The Mount Rushmores For Each Seattle Pro Team

* That I choose to cover, because I don’t give a fudge about the ones I don’t.

Mount Rushmores:
Tuesday:  Seattle Sports Announcers
Wednesday:  Seattle Head Coaches/Managers

It’s All Star Week in Major League Baseball, which means it’s pretty much a dead week in sports.  I’m not 12 years old, so the All Star Game doesn’t mean anything to me; I’m not 62 years old, so golf doesn’t mean anything to me.  But, a blogger’s job is never done!  Or, I dunno, maybe it’s been done ad nauseam.  Either way, I’ve got nothing timely to write about, and I’ve got nothing else better to do, so I’m doing this.

We’re celebrating some of the local Mount Rushmores in a series of posts this week, because that’s something people do, right?  Sports radio and the like; what’s your Mount Rushmore of TV shows still airing new episodes right now?  Off the top of my head, I’d have to say Rick & Morty, Better Call Saul, Bob’s Burgers, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but ask me another day and I might give you four completely different shows.

Today is going to be the first of a two-parter, of sorts.  I’m going to split up my Mount Rushmores between the Mariners, Sonics, and Seahawks, with the goal of locking down an official Mount Rushmore for All Seattle Sports tomorrow.

First up:  the Seattle Mariners.

  1. Ken Griffey Jr.
  2. Edgar Martinez
  3. Felix Hernandez
  4. Ichiro

I thought this one was pretty easy, but I could see why people might want to make the argument for someone like Randy Johnson or Alex Rodriguez or even Alvin Davis, but ehh.  Griffey is Griffey; he’s the greatest player in Mariners history.  Edgar is Edgar; he’s the greatest hitter in Mariners history.  Felix is the King; his prime in a Mariners uniform was better than Randy’s prime in a Mariners uniform.  Had the Mariners never traded Randy, and he won a bunch more Cy Young Awards and whatnot, then yeah, Randy all day.  But, I’m going with the King because he’s my favorite player of all time and because he deserves to be on this list.  And, I’m going with Ichiro as my #4 due to his longevity and his sustained brilliance as this team’s leadoff hitter.  Again, it comes down to tenure over someone like A-Rod who had a short stint of supreme excellence before taking the money and running to the Rangers.  In the end, I don’t think A-Rod would end up on any team’s Mount Rushmore, and that’s exactly what he deserves.

Next up:  the Seattle Supersonics.

  1. Gary Payton
  2. Jack Sikma
  3. Fred Brown
  4. Shawn Kemp

You could go any number of ways with the Sonics.  Ray Allen, Lenny Wilkens, Gus Williams, Xavier McDaniel, Nate McMillan, Spencer Haywood, Slick Watts, Detlef Schrempf, Big Smooth, Dale Ellis, and on and on and on.  There were so many great players, so many great teams, and so many great eras of Sonics basketball.  I’ve got the Glove at the top because I think he was the best all-around player in team history.  He’s obviously known for his lockdown defense, but he really developed into a dominant offensive player over his career, becoming the team’s unquestioned leader.  Sikma was the best big man in team history, averaging a double-double in 7 of his 9 years in Seattle (as well as making 7 All Star Games).  Brown was a 13-year career Sonic bridging the early 70s, through the championship year, on into the mid-80s and the next generation of great Sonics teams.  And, finally, I’ve got 5-time All Star (with the Sonics) Shawn Kemp, the most explosive and athletic player in team history, who really developed into a force in the league, at a time when there were tons of great power forwards in the game.

And, without further ado:  the Seattle Seahawks (past).

  1. Steve Largent
  2. Walter Jones
  3. Cortez Kennedy
  4. Kenny Easley

Okay, so here’s the deal:  those are four Hall of Famers.  If you’re going to have a Mount Rushmore of Seattle Seahawks, you’ve gotta go with the actual NFL Hall of Famers, right?  Steve Largent, at the time of his retirement, had just about every single wide receiver record in NFL history; he was THE greatest, until Jerry Rice became THE greatest.  Now, many receivers have blown past Largent’s stats through the years, but the game is a lot different now than it was in the 70s and 80s.  Walter Jones, I think, is the greatest left tackle in NFL history; he absolutely belongs on this list!  The Tez is, without question, one of the greatest all-around DTs in the history of the league.  His ability to clog up the middle, command double-teams, and still create an abundance of pressure up the middle is simply mind-boggling.  And, as for Easley, he was a Pro Bowler 5 of his 7 seasons, and a first team All Pro in 3 of his 7 seasons.  Had he not had the health issues that forced him into retirement, he would’ve been an NFL Hall of Famer MANY years ago.  Essentially, he was Kam Chancellor before there was Kam Chancellor, at a time when the safety position was oft-overlooked.  His type of game-changing talent is generational and precious and should not be taken for granted.

There have obviously been other great Seahawks throughout the years – Matt Hasselbeck, Curt Warner, Shaun Alexander, Jacob Green, Dave Brown, Dave Krieg, Jim Zorn, and so on and so forth – but no one is on the level of the four above-referenced Hall of Famers.

Now, that having all been said, I think this current batch of Seahawks – since Pete Carroll and John Schneider joined the team – have some NFL Hall of Famers on it as well.  So, really, I had no choice but to split this part up.

We had the Seahawks (past) and now the Seahawks (present).

  1. Earl Thomas
  2. Marshawn Lynch
  3. Richard Sherman
  4. Russell Wilson

Obvious asterisk here in that Beastmode is not a current Seahawk, but he’s from this Pete Carroll Era, and that’s really what I’m talking about here.  I think Earl Thomas (assuming he comes back from his injury) is the best and most obvious future Hall of Famer.  Like Easley, in Earl’s first seven seasons, he’s made 5 Pro Bowls and 3 First Team All Pros.  He’s the heart & soul of this defense and really what makes this defense tick.  As you could see when the Seahawks lost him last year, this defense falls apart without Earl!  With him, it’s among the best in the league, and the primary reason why we’ve led the league in fewest points allowed so many times under Pete Carroll.  Next up, I think you have to go Beastmode.  I think, as it stands right now, he’s a borderline NFL Hall of Famer.  But, with a good season or two in Oakland, I think he blows past borderline into Obvious NFL Hall of Famer.  Lynch took this team from soft and old and carried it to back-to-back Super Bowls.  He allowed this team to bring its rookie franchise quarterback along slowly, and when it mattered most – in those playoff games – Beastmode brought his game to another level.  Ultimately, I think it’s his performances in the playoffs that will carry him into the Hall of Fame (in spite of his famous discontent with the NFL media), and it’s why I have him ranked so high on my list.  Third, I’ve got Sherm.  He’s the greatest cornerback in team history.  Period.  4 Pro Bowls and 3 First Team All Pros in his 6 seasons, and he has yet to miss a game as soon as he entered the starting lineup.  I don’t know how much longer he’ll be a member of this team, but as long as he is, he’s on my present-day Mount Rushmore.  And, fourth, I’ve got Russell Wilson.  I could’ve gone any number of directions here – Wagner, Kam, Bennett, Avril, K.J., Doug – and indeed, any number of those guys might end up making the Hall of Fame alongside my top 4, but I’m rolling with the QB.  In spite of the fact that for quarterbacks nowadays, it’s probably harder than ever to make the Hall of Fame, what with all the passing records that are falling, and how difficult it is to last in this league for 10, 15 years or more.  And make no mistake, Russell has A LONG WAY to go.  5 seasons, 3 Pro Bowls, no All Pros.  It’s especially questionable when you consider the step back he took last year with lots of injuries and behind an ineffective O-Line.  For this choice, I’m going mostly on faith, and I do have faith that Russell will reach all of his goals and go down as one of the greats of this era.  Disregarding all of that, right now, for what he is, Russell is the guy that stirs the drink.  This team doesn’t do what it’s done without Russell Wilson behind center.  No Super Bowls (plural), no division titles (plural), not nearly as many 10-win seasons (he’s 5 for 5 in his short career, no pun intended) with a replacement-level player.  Quarterback is the most important player on every NFL team, and the Seahawks are no exception.  As such, he’s making my Mount Rushmore over the rest.

Tomorrow, I’m going to pick from among the above-listed 16 players and come up with a definitive Mount Rushmore for Seattle Pro Athletes.  Weeeee!

My Top 25 All Time Favorite Seattle Seahawks

With Beastmode’s retirement this week, I thought I’d take stock and reflect upon where he lands among my all time favorite Seattle Seahawks.  While he’s my favorite over the last quarter century, he comes up just short of my all time fave.

I should probably point out that my knowledge of the Seahawks prior to the 1990s is pretty limited (I was born in 1981).  As such, you won’t find many of the old-timers.  Indeed, only 5 of my 25 played prior to 1990, and none of those five are named Dave Krieg, Jim Zorn, or Curt Warner.  Zorn was a guy I never saw play, Warner was always hurt when I started watching football, and the years I watched Dave Krieg were those loser years where he heavily contributed to his standing as one of the most fumble-prone quarterbacks in NFL history.  If I never again see Dave Krieg raise his arm back to pass, only to watch in horror as the ball gets flung backwards thanks to his criminally under-sized hands, it’ll be too soon.

Among the actual Honorable Mentions are the following:

Ricky Watters – a guy who reminds me a lot of Beastmode, but unfortunately didn’t play with us quite long enough to merit breaking through; Chris Warren – very underrated back, who unfortunately was saddled by a lot of mediocre Seahawks teams; Eugene Robinson – solid safety for some solid defenses; Michael Sinclair – second on Seattle’s all-time sacks list; Cliff Avril – who could potentially climb into the Top 25 one day, if he continues to produce the way he has; Red Bryant – mostly a fan favorite type, who I was happy to see find a role in the early Pete Carroll years; Robbie Tobeck – helped solidify the greatest offensive line in team history during the Holmgren years; Steve Hutchinson – who gets a bad rap even though it was Tim Ruskell who dicked him over first; Rocky Bernard – an underrated interior defensive lineman who this team would kill to have right now; Sam Adams – someone who blossomed after he left the Seahawks (and someone who I randomly have a signed jersey from); Bobby Engram – who was Doug Baldwin before Doug Baldwin; Chad Brown – who gets overlooked a little bit because he came from the Steelers, but still played quality football for his Seahawks tenure; Rufus Porter – a speed rusher off the edge and another fan favorite type; Zach Miller – who I’ll always respect for his toughness even though he got injured a lot; and Joe Nash – who would be my #26 if this list went that long, because he was an awesome nose tackle for this team who played here FOREVER.

Anyway, without further ado, My Top 25 All Time Favorite Seattle Seahawks:

1.  Steve Largent – He was this team’s first Hall of Famer, and when he retired, he had most – if not all – of the wide receiver records before they were broken.  When I started getting into football in the late 80s, there was every reason to be a fan of some other team in some other city, as those Seahawks teams were okay, but nothing special.  The 49ers had Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, the Raiders (who were a particular favorite among my elementary school classmates) had Bo Jackson (’nuff said), the Redskins, Oilers, Dolphins, and Bengals were all loaded with talent.  I don’t totally remember my thinking on this one, but I’m certainly convinced now that I would never have become a Seahawks fan if it weren’t for Steve Largent.  I mean, yeah, they’re the local team, so it’s easy to say I’d just stick with that as the reason, but throughout the 1990s, I used to mock this team relentlessly, and would frequently bet my family members that the Seahawks would lose (and won quite a bit of cash in the process, for a kid in the 1990s anyway).  But, I could always hang my hat that at one point, Steve Largent played for the Seahawks and was the best player at his position.  Also, didn’t hurt that I got to meet him at an autograph signing at the Tacoma Mall.  It was many hours of waiting in line, but it was worth it.

2.  Marshawn Lynch – Unlike many of the guys on this list, who were either career Seahawks, or played many more years here, Lynch became a favorite of mine in a little over 5 and a half seasons.  His bruising style of play, all the highlight runs, and his abilities as a receiver and blocker make him not only the most complete running back in franchise history, but one of the very best overall players we’ve ever seen in a Seahawks uniform, including the other Hall of Famers coming up next on this list.

3.  Cortez Kennedy – It’s hard to pick one over the other when it comes to Tez and Big Walt; both are consummate bad asses.  While you could make the argument that Walter Jones was the best player at his position in NFL history (which I do), I don’t think I’d necessarily put Cortez Kennedy as the best defensive tackle in NFL history (though, to be fair, I haven’t tried ranking them all, so who knows?).  What I will say is that what won me over in Tez’s favor is his Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1992.  First of all, it’s hard as fuck for a DT to win that award (there have only been two other players since 1992 at that position to win that award – Dana Stubblefield & Warren Sapp).  Secondly, no player at any position has ever won the award while playing on a shittier team (the Seahawks were 2-14 that year).  But, such is the fierce brutality that was Cortez Kennedy (who ranks 4th all time in franchise history for sacks); he finished that season with 14 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and a whopping 92 tackles.  Let me repeat:  92 tackles!!!  There are linebackers who don’t get that many tackles, and here we are, looking at a DT who got 92 tackles.  Just insane!  To compare, Stubblefield in 1997 had 15 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and only 48 tackles; Sapp in 1999 had 12.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and only 27 tackles (that wasn’t even Sapp’s best season, but regardless, he never surpassed 50 tackles in a season, so that point is moot).  Tez frequently battled double- and triple-teams throughout his career, and was still a God damn hurricane to deal with in the middle.  It’s just too bad he couldn’t be rewarded with more playoff appearances.

4.  Walter Jones – If you went pound for pound, you’re probably talking about the very best player the Seahawks have ever had.  With Bad-Assery being a theme, they don’t get much more bad-ass than this guy.  He was repeatedly franchise tagged, repeatedly held out in training camp and in the pre-season, then showed up right before the regular season started not only in tremendous shape, but ready to start from Game 1.  Then, when you tack on his training regimen of him pulling Cadillacs to get ready for the season, and I think I need to go lie down for a while because I just got winded writing that statement.

5.  Matt Hasselbeck – This is probably where things start to get a little more fluid.  In five years, I would anticipate someone like Russell Wilson will have surpassed someone like Matt Hasselbeck.  Indeed, many fans might disagree with me, but I gotta admit I’m still a pretty big Hasselbeck fan.  He led this team to its first Super Bowl appearance, which is always going to be huge, even if the result isn’t what we wanted.  Where his talent may be lacking compared to a guy like Wilson, his personality and charm in the media more than makes up for it.  It’s always WAY more entertaining to hear a Hasselbeck interview than a Wilson interview.  I know, that means little compared to on-field accomplishments, and as I mentioned above, Wilson will probably pass him in a few short years.  But, for now, I hold Hasselbeck in higher esteem.

6.  Richard Sherman – This future Hall of Famer has nowhere to go but up on this list.  Pretty unlikely leader in the clubhouse of Legion of Boom participants, but Sherm has been the most consistently elite through the 2015 season.

