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  But, it’s CLEARLY out of date now.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.

#16 – Zach Miller

To see the full list of the 20 best Seahawks in 2012, click here.

Since arriving on that big 5-year, $34 million free agent deal, Seahawks fans have been desperately yearning for something they’ve never had:  a tight end who would be a force on offense.  I mean, Itula Mili was great and all, but when you’re pointing to that guy and saying, “There goes the greatest Seahawks tight end in team history,” you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do.  Obviously, Mike Holmgren and Company thought John Carlson would be that guy when they traded up to draft him.  But, injury concerns (most recently the concussion he suffered in that playoff game against the Bears) forced the Seahawks to let the young man walk (where he went to the Vikings and caught 8 balls in 14 games in 2012 after not playing at all in 2011).

It’s putting it mildly that Seahawks fans have been desperate for a tight end they can count on.  Not just a guy who sticks around forever, catching a ball here and there.  A guy who other teams have to game-plan for!  A guy who, even though other teams game-plan for him, he STILL manages to make a positive impact!

I don’t think anyone expected Miller to be the next Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski (if they were even a thing back in the summer of 2011, I don’t even know if they were in the league yet).  But, I think it was safe to say they expected someone in the second or third tier.  Maybe not Tony Gonzalez exactly, but at 6’5, 255 lbs, not too far from Tony Gonzalez either.

What we got was 25 receptions for 233 yards and 0 touchdowns in 2011.  Was it his fault that the Seahawks were breaking in an all-new offensive line (including two rookies)?  Not at all.  He was required to stay in and block, helping everyone who’d be learning Tom Cable’s zone blocking system.  It took that team at least half the season before they started clicking with the run game, but for the most part, pass protection suffered throughout the entirety of the season.  That left Miller to mostly double-team on the right side of the line.

Also, not for nothing, but that was the year we had the Tarvar Experiment.  Was it his fault his quarterback was kind of a dud?  Again, not at all.

Yet, Seahawks fans – as impatient as they come, apparently – were livid.  Every time Miller caught a ball, you’d read snark after endless snark on Twitter.  He came back in 2012 to catch 38 balls for 396 yards and 3 TDs.  Not an insane amount of improvement, but improvement nonetheless.  In December, Miller caught two of those TDs, so I guess you could make the argument that the offense got better as the season went along when it comes to targeting its primary tight end.

What leaves me with a lot of hope is how he performed in the playoffs.  With all the marbles on the line, Miller caught 12 balls (on 15 targets) for 190 yards and a touchdown in two games.  That’s incredible!  We all know Russell Wilson’s game improved dramatically as the season wore on, but until the playoffs, we didn’t really have a good sense of how he would gel with Miller going into next year.  As it turns out, Wilson finally figured out how to use one of his primary weapons:  seam routes down the middle of the field.

This is going to open things up that much more in 2013.  Yes, the play-action passing game will always be there to stretch the field.  But, if Wilson can work on his rhythm passing game, and start nailing those intermediate routes to guys like Miller, you’re looking at one killer offense.

But, this isn’t about 2013.  This is about 2012.  And Miller is on this list because he’s good, regardless of the crap you hear from most Seahawks fans.  He’s an elite blocker for a tight end, and he’s starting to come into his own with this offense.  This isn’t an offense that’s going to have huge numbers from its receivers.  Miller won’t catch 100 balls in a season as a Seahawk.  But, I’ll tell you this much:  we wouldn’t have been in a position to win that game in Atlanta if we didn’t have Zach Miller.

I’m really looking forward to him breaking out in 2013.  I would expect upwards of 8 or 9 touchdowns if he plays his cards right and manages to stay healthy.

All-Time Seahawks Greats Part I

So, for your information, I’m robbing this idea from Seahawks.com.  I thought a fan-voted poll was interesting and was curious how spot-on they were.  I also wanted to see if I could pick a Blue & Green Dream Second Team … but eventually lost interest in trying to find the NEXT five best offensive linemen.

Also, for your information, I’m getting all forthcoming stats and information from this site.  Right or wrong, LEROY JENKINS!

Starting with Quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck is obviously the Number 1 choice.  He’s got Dave Krieg beat in Total Yards, Games Played, Completion Percentage, and Yards Per Game.  Surprisingly, Krieg has 21 more touchdown passes (even more surprisingly when you consider he played under Ground Chuck), but Krieg also has 20 more interceptions, so I guess that somewhat evens out.

Know what’s really sad?  After Hasselbeck, Krieg, and Zorn, you know who our 4th and 5th best all-time quarterbacks were?  Try Jon Kitna and Rick Mirer (in PROBABLY that order, though Mirer did throw about 1,500 more yards while in a Seahawk uni).  Fun fact:  if you went by total yards, Charlie Whitehurst is already our 17th best QB (and a mere 160 yards behind our 16th best QB, Brock Huard).

