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  But, it’s CLEARLY out of date now.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.

All Time Seahawks Greats Part II

Again, 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!

The fans certainly got our Devensive Ends correct.  Jacob Green had 97.5 official sacks (though, unofficially he had well over 100, since sacks weren’t an official stat until 1982).  Michael Sinclair is Number 2 on our list with 73.5 sacks.  Sinclair played for some tremendous defenses who racked up an ungodly amount of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

After those two, if I were putting together a Second team, long-time Jacob Green teammate Jeff Bryant would be first on my list.  He had 63 sacks, good for #3 on the list.  After that, I’d have to bypass all the DTs and OLBs on our total sacks list.  I’d also bypass the HELL out of Patrick Kerney and probably go with Sinclair teammate Phillip Daniels.  He was here for a brief period (not NEARLY as brief and injury-plagued as Kerney), but he was a beast opposite Sinclair.  Mostly, he was a casualty of the salary cap; he got a better deal from the Chicago Bears and continued with a solid NFL career.

Defensive Tackle is probably our best overall position on the team.  Should-be Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy (and reason why our defense changed from the 3-4 we had throughout the 80s to the 4-3 we’ve employed to this day) is paired up with longtime fan-favorite (and ultimate field goal blocking specialist) Joe Nash.  I can’t say ENOUGH good things about these two guys.  If Largent is my favorite all-time football player, then Cortez is my favorite all-time defensive player.  I’ve loved that guy since the moment he joined this team; cemented by his Defensive Player Of The Year Award in 1992 (the only bright spot in our very worst season as a franchise).  Tez ended up 4th on our all-time sacks list with 58, in SPITE of constant double and sometimes triple-teams!  If he played anywhere else, he’d be in the Hall of Fame by now.  Since he played for the Seahawks (and since we were so bad in that stretch from 1990 to 2000), he’s finding it a struggle.  The NFL should be ashamed if this class act doesn’t get in, that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Not for nothin’, but Joe Nash is 6th on our sacks list.  He played from 1982 thru 1996 and somewhere in that stretch he had the team record for consecutive games played (since broken by steady offensive lineman Chris Gray).

As for the Second Team, I couldn’t have more quality guys to choose from.  Don’t forget who drafted Sam Adams before he went on to glory in Baltimore.  Don’t forget John Randle made an immediate impact in his brief stint with the team.  Don’t forget about Rocky Bernard, who was absolutely INTEGRAL in our Super Bowl run!  And I know it’s early, but if Mebane re-signs, we’re likely to see him as well climb this ladder of elite DTs.  I know I have to choose two here, and I’m telling you right now, Rocky Bernard IS one of them!  That brings us to Adams and Randle.  I know we had Randle at the tail-end of his Hall of Fame career, but he was still playing at a very high level.  Then again, Sam Adams would REALLY be the stout, run-stuffing nose tackle type my Second Team would need.  Fuck, this is hard.  And, I’m not gonna lie to you, it’s kinda bullshit!  I mean, hell, what NFL team doesn’t have at LEAST a 3-man Defensive Tackle rotation?  I’ll keep Adams and Bernard in there on 1st down; then swap out Adams for Randle on 3rd down when we need QB pressure!  Done and done.

OK, so Linebacker is where things are getting a little hairy.  The Website picked 4 linebackers, I guess a nod to the 3-4 defense we used to play.  If I were going to pick just 3 linebackers, then I’d have to say the fans are right on with their choices of Lofa Tatupu, Chad Brown, and Rufus Porter.  Lofa’s a born leader and a destructive influence in the middle for other teams.  Rufus, remember, was a sack master coming off the edge for us.  And Chad Brown, surprise surprise, is our leading overall tackler at the position.*

* I should point out here that Pro Football Reference for some reason didn’t keep good track of tackle numbers.  For instance, the 4th linebacker fans chose – Fredd Young, who played with us from ’84 – ’87 – doesn’t have ANY tackles.  I find that hard to believe.

Look, I don’t remember much, if anything, of Fredd Young’s Seahawks career.  I remember his 1988 Topps football card, and I remember him going to the Indianapolis Colts that very same year.  Apparently, he was a Pro Bowler; I dunno.  He IS a name I recognize, which is more than I can say for the slim pickin’s I have for Second Team Linebacker.

Off the bat, my instincts tell me Terry Wooden is a guy I should have.  I remember him as a steady, non-flashy kind of guy who wouldn’t miss many tackles (indeed, he’s #5 on our all-time list).  On the other side, I guess we’d have to look at #6, Tony Woods.  He played fewer seasons, but managed to put up some decent numbers.  And, if I had to go MLB, I guess I’d look at Dave Wyman?  #14 on all-time tackles list, I guess he’s a warm body.  Honorable Mention to Julian Peterson, who was a casualty of a regime change and a first round draft pick.  If memory serves, he was just cut by the Lions, which has to be a slap to the face of a very good career.  But, I wasn’t all that broken up about his leaving in the first place; he did little to really WOW us here.  Few more sacks couldn’t have hurt.

As for the Cornerbacks, I have nothing to add here.  Marcus Trufant and Dave Brown are our starters, with Shawn Springs as a nickel back.  I won’t dignify this position with selecting a second team.

Same kinda goes for Safeties; how am I EVER going to get anywhere NEAR the quality of Strong Safety Kenny Easley and Free Safety Eugene Robinson?  I guess Robert Blackmon should probably get an honorable mention here, but I can’t even remember if he was a Safety or a Corner and I’m too lazy and indifferent to look online and confirm!

Rounding off our All Time Seahawks Team, we have the Special Teams.

Kicker – Norm Johnson, Punter – Rick Tuten, Kick-Off Returner Steve Broussard, Punt Returner Nate Burleson.

Can’t argue with ol’ Norm, so I’ll make my Second Team choice Josh Brown over Todd Peterson.  Brown was Mr. Automatic while he was here, and the only reason we despise him so much for going to a division rival is because he’s the best kicker in the division.

You know what’s cool about the Kicker position, though?  We’ve almost NEVER had a bad kicker in my lifetime.  We had Norm from ’82 thru ’90, then an all-NFL great John Kasay from ’91 thru ’94 (before he decided to play closer to home in Carolina), then Peterson from ’95 thru ’99, then just a bit of a down spell with Rian Lindell from 2000 thru ’02, then back with Josh Brown from ’03 thru ’07 and Olindo Mare’s prowess ever since.  All in all, a very strong position for us.

Rick Bootin’ Tuten is by FAR our best punter, during a period where all we DID was punt!  I’ll take the ageless wonder Jeff Feagles for my Second Team.

Indeed, Steve Broussard DID have the most kickoff return yards in franchise history, but I’m going another direction here altogether:  Leon Washington.  Yes yes, I know, how can I have a problem with John Carlson being the Top Tight End having been here only 3 seasons, while saying Leon is our best kickoff returner after just 1?  Well, I’ll tell ya!  Do you know what our franchise record was for most kickoff returns for a touchdown was before 2010?  1, a record tied by 8 other guys.  INCLUDING Mr. Broussard over his 165 returns in four seasons.  Leon had 3, all in one year!  And, among guys with 50 or more returns, Leon is tops in average yards per return with 25.6 (Broussard, meanwhile, averaged 2 yards fewer per return).

And yes, Nate has our record for most punt return yardage, but there are a couple guys I like more.  Charlie Rogers is #3 on our list, but he had a higher per-return average.  I think, though, if I’m picking MY Second Team, then I’m going with Joey Galloway.  He has our team record of 4 punt return touchdowns and was ALWAYS a huge threat to take it to the house.  Anyone who saw his return against Jacksonville will testify that Galloway was an absolute monster in the open field.

Overall, though, I think the fans did a good job on this list.  11 guys from the New Era of great Seahawks teams in the ’00s, 15 guys from the Golden Age of good Seahawks teams in the ’80s, and 3 guys from our underachieving ’90s teams.

Player Profile: Jon Ryan

Will the best punter in the NFL be Mr. Jon Ryan?

Look who's got his own Wikipedia page ...

I don’t really MEAN to be a Negative God-Damned Nellie here, even though we’re still a few weeks away from the regular season and I’m already talking about our punter and how necessary he’s going to be to our overall well-being.  But, you know my stance already; my gut is telling me that we’re going to be a 6-10 team this year.  6-10 teams tend to use their punter more often than 10-6 teams, that’s just basic math!

Nevertheless, I do think we’ve got a good one in Jon Ryan.  Dude averaged 46.2 yards per punt last year (with a 38.7 net average)!  His punts-inside-the-20 percentage is 31.8 … I don’t know if that’s good or not.  Hang on, let me see which punters made the Pro Bowl last year …

Jeff Feagles!  That guy is still around?  You know we used to have that guy, right?  Well, anyway, Feags averaged 40.7 yards per punt (36 net) and a 35.9% punts-inside-the-20.

Ahh, here we go.  The class of the NFL, Oakland’s Shane Lechler.  51.1 yards per punt (43.9 net), but only a 31.3% punts-inside-the-20.  So, either the guy just booms the everliving out of each and every ball he kicks, or Oakland’s offense was so bad last year that he was constantly punting from his own endzone (I think my hunch will align with the latter).

I will say this:  both Jon Ryan and Shane Lechler had a punt long of 70 yards.

By the way, you know your team is getting shut out by the Jets 38-0 when your average punt goes 53 yards and your net ends up being 52.2.  I think I would’ve given Lechler the MVP just for that one game alone!

What’s that?  You want MORE punting analysis?  Well, I’ll say this about Jon Ryan’s 2009:  his best games were his first 3 games.  He sort of tailed off at the end of the year there, which is surprising because that’s also when the rest of the team tailed off and got Jim Mora fired.  You’d think the punting game would improve as the rest of the team tanks.

Anyway, let’s hope we don’t need him.  But, it’s good to know Jon Ryan’s there, takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners out there.  I’ll leave you with this declaration of my affection:  Jon Ryan is my favorite punter since Rick Bootin’ Tuten … ahh memories.