the team's newfound defensive emphasis was the fact that four Seattle defenders were voted in as starters - defensive end Patrick Kerney, middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, outside linebacker Julian Peterson
and cornerback Marcus Trufant. Offensive tackle Walter Jones will start once
again, and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was named as a reserve. Receiver/returner
Nate Burleson was also named as an alternate on special teams.
has been the most prolific era in the franchise's history from a Pro Bowl
perspective -- seven Seahawks in 2005, four in 2006, and the six this season.
In 2005, Tatupu became the first Seahawks rookie to make the Pro Bowl since
Rufus Porter in 1988.
a free agent acquisition before the 2006 season, added to a currently dominant
linebacker corps with his selection last season. Kerney was signed this past
offseason and leads the NFL in sacks. At 9-5, the Seahawks have fallen a bit
from the NFL's elite in the last two seasons, but there's more than enough
star power to make things happen on the field.
without further ado, a closer look at Seattle's
six Pro Bowl stars and what got them there:
DE Patrick Kerney -- Second Pro Bowl
Kerney was signed to a six-year, $39.5 million contract by the Seahawks in
early March, many fans didn't know that to think.
Still feeling burned by the disastrous signing of Grant Wistrom, another "high-motor"
(read: pigment-impaired) defensive end in 2004, some felt that the acquisition
of a 30-year-old player, coming off of shoulder surgery, at a speed position,
was a big mistake. This opinion seemed to be validated early in the season,
when Kerney amassed only 3.5 sacks in his first eight games.
starting with the 24-0 week 10 win on November 12, Kerney went off the hook.
He picked up three sacks in three different games -- Chicago,
Arizona and St. Louis. Kerney was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for
November. His versatility was exhibited in the loss to Carolina -- though he didn't sack rookie Matt Moore
once because he was frequently double-teamed, Kerney was strong in run support
and came up with eight tackles. His ability to attack at the line of scrimmage
has always been his greatest asset, and he's been an amazing presence for
OLB Julian Peterson -- Fourth Pro Bowl
to be a defensive Swiss army knife during his time in San Francisco, Peterson has been more of a standard linebacker/rush
end in his two seasons with the Seahawks. His 19 sacks in 2005 and 2006 almost
match the 21.5 he amassed in six years with the 49ers. He's an asset in pass
coverage for his position, but what really makes him a crucial part of this
defense is the fact that opposing offenses have to account for him in a front
seven that is increasingly filled with elite starters who can't be ignored.
He ranks third on the team with 68 tackles, and his four forced fumbles are
MLB Lofa Tatupu -- Third Pro Bowl
the second round of the 2005 draft, the Seahawks traded up to select an undersized
no-name linebacker from USC in the second
round. Three years and the same number of Pro Bowls later, Tatupu might be the
best middle linebacker in the game. He is as good an argument as there is for
the idea that character and intelligence mean more than sheer athletic ability
alone when it comes to scouting players at the NFL level.
has led the Seahawks in tackles each of his three seasons,
but that's fairly common for a middle linebacker. What makes him special is
his almost supernatural ability to read offenses, a gift that was evident from
his college days. Watch his three-interception game against the Eagles this
year - Tatupu knew where those passes were going, and
he exploited A.J. Feeley's relatively limited playbook for all it was worth.
How many rookies do you know that can take over a veteran defense in his first
minicamp? This is Tatupu's team as much as it is Matt
Hasselbeck's, or Mike Holmgren's, or Tim Ruskell's. No matter what spins around
him, Lofa Tatupu defines his defense.
CB Marcus Trufant -- First Pro Bowl
"Hometown discount"? Not now. Trufant's first Pro Bowl selection may price him
right out of a re-do with the Seahawks, the local
angle be damned. After a solid rookie season in 2003, we have watched this
son of Tacoma tackle like a safety with great glee, and get demolished by
many elite receivers with some consternation (Torry Holt should name a son
after him). Trufant's Success Rate dropped from 26th to 80th among cornerbacks
from 2005 to 2006, and it's fair to say that few expected this kind of season.
But the Seahawks spent on legitimate safety help, moved Trufant back to his
preferred left side, and hired Jim Mora to get all the ducks in a row.
a result, Trufant has finally come into his own as an elite cornerback. Interceptions
don't tell the whole story with defensive backs -- Trufant had three of his
seven in one game -- but he's tailed those receivers who used to burn him
like an entirely new player. Is a 27-year old cornerback with one great year
worth Nate Clements money? The Seahawks, and several other teams, will be
asking that question in the offseason.
QB Matt Hasselbeck -- Third Pro Bowl
excellent season has a great deal to do with Mike Holmgren's new pass-happy
gameplan, but there's a lot to be said for a quarterback who can get things
done effectively when everyone knows what's coming. Statistically and from an
efficiency perspective, he's trending to his best season ever (currently ranked ninth in
DPAR; he ranked fifth in 2005), and all this with a running game that could
best be described as "extinct".
never been the team's Most Valuable Player for a full season, but it's hard
to argue that he hasn't been just exactly that in 2007.
LT Walter Jones -- Eighth Pro Bowl
greatest player in Seahawks history (sorry, Mr. Largent…) may not be up to his
2005 standard of greatness, but he'll be a slam-dunk as an All-Pro until he
retires. With Orlando Pace off the map and Jonathan
Ogden fading fast, #71 would drastically improve just about any line, and
it's time to acknowledge him as the best lineman of his era.
a reward for his constant and infinite greatness, the Seahawks need to find
him a running buddy like the one he'll line up next to in Hawaii. Some fellow named Hutchinson.