That’s right -- five Pro Bowlers!
In their second year at the helm, Pete Carroll and the Schneid have brought in five guys who made the Pro Bowl this year. I hope Addicts and other Seahawk fans realize what an enormous feat that is. Of course, a deep playoff run would be even more amazing, but let’s put this achievement in perspective by comparing it to Tim Ruskell’s five years at the helm. In all that time, Ruskell brought in only three Pro Bowlers. That’s right, just three in five years: two high-profile free agents, and a 2nd round draft pick. (There were several other Seahawks who made the Pro Bowl from 2005 to 2008, but they were already on the team when Ruskell became GM so he gets no credit for them.)
The first of those free agents was Julian Peterson. A stud linebacker signed by Ruskell in 2006, Peterson made the Pro Bowl in ‘06, ‘07, and ‘08. Ruskell was able to leverage both the goodwill that the team had built up with Holmgren as head coach and Paul Allen’s deep pockets to sign him. For his part, Peterson lived up to his contract, becoming one of Ruskell’s success stories. Unfortunately, Ruskell traded Peterson away just prior to making probably the worst personnel move of his tenure in Seattle, drafting Aaron Curry with the 4th pick of the 2009 draft.
The other free agent Pro Bowler was pass-rush specialist Patrick Kerney. In 2007, his first year with the team, he had 14 ½ sacks and one interception, and was named an All-Pro at defensive end. Kerney was another success story for Ruskell, at least for the ’07 season. Again, Ruskell was able to leverage the owner’s deep pockets and the team’s good reputation to sign him. Unfortunately, that was the only year in which Kerney performed at an All-Pro level. After ’07, injuries scuttled his performance and ultimately brought an end to his playing career.
The third Pro Bowler brought in by Tim Ruskell, and arguably his best personnel decision, was his 2005 2nd round draft pick, linebacker Lofa Tatupu. Tatupu was an All-Pro, a three time Pro Bowler (’05, ’06, and ’07), an outstanding leader on the defensive side of the ball, and one of the most likable Seahawks of all time. Injuries cut short his career, but this was a great player that Ruskell brought in.
Now let’s move forward to the Pete Carroll / John Schneider era and their five Pro Bowlers. Talk about a turnaround, three out of the four starting defensive backs brought in by them made the Pro Bowl this year. Safety Earl Thomas was a 1st round pick, and anyone who even casually follows the Seahawks knew he was going to make the Pro Bowl. More surprising is the success of safety Kam Chancellor, a 5th round draft pick, and Brandon Browner, a low key free agent signing. The two running back Pro Bowlers were also largely unheralded signings. The Beasty-man himself, Marshawn Lynch, was acquired by trade for a 4th round draft pick, and Michael Robinson was an inexpensive free agent signing. Lynch has also become one of the most high profile guys on the team.
Let’s also not forget that the running game and pass defense were two of the weakest links in the chain when Carroll took over. Now it’s official, they are weak no more.
The comparison I’m making here between Ruskell and Carroll / Schneider is not intended simply to disparage Tim Ruskell. Everyone already knows what a miserable failure that bastard was and how badly he screwed up the franchise. The goal here is to emphasize what an outstanding job is being done by the current Seahawks organization. Their Pro Bowl selections simply corroborate what has been widely noted: Pete Carroll and John Schneider have very good eyes for talent, as well as the ability to put that talent in a position to succeed.
True, a deep playoff run would have been much more exciting, but the Pro Bowl recognition of these five players is confirmation that deep playoff runs will not be too far behind. Go Hawks!