On to Running Back; again, kind of a no-brainer.  Shaun Alexander was on a Hall of Fame track … then he signed a big contract extension after a Super Bowl season in which he ran for 1,880 yards and a league-record (for 1 season) 27 touchdowns.  From there, he turned 30, developed foot problems, struggled for 2 more years and was forced into early retirement after a brief, non-descript stint with the Washington Redskins.  Still, in his time, he eclipsed the next best rushers by nearly 3,000 yards and 45 touchdowns.

As for my Official Second Team Running Back, I’d have to go with Curt Warner.  Though, did you know that Chris Warren beat Warner by a single yard in total yardage?  When you factor in Warner had 10 more TDs while also playing for vastly superior Seahawk teams, I’m giving him the nod.  Honorable mention goes to Ricky ‘Running’ Watters.  He only played with us for 4 seasons, but was forced into retirement while still running at an elite level (and because Alexander was chomping at the bit to take over the reigns).  There’s a lot to like about Watters’ hard-nosed style, though.

Fun fact #2:  Jim Zorn is our 9th best runner, with 1,491 total yards.  Fun fact #3:  Julius Jones is #10.

At Wide Receiver, we have our consensus #1 overall choice, Hall of Famer Steve Largent.  Just putting it out there:  he’s my favorite football player of all time.  And, I gotta say, he doesn’t get NEARLY the credit he’s due, considering he owned just about every single receiving record by the time he retired after the 1989 season.  13,089 yards, 819 receptions, 100 touchdowns, 16.0 yards per catch.  He was with us from the very beginning, made Dave Krieg look like an elite quarterback at times, and it’s too bad he never got a Super Bowl championship to cap off a wonderful career.

After that, on the list we have Brian Blades and Bobby Engram.  Blades ended his career as our Number 2 receiver, picking up the slack after Largent retired; Engram became our 4th best receiver.  Sandwiched between them, and obviously not getting the respect he’s due, is Darrell Jackson.  Jackson had about 1,600 more yards than Engram and was our only semblance of a Number 1 receiver during his tenure.  I can’t fathom why Engram was picked over Jackson, except that he was more of a fan favorite.  Maybe it was Jackson’s drops early in his career.  Maybe it was his contentious relationship with management that soured him on Seahawks fans.  Or, maybe it was all those clutch 3rd down receptions Engram made to extend drives during our best Seahawks seasons in the ’00s.

My Official Second Team, therefore, will lead off with Jackson.  I’m also going to take Joey Galloway, who would’ve been an absolute SUPERSTAR had he not made beef with Holmgren and forced his own ouster (as a plus, it should be noted that we received two first round draft picks from the Cowboys in exchange for his services; he was helping the Seahawks even when he wasn’t playing for ’em).  It’s that third receiver that’s giving me fits, though.  On our all-time receiving yards list, John L. Williams is #6, but he’s obviously NOT a wide receiver.  Discounting other running backs and tight ends, the stats would tell me to pick Koren Robinson, but I’m most certainly NOT going in that direction.  If I were picking an actual team, then I’d have my speed guy (Galloway), I’d have my Number 2 flanker (Jackson), so I’ll need a slot guy to round out the trio.  Here’s where I throw you my curveball:  Paul Skansi.  He was only #14 on our all-time yardage list, but he had one of the most memorable catches in Seahawks history, and I think he’d be an excellent complement to who I have.

Tight End is probably the most questionable choice the fans made:  John Carlson.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy.  I think, without question, he WILL be our all-time best tight end when all is said and done.  But, he’s only been here for 3 years!  Granted, in terms of all-time Seahawks tight ends, he’s #3 on the list for total yardage, but that just shows how TERRIBLE we’ve been, as a franchise, at the tight end position (see:  Jerramy Stevens).  Right now, I’ll take Itula Mili over both Carlson and Christian Fauria (#2 in total yards).  He was a steady contributer, an excellent run blocker, and an all-around pro’s pro.

At Full Back, who could argue with Mack Strong?  He was, bar none, our greatest asset in the running game when we were at our best.  Shaun Alexander wouldn’t have had NEAR the success he had without Strong clearing the way.  Plus, that NAME!  That’s just an all-time great NFL name no matter WHAT team you’re on!  For my personal Second Team, I’m going the other way with John L. Williams.  I don’t remember what kind of a blocker he was – he seemed more like an oversized running back than a traditional full back – but he was an asset both rushing and receiving.  I mean hell, you heard me mention him earlier:  he’s our #6 all time receiver in yardage!  Helluva guy, very under-appreciated considering he played for some down teams.  Not for nothin’, but he’s also our 4th best rusher in terms of total yards.

At Offensive Line, like I said earlier, I couldn’t possibly pick a Second 5.  Soon-to-be Hall of Famer Walter Jones anchors our left side along with Probable Hall of Famer Steve Hutchinson.  Rounding it out, we’ve got Robbie Tobeck at center (making that 3/5 of our Super Bowl line).  On the right side, we’ve got Bryan Millard and Howard Ballard.  I don’t remember too much about those guys, except I think Ballard was one of the fattest individuals to ever play the position.  Don’t quote me on that.

In Part II, I’ll look at the defensive side of the ball.  I don’t know how much help I’ll be there, but I’ll give it my best shot.