Pro Bowl snubs will motivate Seahawks

dave.boling@thenewstribune.comDecember 27, 2012 

So, the Seahawks lead the NFL in scoring defense, and are No. 4 in yardage, and they only get one Pro Bowl backup on the defensive side?

And the San Francisco defense that gave up 42 in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks gets six defenders in the Pro Bowl?

Nobody said this thing was always fair.

The Seahawks have a roster filled with players who have so many chips on their shoulders they could probably get away without wearing pads up there, as it is. Wednesday’s slights will be added to the list of grievances many maintain and pull out for daily motivation.

But as it stands, the hope of every Seahawks player is that none of them appears in the Pro Bowl, because those on the two Super Bowl teams don’t make the Hawaii trip the preceding week.

Safety Earl Thomas was the lone defender voted in, qualifying for his second trip in two years.

The offense, meanwhile, features two starters – center Max Unger and left tackle Russell Okung – and a reserve in running back Marshawn Lynch. The fifth Seahawks player voted in was returner Leon Washington, who leads the NFL in kickoff-return average.

Part of the problem for the Seahawks is that the players and coaches voted last week – before the Seahawks tacked on another in a string of blowout wins. And their climb to join the league’s elite has been fueled by a late-season spurt of six wins in seven games, which might have caught some voters by surprise.

The larger picture implications: Four of the five voted onto the team are 26 or younger, with Washington the only graybeard at 30. And when the list of alternates was released, eight Seahawks were named. First alternates: Chris Clemons, Michael Robinson and Richard Sherman; second alternates: Kam Chancellor, Heath Farwell and Jon Ryan; third alternate: Russell Wilson; fourth alternate: Brandon Mebane.

Prior to the official Pro Bowl announcement Wednesday, coach Pete Carroll was asked to list Seahawks he considered worthy of the honor. He reeled off the names of 12 Seahawks. And most of them were voted onto the team or named as alternates.

“It’s a big turnaround for us, when a couple years ago we couldn’t get anybody there,” Carroll said. “So, to have all those guys in consideration – and maybe more – I’m really excited to see what happens today.”

Not only did the Seahawks have no Pro Bowl players in Carroll’s first season, they had none the season before, either, the first such barren stretch since the first two seasons of franchise history.

Of the 13 Seahawks making the team or being alternates, only three predate the 2010 arrival of Carroll and general manager John Schneider – a symbol of the upward trend in talent.

Given the five voted to the team and three first-alternates, the Seahawks could end up matching or breaking the franchise record of seven (1984, 2005).

Unger is at the center of an offensive line that operates so efficiently the players have reached a point where the game plan can be altered greatly from week to week. Okung plays left tackle with such consistency he’s only given up one sack all season, while going against some of the best pass rushers in the NFL.

Thomas has three interceptions this season, one better than his total last season when he was named a Pro Bowl starter.

And Lynch has put up the best rushing numbers of his career (1,490 yards) behind that line.

The biggest disappointment for the Seahawks has to be cornerback Sherman, who is tied for second in the NFL in interceptions (7). We may speculate on how much the pending appeal of his suspension for banned substances weighed on voters.

And fullback Robinson, who went to his first Pro Bowl last season, has been exceptional as a lead blocker for Lynch, and also a versatile special-teams player. But the NFC fullback was the Vikings’ Jerome Felton, who blocks for Adrian Peterson.

Clemons, Chancellor and Mebane could also put forth valid arguments for getting voted in.

The Pro Bowl is still a silly competition, and the voting can be a bit of a popularity contest. But don’t think it’s unimportant to these guys. And the guys who didn’t make it are likely to remember it when the Seahawks head into the playoffs.

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 @DaveBoling

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