RENTON — Just four remain from the B.C. era.
That’s Before Carroll. Defensive linemen Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane, along with center Max Unger and punter Jon Ryan, are the only holdovers from the Mike Holmgren-Tim Ruskell era in Seattle that gave way to Pete Carroll and John Schneider, after a solo year with Jim Mora.
“When (Carroll) came, there were a lot more older guys here,” Mebane said. “When he came he brought a lot of younger guys. Lots of transitions. Lot of change. Lot of new faces in here.”
The four had varying knowledge of Carroll, at the time.
Unger, who went to Oregon, knew him “as the guy who ran USC.”
Bryant, who made his bones in Texas through high school and Texas A&M, joined Ryan in not knowing much about Carroll.
Mebane, who is from Los Angeles and went to Cal, was fully familiar.
Mebane was a three-star defensive tackle out of Los Angeles’ Crenshaw High School. At the time, USC was repeatedly pulling in some of the top-rated recruiting classes in the country, back-loaded with four- and five-star recruits. Mebane’s three-star rating apparently wasn’t sufficient for him to end up a Trojan.
“I didn’t have enough stars when he was recruiting me,” Mebane said.
He’s had enough game to stick with the Seahawks.
Schneider and Carroll booted
no-names and big names. Bryant was moving to his third coach after just two seasons with the organization, both of which did not go well. He wondered what was to come.
“Of course,” Bryant said. “You were 4-12 (2008), 5-11 (’09) and you have a new head coach with a different vision from your predecessor, that’s just normal chain of events. I’m extremely fortunate Coach Carroll gave me an opportunity to be a part of his vision.”
Bryant and Mebane go around as if they were fused together. Their lockers are next to each other. They often hit the leather lounge seats side-by-side in the locker room. When reluctantly conducting an interview Tuesday, Mebane asked Bryant why the media would want to talk to him.
“The Pro Bowlers are down there,” Mebane said with a smirk as he pointed toward the secondary.
That may be, but Mebane and Bryant, like Ryan and Unger, have been integral parts of the Seahawks’ upward tick.
Consecutive seven-win seasons in Carroll’s first two years have given way to an 11-win season followed by a 13-win season and the NFC’s top seed for the playoffs.
Bryant was moved by Carroll from defensive tackle to defensive end in 2010. He continues to be a run-stuffer and consistent. He’s played 47 of the Seahawks’ past 48 regular-season games, missing one this season after a concussion.
Mebane used his angled stance, which he picked up from watching former Seahawks defensive tackles Rocky Bernard and Chuck Darby, to lead the Seahawks in tackles for loss (outside of sacks) this season with eight.
“The guys have kind of been the foundation blocks of the defense here and have been here throughout, and they’re rewarded for their work,” Carroll said. “Red has come a long way and has done an incredible job with his career and we’re thrilled about it. Mebane ... he has been so consistent. They’ve stuck it out because we agreed that this was a good place for them, and they played really well.”
Unger has been named to the Pro Bowl in consecutive seasons. Ryan punted this year for the best punt coverage unit in Seahawks history, adapting from booming the ball for distance to adding more loft to his kicks.
Together, the four have moved from wondering what the new coach would do to being part of the Super Bowl favorites.
“We have some of the best talent in the National Football League, and you don’t really see talent like that because of salary, free agency, a host of things,” Bryant said. “To have a quarterback (Russell Wilson) like we got in his second year to be ahead of his time in terms of experience and dedication to the football team and his craft. To play with a secondary like we got and linebackers ... hey, I’m blessed. Blessed to be here.”