RENTON — The first times Earl Thomas met Kam Chancellor, he was convinced his new teammate and fellow member of the 2010 draft class was lost.
After all, there’s no way anyone Chancellor’s size (6-feet-3 inches tall, 232 pounds) belonged in a room full of defensive backs.
he was in the wrong room when he came in the DB room,” Thomas said.
Just over a year later, however, Thomas and Chancellor have become the best of friends, and more importantly, it has become abundantly clear to Thomas and everyone else that Chancellor belongs in Seattle’s defensive backfield.
Three games into their second season together — Chancellor’s first as a starter — it’s also clear that the Seahawks have something special in their young safety duo. And in a year when the Seahawks offense has started slow, scoring just 30 points in three games, and figures to an inconsistent group all season, let us offer this unsolicited advice to Seahawks fans hoping to keep their sanity during what could be a difficult 2011 season: keep your eyes on the Seahawks’ two young safeties.
Forget fretting about the offense this year. If the Seahawks are going to win more than a few games this season, it will be because of the defense that shut out the Cardinals in the second half of Sunday’s 13-10 victory. And no two players will have more impact, or be more fun to watch, than the smash-and-dash combo of Chancellor, who looks more like a linebacker than safety, and Thomas, whose blazing speed allows him to cover more SoDo real estate than anyone since a young Ken Griffey Jr.
If Tarvaris Jackson getting sacked four times in a half doesn’t excite you, how about seeing Chancellor level an opposing ball carrier in the backfield? Can’t get pumped or jacked (sorry, too much time around Pete Carroll) seeing another Seahawks running back stuffed at the line of scrimmage? Try watching Thomas fly around the field making plays from sideline to sideline.
Through three games, Chancellor has a team-high 24 tackles as well as the interception that helped clinch Sunday’s win. Thomas is next on the team with 18 tackles, and while he doesn’t have an interception yet, he is a pick-six waiting to happen. Combined they are the best thing about the Seahawks’ present, and at age 22 (Thomas) and 23 (Chancellor) they will be a big part of Seattle’s future as well.
“The chemistry has been there since Day 1,” Thomas said. “We’ve been roommates since Day 1. We hit it off, we’re best of friends.”
During the lockout, the two stayed in the area, and worked out together at a local high school and played basketball at a nearby fitness center. With the Seahawks deciding not to bring back veteran Lawyer Milloy, Chancellor was the likely candidate to join Thomas in starting lineup, so the time they spent together this summer helped prepare them for what should be a long future together.
“We’ve spent a lot of time together on and off the field,” Thomas said. “That’s what I think what’s created a great chemistry between me and him.”
That Thomas, the 14th overall pick last year, has emerged as a playmaker hardly comes as a surprise. While no first-round pick is a sure thing (see Curry, Aaron), Thomas immediately looked like an impact player from the day he arrived in Seattle.
Chancellor, meanwhile, was anything but a sure thing. A fifth-round pick out of Virginia Tech, he certainly had the kind of size teams like, but there were questions as to whether he had the coverage skills to be an NFL safety. Yet there Chancellor was Sunday afternoon, reading a key third-down play in the final minutes of the game, cutting in front of Cardinals tight end Todd Heap to grab his first career interception.
“Your eyes just get big, and you see opportunity,” Chancellor said of the play “When opportunity is in front of you, you go after it. Don’t sit back and wait, go after it.”
Watch these two play, and your eyes will get big, too. Thomas and Chancellor can be the salve for Seahawks fans disheartened by an offense that has managed three touchdowns in three games. When Carroll described a botched shotgun snap turned 20-yard loss as the play of the game for the Seahawks, that should tell you something about the state of this offense. The defense, however, thanks in large part to Thomas and Chancellor, looks like it is in good hands for years to come.
“We have a great chemistry,” Thomas said. “I think we can be something special for a long time.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog