Pro Bowl voting validation of Seattle's makeover

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 29, 2011
With one statement, Earl Thomas pointed out how promising the future could be. ''I'm 22 years old, starting the Pro Bowl,'' the Seattle free safety said Wednesday. ''It's crazy.'' What was seen initially as a rash and perhaps misguided move by Pete Carroll's staff to completely overhaul the Seahawks' secondary before the season has proved to be one of Seattle's best moves. And not just for this season that nearly went from miserable to magical, but for years ahead. Not that Carroll needed the validation that his moves were correct, but the Pro Bowl voting reinforced the decision to make changes in the secondary. Thomas, in his second season as the free safety, was voted a starter for the Jan. 29 All-Star game, becoming the first Seattle player voted into the game since 2008. It came in a year where Thomas actually has worse numbers in terms of interceptions than his rookie season, but where Seattle's secondary is markedly better and Thomas' role in that improvement has been noticed. ''The transformation that we've had from the beginning of the season, some guys didn't know they would be starting but due to injury now they're up. They've stepped in and we haven't missed a beat,'' Thomas said. ''That just shows how much depth we have in the future moving forward. This year was a learning experience for a lot of us.'' By the time the end of January rolls around, Thomas might not be alone in representing the Seahawks' defensive backfield. Strong safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Brandon Browner are first alternates, meaning if any player at those positions pulls out of the game, they were will be the first ones added to the NFC roster. Along with rookie Richard Sherman, the secondary has made a complete turn from their play of a season ago. And best of all for Seattle, Browner at age 27 is the oldest of the foursome and Thomas is the only one with more than one season of experience as a starter in the NFL. ''Brandon comes out of nowhere and a first-year starter for Kam - that's a big accomplishment. So guys had to recognize what those guys did on the field this year and they've been that effective that they've been able to get past other people,'' Carroll said. ''With respect to the process and the great players that are in the league it's a big statement about this group and the future that we can look forward to with them.'' Of the current starters, Browner is the most surprising to emerge. Coming out of the Canadian Football League, Browner was picked on early in the season, most notably in Seattle's Week 2 loss at Pittsburgh. But Browner has recovered and is tied for fourth in the NFL in interceptions with six, including two returned for touchdowns. He also is tied for the league lead in passes defensed according to STATS LLC with 20. Browner and Sherman are the mold of cornerbacks that Carroll wants to have. Browner is listed at 6-foot-4, 221 pounds, while Sherman is 6-foot-3. But even with their size, the duo has been able to lock down shorter, shiftier receivers. ''I feel like I got attacked early on in the season. They threw the ball my way,'' Browner said. ''... I got balls thrown at me and made the best of it at times. I was up there in balls deflected. I was up there in interceptions. My play speaks volumes.'' Because of the way Seattle's cornerbacks have played, it's allowed the Seahawks to do more with Thomas and Chancellor patrolling the middle. Thomas thought because of his lower interception numbers that he wouldn't be in the running for a Pro Bowl spot. But aside from interceptions is a number that's even more critical to the Seahawks defensive success and might better define Thomas' impact this year: limiting big plays. According to STATS LLC, Seattle ranked 31st in the NFL last year giving up 76 plays of 20 or more yards either running or passing. Entering the season finale Sunday at Arizona, Seattle is tied for second with Baltimore in the category, giving up just 45 plays of 20 or more yards. ''That has a tremendous amount to do with how he plays and the plays that he's been able to stop and keep from even being attempted at us because he's in the right positions and all,'' Carroll said about Thomas. --- Follow Tim Booth on Twitter:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Jim Fassel takes issue with Cam Newton's warmup MVP cleats

Report: NFL upholds Vontaze Burfict’s three-game suspension

NFL owners reportedly concerned with Raiders-gang connections in LA

T'Wolves getting calls about Rubio ahead of trade deadline

Jarryd Hayne wants to return to NFL

Jones: I ‘scream in my pillow’ being at Super Bowl, not in it


Phil Jackson reportedly does not have opt-out until 2017

Byron Scott: D’Angelo Russell’s immaturity ‘at times’ a problem

Kevin Love: Shoulder injury ‘just a stinger’

Nets’ Joe Johnson would ‘welcome’ a trade

Report: Grizzlies want Kevin Durant in free agency

WATCH: Karl-Anthony Towns throws down monster dunk

Eight most potentially combustible MLB clubhouses

Matt Barnes coyly denies IG post was shot at Derek Fisher

NHLers who should be dealt to contenders before deadline

Robert Kraft compares Tom Brady to Peyton, Eli Manning

WATCH: Markieff Morris appears to flip the bird to heckler

Prediction for each NBA award heading into the All-Star Break

Did Clippers reenact Paul Pierce stabbing during pregame intros?

Kobe Bryant gives LeBron James his game-worn Kobe 11s

Terrell Owens tells Skip Bayless to stop ‘misinforming’ people

8-year-old Panthers fan writes adorable letter to Cam Newton

Donovan McNabb: I did not throw up during Super Bowl loss

Seven teams that must target a quarterback in 2016 NFL draft

Fighter says sex before fight partly to blame for loss

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker