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Wednesday in Hawkville: Think Schneider for NFL Executive of the Year

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 26:

John Schneider

FOCUS ON

John Schneider. Add another name to the list of those associated with the Seahawks that deserves consideration for honors this season. With Schneider, it’s NFL Executive of the Year.

The Seahawks’ team that will host the Rams in its regular-season finale at CenturyLink Field on Sunday is 10-5 and clinched a playoff spot with last week’s decisive victory over the NFC West-leading 49ers. And the core of this team that has become the sixth in franchise history to post double-digit victories has been constructed the past three years by Schneider, the general manager, and coach Pete Carroll.

This year’s draft class included quarterback Russell Wilson, who was selected in the third round by Schneider and is a candidate for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year; middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, a second-round pick and candidate for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year; first-round pick Bruce Irvin, who leads all rookies with eight sacks; running back Robert Turbin, a fourth-round pick who has provided the physical presence that was missing to complement leading rusher Marshawn Lynch; cornerback Jeremy Lane, a sixth-round pick who could start his third consecutive game on Sunday; and J.R. Sweezy, a former college defensive lineman and seventh-round pick who is the likely starter at right guard against the Rams.

“We’ve just continued to grow,” Carroll said. “Our way of thinking was hindered last year when we didn’t have the offseason (because of the 136-day lockout) to get our guys ready, because we wanted our guys to play early. That was hard as it could get, to see our philosophy and our approach to playing the young guys come to life.

“This is really the culmination of the three years, and the approach showed up this year I think successfully. You can see that we had a terrific draft and we’ve utilized those guys and they’ve grown to where they’re regular football players for us now.”

While it’s been three giant steps in the right direction for Carroll and Schneider, Carroll added, “We still feel like we’re in early stages. But we have been through three drafts, and he’s done a marvelous job with the drafts and with all of the transactions we’ve done.”

And with Carroll, that means tweaking the norm, because he looks for players with unique talents, rather than those who look as if they stepped out of the NFL-specs machine.

“To me, he’s an absolute joy,” Carroll said of Schneider. “Because we can talk about everything, work through everything and understand that we have to come to an agreement using all of the strengths and the savvy that we have. And we’ve turned out a pretty good product.

“I can’t imagine anybody doing a better job general managing than John has done. He’s just done an incredible job.”

FIVE VOTED TO PRO BOWL

Left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger were named starters on the NFC Pro Bowl team today, while kick returner Leon Washington also made the squad and running back Marshawn Lynch and free safety Earl Thomas are reserves.

To further the point Carroll made above, Okung and Thomas were the first-round draft choices in the first year Carroll and Schneider were in charge, while Washington and Lynch were acquired in trades during that first year.

For more on the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl selections, click here.

EDWARDS IMPRESSED WITH WILSON

Former Chiefs coach Herm Edwards, now an analyst for ESPN, has selected his 10 most impressive players for 2012 and a certain rookie quarterback made the list.

Edwards on Wilson: “Wilson has been answering questions about his size (5-foot-11) his whole career. I think it’s time to put those to rest. The Seahawks have done a tremendous job expanding the playbook for Wilson over the course of the season, giving him only as much as they thought he could handle. He has terrific poise, is extremely accurate down the field and has led the Seahawks to road victories in Chicago and Buffalo before blowing out San Francisco on Sunday. In the red zone this year, he has 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions.”

Edwards also gives cornerback Richard Sherman honorable mention, offering: “Although his status for the playoffs is uncertain, Sherman has had an excellent season. A smart player, Sherman is very physical at the line of scrimmage and has great change-of-direction and ball skills, especially with his back to the quarterback. He has selective memory, which is important as a cornerback, and doesn’t fear anyone. He has evolved into a true shutdown corner.”

OPPONENT WATCH

Brandon Gibson. The Rams’ second-leading receiver (48 receptions) and leader in touchdown catches (five) played at Washington State University and obviously is developing into a nice complement to leading receiver Danny Amendola.

“Gibby’s done great,” Jeff Fisher, the Rams’ first-year head coach, said today during a conference-call interview. “He’s been making plays since we arrived. He’s real smart. He’s tough. He can make the tough catch.

“It’s fun to see him, not only on Sundays, but make some tremendous catches on the practice field. Most of the catches should be easy and are easy, because Sam (Bradford) is an accurate passer. But every once in a while he needs to put it someplace and Gibby can go get it. He’s one of those guys you want on your football team. He’s fun to coach and fun to be around.”

POWERING UP, PART DEUX

Monday, we mentioned that the Seahawks had jumped to No. 3 in Peter King’s “Fine Fifteen” at SI.com and to No. 6 in the Power Rankings at ESPN.com. Today, they continued their ascent in some other Power Rankings.

No. 2 in Bryan McIntyre’s Power Rankings at YahooSports.com: “The Seahawks showed that they’re for real with a 42-13 blowout of the 49ers at CenturyLink Field on Sunday night. From an advanced metrics standpoint, the Seahawks are the No. 1 team in the NFL, ranking in the Top 5 in Football Outsiders’ offensive, defensive and special teams DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). With a win over the Rams and losses by the 49ers and Packers, the Seahawks will get a first-round bye in the playoffs.”

No. 5 in Pete Prisco’s Power Rankings at CBSSports.com: “They are building something special up there for the long haul.”

No. 5 in Don Banks’ Power Ratings at SI.com: “As I said last week, let the Seahawks hang up a stupid number against the stout 49ers defense, and a legitimate case of Super Bowl Fever will break out in the Pacific Northwest. All systems go on that front. Seattle’s only fear might be peaking before the playoffs arrive.”

O-LINE “MADDEN-ED” AGAIN

For the second consecutive week, the Seahawks’ offensive line has been selected as the winner of the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award.

“With great balance on offense behind the steady play of offensive line and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks are now poised to make a playoff run,” Hall of Fame coach John Madden said in the release announcing the selection of the Seahawks’ line.

The starting unit is comprised by – from left tackle to right – Okung, Paul McQuistan, Unger, Sweezy and Breno Giacomini. And because of the lopsidedness of the 42-13 win over the 49ers, backups Frank Omiyale and Lemuel Jeanpierre played in the second half.

Wilson threw for a career-high four touchdowns, while Lynch ran for 111 yards and scored twice.

The Seahawks’ line joins the 49ers (three times), Texans (twice), Giants (twice) and Vikings (twice) as multiple winners of the weekly Madden honor. But the Seahawks are the first unit to win it in back-to-back weeks.

PRACTICE-SQUAD SHUFFLE

Tight end Cooper Helfet has been signed to the practice squad. Defensive end Monte Taylor was released to clear a spot. Helfet was signed in May as a rookie agent, but was waived/injured on the roster cut to 53 players in August.

INJURY REPORT

The official report, as released by the team:

Did not practice

DE Red Bryant (foot)

OT Breno Giacomini (elbow)

LB Leroy Hill (hamstring)

RB Marshawn Lynch (back)

TE Anthony McCoy (back)

WR Sidney Rice (knee)

CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)

Full participation

FS Earl Thomas (ankle)

With Giacomini sidelined, Omiyale worked at right tackle. Greg Scruggs filled in at defensive end Red Bryant. Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse got snaps at split end for Rice. Washington and Turbin shared the reps at running back with Lynch out.

For the Rams:

Did not practice

CB Cortland Finnegan (thigh)

RB Steven Jackson (illness)

LB James Laurinaitis (back)

CB Scott Wells (knee)

Limited in practice

S Craig Dahl (knee)

Full participation

WR Austin Pettis (shoulder)

STAT DU JOUR

Among the Seahawks’ 10 victories are wins over three other teams that have won double digit games, which ties for the most in the league. Here’s a look at the league-leaders in that category, as well as a look at how many of those wins the teams that have won more than 10 or more games have:

Most wins vs. teams with 10-plus wins

Team                            Wins     Teams

Seahawks                      3          Packers, Patriots 49ers

Texans                           3          Broncos, Ravens, Colts

Patriots                         3          Broncos, Colts, Texans

49ers                             3          Seahawks, Packers, Patriots

Rams                             2          Seahawks, 49ers

Giants                           2          49ers, Packers

Vikings                          2          49ers, Texans

Teams with 10-plus wins vs. other teams with 10-plus wins

Team (record)            Wins      Opponents

Seahawks (10-5)           3          Packers, Patriots, 49ers

Patriots (11-4)               3          Broncos, Colts, Texans

Texans (12-3)                3          Broncos, Ravens, Colts

49ers (10-4-1)               3          Seahawks, Packers, Patriots

Falcons (13-2)               1          Broncos

Ravens (10-5)                1          Patriots

Packers (11-4)               1          Texans

Colts (10-5)                    1          Packers

Broncos (12-3)              1           Ravens

UP NEXT

“Competition Wednesday” gives way to “Turnover Thursday” as the players continue to prepare for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Rams.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Watching @DangeRussWilson this weekend really took me back. He has to be this season’s #NFL Rookie of Year. @Seahawks.” – a tweet from former Vikings and Giants QB Fran Tarkenton, who Wilson has been compared to this season and especially during NBC’s telecast of Sunday night’s game against the 49ers