Richard Sherman is ticked -- and he got picked.
Teammate Michael Bennett just got named as a mere alternate to the Pro Bowl -- and says "I could not care less."
"It doesn't matter if you go to the Pro Bowl and your team is not in the Super Bowl," Bennett said this afternoon, before the NFL announced the five Seahawks selected to this season's Pro Bowl by votes of fellow players, league coaches and fans are Sherman, safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, linebacker Bobby Wagner and running back Marshawn Lynch.
Five more Seahawks were selected as alternates for the NFL's all-star game next month: quarterback Russell Wilson, center Max Unger, left tackle Russell Okung, kicker Steven Hauschka and Bennett.
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"We're OK with that," Bennett said before practice today for Sunday's home game against St. Louis in which a win would give the defending Super Bowl-champion Seahawks (11-4) the NFC West title and home-field advantage as the conference's top playoff seed. "Winning the Super Bowl, it changed our lives. Winning the second one, that's really going to change our lives."
Bennett then laughed.
"We thought we got (stuff) for free last offseason," he said. "We win it again that (stuff) is going to be free for real!
"I mean, Kansas City went 2-14 and had six guys go to the Pro Bowl (in 2012). Cleveland, they were 4-12 (in 2013) and they had five guys go. It doesn't make any sense.
"I'll take the ring instead."
To illustrate Bennett's point of Pro Bowl voting often being so subjective and based on reputation it is, well, pointless: Sherman today made his second Pro Bowl. The NFL's leader in interceptions the last three seasons didn't make it in 2012 -- yet was an All-Pro that season for the first of two consecutive times.
Thomas made his fourth Pro Bowl, Chancellor his third. The invaluable, speedy and heady Wagner got his first selection despite missing five games with a foot injury. Lynch got his fourth Pro Bowl selection and fifth of his eight-year career.
This is the third time in four seasons Seattle's defensive secondary has had three Pro Bowl selectees. And this is the fourth consecutive season Seattle has had at least five representatives in the Pro Bowl.
But that's not enough for Sherman.
Asked before today's Pro Bowl announcement if anything about it was going to make him mad, Sherman said: "If we only have five players named again."
"It’s kind of frustrating because you sometimes feel like your teammates are getting punished for being on a good team," he said. "Your linebackers are getting punished for not having a D-line that allows them to make 130, 140 tackles. Your D-line is being punished because everybody is not going to get 10 sacks or one guy is not going to get 14, 15 sacks – that’s difficult to get on a team like this. You just feel for guys.
"In the secondary, I think we get the claim a lot of times, Legion of Boom and they respect our games. I think it’s well deserved. A lot of people say it’s well deserved. I think the rest of our defense recognition would be well deserved. I think Mike Bennett should be in the Pro Bowl this year. I think Bobby Wagner should be in the Pro Bowl; K.J. Wright should be in the Pro Bowl and a number of members of our secondary."
Bennett has seven sacks and 17 quarterback hits this season. But his value has gone beyond those numbers. He's often been unblockable, getting off the ball so quickly he's left would-be blockers still in their stances. He swears the second of the two consecutive offsides calls he got last weekend in the blowout of Arizona was erroneous because the linesman "had never seen anyone get off the ball that fast." Many games, he's lived in opposing backfields, causing runners to go elsewhere or teams to devote unplanned double teams to him. He's played almost every down of most games, 80-plus percent of snaps, as a end on run downs an often as a stand-up rush tackle up the middle on passing downs.
He agrees with Sherman that statistics and Pro Bowl voters can't and don't measure all that.
"Our stats aren't going to show up individually," Bennett said. "We've got guys on defense that are playing the best in the league, but statistically we aren't going to be up there because we aren't jumping out of our gaps to make the play. Our team scheme is, you make the play when it is your turn to make the play. We don't try to make every play because somebody is going to be out of their gap.
"Our defense is number one in everything because we understand that. We are OK with that."
The Seahawks are one more dominant performance Sunday in the regular-season finale against St. Louis from becoming the fourth team in NFL history to lead the league in points allowed and yards allowed in consecutive years. They are first with 268.6 yards allowed and 16.5 points surrendered per game this season. The yardage is better than the league-best 273.6 yards Seattle allowed last season. The Seahawks surrendered 14.4 points per game while winning it all last season -- and had six players selected to the Pro Bowl. Seattle had six selected for the Pro Bowl for the 2012 season, too.
