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Count Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Pete Carroll among the ‘winners’
But the fact that we can be indignant about the outcome of the balloting for the annual Associated Press awards – which are now presented in a primetime special on the network that will telecast the Super Bowl the next day – speaks volumes about just how far this franchise has come.
Think about it: Wilson and Wagner just completed their first seasons with the Seahawks, and Carroll his third. Wagner, the team’s middle linebacker and leading tackler, finished second to Carolina Panthers’ linebacker Luke Kuechly in voting for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Wilson, who tied the NFL rookie record by passing for the 26 touchdowns among other achievements, was third in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race to fellow QBs Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins and Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts – as was Carroll to the Colts’ duo of Bruce Arians and Chuck Pagano in the Coach of the Year category.
Did we mention their combined showing was a sign of progress for the Little Blue Team that plays in the Northwestern-most corner of the NFL Nation?
In their first 36 seasons, Jack Patera (in 1976) and Chuck Knox (in 1984) were the franchise’s only AP Coach of the Year selections. And while quarterback Jim Zorn and defensive tackle Steve Niehaus won NFC Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 1976 and safety Kenny Easley was AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1981, the team never has had a rookie take home the league-wide AP award.
In fact, in those 36 seasons, the Seahawks have had one league MVP – Shaun Alexander in 2005, when he led the NFL in rushing and scored a then-league record 28 touchdowns. They’ve also had two NFL Defensive players of the year – Easley in 1984, when he returned two of his 10 interceptions for TDs; and tackle Cortez Kennedy in 1992, when he had 14 sacks among his career-high 92 tackles on a team that finished 2-14.
So if anything, Saturday night’s also-ran performances by Wagner, Wilson and Carroll show the Seahawks are running – no, racing – in the right direction.
Need more proof? The Seahawks had four players named to the All-Pro team – center Max Unger, running back Marshawn Lynch, cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas. Their respective ages: 26, 26, 24 and 23.
The last time – in fact, the only other time – the Seahawks had four players voted first-team All-Pro was in 2005: Alexander, fullback Mack Strong and tackle Walter Jones and guard Steve Hutchinson, the left side of the line that paved the way for 19 of Alexander’s record-breaking TD total. The four players selected this season were one more than the Seahawks had in the past six seasons combined – and all three of the picks in that span came in 2007, when Jones, defensive end Patrick Kerney and middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu made it.
Still need proof that this team is running roughshod in the right direction? How about the six-pack of Seahawks who stole the show at last week’s Pro Bowl: Wilson, who threw three TD passes in directing five consecutive scoring drives to open the second half and somehow was not voted MVP; Thomas, who had an interception to setup Wilson’s first TD pass; Leon Washington, who broke a Pro Bowl-record 92-yard kickoff return to setup Wilson’s second TD pass; Lynch, who ran for a TD and was the game’s leading rusher; and Unger and left tackle Russell Okung, definite building blocks on the offensive line.
The sum of all this – the good, the great and the perceived bad – is that a lot of people have taken notice of what Carroll and his crew are doing way up here.
Still need proof? Wilson was voted NFL.com Rookie of the Year, an award that was selected by fans who were allowed to factor in his over-the-top efforts in the postseason.
The Seahawks gained friends in influential places this season, as evidenced by what Peter King wrote in his post-Super Bowl/post-NFL awards “Monday Morning Quarterback” at SI.com.
“Robert Griffin III and Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly won,” he wrote of the Rookie of the Year honors. “I picked two Seahawks: quarterback Russell Wilson – who had the best quarterback rating in the league over the last half of the season – and linebacker Bobby Wagner. Griffin and Kuechly, the league's leading tackler according to NFL stats (164), were good choices.”
But the fact that Wagner and Wilson – and Carroll, for that matter – were factors in the categories where the Seahawks had for so long been nonentities is a scratching-the-surface indication of just how good this team can become.