7.  Shaun Alexander – He gets a bad rap for not being Marshawn Lynch, but I think a lot of fans forget just how great he really was.  If he didn’t start breaking down towards the end, he was well on his way towards getting into the Hall of Fame.  As it stands, he was one of the best two or three running backs in the NFL for a good five-year period.  He should be a shoo-in for the Ring of Honor, if the Seahawks ever get around to putting more people in there.

8.  Brandon Mebane – Love this dude.  He won’t be a Hall of Famer, he won’t have his number retired, he might not even make the Ring of Honor when it’s all said and done.  But, he was one of the better Tim Ruskell draft picks.  As a third rounder, he got on the field right away and has been a staple for this defensive line ever since.  Nine years in, he looks as good as ever, and I hope the team retains him so he can retire as a Seahawk.

9.  Kenny Easley – He’s the only player on this list who I don’t really remember watching play live.  So, I’m really basing his ranking on highlights and on testimonials from players around the league who talk about this guy with some of the highest reverence I’ve ever seen.  If his career wasn’t shortened by kidney disease, he’d be in the Hall of Fame right now.  Compared to Ronnie Lott, he’s the only other Seahawk to win the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award, in 1984, when he had 10 interceptions (2 returned for touchdown).  As it stands, he’s a Ring of Honor guy, and the best safety in franchise history (eventually to be surpassed by the next guy on this list).

10.  Earl Thomas – He’s our Ed Reed.  Our Troy Polamalu.  Our All Pro Machine striving to be the best this game has ever seen.  The only thing that could cut him short on his quest is if he succumbs to injuries.  His dedication to the game and being the best puts him in my Top 10.

11.  Russell Wilson – Seems criminally low, I know.  I don’t think it’ll be too much longer before he’s in my Top 10.  Maybe even one more season.  The way he’s playing right now, and with Lynch’s retirement, this will be HIS offense.  If he manages to carry this team to unknown levels of awesomeness, I think he’s destined to skyrocket up my list.

12.  Jacob Green – He was an absolute monster throughout the 80s, racking up the most sacks in franchise history with 97.5 (and that doesn’t even include his first two seasons, when the NFL didn’t record sacks as an official stat).  Certainly one of the more underrated defensive ends of the 80s.

13.  Joey Galloway – Probably another controversial pick – especially this high in the rankings – but I don’t care.  He only really played 4 seasons for the Seahawks before holding out for 8 games in his fifth year before forcing Holmgren’s hand, but those four years were outstanding!  He was an elite return man from the get-go, and a big play machine on offense as well.  If we only could have paired him with a competent quarterback (he was saddled with Rick Mirer, John Friesz, and Jon Kitna before we were able to get Warren Moon in here for a couple of injury-plagued years towards the end of his career) he might have been even better, for as crazy as that sounds.  Still, even the way he left things wasn’t so bad, as we ended up getting two first round draft picks (one of which we used to nab Shaun Alexander, with the other being traded for multiple picks so we could get Koren Robinson, Heath Evans, and some backup offensive lineman I’ve never heard of).

14.  Doug Baldwin – Another player whose ranking could go way up on my list if we manage to keep him on the team beyond his current contract.  He’s proven to be a clutch possession receiver, as well as a guy capable of making bigger plays downfield, and as of 2015, a touchdown monster.  To think an undrafted receiver who has started since his rookie year could still be getting better in his fifth season is pretty amazing.  I want to see the Wilson to Baldwin connection continue for at least the next half decade, if not longer.

15.  Golden Tate – Maybe another controversial pick, but I like who I like, and I like me some Golden Tate.  I kind of dismissed him when he left for Detroit, as we still had Percy Harvin, after all.  But, when Harvin proved to be a huge chump, I’ve longed for Tate’s big play ability ever since.  His loss is now mitigated by the drafting of Tyler Lockett, but there’s still a lot to like about a guy like Tate who was another outsize personality on a team full of ’em.  A guy who got under the skin of opposing defenders (like the fucking Rams, for instance).  And a guy who played bigger than his size.  Not extending him, in favor of bringing in Harvin, is a move this team continues to regret.

16.  Brian Blades – The wide receiver parade marches on, with Blades, who played significant minutes for a rookie under Chuck Knox, and who eventually went on to replace a legend in Steve Largent as this team’s #1.  He was never super flashy, and only made one Pro Bowl in his career, but he’s this team’s second-leading career pass catcher.  He has the team’s second-most receiving yards, and is fifth in touchdowns.

17.  K.J. Wright – He cracks this in large part due to recency bias.  He’s been here for five years, has played all three linebacker spots, has only missed a small handful of games, and should be in the Top 10 in franchise history in tackles by this time next year.  I love his smarts, his professionalism, his toughness, and the fact that on a defense full of superstars, he just quietly goes about his business of being consistently great.  He’s never been to a Pro Bowl, and probably never will, but when it’s all said and done, he’ll go down as one of the best linebackers in Seahawks history.

18.  Marcus Trufant – He was rarely flashy, but he was a first round pick and a starter from day 1.  He made a Pro Bowl in 2007 when he had 7 picks, and it doesn’t hurt that he was a local kid who made good.  And, not for nothing, but we went to the same high school and played on the same Freshman football team (he was the superstar, I was the third string right tackle who never ACTUALLY got to share a field with him on gameday, because I was terrible).

19.  Michael Bennett – In three short years, Bennett is already #10 on Seattle’s all time sacks list.  Of course, he’s so much more than sacks, but that’s still pretty impressive.  With his ability to play both inside and outside, against the run and against the pass, he’s probably the most talented defensive lineman in franchise history (just behind Tez, that is).  If we can keep him happy and playing through the end of this contract – or onto another if he keeps producing – he could easily shoot up this list as well.

20.  Kam Chancellor – He took a bit of a hit this year with his holdout.  I don’t mind a guy who holds out of training camp and/or the pre-season, but I tend to draw the line when a guy starts missing regular season games (and starts costing us those games with his absence).  Truth be told, his 2015 was far from ideal; but, that doesn’t wash away the previous four years of amazingness.  If we can make him happy again and keep him around a few more years, he’ll return to his rightful place among the Top 15 or Top 10 on this list.  For now, it’s sort of Wait & See mode, for fans and the franchise alike.

21.  Lofa Tatupu – His career was relatively brief, but man did he shine bright!  In only six years (one of them severely injury-marred), he made three Pro Bowls, one first team All Pro, and cracked the top 10 in tackles in Seahawks history.  THIS is the best draft pick of Ruskell’s tenure, and a big reason why this team made the Super Bowl during the 2005 season.

22.  Darrell Jackson – Fourth in franchise history in receptions, second in touchdown receptions, and the number 1 receiver for most of Matt Hasselbeck’s time here.  His reputation was somewhat tainted by drops early in his career, but I feel he more than made up for it from 2003 through 2006.  Another guy who never made a Pro Bowl, and will probably never make the Ring of Honor, but he’s a big part of those Holmgren teams that brought the Seahawks to a level of respectability we’d never seen to that point.

23.  John L. Williams – Listed as a fullback, but he was really a do-it-all type of back.  He had hands like a receiver (3rd all time in receptions, 6th all time in receiving yards in Seahawks history), had quicks like a running back (fifth all time in rushing yards in Seahawks history, 9th in rushing touchdowns), and the size of a bruising fullback (5’11, 231 lbs), he could really do it all.  In an era that pre-dates these types of specialty backs who are equally as good at catching as rushing (LaDainian Tomlinson, Marshall Faulk, etc.), John L. Williams was truly a trailblazer.  He’s securely third place in franchise history in total yards from scrimmage (behind bellcow back Shaun Alexander with 10,940 total yards, and Hall of Fame receiver Steve Largent, who had a total of 13,172 yards), ahead of other, more notable, running backs like Curt Warner, Marshawn Lynch, and Chris Warren.  John L. played largely a reserve role, as a third or fourth option for this offense for most of his tenure here, but he played that role splendidly.