Here is the complete Pro Bowl roster announced today.
Under the new unconferenced Pro Bowl format, players will be assigned to teams through a Pro Bowl draft. The game will be on Jan. 25, 2015 in Glendale, Ariz., a week before the Super Bowl there. Players selected for the Pro Bowl whose teams made the Super Bowl will not play; that's where the alternates and (if those are all used) players not announced today come in.
Here is the first five minutes of Sherman today, starting with him bailing on what he says was a plan to sing "Silent Night" with teammate and comedic sidekick Doug Baldwin, who had accompanied him into the auditorium for the cornerback's weekly press conference:
Here is the printed version of all Sherman said today:
CB Richard Sherman
December 23, 2014
(On what challenge the Rams offense poses at this stage) They have a good running game. Zac Stacy has always been running it. Tre Mason has been doing a good job so you always have to be aware of that. They have some unique runs to their team and what they like to do. Kenny Britt is having a great season and they have some threats in the passing game so you always have to be aware and obviously, special teams – they’ve gotten us many times so we always have to be aware in the special teams game. They like to run tricks and things like that so we have to always be aware.
(On the Rams special teams plays…) I really don’t know how deep the special teams coaches go but they seem to be pretty adept a finding them but with them, you never know what you’re going to get, honestly. You can look as far back as the 1940s and they will come up with something new that you’ve never seen before. You have to be aware and you have to be on it. Everybody has to be locked in and ready for anything that comes because you could be looking for a whole lot things and they go with something totally different than what you were expecting.
(On if it ticks him off this week to see the game film when they lost to St. Louis earlier in the year) Not really. It is part of the process; it is part of the season. We still had a chance in that game to win it at the end and obviously we weren’t able to get it done but just like we don’t look forward, we don’t really look back and dwell on games and let it fill us with any kind of rage or anything. We will treat this game as its own game and attack it.
(On how much different the team feels now compared to when they first played St. Louis) Not much different, honestly, pretty much the same team – just healthier. Healthier guys, guys playing good football, confident, guys really, really prepared for everything. Our offense is playing outstanding football right now. Marshawn Lynch is playing MVP-caliber football. I remember the last time a running back got it – I think he had 2,000 yards and broke close to a record but he also had 14 touchdowns and Marshawn has 16 touchdowns – MVP race but it seems like it’s a quarterbacks’ race now so it doesn’t matter if he ran for a million yards and a million touchdowns.
(On if he hypothetically would have tried to tackle Marshawn Lynch on his 79-yard touchdown run Sunday) I would have gave a very valiant effort and me and Marshawn have these discussions daily about whether I’m able to tackle him or not but I guarantee you in that situation if I didn’t get him down, I would have got him out of bounds. He was an inch from out of bounds; all you had to do was push him. He has the best balance ever but full-speed, 200 pounds of what I’ve got would have got him that inch out of bounds.
(On how they are down 17 interceptions from last season and if they can make up that gap) That’s a great question. We’re going to shoot for it. We’re going to shoot for the moon and hopefully land on a star. Seventeen interceptions in one game hasn’t been done before but you know what – there’s a first time for everything. Yeah, we’re playing good defense in a lot of areas. I think our total yardage is down from what it was a year ago; our pass yardage is somewhere close to what it was a year ago. I don’t think our rush game is very close to what it was a year ago. I’m not sure how many times a team has lead the NFL in three yardage categories but we’re going to do our best to get into that company. It all comes from playing good defense, sound defense and guys taking pride in what they do. Everybody has to tackle on the run game. That’s a big part of defense. You don’t hold people to 39 yards rushing without everybody tackling. Everybody has to be in coverage in the pass game. Linebackers have to be where they’re supposed to be, corners and safeties have to be where they’re supposed to be. Sometimes D-linemen have to be where they’re supposed to be. Everything is a total team effort and that’s what it’s going to take to win these last games.
(On if they’re a better defense than they were last year) I think we’re different. It’s going to be hard to say you’re better than the defense that won the Super Bowl – number one in just about every category that you can be number one in. So, just different, I think at the end of the day – you can ask me that question after the season and I’ll probably have a better answer for you but right now it would be hard to compare.
(On the improvement in recognizing plays this season) As a collective group it has. I think early on there were certain individuals that were recognizing plays and then other guys would be playing pretty much purely off instinct and talent. As we’ve grown, as we’ve had our growing pains and going through big games, small games, whatever the case may be – we start to learn as a group and recognize plays. I think that was indicative in the Arizona game, there was a play they ran – we called it ‘big post’ where Larry [Fitzgerald] at the point in a bunch and the three receiver bunch was into the boundary which is the short side of the field and they have one wide receiver to the field which can be one of two things. It could be a bingo pass slant to the front side or a big wheel that’s unique to Arizona. They’ll act like Larry’s running a shallow route then wheel him up the field at the tail end of the shallow route so we recognized that formation, recognized the play. Earl [Thomas] pointed it out. Bobby [Wagner] guarded it – it was an incomplete pass and it doesn’t seem like a lot but when you understand the game and you’re running routes for people and you’re calling out plays – it’s good defense.
(On if anything will make him mad about the Pro Bowl announcement tonight) If we only have five players named again. It’s kind of frustrating because you sometimes feel like your teammates are getting punished for being on a good team. Your linebackers are getting punished for not having a D-line that allows them to make 130, 140 tackles. Your D-line is being punished because everybody is not going to get 10 sacks or one guy is not going to get 14, 15 sacks – that’s difficult to get on a team like this. You just feel for guys. In the secondary, I think we get the claim a lot of times, Legion of Boom and they respect our games. I think it’s well deserved. A lot of people say it’s well deserved. I think the rest of our defense recognition would be well deserved. I think Mike Bennett should be in the Pro Bowl this year. I think Bobby Wagner should be in the Pro Bowl; K.J. Wright should be in the Pro Bowl and a number of members of our secondary. Obviously, Marshawn and Russell [Wilson] but unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s going to go like that.
(On if he considers the implications on a win or lose this weekend) Doesn’t really make any difference to us. I think you could have said the same implications last week and it didn’t make any difference to us. We take it one game at a time. Every game is a championship game. Our mentality is no different from this game as it was the first game of the season against Green Bay or it’s going to be next week or the week after that when we have a game. I think our mentality – that’s one of our stabilizing forces – is our mentality being ever the same. It’s always a championship mentality. I think that’s kind of what gets teams. I remember last week, hearing about Arizona – this is the biggest game of the year, of the franchise, the Coach making a big hubbub about it – didn’t work out very well for them because you don’t treat games different. You don’t get up for games and then get down for the next game. I’ll be interested to see how they play this week because what does that mean? Does that mean you got hyped for us and you’re not going to give this team respect? Or does that mean you got hyped for us and you’re going to get hyped again? It’s a good question – that’s why I like Pete’s approach. Every week is a championship week because it doesn’t allow you to have those peaks and valleys.
(On the back story of being a punt blocker) Man I thought I was going to get there. Yes, yes. It was just a block we had run the previous Arizona game and somehow, the refs blew the play dead as I was two feet from the punter. They blew the play dead and said they weren’t ready for play--the ball wasn’t ready for play so we weren’t able to run it. Obviously they were ready the next time we ran it, so we thought we’d hold it until the next time we played them. And it just--it was the perfect situation. The ball was on the right hash, and I was already out there for gunner control most of the time so, it wasn’t--it didn’t look suspicious that I’d be coming in for punt blocks. It worked out well. Unfortunately, he pushed me a little bit.
(On ever blocking a punt before) In college. In college, I blocked a couple but I hadn’t blocked one in the NFL before. I thought if Doug (Baldwin) could do it, I could do it.
(On being willing to take a foot to the face) I would happily take a foot to the face for a blocked punt. Well not the big lip. I would probably avoid the big lip, but to the face mask.
(On J.J Watt winning the MVP award as a defensive player) It would be very meaningful to see a defensive player win the MVP because it’d be a recognition of overall game and overall impact. But I’d also like to see Marshawn Lynch win MVP. It would mean something to me too.
