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John Schneider finally takes a (forced) bow
After the Seahawks had done something they’ve accomplished only twice in franchise history, Pete Carroll did something he rarely does.
In the locker room at CenturyLink Field on Sunday, just after the Seahawks’ victory over the rival San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game, the team’s fourth-year coach presented John Schneider with the game ball for his efforts in compiling this championship collection of players that will meet the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2.
The gesture brought the Seahawks’ general manager to tears, and also brought up a point that can’t be stressed strongly enough: Schneider’s fingerprints are all over a roster that is the deepest, among the youngest and obviously one of the best in the National Football League.
“I looked forward to this opportunity for John, to recognize him because he’s been such a big part of everything,” Carroll said.
Schneider was hired on Jan. 19, 2010; eight days after Carroll became the coach. They clicked almost immediately and set about acquiring, finding and drafting the kinds of players that would allow Carroll to play the way he wants to play – fast, physical, aggressive.
Forty-eight months, 39 draft choices and more than 800 roster transactions later, the team these two handpicked is about to play for the most-coveted sports prize on the plant: The Lombardi Trophy.
“I wanted everybody to know how much John has done, and how good the relationship has been and how much respect there is for everything he’s done,” Carroll said of using the game ball from the Seahawks’ biggest win in their short tenure to salute the silent partner.
You definitely won’t hear Schneider tooting his own horn for everything he’s brought to this team. To the contrary, he pushes the credit to his staff: Senior personnel executive Scot McCloughan; director of pro personnel Trent Kirchner and assistant director Dan Morgan; and director of college scouting Scott Fitterer and his staff – Jason Barnes, Matt Berry, Todd Brunner, Ed Dodds, Aaron Hineline, Jim Nagy, Tyler Ramsey, Josh Graff and Kirk Parrish.
It’s refreshing, but also frustrating, as Schneider hides behind the curtain rather than taking the curtain call. But Carroll pulled that curtain back, and did it with the team Schneider helped build not only surrounding him but howling its approval.
“John has been extraordinary. He’s been part of everything,” Carroll said. “So this was a way to make sure we pulled him in on the football side of it.”
The most-telling indication of just how deep and talented the roster Schneider and Carroll have compiled just might be the number of players who played for other team this season after being released by the Seahawks:
Will Blackmon – The veteran cornerback was one of the last, and toughest, cuts on the roster reduction to 53 players. He had performed well during training camp and the preseason, but was a victim of the numbers game at the position where the Seahawks already had All-Pro Richard Sherman, since-suspended starter Brandon Browner, now-starter Byron Maxwell, nickel back Walter Thurmond and Jeremy Lane. Blackmon was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are coached by former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, and started eight games.
Winston Guy – Different position than Blackmon, but same story for the second-year safety. On a team that already had All-Pros Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, as well as backups and core special-teams players Chris Maragos, DeShawn Shead and since-injured Jeron Johnson, there just wasn’t room for Guy. He also signed with the Jaguars and started two games.
John Lotulelei – Different position than Blackmon and Guy, but again the same story for the rookie free-agent linebacker. He did nothing wrong while with the Seahawks. In fact, he was better than you would expect for a linebacker with his size (5 feet 11, 233 pounds) and backup (UNLV). But the move of former first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin to linebacker and free-agent addition of O’Brien Schofield only made an already talented group even better, as Irvin and Schofield joined Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Malcolm Smith, Mike Morgan and special-teams captain Heath Farwell. Like Guy, Lotulelei started two games for the Jaguars.
Sean McGrath – The second-year tight end was just one of four former Seahawks who ended up with the Kansas City Chiefs, along with cornerback Ron Parker, defensive tackle Jaye Howard and guard Rishaw Johnson. McGrath caught 26 passes and started nine games. Parker did a little bit of everything (two interceptions, a sack, a forced fumble and 17 tackles) as a situational corner. Howard played in three games with one start. Johnson also started one game.
Sealver Siliga – The third-year defensive tackle started four games for the New England Patriots team that the Broncos defeated in the AFC Championship game. He had three sacks among his 23 tackles.
Eight others filled backup roles – tackle Mike Person and quarterback Brady Quinn with the St. Louis Rams; linebacker Allen Bradford with the New York Giants; wide receivers Chris Harper (Green Bay Packers) and Stephen Williams (Jaguars); linebackers Ty Powell (Buffalo Bills) and Kyle Knox (New Orleans Saints); and guard Ryan Seymour (49ers).
Good players, just not good enough to crack the Seahawks’ deep, talented roster. And that’s the point all teams want to reach.