Lofa Tatupu Is Instinctive, and productive

Published on March 9, 2011 by     Seahawks.Com News (Feed)

It’s a combination that not only landed Lofa Tatupu a spot on the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team, but made the tackling machine of a middle linebacker among the leading vote-getters.

With Lofa Tatupu, it’s all about the instincts.

And all those tackles, of course. The Seahawks’ current middle linebacker is the only player in franchise history to lead the team in tackles four consecutive seasons – and he did it in his first four seasons (2005-08).

From the minute he stepped on the field as a rookie, after being selected in the second round of the 2005 draft, it was apparent that Tatupu’s uncanny instincts set him apart. During the Saturday practice of the team’s post-draft minicamp, he was on the field for dozens of snaps. His first step did not go in the same direction the ball ended up going only a few times.

Blue and Green Dream Team
The Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team, as selected by the readers of Seahawks.com:

Offense
WR Steve Largent
LT Walter Jones
LG Steve Hutchinson
C Robbie Tobeck
RG Bryan Millard
RT Howard Ballard
TE John Carlson
WR Bobby Engram
WR Brian Blades
QB Matt Hasselbeck
RB Shaun Alexander
FB Mack Strong
Defense
DE Jacob Green
DT Joe Nash
DT Cortez Kennedy
DE Michael Sinclair
OLB Chad Brown
MLB Lofa Tatupu
ILB Fredd Young
OLB Rufus Porter
CB Marcus Trufant
CB Dave Brown
NB Shawn Springs
SS Kenny Easley
FS Eugene Robinson
Special Teams
K Norm Johnson
P Rick Tuten
KOR Steve Broussard
PR Nate Burleson
He did not read … and … react to plays. It was more readandreact. And still is.

“One thing you can’t teach is instincts,” Tatupu said Tuesday, following a rehab session related to his recent arthroscopic procedures on both knees. “For whatever reason, I was blessed to have that.”

His knack for finding the ball – and production that follows – did not go unnoticed by his teammates, or the readers of Seahawks.com. Tatupu has been voted a defensive co-captain in each of his six seasons, and he also was an overwhelming choice for a berth on the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team.

The other linebackers on the reader-selected 35th Anniversary team are Chad Brown, Rufus Porter and Fredd Young, who combined to lead the team in tackles six times and earn eight Pro Bowl berths. But Tatupu not only got the most votes among the ’backers (3,539), only four players on the team generated more – Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent (5,004), the Hall-of-Fame-in-waiting duo of defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy (4,172) and left tackle Walter Jones (4,065) and defensive end Jacob Green (3,990).

Tatupu isn’t just one of the best players in franchise history; he also makes those around him better.

“Lofa adds more than most guys because he helps the people around him play well,” said Pete Carroll, who coached Tatupu at USC and now is his coach again with the Seahawks. “It’s not just his play, it’s the way he communicates, it’s his savvy, it’s his ability to identify situations and take advantage of the coaching and the game plan and all that.

“He’s just uniquely qualified and so we feel much more together when he’s out there just because of what he brings.”

It’s those traits – not to mention an impassioned endorsement from Carroll at the Trojans’ Pro Day workout in ’05 – that prompted the Seahawks to trade up in the second round to select a player who many deemed too short (listed at 6 feet); too slow (ran the 40-yard dash in 4.63 seconds at his Pro Day workout); too this (he transferred to USC after playing quarterback for one season at Maine); and too that (other schools “Told me I wasn’t a Division I-A athlete”) to be worthy of the 45th pick.

“They were laughing when the Seahawks made the pick,” Tatupu said of the pundits who challenged the Seahawks’ sanity. “Definitely, that’s always been a chip on my shoulder. It just fuels the fire.”

But it’s Tatupu and the Seahawks who have been enjoying the last laugh. He stepped in immediately to solidify a spot where the team had used eight different starters in the previous seven seasons.

“If they’re going to put you out on the field from the start, a lot is expected of you,” Tatupu said.

He exceeded those expectations, from the start. And his contributions have been across the board: 551 tackles in the regular season, including a career-high 123 in 2006; 66 tackles in the postseason, making him the franchise leader; 10 interceptions, including three in a 2007 game against the Philadelphia Eagles and two returned for touchdowns; 8½ sacks, including four in his rookie season; 41 passes defensed; seven forced fumbles; three Pro Bowl selections, the most for a linebacker in club history.

Connect the dots between those numbers and it creates a portrait of a player who is respected around the league.

“Lofa plays hard, man,” Chicago Bears Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher said prior to the Seahawks’ second-round playoff game in January. “He’s a smart player. I remember when he first came in the league, watching him. He’s always tapping D-linemen, telling them where to go, changing the defense. And he plays fast.