(On knowing where the defense would end up this year) I think we did. That’s how we talked and we were unwavering in our confidence that we would be where we’re supposed to be. And I don’t think at any point we really dropped out of the top 10 statistically, which is kind of funny, because for us to be as bad as people said we were, I don’t think we’ve given up a 300 yard passer yet. I don’t think--there’s a lot of things that we haven’t done, but I think that’s the standard we’ve held ourselves to and we’ve established. So we expected to be where we are now. We expected to play well. The personnel we have, the guys we have in our room. A bunch of Pro Bowl and All Pro caliber players who will hopefully be recognized today. But unfortunately, it probably won’t, because there’ll be a bunch of teams who won’t be in the playoffs, or a bunch of people in the Pro Bowl like there are every year.
(On Michael Bennett calling the Seahawks the best defense to ever play football) It’s cool for him to say it. Obviously we’d love to be in that discussion, but I wouldn’t say it. There’s been some great defenses to play out there. I think we’d be in the discussion to be one of the best defenses, especially this year and last year, and what we’ve done on a consistent bases year in and year out, but Mike B. (Michael Bennett) said some things.
(On the Seahawks defense in 1978) Exactly. I think that’s perfection. I appreciate that. I think that that’s the big difference. You have to rate defenses in their own time periods, because the rules today, I don’t know if the defenses back then would be as good, and they were killing quarterbacks and they’d probably get ejected out of games for half of the stuff they were doing back then. But those were the rules back then that they played by, and they played the game at a high level, but like you said, the game has changed. The rules--five yards down the field, they’re making it a passing league. I’m sure they’re breaking all kinds of records in passing yards as a league. Breaking the league record in average points a game. That’s what the game is coming down to. The league wants it to be offensive game, and the numbers are saying that. That’s why quarterbacks are throwing for a record number of passing yards, and passing touchdowns, and not having as many interceptions. Because it’s so difficult to have tight coverage and be on every route, and have great defense. You have great defense and it’s a penalty on the play for roughing the passer when you got a sack. You can get a roughing the passer penalty called on a sack. And so it’s so hard for guys to tread that line because you’re going all out, but you have to kind of tempo yourself a little bit because of the rules.
(On how dominant would today’s Seahawks’ defense would be back in the 70’s and 80’s) I’d love to see us back then. I’d love to see us have a chance. I have no idea how we’d play. We might be terrible back then. They may rough us up and run us out the building, but I’d love to see us have a chance back then with the rules the way they are. No illegal touching, no defensive holding, no roughing the passer; oh man, it’d be--I don’t know if Kam Chancellor would not be fair for a lot of people. He stays in a dark place and I don’t know if enough people can bring the flashlight.
(On Christmas Day plans) Just a big dinner and handing out presents. We had a fun event yesterday for my foundation and we were able to start a couple of people’s Christmas early for some very deserving families but mine is going to be more relaxed.
(On Doug Baldwin being able to make Richard fall down) He has not, because I’ve always been ready for that stunning move that he put on (Antonio) Cromartie. That move, we’ve seen many of time. And although I’ve been on the tilt of falling, I have never fallen. I’d rather just walk away from the play than fall.
(On how to defend Russell Wilson) I’d put 13 men on the field. That’s a great question. He’s a dynamic player. I think we’d have to study him from that aspect. We’ve done it during camp and studied it, but nothing’s like game day. He’s a different player on game day. He’s an unbelievable athlete, an unbelievable playmaker, so a lot of the stuff that he does, you can’t coach. You can coach a guy to be in position, be right here--he’s going to be right here. You can tell him he’s going to be right here, but in a moment, he does some things that you can’t coach. The coach is going to go tell a guy ‘Hey, you should’ve done this in that spot.’ He’s going to tell him ‘Well, got to do better next time.’ There’s nothing you can coach. You can’t coach a guy to tackle a guy that’s so elusive and so slippery and so you can’t tell a D-Line that he’s going to go through this gap, or this gap, because he doesn’t have those kind of tendencies. He’s not just booting around to the right side and always going to the right. He’s not up the middle every time, he’s not always going left. So he’s a very tough player to game plan for.
(On what it was like to watch Marshawn Lynch’s 79-yard touchdown run) Shock and awe. And then expecting him to keep going, and then more shock and awe. And then anticipation of what he was going to do at the end, and then joy.
(On how Marshawn Lynch entered the end zone) There’s a certain flair to the way he enters an end zone.