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 Lost To, Are Still Better Than The 49ers

The simplest equation goes like this:  we have murdered them in both of our home games (winning by a combined 55 points), and just barely lost to them in both of our games in Candlestick the last two years (losing by a combined 9 points).  That’s all you really need to know.  That, and the next time we play them this season (if we do) will be in Seattle in the playoffs.

As predicted, this loss didn’t really bother me too much.  Oh sure, that simmering hate began to boil over as the seconds ticked away on that fateful final 49ers drive, but what did we lose here?  The biggest thing we lost would have been that demoralizing feeling that would have come over the 49ers, knowing without a doubt that we’re the better team.  Now, they get to live in their fantasy land where a 2-point victory at home is just as good as our 26-point victory in Seattle in Week 2.  They think we’re equals.  It’s sad, really.

Normally, I get super fired up at these types of games – close contests against hated rivals – but there was a weird calm about me the whole afternoon.  I dunno, I was just so SURE that we were going to win that game!  Even when Gore ripped off that 51-yard run to put them in field goal range.  Even when they converted that 3rd and 7!  I still believed that there was some miracle waiting right around the corner.

At the time, I didn’t have much of a problem with our defensive tactics on those last three plays before the field goal, but in retrospect we really should have let them score the touchdown.  Hell, just grab the running back and carry him over the goalline if you have to!  Best-case scenario, we would’ve had, what, 30 seconds, starting from our own 20 yard line?  Instead, we had, like, 25 seconds from our own 16 yard line.  That’s, at best, three plays, but all three would have to be sideline outs against a defense that is funnelling everything into the middle of the field.  Truth be told, without any time outs in that situation, you’ve got no shot.  We would have had to complete that long pass (which was intercepted), kill the clock, and either complete a hail mary or hope the refs flag the defense to give us an untimed down for a field goal.  What are the odds of THAT?

So, it was a bit of a shock when they came away with the victory.  But, again, I’m not even that mad.  We’re still clearly in the driver’s seat for the #1 seed.  Nothing has changed:  the Seahawks need to win two more games.  Next week, we go to the lowly Giants.  Then, we’re at home against the Cards & Rams.  In reality, after next week, we won’t have to go on the road again until the Super Bowl.  How does that sound?

Of course, in order for us to get there, we’re going to have to be better than we were yesterday.  There’s a certain agitation level that comes with being Almost Good Enough that you just don’t feel when you KNOW you’re good enough.  If I believed the Seahawks were just AS good, or worse, than the 49ers, yesterday’s game would’ve driven me out of my mind.  Because when you’re Almost Good Enough, and you’re on the road against a team that’s either as good or better than you, then you know you have to play a flawless (or near-flawless) game to get the victory.  The best teams have some margin for error, which is why we were able to play a game like we played yesterday and still had a chance to prevail.  If we were the Seahawks of two years ago, we would’ve been blown out.  If we were the Seahawks of last year, we still would have lost, but it wouldn’t have felt nearly as close.  This year, we know we SHOULD have won, but too many mistakes killed us.

That face mask penalty on Michael Robinson was a crusher.  Late in the third quarter, Lynch had just ripped off a 20-yard run, and it was called back, leaving us with 1st and 25.  That’s damn near an impossible situation.  You might as well just punt right there and save yourself the clock.

Calling the time out while at 1st and 25 … why not just take the delay of game penalty?  That time out was WAY more important than saving five yards in a situation where you’re probably just going to punt anyway.

There was a number of defensive holding penalties, but no more important than the one on Richard Sherman in the second quarter, on a third down play, that kept their drive alive and led to a 49er field goal.  That’s three points when there should have been none.

The punt block in the first quarter:  another three points when there should have been none.

Then, of course, there’s the matter of allowing Frank Gore to run 51 yards.  What the hell were we doing on that play?

This was the first time all year where I found myself asking, “Where’s Earl Thomas?”  Obviously, I’m not privy to what the scheme was, but I saw pretty much zero impact out of our best defensive player yesterday.  I’m sorry, but if you want to be in the discussion for Defensive MVP, or Best Safety In Football, there can’t be games where you’re just lost in the shuffle.  Do you think Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu in their primes ever went a game without making an impact?  Especially in the spotlight of playing a bitter rival (which, in their cases, would have been games against one another)?

