If the Seahawks are able to sustain their newfound energy and momentum and make a major run through the postseason, a lot of credit will go to the veteran players who pulled the team together after the Kansas City loss. A little more credit will go to coach Pete Carroll and his staff.
But let’s not forget a key figure who has helped keep the Hawks afloat amid injuries and drama this season: John Schneider.
The general manager has had his most active season since 2011, when he was still putting together a competitive team for Carroll.
Since the season started, the Seahawks have placed eight players on injured reserve — tied for second most in the league behind the nine IR moves made by the New York Giants. Schneider has made 21 additions — second to the 24 by Chicago. And let’s not forget the franchise-altering trade of Percy Harvin.
Schneider has put out fire after fire this season — working to find another bucket of water every time a new blaze has erupted. He has been needed much more than last season, when the Hawks placed just four players on IR and made 15 roster additions.
Carroll gave Schneider a shout-out last week for picking up tight end Tony Moeaki, a great find who has been a big factor in his first three games and looms large for the final month and the playoffs.
Moeaki is just the latest discovery by Schneider, who has alternately been patching up the secondary, replacing injured defensive linemen, cycling through centers and, of course, getting rid of a team headache.
Schneider’s first key move was acquiring cornerback Marcus Burley in a trade just before the season when Jeremy Lane and Tharold Simon were both injured. Burley has turned into a solid third corner and even started when the Hawks lost Byron Maxwell, too.
When Lane was placed on IR on Sept. 8, Schneider brought in Josh Thomas, a former starter with Carolina.
Other than the secondary, the Hawks stayed pretty healthy for a month. But then Max Unger suffered a foot injury in Week 5 against Washington, and Schneider dropped Thomas for Patrick Lewis, who had been claimed off waivers in late August and released in final cuts.
After Stephen Schilling was injured against Carolina, Lewis suddenly found himself the starter against Oakland. Unger came back for two games before suffering injuries to his knee and ankle against Kansas City. With Schilling on IR, Lewis started again against Arizona.
Meanwhile, Schneider pulled off a minor coup by re-signing Lemuel Jeanpierre, Unger’s backup the past two seasons. Jeanpierre had been released on an injury settlement due to pinched nerves in his neck, but he had not found a new team yet. Schneider obviously had kept tabs on Jeanpierre, because he called as soon as Unger was injured, and Jeanpierre was back in the starting lineup on Thanksgiving against San Francisco.
But center hasn’t been the only position calling for attention. Amid those moves, Schneider had to replace defensive linemen Cassius Marsh, Greg Scruggs and Brandon Mebane, plus fullback Derrick Coleman, tight end Zach Miller and Harvin.
The Harvin deal was easily the most significant move of the season. The Seahawks decided Harvin was not a good fit for their locker room, so Schneider swallowed hard and took a sixth-round pick for the guy he spent a first, third and seventh on last year. The Seahawks had ready replacements in rookies Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood.
With Mebane out, another addition by Schneider — 33-year-old Kevin Williams — has been key the last three weeks. Williams was added in the offseason after his Minnesota teammate, Jared Allen, declined Schneider’s offer. He has adjusted well to playing nose tackle.
Meanwhile, to keep the numbers on the D-line dwindling, Schneider has added Demarcus Dobbs (off waivers from San Francisco) and Travian Robertson (scooped off Atlanta’s practice squad just as the Falcons were set to add him to the 53-man roster). Dobbs showed some good inside push in the 18-3 win over the 49ers and seems like he might add something.
To replace Coleman, Schneider added another one of those unique players the Hawks love: 280-pound Will Tukuafu, who is playing fullback but also can play along the defensive line.
The Hawks are still looking to fill Kevin Pierre-Louis’ roster spot because cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy failed his physical after he was claimed off waivers from Indianapolis last week. But the Hawks have filled the open spot in the linebacker corps with Allen Bradford, a player they developed in 2012 and lost to the Giants last year. When Miller was put on IR on Nov. 12, the Hawks poached Bradford off Cleveland’s practice squad.
Tight end RaShaun Allen and safety Steven Terrell have bounced back and forth from the active roster to the practice squad a couple of times each, with Allen currently up as the No. 4 tight end because of an injury to Cooper Helfet. Allen was pulled off Minnesota’s practice squad when Miller was placed on IR on Nov. 12. Receiver Phil Bates also has had a couple of stints on the 53-man roster.
Amid all of these moves, Schneider has been keeping tabs on the college season and the CFL, where the Hawks reportedly are among the top suitors for standout receiver Duron Carter, son of Hall of Famer turned talking head Cris Carter.
And with all of that happening, it’s a good bet Schneider has had preliminary talks with agents for some of Seattle’s pending free agents/extension candidates — which include quarterback Russell Wilson, defensive end Cliff Avril and linebacker K.J. Wright.
And who knows? It’s possible Schneider has talked with Marshawn Lynch’s agent about settling their contract squabble for next season. With all of those contracts to handle, Schneider figures to have a very eventful offseason. But it might be a piece of cake after all of the moves he has had to make during the season.