Marcell Frazier spoke his strip sack into existence.
The Portland, Ore., product and Seattle Dragons defensive end has been doing this for years. In 2016, when Frazier was a mostly anonymous sophomore at the University of Missouri, a defensive line coach named Craig Kuligowski urged him to visualize his soon-to-be success.
Kuligowski — currently Nick Saban’s associate head coach and defensive line coach at Alabama — said that “you can actually activate muscle groups by visualizing it throughout the entire week,” Frazier explained on Saturday. “When you think about it, your brain is sending neurons to those muscles. So he was huge on visualization. He was huge on mental prep. He would always say, ‘Envision yourself getting the third-down sack. Envision yourself getting the interception.’”
All last week, prior to the Dragons’ 24-12 loss to the Dallas Renegades on Saturday, that’s what Frazier did. The words echoed enticingly, perhaps prophetically, in his head:
Strip sack. Strip sack. Strip sack.
“I didn’t like the way I was playing in the first half, so when we came out in the second half I was literally just going, ‘Sack. Fumble. Tackle. Sack. Fumble. Tackle,’” Frazier said, with a bright orange beanie pulled low on his bald head. “Then right before we went out I told No. 91 (defensive end Anthony Johnson), ‘Watch this,’ and I got it.
“I spoke it into existence, and it happened.”
With 6:34 remaining in the fourth quarter, Frazier ripped around the edge and emphatically batted the ball out of Landry Jones’ right hand as the Renegades quarterback was preparing to throw. Frazier — who also registered a pick-six last week — proceeded to fall on the ball as well. The 6-foot-5, 256-pound defensive end swung momentum for the second consecutive week.
He spoke the strip sack into existence — but perhaps he didn’t say enough.
After all, Jones — the former Oklahoma Sooner and Pittsburgh Steelers QB — still completed 30 of 41 passes for 274 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. His most impactful strike was a 65-yard touchdown to 6-8 tight end Donald Parham, who snatched the ball along the sideline midway through the fourth quarter and sprinted untouched into the end zone for his second score of the day.
In all, the Renegades (2-1) finished with 374 total yards and converted 7 of 12 third downs, despite surrendering three costly turnovers. They also outscored the Dragons 18-0 in the second half.
“We have what it takes in this room,” said linebacker Steven Johnson, who led Seattle with 14 tackles and two tackles for loss. “It’s just the little details that we got to iron out — the small things that can go a long way. On our defense, we do a great job. But we’ve got to fight. When our backs are against the wall, we have to fight and we have to buckle up and keep offenses from scoring, and we’ll continue to get better at that. There are a lot of opportunities left.”
Unfortunately, Seattle’s offense didn’t capitalize on enough opportunities. The Dragons went three-(or four-)and-out on four consecutive possessions in an aesthetically unappetizing second half. Quarterback Brandon Silvers — who completed just 48.3% of his passes while throwing for a total of 308 yards in his first two games — “played a lot better and executed some plays very well,” according to coach Jim Zorn. But, on the whole, those strides proved somewhat insignificant. Silvers completed 21 of 34 passes for 204 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
In the end, Silvers’ contributions weren’t enough. An intimate but enthusiastic home crowd of 22,060 inside CenturyLink Field wasn’t enough. The undeniably distracting visual of dozens of fans draped in dragon onesies wasn’t enough. The guy standing in a track suit a few rows up, swaying and swiveling, inexplicably holding heads of broccoli in each hand — his perplexing presence wasn’t enough.
The end result was a second loss, and more offensive inconsistency.
“We haven’t had any kind of mutiny, if you will, by our players,” Zorn said after the Dragons fell to 1-2. “They know they’re getting our best efforts, and it’s true. It’s real. So they want to win, and I wish that we would be undefeated. I really do. I hurt for these guys, because they put in a lot of time and a lot of effort. We’ll just keep building.”
Zorn wishes his Dragons were undefeated, but he can’t speak that into existence.
The best they can do, at 1-2, is rebound on the road in St. Louis next Saturday.