24.  Bobby Wagner – He’s been great since his rookie year, I only expect further greatness going forward.  He’s another who could easily skyrocket up this list, the longer he remains the quarterback of the greatest defense we’ve ever seen.

25.  Jermaine Kearse – What can I say?  He’s another local kid, another undrafted free agent, who worked his way through the practice squad into being this team’s #2 receiver.  Doesn’t hurt that he’s a Husky.  Also doesn’t hurt that he’s made some of the biggest catches in franchise history, including the 4th down touchdown against the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, and the game-winning touchdown against the Packers the very next year in the NFCCG (not to mention the super-human TD catch in Super Bowl XLVIII, and the beyond-human bobbling/diving catch in Super Bowl XLIX).  He might have played his last down in a Seahawks uniform, and if so, I’ll be sad.  But, I’ll also be happy for a guy who started at the bottom and worked his way into a contract that was too big for the Seahawks to match.

Seahawks Death Week: A Lot To Like About 2015

Last year’s edition of Seahawks Death Week wasn’t a whole lot of fun.  A lot of rage and soul searching went into those posts, as well as a lot of not writing about sports at all.  Just shutting down in hopes of getting to the next month with a clearer head.

This time around, it’s actually not that bad.  When you have a Lowest Possible Moment as a sports fan, any other bad moments you have after that will always pale in comparison.  Oh, the Seahawks lost to the Panthers in the Divisional Round?  Well, at least they didn’t blow a Super Bowl by getting too cute with the play calling!

My point is, yeah, it sucks not having football anymore, but at least I’m not questioning whether I should even follow the sport anymore.  At least I’m not so aggravated that I’m worried about sending myself to an early grave (for what it’s worth, there are many other ways with which I AM sending myself to an early grave, but being a Seahawks fan thankfully isn’t one of them).  If I can get over the Seahawks throwing the ball from the 1-yard line, I can get over this trivial nonsense, because literally everything is trivial nonsense when compared to the Worst Thing In The World.

Yes, there is a lot to pick at with this team, but today I’m going to try to stick to only positive things.  From this point forward.  Probably.

For starters, the 2015 Seahawks won more games than they lost.  That’s always a good place to start.  10-6 regular season record, not too shabby.  Good for a Wild Card berth, which easily makes us one of the top 12 teams in the league, and when you discount the Texans and Redskins right off the bat, you’re talking about one of the 10 best teams in the league.  If this were college, and we’re talking about rankings, there’s an argument to be made that the Seahawks were one of the 5 best teams in all of football.  I know the season didn’t end the way we wanted, but watching quality football week-in and week-out always beats the alternative.

On top of that, I think it’s important that this is a team that you can be proud of.  The Seahawks had to overcome SO MUCH coming into this season!  I don’t know what’s harder, getting over the Super Bowl hangover after you’ve won it all, or getting over the Super Bowl hangover after you lost, but I don’t think there’s anything worse than getting over a Super Bowl hangover after you lost the way we lost last year.  That shit is magnified times a million.  Not only is that your last image of your previous season, but that image is replayed for you over and over and over again, all off-season, and all during the next season.  I wish I had kept a record of how many times we were all forced to re-watch that play throughout 2015, but it had to have been in the dozens.

If the Seahawks had finished around 8-8, I don’t think anyone would have been surprised.  The target was on their backs for a second straight year, the dark cloud of humiliation was constantly hovering, they were tired and fractured and questioning everything they knew about the game of football.  And yet, they plowed through, beat the teams they were supposed to beat, and got stronger as the season went along.  They started the season playing like a mediocre, middle-of-the-road also-ran; they finished the season as one of the best teams in the game.  What ultimately was their undoing – it could be argued – is that their crappy start was too much to overcome.  A Seahawks team – playing as well as they were in December – with home field advantage in the playoffs would’ve been a force to be reckoned with.  Instead, having to go on the road for the duration of the post-season was ultimately too much, and a terrible first half in Carolina did them in.

Regaining the players’ fire and passion for the game makes this one of the best coaching jobs of Pete Carroll and Co.’s careers.

2015 looks to go down as the turning point in the Pete Carroll Era of his Seahawks tenure.  Up until now, the Seahawks have been a defensive juggernaut, with the offense doing just enough to survive.  Not counting the strike-shortened 1982 season, 2012-2014 were the three greatest seasons in Seahawks history from a “points allowed” perspective (we gave up 231 points in 2013, 245 in 2012, and 254 in 2014).  Obviously, those were all best in the NFL for those respective years, and 2015 was no different, as we gave up 277 points, good for 6th all time in franchise history (non-strike year edition).

The offense the last few years has been pretty good, of course.  But, in 2015, the offense made a huge leap forward, scoring 423 points, good for second all time in franchise history.  256 of those 423 points came in the final 8 regular season games, or nearly 61% of our total output.  That coincides with the huge leap forward in Russell Wilson’s play (and, by proxy, the offensive line).  And, when you talk about 2015 being a “turning point”, you can’t forget that this was the season where Russell Wilson elevated his game to the next level.  Where, if he can keep it up for the long haul, he’s looking at a probable Hall of Fame career.

Wilson has always been good.  You don’t get to back-to-back Super Bowls if your quarterback isn’t good.  But, take a look at his numbers this year compared to an average of his numbers from 2012-2014, and you’ll see what I’m talking about:

  • 2012-2014:  265/417, 63.5% completions, 3,317 yards, 24 TDs, 9 INTs, 6 Fumbles
  • 2015:  329/483, 68.1% completions, 4,024 yards, 34 TDs, 8 INTs, 3 Fumbles

I mean, that’s a massive increase in production.  If he matches those numbers – or hell, if he manages to get BETTER – you’re talking about a consistent MVP candidate every year for the next decade.  2015 will go down in Seahawks lore as the year Russell Wilson started to put it all together.  Just think, we’re right at the start of his prime!  And he MIGHT be even better than anything we’ve seen to date!

Wilson’s improved play obviously trickled down to the receivers.  Doug Baldwin was the primary beneficiary, and it’s nice to see him start to get the recognition he deserves.  78 receptions, 1,069 yards, and 14 TDs were all career highs, the 14 TDs tying him for the league lead with Brandon Marshall and Allen Robinson.  11 of those 14 TDs came during an all-time great outburst of production over five games, from Week 12 thru Week 16.  Here’s to hoping it continues, and the Wilson to Baldwin connection goes down in Seahawks history with the likes of Krieg to Largent (or, I guess Zorn to Largent, I can never remember who Largent did more with).

2015 was a markedly down year for Marshawn Lynch (and sadly, probably the last for him in a Seahawks uniform), but it saw the rise of Thomas Rawls, before he was tragically cut down with a broken ankle in Week 14.  Before that, in somewhat limited action, he ran for 830 yards and a 5.6 yards per carry average (both leading the team).  As this was his rookie season, we should still have him under team control for the next few years.  If he recovers from his injury and returns to form, the offense doesn’t skip much of a beat if the team indeed lets Lynch go.  Rawls is still a rookie, and has some stuff to work on (mostly his hands in the pass-catching part of his game), but there’s a lot to like about where this team is headed as we enter in the great unknown of a Lynch-less future.

Speaking of other exciting, productive rookies, Tyler Lockett was an All Pro returner who just so happened to quickly integrate himself into the offense as the team’s third receiver.  He finished his rookie season third on the team in yards with 664, and second on the team in receptions and receiving touchdowns with 51 and 6 respectively.  His speed is among the best in the league, allowing our offense to take out the top of opposing defenses; even when he’s not catching long bombs, he’s a weapon other teams have to plan around, opening up options underneath for guys like Baldwin, Kearse, and Graham.

Speaking of Kearse and Graham, I thought they were wildly successful in 2015 and I hope to have both back in the fold going forward.  Kearse is a free agent, so it’s unknown at this time what his market is going to be.  It’s also unknown how much the Seahawks are willing to allocate to him, with so many other needs on the roster.  Kearse isn’t flashy, but he’s gotten better every year.  He’s got reliable hands and a good rapport with Wilson.  As Baldwin ascended to become one of the top receivers in the league, Kearse sort of supplanted him as Wilson’s security blanket.  You’re not going to get a ton of big plays out of him, but he runs good routes, and he’s physical.  As a fan since his UW days, I could understand it if the Seahawks moved on, but I have to admit I’d be a little heartbroken to see him in another uniform (maybe watch out for the 49ers on this one; he seems like a guy who’d be right up their alley as they try to replace Anquan Boldin).

Graham, on the other hand, caught a lot of shit early on this season.  Well, partly Graham, and partly the offensive coordinator.  I always liked the move to bring Graham in (though, I’ve come around on the point that the Seahawks should probably build up their receivers from within, as opposed to trading or signing for big name studs); I thought Unger was poised to continue breaking down (he ended up playing in all 16 games for the Saints, but he is getting up there in age), and I thought we could get by with the guys we had in camp along our offensive line.  But, when the team struggled out of the gate – and the offensive line played like a turnstile – it was obvious all around that the team had miscalculated some things in their off-season plan.  Letting Unger and Carpenter go proved to be a major setback, much more glaring than we ever could have anticipated.  And, with the Seahawks struggling to get Graham the ball through the first five weeks of the season, the whole thing looked like an unmitigated disaster!  But, I’ll say this:  Graham’s numbers improved as the season went along and everyone got more comfortable with everyone else.  The offensive line settled down with Patrick Lewis, giving Wilson time to throw, and Bevell finally figured out the right plays to call to get the most out of our Pro Bowl tight end.  While Graham’s touchdown numbers never came around, he had big games against the Panthers, Cowboys, and Steelers before he was lost for the season with a torn patellar tendon.  On the plus side, he should make a full recovery, and the hope is for his rapport with Wilson to get better and better.  If we can just figure out how to get him the ball in the red zone, there won’t be any stopping us!

This post is already starting to balloon on me, so instead of cramming the defense in today, I’ll save that post for tomorrow.  In spite of my negativity towards that unit, there is still a lot to like about that side of the ball, for 2015 and going forward.

Revising My All-Time Seahawks Greats

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:

Quarterback

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.

Running Back

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!

Wide Receiver

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.

Tight End

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.

Fullback

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.

Offensive Line

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.

Defensive End

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.

Defensive Tackle

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.

Linebacker

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.

Cornerback

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!

Safety

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!

Special Teams

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.

#8 – Doug Baldwin

To see the full list of the Top 10 Most Important Seahawks in 2014, click here.

Spoiler Alert:  Doug Baldwin is one of my very favorite Seahawks playing for this team right now.  You gotta like the underdogs, am I right?

We all know about Doug Baldwin, superficially.  Undrafted free agent out of Stanford in 2011, he earned a roster spot right out of the gate.  To be fair, the Seahawks had a real dearth of talent at the time.  Yes, they’d made the playoffs in 2010, but it was as a 7-9 squad with tons of turnover at the back-end.  It was a good time to be an undrafted guy, or a lowly-drafted guy, because there were tons of spots up for grabs.  I know Pete Carroll always says that everyone needs to compete for their spots at all times, but let’s be realistic:  if you’re good enough and talented enough, you’re not losing your spot.  Richard Sherman doesn’t have to worry about his job, no matter HOW talented Tharold Simon is.

In 2011, though, it was wide open.  And, to his credit, not only did Doug Baldwin take advantage of his opportunity, he thrived, leading the team in yards as a rookie.  His numbers hit a dip in 2012 due to injuries, but he returned in 2013 as good as ever.  And, in 2014, another opportunity has opened for him.  It’ll be interesting to see him once again seize this opportunity and surpass expectations beyond our wildest dreams.

Doug Baldwin has always had a heavy role in the offense, but this year he’s going to be a starter on the outside – rather than the slot – for the first time in his career.  Sure, he’s had some experience out there, but now that’s his primary position.  Instead of going up against a lot of nickel corners, he’ll be going up against the best of what other teams have to offer on the outside.  Will he be able to hold his own, the way Golden Tate was able to?  I think so, without a doubt.

Doug Baldwin can do anything he sets his mind to; you can’t say that about everyone.  I mean, think about it, we’re over here wondering if Cliff Avril can rush the passer from the LEO position – because he’s been so comfortable rushing the passer from the other side – and there’s a legitimate concern that Avril will struggle now that he has to go up against a left tackle on most plays.  To be honest, I DON’T think Avril can do anything he puts his mind to (don’t mean to pick on him, but that’s just the example that came immediately to mind).  Doug Baldwin, on the other hand, could probably figure out how to play quarterback if you gave him enough time!

Doug Baldwin has always been critical in making this offense go.  He’s got the most reliable hands, he runs the most precise routes, and he’s got the best body control on the team, which is how he’s able to make all those circus catches on the sideline.  He’s always there when we need to convert and Russell Wilson is running for his life.  The rapport those two share is unlike any we’ve seen between quarterback and wide receiver since Dave Krieg and Steve Largent (with an honorable mention going to Hasselbeck & Engram).

This year, though, Baldwin’s importance goes through the roof.  Most people talk about Percy Harvin replacing Golden Tate, but that’s not really accurate.  Percy Harvin’s role in this offense is going to look nothing like Tate’s.  In reality, Harvin is replacing Baldwin, because it’s Baldwin who is replacing Tate!

This offense is always going to have the threat of the deep pass at its disposal, because it’s always going to have the great running game.  With the great running game, you’ve got defenses who will want to crowd the line of scrimmage.  With Harvin also doing the bulk of his damage around the line, you’ve got to figure defenses will be more keyed in than ever before on what’s going on in the short field.  Which means that Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse on the outside will be the beneficiaries of a lot of our deep balls on play-action.  Can Baldwin do what Tate did?  Can he win more often than not on those jump balls?  Can he shed tackles and break plays for long runs?  Most of America doubts that he can, but not me.  I think he’ll be on-par with what Tate was able to bring.  And, at a fraction of the cost, it was why I wanted so desperately for this team to choose Baldwin over Tate in this past offseason.  I think Tate will be great in Detroit, opposite Calvin Johnson.  But, I think Baldwin will be the more important and more efficient player in Seattle.

Speaking of contract, Doug Baldwin is locked in for the next three years.  He was a restricted free agent, meaning he was going to get something around $2.4 million for this year.  Instead, we were able to lock him in at 3 years, $13 million – a VERY reasonable deal.  This bought us a few more years at a good cap number, while it gave Baldwin a little security and a nice payday.  After the 2016 season, Baldwin will be 28 years old, which is RIGHT in the sweet spot in his career.  If he’s able to continue his upward trajectory, it’ll be interesting to see the decision the Seahawks make on who to keep or not.  I know this is three years away, but if Baldwin does well, and continues to improve, he could be looking at a HUGE deal.  It would be nice to see Baldwin end up a lifelong Seahawk.  That Wilson to Baldwin connection needs to be something we see through to the bitter end.

