It’s a great honor to be representing the Seahawks organization in the Pro Bowl for the third year in a row, and to also keep my motto of always evolving alive. This great moment makes me really appreciate the adverse times, and my teammates who helped me to get to this point. I’m really grateful just for the opportunity to be playing the game I love, and will continue to use successful moments like this to build on and elevate from.
We enjoyed a great Christmas here at the Thomas house. It was my daughter’s first Christmas, so we stayed home and had some family and friends over. I love my family, so there were a bunch of us here having a good time.
I’m a competitor, so I started a little tradition for the holidays with the family. I stole my daughter’s little basketball hoop, and made a free throw line in the kitchen area and a three-point line in the kitchen/living room area to turn it into a little basketball shooting contest. I challenged anybody in my family and friends, and we had a little three-point shootout. It’s fun. I might call out someone to shoot throughout the day, or they might call me out. It’s a great bonding thing that we have here that brings the family together. But they know what’s coming. I like to compete, and I enjoy beating everybody all the time.
But the biggest and best thing I got from this Christmas was seeing my daughter take in her first one. That was a great experience. She got some good presents, but the funny part is I really think she enjoyed tearing up the paper more than seeing what the present was. There was paper everywhere. She had a blast, and I got the most out of seeing her light up like that.
One of the gifts I got her was this little snare drum. I played the drums coming up. It’s crazy how your genes get passed on to your kids because out of all her presents — she got little princess houses, dresses and dolls, stuff like that — she enjoyed beating on the drum more than anything. She just sat there and beat on that snare the whole day.
As the day went on, I took the time to sit back, think and reflect on how grateful I am and how quickly God has elevated professionally, spiritually and through my growth as a person. I like to sit back and really tell Him thank you because you can’t tell Him thank you enough. Here I am, just 24 years old, the best in the league at what I do. God has blessed me. It’s very humbling just to sit back and think about it. Even though a lot is going on in my mind, I have to just give Him the gratitude and express how thankful I am. Then to enjoy the rest of the day with my family just put the icing on the cake.
A BLESSING IN DISGUISE
Anytime you look back at a game, you want to know what really happened. When you look at Sunday’s game and go through all of the factors, it’s kind of unbelievable how it turned out.
Looking back, you see that we were plus two or three in takeaways. Since Coach Carroll came here I think we’ve only lost 2 or 3 games when we’ve had that type of differential. You see that we had scoring opportunities for Marshawn and Russell Wilson, who I think are the best in the league from the one-yard-line. That didn’t happen. So I just look at that game and to be honest I think that was just a fluke game.
You have to take your hat off to those guys on the other side too. The Arizona Cardinals played an excellent game. Both games against the Cardinals were very tough games. When you play a divisional opponent, you’re very familiar with each other. So they know our strengths and weaknesses and vice versa. They did a great job against us. Where they separated themselves, as far as their defense against our offense goes, was up front. They made it hard for our offense all day. They did a great job of containing our run game, and made it very difficult on Russell when he dropped back to pass.
But the valuable thing that we can learn from this situation is that when we’re not on it all the way through, and the game is tight, everything is magnified. So we definitely have to stay true to who we are, stay true to our technique, and with all the other stuff, let the chips fall where they may.
As a player, my mentality is that you have to take a game like that as a blessing in disguise, and really learn from it. Don’t be stubborn. Learn from your mistakes in certain situations because that’s a part of football. What part of the field we’re on dictates the situation, whether it’s red zone, backed up in the fringe or near midfield. Offenses like to do different things predicated on what part of the field they’re on, and that’s situational football.
When you watch tape of those things, that’s when you learn. It’s a copycat league. Those situations you were in during that loss, you’re going to be in again pretty soon. These games are about to get tight.
PRIDE OF THE WEST
This week, we’re coming up against another divisional opponent. It’s going to be a tough game. Both teams know each other so well. We have to stay true to who we are.
