Seattle Times staff reporters Bob Condotta and Jayson Jenks hand out their season-ending Seahawks awards.
Seattle Times staff reporters Bob Condotta and Jayson Jenks hand out their season-ending Seahawks awards:
End/tackle Michael Bennett
Condotta: He threatened to hold out all offseason, then showed up on time and spent the season making an even stronger statement about his value. Bennett again played more than 80 percent of the snaps as an end in the base defense and often moved inside on passing downs, equally disruptive against both the run and pass. Bennett’s good friend and defensive end partner-in-crime, Cliff Avril, also had an MVP-worthy season. But from start to finish, Bennett’s impact on games all season was undeniable.
Cornerback Richard Sherman
Jenks: Sherman finished the season with the fewest interceptions of his career, and there were certainly a couple of chances for picks that he would love to have back. But Sherman has never been more versatile than he was this season — he shadowed top receivers and even played inside — because the Seahawks needed him to do so.
Quarterback Russell Wilson
Condotta: Aside from whatever happens in the playoffs, the 2015 season figures to be remembered as the year Wilson became the face of the offense, if not the team. An early injury to Marshawn Lynch and later ones to Thomas Rawls and Jimmy Graham forced the team to turn to Wilson more than ever, and Wilson responded with some stretches of unprecedented play — not just in Seahawks history but NFL history as well. Along the way, he put to rest any questions about whether the team would get its value out of the four-year, $87 million contract extension he signed before the season.
Receiver Doug Baldwin
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Jenks: Wilson is the logical choice, but a case can be made for Baldwin, too. Baldwin became the first Seahawks receiver to finish with 1,000 yards receiving since 2007. He set a franchise record for touchdown catches in a season with 14. And his best games coincided with the Seahawks playing their best down the stretch.
Kicker Steven Hauschka
Condotta: Tyler Lockett is the obvious choice here, but he wasn’t the only special-teams standout this year. Before the second-half offensive surge changed the course of the season, Steven Hauschka ranked as one of the team’s MVPs, one of the most consistent threats when points were sometimes scarce. In a year when NFL kicking was at times erratic, Hauschka made his first 17 attempts before having one blocked at Dallas. And despite another late miss he finished 29 of 31 on field goals, second in team history behind only his 33-of-35 season in 2013.
Returner Tyler Lockett
Jenks: Lockett provided the Seahawks with a needed spark in his first season as the team’s kickoff and punt returner. He returned a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown this season and forced some teams to kick away from him.
Condotta: As a weak-side linebacker, Wright’s contributions at times aren’t as evident as those who play on the edges and make more sacks. But Wright was as steady as any defensive player the Seahawks had this season, his sure tackling and length and instincts playing a huge role in defending the run and pass. The best example might have been the Minnesota game. He made nine tackles as the Seahawks made Adrian Peterson a non-factor in what was a defensive shutout of the Vikings.
Defensive back DeShawn Shead
Jenks: Shead started a game at strong safety during Kam Chancellor’s holdout. He spent most of the preseason working at free safety while Earl Thomas recovered from surgery. He started at nickelback when injuries forced him into action and then started at outside corner after the Seahawks released veteran Cary Williams. He has played many positions in a year the Seahawks needed some versatility.
Performance of the Year
Running back Thomas Rawls vs. 49ers
Condotta: Remember the backdrop to the game against the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 22 — Seattle was 4-5 and found out before kickoff that Marshawn Lynch couldn’t play because of an abdominal injury that would require surgery three days later. No matter, as the precocious Rawls stepped in to rush for a Seattle rookie record 209 yards. His most memorable play that day, though, might have come on a pass when he took a short toss from Wilson and plowed over Tramaine Brock for a 12-yard gain that foreshadowed all that was to come.
Quarterback Russell Wilson vs. Steelers
Jenks: The most obvious choice is obvious for a reason: Wilson threw for 345 yards against the Steelers on Nov. 29, threw five touchdown passes and zero interceptions and completed 70 percent of his passes. That it came in a shootout, in a game the Seahawks had to win, only made it more impressive.