Marcus Trufant Retired

This is what it comes to when you desperately don’t want to write (or think) about the Seattle Mariners.

Marcus Trufant signed a 1-day contract with the Seahawks so he could retire with the team yesterday.  Seems appropriate.  He’s an important member of the local sports community and he deserves to have his day in the sun.

That’s not really what I find interesting about the whole thing, though.  It’s a nice story, but I’m more interested in his place in Seahawks history.  Specifically:  does he belong in the Ring of Honor?

Right now, there are 11 members of the Ring of Honor.  They are:

  1. Pete Gross
  2. Jim Zorn
  3. Dave Brown
  4. Steve Largent
  5. Jacob Green
  6. Dave Krieg
  7. Kenny Easley
  8. Curt Warner
  9. Chuck Knox
  10. Cortez Kennedy
  11. Walter Jones

The first nine were members of those great teams from the early-to-mid 80s.  They helped establish the history of the Seattle Seahawks.  The baseline for greatness, if you will.  Cortez represents all the teams from the 90s, as he was the shining beacon of hope on an otherwise pisspoor franchise.  Walter Jones represents the start of the second wave of great Seahawks teams after the turn of the century.

There will be more.  Off the top of my head, I’d say Mike Holmgren, Matt Hasselbeck, and Shaun Alexander are all locks to make the Ring of Honor, as they were the most important members (with Big Walt) of the aforementioned second wave that saw the Seahawks reach its first-ever Super Bowl.

And, if I’m allowed to look into my crystal ball, I’d say there are a number of awesome candidates in this current third wave of great Seahawks teams:  Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, with an outside shot for Marshawn Lynch and Kam Chancellor.

This Ring of Honor’s getting crowded!  I’m sure that plays no small part in determining the outcome of players on the fringe.  Guys like Michael Sinclair, Joe Nash, Jeff Bryant, Brian Blades, Chris Warren, Eugene Robinson, John L. Williams, Brandon Mebane, and of course, Marcus Trufant.

The ultimate honor for a retired NFL player is the Hall of Fame.  You have to be a VERY special player to crack that barrier.  The Seahawks have three:  Largent, Kennedy, and Jones.  In looking ahead, I’d say Russell Wilson is on track (though, he’s going to need a couple more Super Bowl victories and a long sustained career of greatness), Richard Sherman is well on his way, and if Earl Thomas keeps going the way he’s going, he’ll likely get in as well.  Aside from those three, you might see Mike Holmgren make it, but it’s so hard for coaches to get in, and besides he really had his greater success with Green Bay anyway.

The next-level honor for a retired NFL player is his primary team’s Ring of Honor (or team hall of fame, or whatever).  That’s where you get to have your Hall of Famers, as well as the guys who may not have been good enough for that elite level, but still made a huge impact on that specific franchise.

There really should be a third-level honor, though.  Some sort of “Fan Favorite” type of honor where these guys like Marcus Trufant – and the other fringe guys listed above – get their due.

Marcus Trufant was a real professional.  In 2007, he made the Pro Bowl and the All Pro teams.  He’s currently fifth in franchise history in interceptions with 21 (one ahead of Richard Sherman, for the record).  He played 10 seasons in Seattle as a first round draft pick back in 2003.  He started immediately and was really one of our rocks in a secondary that was often torched (or, at the very least, not all that impressive).  He was an integral part of that second wave of great Seahawks teams, from 2003 through 2007 (five consecutive playoff appearances, four consecutive division titles, one Super Bowl appearance).

Marcus Trufant deserves … something!  He may not be Ring of Honor calibre, but he was a very good Seahawk and it’s been an honor to root him on for all those years.

Wilson High School Football Rules!

The Best Players On The Worst Teams, Part IV: Everything Else

Part I – Felix Hernandez

Part II – Other Seattle Mariners

Part III – Seattle Seahawks

There aren’t enough Sonics to include on this list to make it worth my while for a whole post, mostly because the Sonics had been consistently good throughout the years.  With the exception of the early going (the first seven years or so) and the late going (the last six years or so, before they left Seattle).  One name that popped to mind immediately was Ray Allen.  Of course, he went on to have great success with the Celtics (and I guess the Heat, depending on whether they can pull out these Finals), but in his time in Seattle, the Sonics greatly underachieved, with only one post-season appearance to his name.  Technically, I’m not counting players like Ray Allen, since the whole idea is to praise the guys who have suffered their whole careers on terrible teams, but as I said before, the pickin’s are pretty slim across Sonics history.

I was also halfway tempted to put Rashard Lewis on this list, as his Sonics teams were pretty underwhelming too.  But, he did go to Orlando, and they did go to the playoffs in three straight seasons, including one Finals appearance.  So, screw off to Lewis; he had his chance.

Once you rule out all the great players from the 70s, 80s, and 90s (for being on consistently good-to-great teams), the only name that comes immediately to mind is Bob Rule, the old Sonics center from the very first Sonics teams.  I don’t know much at all about these early-going Sonics, but I know Bob Rule was quite good in his day.  And, from the looks of things, he NEVER made the playoffs in his 8 seasons in the league.

***

I likewise don’t have a great handle on all the Husky teams throughout the ages, but there’s one name that can’t be denied.  He might be the greatest Husky football player who ever lived.  At the very least, we’re talking about a guy in the Top 5 or Top 10 in all time Huskies.  Of course, I’m talking about Jake Locker.

When you think of great Husky teams, I’m sure you think of the Don James era.  Maybe you think about some of those teams in the 1920s, or the Jim Owens era if you’re real old school.  If you’re some young punk idiot, you’ll think about a couple of those Neuheisel teams, because those are the years I attended the university.  The point is, there are PLENTY of great Husky teams to choose from.  As there are PLENTY of great Husky players to choose from.

But, when you think of truly terrible Husky teams, you think of every season after the Neuheisel era.  You think of Gilby and Willingham.  You think of 2008 and 0-12.  And, of course, you have to think about Jake Locker.

Now, obviously, if we’re talking about one of the greatest Husky football players of all time, then you know we’re talking about teams that were terrible in spite of their leader!  Nevertheless, in his first two years, the Huskies were 4-9 and 0-12 before Willingham was rightfully fired.  That’s a disgrace!  How could you possibly draw in a player SO GOOD, and end up with records so poor?  Well, of course, Locker was hurt for much of that 0-12 campaign (that really seemed to drag on and on and on until the end of time; if there is a Hell, it’s forever sitting in the freezing nosebleed seats at the end of October, 2008, as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish trounce your home team 33-7), but that’s neither here nor there.

Locker never had the talent around him.  Period.  Even when Sark came aboard, there was little hope.  You can’t turn around a program this inept in one or two years.  Locker’s third season was a marked improvement, but the Huskies were still only good enough to finish 5-7, bringing his 3-year record to 9-28.  Finally, though, in his Senior season, through the sheer force of Locker’s will, the Huskies made it back to a bowl game and kicked the asses of the Cornhuskers.  A 7-6 final season brought Locker’s total record to 16-34, which makes me weep a little on the inside.  Deep down, where I’m soft like a woman.

***

Upon conception of this post idea, it was supposed to center around Felix Hernandez.  I decided to broaden the scope and include other sports, so I reached out to some friends to give me ideas on other elite players who have been banished to terrible teams throughout their careers.  So, let’s get it on.

