It’s quite fitting that the 12th-best game on NFL.com’s list of the Top 20 games of 2012 goes to the home of the 12th Man.
The Seahawks’ 24-23 victory over the New England Patriots in Week 6 of last season at CenturyLink Field was unveiled today at No. 12 on their list. In that game, the Seahawks battled back from a 23-10 deficit midway through the fourth quarter, as quarterback Russell Wilson threw scoring passes to wide receiver Braylon Edwards and again to wide receiver Sidney Rice with less than 90 seconds to play. The Seahawks defense then closed the door on Tom Brady and the Pats by forcing a turnover on downs on New England’s ensuing possession to secure the 24-23 win.
The game was somewhat of a coming out party for Wilson, who completed 16 of 27 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns, good for a 133.7 quarterback rating. Until that point, Wilson’s arm had been kept under wraps by head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who asked Wilson to avoid risks and play it safe with the football.
Wilson’s counterpart that day, Brady, threw 31 more times than the Seahawks rookie, completing 36 of 58 for two touchdowns and two interceptions – one by cornerback Richard Sherman and another by free safety Earl Thomas.
Elliot Harrison of NFL.com has his full recap of the game here, and below he explains why this game was ranked where it was:
“Patriots-Seahawks featured two of the better clubs from last season, with the bonus being that we rarely see this interconference matchup.
Going a step further, you couldn’t find two more contrasting styles if you tried. Seattle pounds the ball, tries to completely shut down your offense and asks its quarterback to make plays in spots. Meanwhile, New England often places the whole game on its quarterback’s shoulders, while living off takeaways on defense. Consider: Brady attempted 31 more passes than Wilson in this game, despite the fact New England had a two-score lead in the fourth.
All that made for an intriguing matchup decided by one point. Not bad.”
Pete Prisco has his annual list of the Top 100 players in the NFL at CBSSports.com, and guess who checks in at No. 9?
It’s Richard Sherman, the Seahawks’ All-Pro cornerback. Says Prisco, “He is cocky, brash and plays with a nasty edge. Oh, he can also cover. He had eight picks and led the league with 32 passes defended. …”
Other Seahawks on Prisco’s list include an All-Pro free safety who just turned 24; a pair of Russells; an All-Pro running back; and a recently acquired receiver/runner/returner. Here’s where those players are ranked, as well as Prisco’s comment:
FS Earl Thomas (51) – “He is the centerfielder on a good defense, showing off both range and the ability to tackle. He is just now getting to his prime.”
QB Russell Wilson (82) – “Despite his size, he showed in his rookie season that he has what it takes to be a top-level quarterback. It’s early, but he gets it.”
LT Russell Okung (86) – “He is the anchor of the Seattle line, the guy who protects Russell Wilson’s backside. He is coming off his best season.”
RB Marshawn Lynch (87) – “He had 1,590 yards and averaged 5 yards per rush. He is a big reason why Seattle made the playoffs.”
WR/RB/KOR Percy Harvin (97) – “He is an explosive playmaker when he’s on the field. But he’s had trouble staying there and his per-catch average of 10.9 needs to be better.”
Prisco also has a Top 10 of players under 23, and Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner is ranked No. 4. Says Prisco, “He finished seventh in the NFL in tackles playing in the middle on one of the best defenses in the league. He is a rangy linebacker who can also play the pass. He had three interceptions as a rookie.”
Marcus Trufant played the past four seasons under Gus Bradley when Bradley was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator. Today, Trufant, an unrestricted free agent, is visiting Bradley in his new role and location – head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Trufant’s visit was reported by the Jaguars’ website.
The Jaguars rebuilt their secondary during the NFL Draft by selecting strong safety Jonathan Cyprien with the first pick in the second round and then adding cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz (third round) and Demetrius McCray (seventh) and safety Josh Evans (sixth). But Trufant, the Seahawks’ first-round draft choice in 2003, could mentor the young secondary – just as he did for the Seahawks the past few seasons with the All-Pro tandem of free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman as well as Pro Bowl-caliber strong safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Brandon Browner.
The Seahawks released Trufant last offseason, only to re-sign him for a 10th season. But this year, a similar move is unlikely because the team signed nickel back Antoine Winfield in free agency, drafted cornerback Tharold Simon and also has incumbent backups Walter Thurmond, Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell.
UPDATE – At 11:54 a.m. the Jaguars officially announced they had signed Trufant:
The Seahawks already have one player in the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players for 2013 and they’re about to get another.
Players No. 90 through No. 81 will be profiled Thursday in the weekly series, which starts at 5 p.m. PT. We know who that player is and where he’s ranked, we just can’t say. But make sure you tune in early to see who it is.
Among the candidates: All-Pro and Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas, All-Pro and Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch, All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, recently acquired receiver/runner/returner Percy Harvin, Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung and Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson.
All-Pro and Pro Bowl center Max Unger? He was at No. 95 when the series kicked off Saturday following the conclusion of the NFL Draft.
Unger was the Seahawks’ second-round draft choice in 2009. He started at right guard that season, becoming the first rookie lineman to start all 16 games for the Seahawks since Ray Roberts in 1992. Unger was back at right guard in 2010, but he got a season-ending toe injury in the opener. He moved to center – the position he had played at the University of Oregon – in 2011 with the arrival of line coach Tom Cable and has only gotten better by the snap.
“I knew Max when he came out of college,” said Cable, who was with the Raiders at the time. “I thought he would be a fine, fine center when he got to this level. … So we put him there from Day One and his development has been second to none on this team.”
When we get to the end of the three-day NFL Draft on Saturday and you still haven’t had enough football, the NFL Network will be there.
The network will begin unveiling its Top 100 players of 2013, beginning Saturday at 5 p.m. PT with those ranked 91-100. At least one Seahawk will be included in the opening look at the Top 100, but the network isn’t saying who.
But the Seahawks have several players worthy of consideration at some point during the 11-week countdown: the All-Pro quartet of running back Marshawn Lynch, center Max Unger, cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas; left guard Russell Okung and quarterback Russell Wilson, who joined Lynch, Unger and Thomas at the Pro Bowl; and perhaps even strong safety Kam Chancellor, nose tackle Brandon Mebane and recently acquired receiver/runner/returner Percy Harvin.
Additional information is available here.
NFL.com Around the League editor Gregg Rosenthal recently ranked what he considers to be the five NFL teams that are the best when it comes to finding talent in the NFL Draft.
Rosenthal stresses that his list is in no particular order, but the Seahawks, under the direction of general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll, are conveniently Rosenthal’s first mention.
The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, NFC West rival San Fracisco 49ers, New England Patriots, and New York Giants round out Rosenthal’s top five.
On the Seahawks, Rosenthal writes:
“GM John Schneider and Pete Carroll have only been together three years, but their track record is outstanding. They see players differently than other teams. Last year’s three-pack of Bruce Irvin,
Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson were all controversial picks that didn’t fit the traditional mold. They were all outstanding.
2011 was a shakier draft, but they found an All-Pro cornerback in Richard Sherman in the fifth round. That’s also the round they found Kam Chancellor in their first draft in 2010. That crop included Earl Thomas and Russell Okung. The spine of the Seahawks were built in three drafts.”
Twenty-two of Schneider and Carroll’s 28 total picks from the last three years remain on the Seahawks’ current roster. Four of their picks have been named to the Pro Bowl (Okung, Thomas, Chancellor, Wilson). Three have been named first-team All-Pro (Okung, Thomas, Sherman). And 10 of their 28 picks were listed as starters on the Seahawks’ depth chart heading into last year’s divisional playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Below is a pick-by-pick rundown of the Seahawks’ drafts guided by Schneider and Carroll.
|1||6||Russell Okung||6-5||310||T||Oklahoma State|
|2||60||Golden Tate||5-10||202||WR||Notre Dame|
|4||127||E.J. Wilson||6-3||289||DE||North Carolina|
|5||133||Kam Chancellor||6-3||232||S||Virginia Tech|
|7||236||Dexter Davis||6-1||244||DE||Arizona St.|
|7||245||Jameson Konz||6-3||234||WR||Kent. St.|
|4||99||K.J. Wright||6-4||246||LB||Mississippi St.|
|5||156||Mark LeGree||6-0||211||S||Appalachian St.|
|1||15||Bruce Irvin||6-3||248||DE||West Virginia|
|2||47||Bobby Wagner||6-0||241||LB||Utah State|
|4||106||Robert Turbin||5-10||222||RB||Utah State|
|6||172||Jeremy Lane||6-0||190||CB||NW Louisiana|
|7||225||JR Sweezy||6-5||298||G||North Carolina St.|
In the interview for Tuesday’s story on defensive lineman Michael Bennett, the once-Seahawk and now once-again Seahawk offered another reason for wanting to re-sign with the team in free agency last month.
In a word, it’s the secondary. In 10 words or less, it’s Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Brandon Browner. Two were voted All-Pro last season – Thomas, the free safety; and Sherman, the left cornerback. Three have played in the Pro Bowl in at least one of the past two seasons – Thomas (twice); Chancellor, the strong safety; and Browner, the right cornerback.
“I’ve never played with a secondary with this caliber of talent,” Bennett said. “That’s one of the unique things about this defense and this team. I’ve played with some OK secondaries since I’ve been in the league, but this is my first time playing with a secondary like this.”
And make no mistake, the Seahawks were Bennett’s destination team even before he hit free agency last month.
“I turned down money to come here, and came here on just a one-year contract,” he said. “This is where I wanted to be. I love this place.”
(The opinions and analysis contained in this feature are those of the author and others credited and do not necessarily represent the thoughts and opinions of the Seahawks’ coaching staff and personnel department)
Some things never change. Just look at Dee Milliner. He is entering the NFL Draft the same way he entered the University of Alabama – as the top-ranked cornerback available.
That was Milliner coming out of Stanhope Elmore High School in Millbrook, Ala., where he not only started as a freshman but returned his first interception in his first start 40 yards for a touchdown. That is Milliner coming out of Alabama, where he also started as a true freshman and was an All-American last season.
“I have only one corner with a first-round grade,” said Mike Mayock, draft analyst for the NFL Network.
One guess who that corner is. And Milliner wasn’t about to dispute Mayock’s evaluation at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
Asked if he felt he was the best cornerback in the draft, Milliner went that one better, offering, “Yeah, very much. You’ve always got to have confidence in the plays that you can make, your ability that you have. I feel like I am the best DB in all of this. No offense to all the other DBs, I just believe in what I can do and all the plays I can make.”
Here are some other highlights from Milliner’s Q&A session with the media at the combine:
Q: What separates you from the other cornerbacks in this draft class?
A: “Just my mentality as a football player. My toughness. The physical (nature) that I play with, it’s just different from some cornerback in today’s league.”
Q: With Nick Saban’s history as a defensive backs coach, what did you learn from your head coach at Alabama?
A: “The way coach Saban coaches, he teaches you different things – not just watching films and different things. He’s the one that gets you right for game day. He teaches you lessons and values that you need on the field and off the field, just helps you all around as a coach.”
Q: In terms of your style, how do you think you compare with former Alabama cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick (a first-round pick by the Bengals last year) and DeQuan Menzie (a fifth-round pick by the Chiefs last year)?
A: “I think we compare. We’re alike because we come from the same style under coach Saban. You know you have to be a hardnosed, physical player at the line of scrimmage and come up in run support. You’ve just got to be able to do different things – all three of us – different things because we’re different people. You’ve just got to go out there and always just make plays and create an identity for ourselves.”
Q: Who are the current NFL cornerbacks you watch?
A: “I’ve got a lot. You’ve got to watch today’s cornerbacks. (The Cardinals’) Pat Peterson, that’s a young guy that I think is going to be the next – one of the great DBs. (The Broncos’) Champ Bailey, (the Jets’) Darrelle Revis when he does come back. Now (the Seahawks’ Richard) Sherman, you’ve got to watch him because he’s one of the headhunters that’s doing good in today’s football. I wish Deion (Sanders) was playing so I could watch him. But you know, I still look at his tapes on YouTube. I’ve got old people in my family that knew him, saw him play, so I always go around them and ask them about him.”
Q: How important is confidence to being a great corner?
A: “That’s a must. You’ve always got to have confidence as a cornerback. And not only as a cornerback, that’s any position on the field. If you’ve got confidence, have faith in what you can do, believe you’re going to go out and do that, you’ll follow that direction.”
Mike Sando, the NFC West blogger at ESPN.com, has turned Matt Williamson’s positional rankings for the division’s four teams into a series of informational and entertaining “conversations” with the website’s resident scout.
Williamson ranks the Seahawks as the second-best team in the NFC West behind the conference champion 49ers, but the Seahawks come out No. 1 at quarterback, running back, defensive line, cornerback and safety. They are No. 2 at wide receiver, offensive line, linebackers and head coach, and No. 3 at tight end.
It’s worth checking out the rankings and the dialogue on each:
Williamson: “If I were starting a team, (Colin) Kaepernick and (Russell) Wilson would rank among my top five picks. The upside for Kaepernick is so great. I don’t expect him to take a step back. I just don’t think he is as far along as Wilson in the fundamentals of quarterback play. Wilson coming into the league was ahead of Kaepernick in terms of being a pocket passer, reading defenses, not relying on his physical gifts so much and just in the mental side of things.”
Williamson: “Seattle has the best back in the division in Marshawn Lynch, and Robert Turbin is a heckuva backup. It’s not a knock on (Frank) Gore. I like LaMichael James and like Kendall Hunter, too. So, the 49ers have three guys to talk about instead of two for Seattle.”
Williamson: “I’ll take (Percy) Harvin every day over (Michael) Crabtree and that is not a knock on Crabtree. Harvin is more dynamic, more versatile. He frightens defenses way more. You can do so much more with him. He has big-play ability and is just a better football player. When I rank the wide receivers in this division, it goes Larry (Fitzgerald), Harvin and Crabtree, but Harvin is closer to Fitz than Crabtree is to Harvin.”
Sando: “The Cardinals were the only NFL team without a touchdown reception from a tight end last season. Bad quarterback play had quite a bit to do with that, of course.”
Williamson: “Breno (Giacomini) has been serviceable. Marshawn Lynch has room to run. I think they have two good players (Max Unger and Russell Okung) and then a bunch of guys. I do think the whole is greater than sum of the parts. There is some truth to that in Seattle, which goes to coaching (by Tom Cable).”
Williamson: “They have a wide skill set, which I like, too. (Bruce) Irvin and (Red) Bryant are totally different players at defensive end. Irvin, (Chris) Clemons, (Cliff) Avril and Bryant give you versatility. For the Rams, (William) Hayes is an important part of that equation. He had seven sacks last year. (Robert) Quinn and (Chris) Long are questionable against the run. Hayes can be a base run defensive end. Plus, he moves inside and can be a quality rusher there.”
Sando: “The Seahawks found one starter in the second round (Bobby Wagner) and another in the fourth (K.J. Wright). They plan to use Cliff Avril at strong-side linebacker in some situations. But with Leroy Hill apparently having run his course in Seattle, the team figures to draft a weak-side linebacker to compete with Malcolm Smith.”
Sando: “Seattle is really the only team in the division appearing set at safety for now. I could still see the Seahawks drafting one for insurance in case they have a hard time re-signing Kam Chancellor. In the meantime, Earl Thomas might be the best safety in the league. At least I’m assuming you’d agree in saying he’s moved past Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed, who were long considered the standards.”
Williamson: “Seattle to me has the best set of corners in the league, clearly (in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner). And then (Antoine) Winfield might be the best slot corner in the league. It’s almost unfair.”
Williamson: “(The Rams’ Jeff) Fisher is a heckuva coach, but he is behind two of the top five in the league (Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll) when it comes to ranking head coaches in the NFC West.”
The Seahawks’ young, but oh-so-talented, secondary just got a lot more experienced.
Former Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield was signed today, the team announced. Winfield, who will turn 36 in June and has been in the NFL for 13 seasons, is expected to compete for the nickel back spot in a secondary that already includes two All-Pro players – free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman; and Pro Bowl-caliber players at strong safety and the other corner in Kam Chancellor and Brandon Browner.
The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Winfield was released last month by the Vikings in a salary-cap move, despite coming off a 2012 season when he had 101 tackles, three interceptions and 12 passes defensed. The passes defensed were a career high, while the tackle and interception totals were his second-highest totals.
Winfield played his first five seasons with the Bills, who selected him in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft after a senior season at Ohio State when he was named All-America and voted the Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation’s top defensive back. He signed with the Vikings in free agency in 2004 and was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
For his career, Winfield has 1,170 tackles and 27 interceptions. He also has started 16 games six times, the last coming in 2010.