guts to send flowers to the dressing room of country music diva Carrie Underwood before a concert, either. Brown did that from his team hotel room hours before a game against Oakland a few years ago - well before he became engaged to his new wife Molly, who is from Seattle.
ave their former coach shaking his head six months after they leave, particularly one who is otherwise preoccupied with six wide receivers being hurt and Seattle's reign of the NFC West teetering.
``I like Josh and he was a good kicker for us. I did not want him to leave. And I think he knows that,'' Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. ``But if he's happy, good for him.''
Last spring, Seattle's seventh-round draft choice in 2003 out of Nebraska took the Rams' five-year, $14.2 million deal, with a $4 million signing bonus - the league's largest for a kicker.
The Seahawks say they offered $14 million. Brown said Seattle's offer had more years and was backloaded, with less guaranteed money.
So the 29-year-old native of rural Oklahoma took more sure cash, four months before getting married and gaining two stepsons. He has the chance to be a free agent again when he's 32. He gets to kick regularly in a windless dome and be closer to home and his aging father.
Yet Brown's first thought when he signed was: ``I'm going to get massacred by the Seattle fans now.''
The Seahawks, though happy with new kicker Olindo Mare, still feel jilted. Holmgren so valued Brown for his career-high 127 points last season and accuracy on long field goals, he got involved in a contract negotiation for the first time since he was also Seattle's general manager in 2002.
om 50 yards or longer in his career, after a pair of 54-yarders in the Rams' 41-13 loss to the Giants last week. The league average for success on kicks of that distance was 43 percent in 2007.
``I thought I had a good handle on what he needed and what he wanted to stay,'' Holmgren said. ``So I thought it was done. Then, when it didn't get done I was very surprised.''
Brown won an NFL record-tying four games in 2006 with kicks in the final minute of regulation or overtime, including two against St. Louis. But if it comes down to a field goal Sunday, it will be the Seahawks who won't want to see Brown.
Then again, the Rams would be thrilled just to be within three points of anybody right now.
They have been outscored 79-16 in losses to the Eagles and Giants and have yet to run a play inside the opponent's 20.
``Pretty hard to be very effective on offense when that happens to you,'' coach Scott Linehan deadpanned.
They have lost six in a row to Seattle, and 15 of their last 18 games overall. Linehan, a native of Sunnyside, Wash., is dodging public demands for his firing. He hinted at lineup changes for Sunday, but won't say where.
``We are going to have to score more points on offense and we are going to have to stop people on defense. It is that simple. Right now we are doing neither one,'' said the third-year coach.
``The Seahawks are no different at this point.''
es they are.
Seattle scored nearly twice as many points as St. Louis has this season while losing 33-30 in overtime to San Francisco last week. The four-time defending division champions believe all will get back to normal once a defense with four Pro Bowlers plays like it is capable. Plus, Holmgren thinks wide receivers Bobby Engram (broken shoulder) and Deion Branch (reconstructive knee surgery) could make their season debuts after next week's bye.
``We are not panicking, we are not freaking out, just because we are 0-2,'' quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said.
Without six of his receivers, the Pro Bowl quarterback has completed just 45.5 percent of his passes, the lowest in the NFL among those who have started a game.
To help him, Seattle reacquired former No. 1 pick Koren Robinson and traded with Denver for Keary Colbert this week. Both receivers will play Sunday. Robinson may start because he knows Holmgren's offense.
As for Brown, he said money wasn't the only reason he left the Seahawks. He feels the impact of all those winning kicks didn't register with them.
``I felt like they didn't really see me as a major value,'' he said. ``They felt that because (other kickers') numbers were better than me, they didn't need to pay me above them.
``And I disagreed with them on that, as anyone would.''