Today, it's all about defense.
While franchise quarterbacks and legit wide receivers have been hard to come by, physical defensive players -- especially in the secondary -- have been a constant for the Seahawks over the years.
The Pete Carroll regime has taken it to a new level in Seattle. Before Carroll, Seattle's best defensive rankings came in 1984 under coach Chuck Knox, when the Seahawks finished No. 5 in scoring and No. 6 in yards. Carroll's teams have finished in the top 10 in each of those categories in each of the past four seasons, topping out at No. 1 the past three seasons in scoring and No. 1 in back-to-back years in fewest yards.
It's no surprise, then, that at least one of the team's current players made our team at every position.
We did allow people to vote more than once, but the votes counted for fewer and fewer percentages each time. Just as yesterday, these results will surely not please everyone.
Let's take a look:
DEFENSIVE TACKLES (2)
Who else but Cortez Kennedy? The man was a wrecking ball. Seattle's second Hall of Famer anchored a lot of good defenses on subpar teams, including the aforementioned '92 squad. That year, while Seattle ran out Stan Gelbaugh, Dan McGwire and Kelly Stouffer at quarterback, Kennedy won the Defensive Player of the Year award in the NFL. Brandon Mebane garnered enough votes to line up next to Kennedy on our dream team. Mebane is a stout run defender, and he's been an important part of Seattle's recent surge. That being said, it's hard to see anyone lining up alongside Tez other than Joe Nash. Nash was an All Pro and Pro Bowler in 1984 and he played more games than anyone for Seattle in franchise history, lining up for 218 contests from 1982-96. After Nash, Kennedy was joined by Sam Adams in the middle. They, too, formed an impressive team. Adams went on to a lengthy career, earning Pro Bowl trips with Baltimore and Buffalo and a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens in 2000. Hall of Famer John Randle finished his career in Seattle, but he was never quite as dominant here as he was in Minnesota.
DEFENSIVE ENDS (2)
Jacob Green terrorized quarterbacks. The franchise's all-time leader in sacks is a Ring of Honor inductee and a no-doubter for our team. From 1983-88, when the Seahawks made four playoffs appearances in six seasons, Green averaged 12.2 sacks a year, topping out a 16 in 1983. Michael Bennett joins Green on this team and brings a lot diversity. Bennett has been used inside and outside on the line and proven to be an effective pass-rusher and run-stopper from either position. Chris Clemons was a pass-rushing specialist, helping lead Seattle to its first championship last season. But he only played four years in Seattle. Meanwhile, the fourth-place finish of Michael Sinclair is a bit of a snub, considering he was a three-time Pro Bowler who ranks second behind Green in career sacks. Sinclair is the only Seahawks player to lead the NFL in sacks in a season, with a franchise record 16.5 in 1998. Jeff Bryant recorded 14.5 sacks in 1984 and played all 12 seasons of his career in Seattle.
Bobby Wagner proved his worth this season and is in line for a giant pay raise. He was named an All Pro and Pro Bowler, despite missing five games due to injury. Considering he'll turn just 25 years old this summer, Wagner should be stalking the middle in Seattle for years to come. But football is a violent game, and injuries have derailed more than one promising career. Look no further than former Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu. He earned the second-most votes for linebackers in our poll, but at one time it looked as if he might be on his way to a Hall of Fame career. Tatupu helped lead Seattle to Super Bowl XL as a rookie. He was named a Pro Bowler in each of his first three seasons and an All Pro in 2007 at age 25. But Tatupu was slowed with nagging injuries the following season, missing one game and playing at a lower level than before. In 2009, he tore his pectoral muscle and missed 11 games. After the 2010 season he was out of the league. Chad Brown came to Seattle as an established Pro Bowler from his days in Pittsburgh and continued to produce over eight solid seasons with the Seahawks. He was twice a Pro Bowler and once named an All Pro as a versatile outside backer in Seattle. Fredd Young started his career in Seattle with four straight trips to the Pro Bowl and was named an All Pro in 1987. Perhaps the Seahawks knew his decline was near, however, when they traded him to the Colts in 1988 for two first round picks. He was out of football three years later thanks to an arthritic hip.
Richard Sherman ran away with the cornerback competition, and why not? Considering the rule changes over the years turning the NFL practically into touch football, it's impressive how game-changing Sherman has become. He basically locks down half the field. The competition for cornerback No. 2, however, was a lot closer. Ultimately, Tacoma-native Marcus Trufant won the spot. Drafted 11th overall in 2003 out of WSU, Trufant was a starter right away until passing the job off to Sherman in 2011 after suffering a bruised pelvis and being put on injured reserve. The following season he played 12 games, mostly out of the nickel, providing a mentoring role to the up-and-coming Legion of Boom. As good as Trufant was, his 21 career interceptions rank far behind Dave Brown's franchise record 50. Brown came to Seattle from Pittsburgh in the expansion draft and played 11 seasons for the Seahawks. He was at his best from 1983-86, intercepting 25 passes in four seasons and taking four of them back for touchdowns. Shawn Springs was drafted ahead of Walter Jones in 1997 as the No. 3-overall pick. He was a talented corner, who made the Pro Bowl in 1998 but left for the Redskins in free agency after the 2003 season.
Until the past few seasons, this would have been an easy choice for Seahawks fans. Now, it was likely the most difficult. There was always Kenny Easley, considered by even the great Ronnie Lott as one of the best safeties to ever play the game. After storming onto the scene in Seattle with five trips to the Pro Bowl and the franchise's first Defensive Player of the Year award, his career was cut short by injuries. Then, there was Eugene Robinson. A fundamentally sound tackling machine, who was as adept at playing center field as he was at coming up on the run. He led the Seahawks in tackles in four seasons and led the NFL in interceptions with nine in 1993. Together, they were named to Seattle's 35th Anniversary Team in 2012. But a lot has happened since 2012. Notably, the emergence of free safety Earl Thomas as a sideline-to-sideline, contact-seeking missile and strong safety Kam Chancellor as the man in the mask who "damages people's souls." Both of them are in their mid-20s, playing for the best defense in the world at superstar levels. Neither of them have put together the longevity of even Easley's career yet, let alone Robinson's. But the future looks bright.
That concludes our breakdown of the Ultimate Seahawks team, as voted upon by News Tribune readers.
Here's the defensive recap:
- DT: Cortez Kennedy
- DT: Brandon Mebane
- DE: Jacob Green
- DE: Michael Bennett
- LB: Bobby Wagner
- LB: Lofa Tatupu
- LB: Chad Brown
- CB: Richard Sherman
- CB: Marcus Trufant
- S: Earl Thomas
- S: Kenny Easley