“I have a lot of respect for Lofa.”

That assessment leads us back to those Tatupu instincts, and the fact that he grew up the son of an NFL player – Mosi Tatupu, a former running back and Pro Bowl special teams player for the New England Patriots who passed away last February. Tatupu’s given name is Mosiula, after his father; and his just-born son’s middle name is Mosi. Lofa is a shortened version of his middle name, Mea’alofa.

“My dad was a running back and I’ve heard a lot of coaches say, ‘All a linebacker is is a running back without the ball,’ ” Tatupu said. “You’re trying to find the hole that he’s going to end up in. Just as if you had the ball and you’re on the opposite side.”

One of those coaches was Nick Holt, one of Tatupu’s position coaches at USC and now the defensive coordinator at the University of Washington.

“He said the best linebackers used to be running backs, because they can read and they know where the openings are going to be by the flow of the line,” said Tatupu, who also played quarterback in high school and his first season in college.

“It’s true.”

So is the indelible connection between son and father, who coached Lofa at King Phillip Regional High School in Wrentham, Mass.

“My dad also covered kicks and made a name for himself by making tackles, which is funny for a running back,” Tatupu said. “So maybe it’s something I inherited from him.”

Whatever the reason, Tatupu feels fortunate to have that extra sense and realizes he would not be the same player without it. It also helped that there were other “too-everything” linebackers like Zach Thomas (5-11) and London Fletcher (5-10) already making plays in the NFL.

“Those are the guys I looked up to,” Tatupu said. “You watch them and that’s what jumps out – their instincts. When you don’t have some of those skill sets that a lot of other guys have – be it height, speed, whatever – I think instincts come into play a lot more. You maybe hone your skills in a little better when you have to rely on them.

“I think with linebackers you have to be born with it. If you’re going to be successful at this level you’ve got to have that ability to sense things and have a certain level of awareness to play this position. It worked out for me.”

Did it ever.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fair Use Notice This website may at times present copyrighted material, the use of which might not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understandings of democratic, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. The author believes that this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U. S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the articles published on this website are distributed without profit for research and informational purposes. In most instances a link is placed to originator of Article and it is never expressly mentioned as written by, we use published by certain entities who write or publish for this said Blog..

Tell Us What's On Your Mind (0)




WP-SpamFree by Pole Position Marketing

REMEMBERING A LEGEND!

LATEST SEAHAWKS NEWS

140506udfa600

The Seahawks have been very good to rookie free agents

Despite having one of the best and deepest rosters in the NFL, the Seahawks have become a good ...
140505donald600

Where does Aaron Donald fit in first round of NFL Draft?

Aaron Donald did all the right things at the University of Pittsburgh, but the undersized defensive tackle needs ...
Untitled

Golden Tate Cheating With Russell Wilson’s Wife?

Some of you will read this post and say no way, but yes it's true and i have ...
140501clowney600

Mike Mayock can see Seahawks trading down in first round of NFL Draft

The Seahawks hold the last pick in the first round of next week’s NFL Draft, and analyst Mike ...
140502suafilo600

Do Seahawks have designs on building blocks in NFL Draft?

The Seahawks could go in just about any direction with the 32nd pick in the first round of ...
kveTl.AuSt.5

Family tragedies fuel Seahawks running back Robert Turbin

Sitting alone with both elbows on the table and hands folded, Robert Turbin waited. The Seattle Seahawks’ backup running ...
140430schneider600

This NFL draft is very different, but John Schneider’s approach isn’t

John Schneider has been involved in the NFL Draft for two decades and admits that he even dreamed ...
1c4jGw.AuSt.5

Earl Thomas reaches long-term extension with Seahawks

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network first reported Thomas’ extension. The extension will make Thomas the highest-paid safety in ...

Shop for Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl XLVIII Champs Merchandise at NFLShop.com

Shop for Conference Champs and Super Bowl XLVIII Match Up Merchandise at NFLShop.com

WELCOME TO THE SEAHAWKS 12TH MAN ARMY.

WE TAKE PRIDE IN GIVING SEAHAWKS FANS AROUND THE CLOCK UPDATES,  ALL SEAHAWKS ALL THE TIME. SO IF YOU WANT THE LATEST SEAHAWKS NEWS DELIVERED FOR FREE RIGHT TO YOUR EMAIL BOX ONCE A WEEK, SIGN UP AND ENJOY!

WE HAVE BEEN PROUDLY SERVING DIEHARD SEAHAWKS FANS SINCE 2004.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz