The last time I did something like this, we were in the middle of the offseason in 2011. In all likelihood, I was looking for some way to fill space in the dreadful month of March when all the other local sports are effectively shut down and you can only say so much about Spring Training.
You may recall at the time that we were just coming off Pete Carroll’s first year with the team. We made the playoffs at 7-9 and upset the reigning champion Saints in the Beastquake Game. It was all very fun, but built on a house of cards. The roster was aging, as leftovers from the Holmgren Era clung for dear life. We drafted some promising rookies before the 2010 season – including Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, and Kam Chancellor – which may go down as the all-time greatest draft class in franchise history (and, indeed, probably ranks pretty high in NFL history as well).
To be fair, my list of the greatest Seahawks of all time was pretty solid for what it was. But, it’s CLEARLY out of date now. So, I thought I’d go back and compare what my list would be today vs. what it was nearly four full years ago. Let’s go to town:
2011: Matt Hasselbeck, Dave Krieg, Jim Zorn
2014: Russell Wilson, Matt Hasselbeck, Dave Krieg
You’re going to see a pattern here as we go forward: better players from the current era will be pushing down players from previous eras. It’s difficult to compare someone like Wilson – who is working on his third year in the pros – against someone like Hasselbeck who played for us for so much longer. But, in this case, I’m going to keep it nice and simple: Russell Wilson led us to three playoff appearances, two division titles, two #1 seeds, and one Super Bowl title (pending what happens in this year’s playoffs). Wilson is a winner, and he’s the guy who’s starting for me in my hypothetical Greatest Seahawks Team Of All Time.
2011: Shaun Alexander, Curt Warner, Ricky Watters
2014: Marshawn Lynch, Shaun Alexander, Curt Warner
I opted to throw out the numbers here. If I went strictly by numbers, Shaun Alexander would still be the clear starter for this team. 9,429 yards and 100 TDs with the Seahawks for Alexander against 5,930 yards and 54 TDs with the Seahawks for Lynch. The numbers say it’s a no-brainer. But, I’m going with my heart on this one, and my heart says BEASTMODE!
2011: Steve Largent, Brian Blades, Bobby Engram, Darrell Jackson, Joey Galloway, Paul Skansi
2014: Steve Largent, Brian Blades, Bobby Engram, Darrell Jackson, Joey Galloway, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin
So, the thing is, it’s going to be VERY difficult to overtake the top three (and damn near impossible to overtake the top receiver on my list, because Largent is my favorite), what with how this offense is constructed and executed. Furthermore, I realize Skansi was a reach, but I’m not sure I had a whole lot to work with. Also, with Golden Tate playing for the Lions now, he’s obviously stuck where he is, with no chance for advancement unless he – by some miracle – returns to the Seahawks. Doug Baldwin, on the other hand, if he sticks it out long term, could be a quick riser. We’ll see where we are in another 3-4 years. I could see someone like Baldwin topping out in the top 2 or 3.
2011: Itula Mili, John Carlson, Christian Fauria
2014: Zach Miller, Itula Mili, John Carlson
The tight end position for the Seahawks throughout history is a vast wasteland of sadness. Numbers might say that Jerramy Stevens deserves to be in the top 3, but numbers can suck my dick because Jerramy Stevens can suck my dick. Zach Miller is a lynchpin for this offense who’s equal parts offensive lineman and soft-hands-pass-catcher. He’s adorbs and I hope he gets well soon and sticks around another couple years. I also hope someone like Luke Willson improves his catching ability, because I could see him being a fast riser here too. It’s pretty sad that someone like Carlson is still hanging around on this list, what with how short his time was with us.
2011: Mack Strong, John L. Williams
2014: Mack Strong, John L. Williams
While the fullback position is going the way of the dodo bird, I still got love! And, while I think the world of Michael Robinson as a leader, a special teams stalwart, and a powerful lead blocker for Beastmode in previous seasons (before being forced into retirement and a new career in the media), there’s just no way his impact surpassed what Mack Strong and John L. Williams were able to do. And, not for nothing, but I think those two names are going to be 1 & 2 on this fullback list for the duration of my lifetime.
2011: Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Bryan Millard, Howard Ballard
2014: Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Bryan Millard, Howard Ballard
So, the thing here is: I’ve made a conscious decision to list a man for every spot along the line (as opposed to, say, listing the five best linemen regardless of where they played along the line). That having been said, if I felt like cheating (or, if I had the power of some sort of god), I’d probably look to put Russell Okung in at right tackle (because, let’s face it, he nor anyone else will be supplanting hall of famer Walter Jones). Max Unger is a curious omission, but quite frankly, he’s been too injured in his stint as this team’s starting center to get serious consideration. An interesting case will be J.R. Sweezy. If he sticks around and continues his trajectory of improvement, we could be looking at a switch at right guard. But, for now, Sweezy’s a little too loose in pass protection to take over that spot.
2011: Jacob Green, Michael Sinclair / Jeff Bryant, Phillip Daniels
2014: Jacob Green, Michael Sinclair / Jeff Bryant, Michael Bennett
Chris Clemons gets an honorable mention here. I’ve split these up by first and second team. Green & Sinclair are the clear 1 & 2 in Seahawks history and will be for the foreseeable future. Michael Bennett jumps up into the second team because he’s been a force since his return and can pretty much do it all. I opted to put him in with the ends because, to be honest, there are too many good defensive tackles, which you will see shortly.
2011: Cortez Kennedy, Joe Nash / Rocky Bernard, Sam Adams, John Randle
2014: Cortez Kennedy, Brandon Mebane / Joe Nash, Rocky Bernard
The only reason Mebane was left off of my 2011 list is because he hadn’t quite played long enough, and because there was a question about whether he’d be sticking around long term. Luckily for us, Carroll & Schneider saw fit to extend him, which has been a boon to our line. You get a great sense of his value with him out of the lineup, as there are many things we just can’t do without him. It has taken a rotation of 3-4 guys to try to make up for Mebane’s absence, which is about as impressive as it gets.
Also, can you IMAGINE what a defensive line would look like with a healthy Mebane in at nose tackle and an in-his-prime Cortez playing right alongside him? Partner those two up with literally any of the defensive ends I’ve listed above and you’re talking about a powerhouse line on par with some of the best in the history of the NFL!
And, for the record, I understand going with a 3-man second team in 2011 was a total cop out. Glad Mebane is here on this list to clean up my mess.
2011: Chad Brown, Lofa Tutupu, Rufus Porter
2014: Chad Brown, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright
So, yeah. In my hypothetical defense here, I’m sticking with just the lone middle linebacker, but I’ve opted to essentially interchange who plays at outside linebacker. In other words, I haven’t differentiated between strongside and weakside. K.J. Wright’s primary position is weakside, but I THINK that’s where Brown played as well. What puts Wright ahead of most other linebackers in Seahawks history is his versatility. He can play all three spots, he’s been a stud since he joined the team, and he was just extended long term. For the record, if I was picking linebackers regardless of position, Lofa certainly makes this list. But, Bobby Wagner is lethal and should be for many more years than Tatupu.
2011: Dave Brown, Marcus Trufant, Shawn Springs
2014: Richard Sherman, Dave Brown, Marcus Trufant
This one is kind of irritating. Right off the bat, Richard Sherman is the greatest cornerback we’ve ever had, full stop. Dave Brown is a Ring Of Honor member and a VERY good corner in his own right. Before Sherm came along, it was Dave Brown and everyone else a distant second. Now, if I’m going by any cornerback who has ever put on a Seahawks uniform, then I’m looking at either Brandon Browner or Byron Maxwell over Trufant in a heartbeat (gun to my head: I probably pick Maxwell because he can play inside and outside corner spots). BUT, Trufant had a Ring Of Honor career in his own right, and Maxwell will only have a year and change as a starter before he moves on to another team (as the Seahawks surely won’t be able to afford to extend him). And, not for nothing, but Trufant in his prime was as good as any other corner, so I don’t feel SO bad putting him third on this list. Nevertheless, if the Seahawks do somehow find a way to squeeze blood from a stone and extend Maxwell, I’m coming back to this page and revising it immediately!
2011: Kenny Easley, Eugene Robinson
2014: Earl Thomas, Kenny Easley, Kam Chancellor
If I’m being 100% honest, I’m probably not splitting up Earl & Kam if I’m starting up this team. But, I know I’m not the only one who wonders just what it would look like if Earl played alongside Kenny in his prime. SICK!
2011: Norm Johnson (Kicker), Rick Tuten (Punter), Steve Broussard (KR), Nate Burleson (PR)
2014: Steven Hauschka (Kicker), Jon Ryan (Punter), Leon Washington (KR), Nate Burlson (PR)
I hope I’m not totally jinxing things, but I’m taking Hauschka as my all-time kicker. Jon Ryan is sort of a no-brainer (he is, after all, the MVP of our hearts). Leon Washington, while short in his time with us, made a HUGE impact (plus, let’s face it, the Seahawks don’t have a long and storied history with kickoff returners; also, Percy Harvin can suck it). And the challengers to Nate Burleson’s throne never quite did enough (in this case, Joey Galloway – who didn’t last long as a return man – and Golden Tate – who was awesome, but is no longer with us, and wasn’t quite as dynamic).
So, there you have it. A blog post for Thursday. Giddyup.