A lot of people feel sorry for Larry Fitzgerald, but let’s face it, if you’ve ever played in a Super Bowl, you’re disqualified (I don’t care HOW terrible his quarterbacks have been since Kurt Warner retired).  So, forget about him, and start getting a huge sad sack boner over Steven Jackson.  Nine years in the league to date, all with St. Louis.  In his first season (2004), the Rams made the playoffs (remember the game where they beat the Seahawks in the Wild Card round?) and won a single game before losing the following week.  At that time, Jackson was sharing the load with the legendary Marshall Faulk, so he didn’t even get a full allotment of carries in his lone post-season appearance!

In a real oddity, the Rams for Jackson’s entire career (including 2004) have never had a winning record.  At best, they’ve been 8-8 (twice); at worst, they’ve been 1-15 (once) and 2-14 (twice).  His total record in the NFL is 44-99-1.  His stats to date are:  10,135 yards, 56 touchdowns, 407 receptions, 3,324 receiving yards, 8 receiving touchdowns, in 131 total games.  My hunch:  we’re talking about a guy who will be in the Hall of Fame one day.  And it’s only now, as he’s signed with the Atlanta Falcons, where he will finally get a real taste of the post-season life.  Even then, nothing is guaranteed in the NFL.  I generally dislike the teams in Seattle’s division and the players on those teams, but Steven Jackson is one of the good ones.  If it weren’t a foregone conclusion that the Seahawks are going all the way this year, I’d root like crazy for Jackson and the Falcons.

Next on my list of the parade of the damned, we’ve got probably my favorite running back of all time:  Barry Sanders.  Ye GODS, was he spectacular!  Hands down, probably my favorite player to watch play the game of football.  He lasted 10 years, all with Detroit, before retiring at an age where he probably – if he wanted to – could have continued his career.  I mean, in his final season, he ran for 1,491 yards!  In his next-to-last season, he ran for over 2,000 yards!  If that’s not a guy who’s still in the prime of his life, I don’t know what to tell you.

The Detroit Lions, in his time, were consistently mediocre.  78-82.  Yes, they made the playoffs in five of his ten seasons, but they were never really CONTENDERS.  And, not for nothing, but the Lions’ playoff record in his tenure was 1-5; yes, they lost their first game 4 out of the 5 times his Lions made the playoffs.  Remember these names:  Rodney Peete, Dave Krieg, Scott Mitchell, Charlie Batch.  These are just a few of the quarterbacks who did little more than hand the ball off to Sanders and watch him try to carry the team into the playoffs.

OK, one more player before I finish for the day and continue this post later.  O.J. Simpson.  He IS a Hall of Famer!  He played in 11 seasons throughout the late 60s and all of the 70s, 9 of them in Buffalo before finishing his career in San Francisco (before they were SAN FRANCISCO).  In that time, Simpson played in exactly one playoff game, in 1974, against the Steelers, where they lost 32-14.  He ran it 15 times for 49 yards with another 3 receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown.  Those are the entirety of his playoff numbers.  Little did the world know then just what kind of an asshole he would become, but at the time of his retirement, I suppose you had to feel sorry for the guy.

To be continued …

The Best Players On The Worst Teams, Part III: Seattle Seahawks

Part I – Felix Hernandez

Part II – Other Seattle Mariners

The single greatest travesty in Seattle sports history might be the fact that Steve Largent never had a chance to win a Super Bowl.  Largent joined the team in its first year of existence, 1976.  The team had a winning record in only its third season, but didn’t make the playoffs until 1983.  That was the year the Seahawks beat the Elway-led Broncos and the Marino-led Dolphins, but ended up losing to the Plunkett-led Raiders in the AFC title game.

That would be the closest Largent ever made it to the Super Bowl.

The Seahawks returned to the playoffs the following year, losing in the second round.  Then, the Seahawks cracked a Wild Card spot in ’87 & ’88, but lost in the first round both times.  Largent retired after the 1989 season with only four playoff appearances under his belt and a 3-4 record in those playoffs.  His Seahawks teams, in the regular season, were a remarkably mediocre 103-109.  They passed on such studs as John Elway & Dan Marino in the 1983 draft and were rewarded with a very-good running back in Curt Warner who was also very injury prone.  I’m sure there were other studs along the way that this team missed out on, which rendered Largent’s career a little lacking.  He was the greatest wide receiver of all time when he retired (to be surpassed by Art Monk and later Jerry Rice) and he certainly deserved better.

***

The other Hall of Fame Seahawk had a tougher go of it while he was here.  Cortez Kennedy played 11 seasons, all in Seattle, and he was the finest defensive tackle I’ve ever seen play the game.  He was drafted with the #3 overall pick in 1990 and made an immediate impact on this team.  Unfortunately, he was the ONLY player who made an impact on this team, as the early 90s were Seattle’s darkest period.

Like Largent, Kennedy’s Seahawks were also remarkably mediocre, with a 76-100 record.  Unlike Largent, Kennedy’s Seahawks would only see the playoffs one time.  In Kennedy’s tenth season in the league, as his career was winding down, he was playing for his fourth head coach.  Fortunately, this coach was future Hall of Famer Mike Holmgren.  With a 9-7 record, the Seahawks won the AFC West and hosted a Wild Card round game.  What should have been a nice little story out of the Pacific Northwest turned into the Trace Armstrong Show as he got three sacks and killed our chances at a late-game comeback.  This game ended up being the last victory in Dan Marino’s storied career (as the Dolphins would go on to get destroyed by Jacksonville the following week, 62-7), but it was also the last and only taste of the post-season for Cortez Kennedy.

Tez played the 2000 season, but by this point he was just a shell of his former self.  He ended up retiring (after the team decided to not re-sign him, and after other teams decided they didn’t want to give him a chance) with an 0-1 record in the playoffs.

***

Jim Zorn definitely falls into the Steve Largent realm of Seattle greats without much success.  Zorn was supplanted by Dave Krieg in the 1983 season, having participated in just three playoff games (but only playing significant minutes in just the one game, the loss to the Raiders in the AFC title game).

Dave Krieg is less-deserving, as he finished his career with the Chiefs and Lions and made the playoffs with both teams.  Besides that, Krieg really stunk up the joint in that AFC Title game (0 TDs & 3 INTs) and I never much cared for him anyway.  Me and my family always liked to make fun of his small hands and his fumble-prone ways.  Suffice it to say, the Taylors don’t revere the man like most of the rest of Seattle seems to (revisionist thinking at its finest; Krieg was a bum).

Toss Kenny Easley into the pile.  He played in one less playoff game than Largent, but his hard-luck ways were due more to his injuries preventing him from being one of the all-time greatest safeties.  Jacob Green was the finest and most-durable defensive end in Seahawks history, and he shares in the woes of those teams in the 80s.  Eugene Robinson WOULD appear on this list, except he went on to great success with the Packers (his Super Bowl-day arrest while playing with the Falcons notwithstanding).

Brian Blades is the last name on this list.  He was drafted in the 2nd round in 1988 and went on to become the second-greatest wide receiver in team history.  Blades played in 11 seasons, all with Seattle.  Yet, his only playoff appearance took place in his rookie year of 1988, where the Seahawks lost in the Wild Card round to the Cincinnati Bengals.  Blades caught 5 balls for 78 yards (while Largent caught only 2 for 17), which represented a passing of the torch from one legend to another.  Nevertheless, those 5 balls were the only ones he would catch in the post-season.  He retired after the 1998 season and missed out on all the greatness this franchise would have after the turn of the century.