Finally, I’ll just close with what this game hinged on.  The 49ers took the lead just before halftime, going up 16-14.  The third quarter, both teams put up goose eggs (thanks in large part to Byron Maxwell picking Kaepernick off deep in Seattle territory).  More punts were exchanged into the 4th quarter until finally, Golden Tate caught one he could return.  And return it he did, to the San Francisco 27 yard line.  The Seahawks took over on this drive with a little over 9 minutes left in the game, already in field goal range.  At this point, you CANNOT settle for a field goal!

I don’t know if I want to blame the play-calling (we went super-conservative, rushing on 3 of the first 5 plays of that drive before a third down incompletion), the personnel-calling (even when we did throw on this drive, it looked like we were throwing out of jumbo packages, with Kearse as the only receiver on the field), or the execution by the players (how does Lynch only get 5 total yards on three carries this close to the endzone?).  Seems to me, we probably could have done a better job by spreading things out and running from a 3-wide, 1-tight end set.  At the very least, don’t you ALWAYS want Doug Baldwin on the field on third down?

If the Seahawks score a touchdown on that drive, maybe it doesn’t change anything.  Maybe Gore still gets that long run and maybe they dink and dunk their way into the endzone while still taking off all of the clock.  Then again, maybe they feel they need to get into a passing mindset, and maybe that long run never happens.  And MAYBE the Seahawks are able to get to Kaepernick and force him into a turnover.

Lotta what-ifs.  In the end, you just tip your cap and wait.  We’ll see this team again.  And when we do, the outcome is going to be very different.

#3 – Earl Thomas

To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2013, click here.

See, the thing is, this isn’t a list of the 30 best Seahawks.  If that were the case, then Earl Thomas would be ranked #1 and everyone could go home.  No, this is the 30 most important Seahawks, and in this case while Earl Thomas is VERY important to how this team will fare in 2013 (indeed, the most important player on a very good defense), there are a couple who I feel will be even more important (as you will read tomorrow, if you’re so inclined to read what I intend to write).

Earl Thomas is the one that turns a “pretty good” defense into a great defense.  Every great defense needs an elite free safety roaming the center of the field, making plays you can only gape at in disbelief.  Earl Thomas is our Ed Reed, our Troy Polamalu, our John Lynch, and so on.

With Earl Thomas in the middle of the field, we can afford to have our big, physical corners up on the line of scrimmage roughhousing opposing receivers.  We can let Kam Chancellor dip down towards the line of scrimmage to help out on run plays.  We can get away with not having the best pass rush in the NFL because with Earl Thomas we have the best secondary in the NFL.

Without Earl Thomas, a lot of dominoes would fall on defense and all of them would be bad.  We would go from a Top 5 defense to maybe a Top 15 or 20 defense.  Without Earl Thomas, a lot of people would REALLY have to step their games up – including the backup charged with trying to replace an All Pro – and I just don’t know if it would work as consistently well as it does now with Earl Thomas in the fold.

This team isn’t a Super Bowl contender without Earl Thomas (or the top two guys on this list playing at the height of their potential).  So, thank your lucky stars he plays for the Seahawks and not some other loser team.

Can Richard Sherman Win Defensive Player Of The Year?

***Update 12/27/2012*** Aaaaaannnnnd Sherman has been acquitted.  Free at last!

Well, for starters, not making the Pro Bowl is a bad sign.  But, that probably says more about the Pro Bowl than it does about Sherman’s abilities and his status as the best cover-corner in the NFL.

Nobody’s really talking about this right now (not tooting my horn or anything; I just haven’t seen any articles on the topic), so let’s take out the possible suspension of Sherman for Adderall for the sake of argument.  I don’t know if you’re allowed to win any awards if you’re suspended for this, but my gut tells me either way, by the simple fact that we have these allegations, there will probably be people who leave him off their ballots entirely.

There have been 41 winners of the D-POY award.  15 have been linebackers, 9 have been defensive ends, 7 have been defensive tackles (including Cortez Kennedy in 1992), 5 have been safeties (including Kenny Easley in 1984), and 5 have been cornerbacks.  So, right there, it’s pretty rare to have a cornerback win the award.

When you think about the D-POY, what do you think of?  You think of a defensive player who has made the biggest impact in the league.  What does that mean?  Well, for starters, you have to like the chances of a guy who’s going to the playoffs over a guy who doesn’t.  Only 6 players who’ve won the D-POY did not participate in the playoffs that season (with Cortez Kennedy being the most mind-boggling in this regard, coming off of a 2-14 season with those ’92 Seahawks).  You also gotta figure he’s on a defense that’s in the top half of the league.  There’s only one player who was on a defense ranked worse than 14th and that’s Reggie White in a 1987 strike-shortened season where the Eagles missed the playoffs; their defense was ranked 23rd out of 28 teams.  Still, when you’re Reggie White and you get 21.0 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and a touchdown, those are the kinds of undeniable numbers you can’t ignore.

Richard Sherman is on a top-flight defense (easily in the top 3 in the league in most catagories).  Richard Sherman’s team is also going to the playoffs.  Those are two big checks in his favor.  Of course, they’re not the ONLY things voters look at.

Going back, you’re talking about a guy who makes the biggest impact; what does that mean?  Having a lot of tackles is great and all, but tons of guys have a bunch of tackles.  Those won’t separate you from the pack.  Impact plays are, in no particular order:  sacks, interceptions, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, and touchdowns.  Then, when you’re talking about cornerbacks, you’ve gotta look at Passes Defended, you’ve got to look at number of penalties against, you’ve got to look at number of targets (i.e. how many times that player was challenged by the opposing quarterback; because if a quarterback is avoiding that side of the field due to the level of competition on defense, that’s a HUGE impact), and finally, I’m sure the voters do the ol’ Eye Test.  Does he LOOK like a defensive player of the year?  This could go any number of ways.  They can watch the games, they can watch highlight packages, they can read about him in local and national articles, they can hear what players and coaches say about him.

Anyway, that’s what you’re looking at.  I’m just a humble blogger, so I don’t know things like how many times he was targeted, or what the players are saying about him.  But, there are plenty of websites that can give me the hard stats.  First, let’s take a look at past winners; specifically, past winners who were cornerbacks.

What does it take to be a cornerback and win the D-POY?

  • 2009 – Charles Woodson (Green Bay):  2 sacks, 9 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 3 touchdowns, 65 tackles, 18 passes defended.
  • 1994 – Deion Sanders (San Francisco):  6 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, 3 touchdowns, 34 tackles, 14 passes defended.
  • 1993 – Rod Woodson (Pittsburgh):  2 sacks, 8 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 touchdown, 95 tackles, 23 passes defended.
  • 1980 – Lester Hayes (Oakland):  13 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 touchdown, an unknown number of tackles & passes defended (because these were not recorded stats back then).
  • 1975 – Mel Blount (Pittsburgh):  11 interceptions, an unknown number of tackles and passes defended.

I don’t know a thing about Mel Blount, but I know he played for the Steelers.  The Steelers in the 1970s had one of the most fearsome defenses in the league.  A Steeler won the D-POY 4 times out of the first 6 years the award was given out, all in the 70s.  I gotta think that’s a major reason why Blount won it in ’75 (plus, you know, 11 interceptions is pretty fucking insane for a cornerback).

I don’t know much about Lester Hayes either, but that’s a pretty damn good season.  Plus, he had some cachet back then.  If you’re a cornerback and you have eyes on the D-POY award, you’ve got to have some name recognition.  Hayes (for being just a brutal hitter and tackler), Rod Woodson, Deion (Primetime) Sanders, and Charles Woodson all have HUGE name recognition.  Normally, the best athletes are reserved for offense.  It’s pretty rare to be the best athlete on your team and also play corner.  In the case of these last four guys, you’re talking about just that.  You’ll also notice that a lot of these guys have returned kicks in their days; not a coincidence.  If your best player is a cornerback, you do whatever it takes to get him on the field with the ball in his hands.

Of the five guys listed above, I think Rod Woodson’s season was probably the most impressive.  I mean, 95 tackles for a corner?  Are you KIDDING me?

Anyway, let’s take a look at Sherman’s numbers for reference:

  • 2012 – Richard Sherman (Seattle):  1 sack, 7 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 2 touchdowns, 53 tackles, 23 passes defended.

He’s up there in interceptions, which is good.  He’s got some forced fumbles, he’s got a couple touchdowns, he’s got a ton of passes defended, and he’s even got a sack for good measure.  These are all numbers right in line with the best seasons of any cornerback.  So, let’s look at some of the other great cornerbacks this year.

  • 2012 – Charles Tillman (Chicago):  3 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 3 touchdowns, 71 tackles, 14 passes defended.
  • 2012 – Tim Jennings (Chicago):  8 interceptions, 1 touchdown, 53 tackles, 19 passes defended.
  • 2012 – Patrick Peterson (Arizona):  7 interceptions, 5 fumble recoveries, 50 tackles, 15 passes defended.
  • 2012 – Champ Bailey (Denver):  2 interceptions, 58 tackles, 9 passes defended.
  • 2012 – Johnathan Joseph (Houston):  2 interceptions, 1 touchdown, 53 tackles, 9 passes defended.
  • 2012 – Antonio Cromartie (New York Jets):  3 interceptions, 1 touchdown, 28 tackles, 13 passes defended.

In case you were wondering:  those are the six starting cornerbacks selected to this year’s Pro Bowl.  Whether you agree with the decision or not, these are six premiere corners and thus need to be taken seriously as competition with Richard Sherman for D-POY.

If you look among the league leaders, Sherman is tied for 2nd with 7 intereptions (Jennings is alone at the top with 8).  In forced fumbles, among defensive backs (including safeties), he’s tied for 7th in the NFL with 3.  Tillman has a GROTESQUE 10 forced fumbles to lead the league, regardless of position.  If you take the safety position out of the equation, then Sherman is tied for 2nd among cornerbacks with 3.

If we just stick with cornerbacks, it’s only Sherman and Tillman and everyone else.  Tillman has forced a combined 13 turnovers.  Sherman has forced 10.  Both have multiple touchdowns.  Both have name recognition.  Tillman has been in the league for 10 years, so he has a little MORE name recognition, but still.  People know who Richard Sherman is, and they will only continue to know who he is.  He leads the league in opposing quarterback rating when he’s thrown at.  Don’t know where Tillman ranks, but based on the fact that he has nearly 20 more tackles, I gotta think opposing quarterbacks don’t fear him quite as much.  It’s not opposing QBs’ fault that their wide receivers keep getting stripped by the guy.  Likewise, Sherman has nearly 10 more passes defended.

Looking elsewhere, J.J. Watt is getting a lot of pub down in Houston.  As a defensive end, he currently has 20.5 sacks.  Aldon Smith for the 49ers has 19.5, but you can see his play has tailed off considerably with Justin Smith injured.  Getting punked by Russell Okung in primetime surely didn’t help his chances either.

As for the linebackers, you’ve got a dark horse in Arizona by the name of Daryl Washington.  He’s got 123 tackles and 9 sacks to go along with an interception and 2 forced fumbles.  You’ve got London Fletcher with Washington:  128 tackles, 1 sack, 5 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 10 passes defended.  Then there are the big dogs in tackles – Luke Kuechly (151, with 1 sack, 2 INTs), Chad Greenway (145, with 3 sacks, 1 INT), NaVorro Bowman (144, with 2 sacks, 1 INT), and Jerod Mayo (142, with 3 sacks, 1 INT).  I’m going to say, with his name recognition, and the fact that everybody LOVES the guy, I’m putting London Fletcher as the clubhouse leader among linebackers.  He’s got a nice stat spread that could go a long way in this race.

I don’t think there are any serious contenders among the safeties.  The usual suspects – Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed – have either been injured, or less stellar than in years past.

That leaves us with four legitimate candidates:

  • London Fletcher
  • J.J. Watt
  • Charles Tillman
  • Richard Sherman

My hunch?  I really like London Fletcher’s chances.  Remember when they gave Denzel Washington the Academy Award for that awful Training Day movie?  This is kind of like that.  A belated award to an industry veteran who’s at the top of his game while slumming it.  In the case of Fletcher, “slumming it” means he’s on a TERRIBLE defense, but is the one shining vision of glory holding things somewhat together.

But, I don’t necessarily think anything is decided yet either.  Will Sherman win his appeal?  That’ll go a long way.  Will Sherman close out the regular season in dramatic fashion?  Maybe he gets another interception, scores another touchdown, keeps the national focus on himself.  Do they put into consideration playoff performance?  I don’t know, but if they do, then Sherman will have more opportunities to shine.  I would wager:  more opportunities than either Fletcher or Tillman.

A lot of things up in the air for the D-POY award.  It’s not impossible for Sherman to win it, but right now I’d say he’s a longshot.

Marcus Trufant Is Released As The Great Purge Continues

The following are the players currently under contract who played under Mike Holmgren (who, again, left the team after the 2008 season):

  • Ben Obomanu
  • Brandon Mebane
  • Jon Ryan

For the record, Red Bryant was drafted in Holmgren’s final season, but he isn’t currently under contract.  Ditto John Carlson, who I believe will sign elsewhere.  Ditto Justin Forsett, ditto he’s as good as gone.  Other free agents who once played for Holmgren and are likely gone include:  David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill.

When all is said and done and Red Bryant re-signs, there will be a total of 4 players on this team who were on the team back in 2008.  That’s because Marcus Trufant was released today.

Trufant has played 9 seasons in the NFL after being drafted 11th overall in the 2003 NFL Draft.  We passed on such guys as Troy Polamalu, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Charles Tillman, which doesn’t even mention Dallas Clark, who sure could’ve solved our tight end woes in Super Bowl XL.  But, that’s neither here nor there.  We took Marcus Trufant, and I don’t think that was such a bad thing.

He always got a bad rap for being injured and for not generating turnovers.  Neither one of those accusations I find fair or legitimate.  Yes, it was unfortunate he was injured for the playoffs in the 2006 season, but I would hardly place all the blame on him for us getting beat by the Bears (safety play was abysmal in that game, a testament to the overtime bomb Grossman threw to get in field goal range).  Trufant only really missed significant time in 2009 and 2011, when you could argue his body started breaking down due to wear & tear.

And, as for the turnovers, it’s kinda hard to make much of an impact when quarterbacks rarely make an effort to throw in your direction.  He still managed 7 picks in the 2007 season, when he earned his first and only Pro Bowl selection.

Trufant wasn’t the greatest cornerback ever, which might make it seem like a disappointment what with him being an 11th overall draft pick, but going into 9 straight seasons, you knew exactly what you had with Trufant.  You could write him in as a starting cornerback and you didn’t have to worry about whether he could hold his own or not.  He just balled.

The question now is:  Does Marcus Trufant Belong In The Ring Of Honor?

I say yes.  He’s without a doubt the best cornerback that’s ever played for the Seahawks.  He’s a local product and a fan favorite.  And in spite of the fact that he’s being released, he’s still got some gas left in the tank.  I think the Seahawks will do the right thing eventually.  He’ll just have to wait in line behind guys like Walter Jones, Shaun Alexander, and Matt Hasselbeck.

The Super Bowl Is Giving Me A Don’t-Care-Gasm

I used to care!  When I was ten, eleven, twelve, I used to passionately follow playoff football.  Deconstructing all the matchups between teams, figuring out possible scenarios, choosing a favorite amongst the playoff teams and rooting like crazy that they get to the next round, choosing ANOTHER favorite when my last favorite inevitably lost because they were a huge underdog to go all the way in the first place.

That’s kinda what happens when you’re young and the team you root for in the regular season never even sniffs the post-season.  You live vicariously through other teams, other cities.  I used to have a hard-on a mile wide for the Atlanta Falcons, back when they had Deion Sanders and Jerry Glanville and their all-black uniforms with their all-black helmets.  They were BAD-ASS.  But, they never did shit; if they ever made the playoffs they’d inevitably lose in the first round as a wild card.

(For the record, I was a big fan of the Atlanta Hawks as well; Dominique Wilkins and all that.  Would have made my damn LIFE if the Sonics and the Hawks made it to the finals.  ‘Course, I would have ceased liking the Hawks had that happened, but that’s neither here nor there.  In reality, they were both #1 seeds in 1994 and they both ended up losing WELL before the championship round).

You know what happens when you get a taste of the Super Bowl, though?  The playoffs are ONLY exciting when your team is in them.  That excitement trumps ANY youthful enthusiasm you may have had back when you were a kid and your team sucked.  And once your team loses, there’s a hangover that sticks with you the rest of the way.

Of course, it doesn’t help (especially this year) when after my Seahawks lost there wasn’t another team I even REMOTELY like.  The Jets are entertaining in the week leading up to the game; boring as hell on Sunday afternoon (and I REALLY hate Mark Sanchez with a passion).  The Bears are fucking assholes; Jay Cutler is a dick and deserved all the criticism he got for BEING a dick.  The Steelers are the Steelers, ’nuff said.  And the Packers are the Packers!  You’d think nobody ever said “We want the ball and we’re gonna score” before!

By the way, 4th and 26.  That’s all I have to say to the Packer Backers out there.  Sure, that was the Eagles and not the Seahawks, but guess what:  we all have our mortal playoff blunders.  Just so happens ours came at the hands of a 5th receiver who ran the wrong route.  YOURS was just bad defense and cost you a Super Bowl.  Suck it.

Anyway, in spite of all that, is there even any doubt who I’m rooting for this week?  Let’s put it this way, practically none of the Packers playing in this game were involved in EITHER of our playoff defeats in the last decade (the other being the snow game dismantling in 2008).  There are enough annoying asshole dipwads on this Steelers team from Super Bowl XL to make my hate and vitriol well deserved.

You’ve got Hines Ward running around being a chump and smiling all the time.  You’ve got Randel El, the stupid asshole who was the only receiver to ever throw a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl.  You’ve got Polamalu who needs a GODDAMN HAIRCUT YOU HIPPIE!  And of course, where would we be without the awe-inspiring quarterback play of Ben Rapistberger.  If, by awe-inspiring, I mean sucking a tremendous amount of dick for most of the game and then getting lucky with a miraculous sideline catch in the endzone (or, in the case of XL, just plain sucking dick and going home with a ring because the rest of your team carried your dumb ass).

Yeah, so I guess you could say I’m rooting for the Packers.  I’m not particularly enthusiastic about it though.  At least this beats the game two years ago.  I watched that Arizona/Pittsburgh matchup with about as much mirth as taking a shotgun out back to shoot my rabies-infested dog.  Not gonna lie to you, I only semi-rooted for the Steelers in that game (if you can even call slumped on a couch in a darkened room “semi-rooted”) because I wanted to spread around the misery.  Fuck the Cardinals; they’re in our division now and the last thing I want to see is them winning a Super Bowl before us.

But this time?  Well, it’s time.  The Steelers – the proclaimed Best Organization in Football – needs to be taken down a peg or two.  I can’t sit there and see a lousy fucking quarterback win his third Super Bowl just because he has a monster defense and is such a fat ass that nobody can sack him before he makes some crazy throw on 3rd and 19!  He’s like Eli Manning on Mallomars!

Rapistberger needs to taste major defeat, and I’m not talking about getting turned down for sex in a bathroom.  There are ways around taking ‘no’ for an answer, am I right?  He needs to suffer.  I want to see him balling on the sideline after a 5-interception day.

By the way?  Those days are coming back, my friend.  In a few years, you WILL be Jake Delhomme.  Count on it.