***

For the record, I’m not including any of the players who were featured on those great Holmgren teams.  Let’s face it, if you were involved in five consecutive playoff appearances, no one is feeling sorry for you.  You had your chances, including a Super Bowl appearance at the end of the 2005 season.  Those teams were great, and so it’s hard to lament guys like Walter Jones, Shaun Alexander, and Matt Hasselbeck.  They were truly great players, but they were also on great teams.  And, if I wanted to list all the Seahawks who never won a Super Bowl, this post would be a million words long.

Ranking The Quarterbacks The Seahawks Have Drafted, All Time

Is Russell Wilson already the greatest quarterback the Seahawks have ever drafted?

I don’t have the link handy, but I was reading a Seahawks blog and he mentioned how Russell Wilson will likely go down as the greatest quarterback the Seahawks have ever drafted.  For a split second (in just the amount of time it took to finish the man’s sentence), I thought that was NUTS, but of course the best QBs we’ve had haven’t been drafted by this team.  Zorn was claimed off of waivers, Krieg was an undrafted free agent, Hasselbeck came via trade … hell, even Warren Moon was a free agent signing.

So, I decided to go back, draft-by-draft, and see just who the Seahawks HAVE drafted.  It’s a real Who’s Who of Utter Crap, let me tell you.  Here’s the list, in order:

  • Steve Myer (1976 4th rounder, 93rd overall) – played in 12 games (started 4) over 3 seasons.  He was 83 of 160 for 851 yards, 6 TDs, 14 INTs, and a 43.5 rating.
  • Chris Rowland (1976 17th rounder, 461 overall) – did not play in the NFL.
  • Sam Adkins (1977 10th rounder, 254 overall) – played in 11 games (started 0) over 4 seasons.  He was 17 of 39 for 232 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, and a 40.7 rating.
  • John Conner (1985 10th rounder, 277 overall) – did not play in the NFL.
  • David Norrie (1986 11th rounder, 291 overall) – did not play for the Seahawks.  Played in 2 games overall, compiled a 48.4 rating.
  • Sammy Garza (1987 8th rounder, 216 overall) – did not play for the Seahawks.  Played in 2 games overall, compiled a 63.1 rating.
  • John Gromos (1990 12th rounder, 312 overall) – did not play in the NFL.
  • Dan McGwire (1991 1st rounder, 16th overall) – played in 5 seasons, 4 with the Seahawks.  He played in 12 games (started 5) and had 1 other game with the Dolphins where he attempted one pass (incomplete).  He was 74 of 147 for 745 yards, 2 TDs, 6 INTs, and a 52.7 rating with the Seahawks.
  • Rick Mirer (1993 1st rounder, 2 overall) – played in 8 seasons, 4 with the Seahawks.  He played in 55 games (started 51) and played in 25 other games with 4 other teams (starting 17).  He was 814 of 1,523 for 9,094 yards, 41 TDs, 56 INTs, and a 65.2 rating with the Seahawks.
  • Brock Huard (1999 3rd rounder, 77 overall) – played in 3 seasons, 2 with the Seahawks.  He played in 6 games (started 4) and played in 2 other games with the Colts where he was 2 of 3 for 22 yards.  He was 58 of 104 for 667 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs, and a 80.1 rating with the Seahawks.
  • Josh Booty (2001 6th rounder, 172 overall) – did not play in the NFL.
  • Jeff Kelly (2002 7th rounder, 232 overall) – played in 1 game (started 0) over 1 season.  He did not attempt a pass.
  • Seneca Wallace (2003 4th rounder, 110 overall) – played in 7 seasons, 5 with the Seahawks.  He played in 48 games (started 14) and played in 14 other games with Cleveland (starting 7).  He was 333 of 556 for 3,547 yards, 25 TDs, 14 INTs, and a 83.1 rating with the Seahawks.
  • David Greene (2005 3rd rounder, 85 overall) – played in 4 seasons, 2 with the Seahawks.  He did not play in any games.
  • Mike Teel (2009 6th rounder, 178 overall) – played in 2 seasons, 1 with the Seahawks.  He did not play in any games.
  • Russell Wilson (2012 3rd rounder, 75 overall) – has played in 1 game.  He was 18 for 34 for 153 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, and a 62.5 rating.

OK, so after one game, Wilson isn’t exactly the BEST Seahawks quarterback they ever drafted, but it’s remarkable how many of them he’s better than RIGHT NOW.  6 of the 15 other quarterbacks on the list never played a down in a regular season game.  One other never attempted a pass in his only game.  Two others never played for the Seahawks (and only played 2 games apiece).  That’s 9 of 15 right there!

I think you can easily rank him higher than Myer and Adkins right this very second, so that’s 11 of 15.  And I’m putting him above McGwire because he’s a dickhole!  That’s 12!

Next on the list is Huard.  I think Wilson is at LEAST one game, maybe two, away from passing him.  Then you’ve got Rick Mirer, who you probably have to give his due just because he won rookie of the year in 1993.  But boy, did his career take a fucking NOSEDIVE.

At the top of the list, I don’t care what anyone says, I’m putting Seneca Wallace!  That’s a downright decent QB rating he has!  He was always steady as a backup and if he were on a team with quarterback issues as a younger man (before he went to Cleveland as an injury-prone vet), he could have pushed for a starting job.  I have no doubt about it.

So, Wilson currently ranks #4 on the All Time Seahawks Drafted Quarterbacks List after one game.  Pathetic?  You betcha.  By the end of the year, he might even be #1.  Unthinkably pathetic?  No doubt about it.

#30 – Russell Wilson

To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2012, click here.

He may be #30 on this countdown, but Russell Wilson will be #1 in my heart if he does what I hope he does.  That would be:  unseating Tarvar as the backup quarterback on this team and causing Tarvar’s unceremonious dismissal.

I think I’m a patient man (actually, no, no I am not).  I’ve had to suffer years upon years of mediocre quarterbacking.  From the tail end of Dave Krieg’s fumble-prone career, to the triad of suck known as Kelly Stouffer, Dan McGwire & Stan Gelbaugh, to #2 overall draft pick-turned-bust Rick Mirer.  Then, you’ve got the underwhelming efforts of John Friesz, Jon Kitna, Trent Dilfer and Brock Huard (with a still-good, though highly injury-prone Warren Moon at the end of his Hall of Fame career mixed in for good measure).  Have I NOT suffered enough as a Seahawks fan?  I’m sorry, but a half-decade’s worth of Pro Bowl-calibre effort from Matt Hasselbeck cannot erase the entire decade of the 90s.

Tarvar is the icing on the cake e coli on the Jack In The Box hamburger that is the quarterback position of the Seattle Seahawks for the last 20+ years (again, give or take a few great Hasselbeck seasons).  It’s not enough to know that Tarvar won’t be the starting quarterback going into this season; I want him out of my life FOREVER.  I don’t even want a CHANCE of him entering the game as a hobbled Flynn limps off the field after a particularly nasty sack.

Which means, obvs, I have to root for Russell Wilson to be extremely effective this pre-season.

Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?  That’s a thing people say when they’ve hatched a scheme and it concludes flawlessly.  Well, that’s sort of how I feel when one of my favorite teams eliminates the last of the players I hate.  Tarvar, really, is the only guy on the Seahawks I actively don’t like.  Not because I think he’s a bad person.  Just because I think he’s a bad quarterback.  I will be popping open a bottle of champagne the day this team releases him, thanking the heavens that the clouds have parted and I’m free of mediocrity once and for all!