Like the Cardinals, the Rams have a great front. They have the guy who is leading the league in sacks. It’s going to be another challenge for us on both sides of the ball. It’s going to be a matter of which defense can last the longest. We always take the challenge of wanting to be the better defense no matter what the circumstances are. Because at the end of the day if we hold a team to zero, we win. That’s my mentality.
Sunday is going to be another one of those grind it out, pound it-type games. The NFC West is starting to be known for that. When you look at the matchups and the personnel in this division, it’s all very physical teams. The 49ers have a physical team. We saw last week that Arizona has a very physical team. And on national TV earlier this year, we saw that the St. Louis Rams are also very physical. That first time we played them, I felt very beat up after that game. So I know it’s going to be another very physical game.
The fact that our division has come this far to have four very competitive teams is very important to me. You always want to be a part of something that’s known for being the best. Just a few years ago, the NFC West was the laughingstock of the whole NFL. Everybody talked about how when you play NFC West teams, that’s a stat game. But now they’re very nervous when they come and play us, or any of the other teams in this division. These are very talented teams that are going to make you play football for four quarters. When we play each other, it’s like two titans clashing. I’m very excited to be a part of something that people once thought was nothing. Look how far we’ve come.
The Rams don’t really have one receiver who catches all the passes like a lot of teams, and for most defenses that would create a question mark of who to cover. But not for us. I look at who is being targeted the most, and that’s how you come up with your game plan for certain situations, and what you’ll do in those spots. You can see who the quarterback likes to throw to in certain situations. And if they do anything different, that’s still a plus for us in my mind because they’re not used to being in those situations, and having to force the ball someplace else.
One of their more dynamic receivers is the rookie Tavon Austin. A lot of his success comes from their coaching of him. They do a good job of not putting too much on his plate, and getting him the ball very fast so he can make players miss in space. Because he makes that first guy miss and he hits the sideline, he’s very explosive and can take it the distance at any time. That’s a reason he was one of their first picks this year. He’s sort of like a Percy Harvin.
They also have a good rookie running back in Zac Stacy. I like his game. He’s very, very low to the ground, and the thing about him is, he runs behind his blockers very well. He has great vision. He had over 100 yards against us the first time, so we know what he can do. Once he starts going and gets that confidence, we could be in for a long day. So we’re definitely well aware of him. He’s got our attention, but I’m glad he does. It’s going to be a great game.
OPPORTUNITY TO FINISH STRONG
Everything we want to accomplish is there for the taking heading into this game, including the chance to lock up home field advantage. That’s really big. This is an opportunity for us to play in front of our great crowd every game until the big dance. You definitely want to do everything in your power to set yourself up in a place to succeed. When you have those kind of odds, the way we play at home, that’s the best position we can be in.
So I think this is a great opportunity to see what we’re made of. We just need to listen to the message Coach Carroll has been saying all year: to look at every game as a championship opportunity. This is another game and another championship opportunity, just like last week was, and just like Week 1. If you take that kind of mindset like I know we have, then it’s just another game. There’s no need to add stress to the situation saying we have to have to do this or we have to do that. Just let it rip, and let the chips fall where they may.
As a competitor you’re always looking for that challenge and that test, and we definitely want to dominate whenever we get the chance. But the reality is that’s not always going to happen. Sometimes you win the way you want to win, but it’s not always going to pan out exactly how we want it to. If everybody had their way, we’d all be superstars. But the game of football never goes exactly your way. We just have to win. As long as we keep winning, that Super Bowl title is coming to Seattle.
This week, we just need to enjoy the opportunity. We do that, we’ll make the most of it. Just enjoy the moment, everything about it. Enjoy the fans and just being out there, and having the chance to play football. When you’re having fun and not really worrying about what else is going on, just locked in, you feel like it’s just you out there. When you’re playing like that and you look at the scoreboard, more times than not, you’re going to be happy. We do a great job of just having fun and balling. Week-in and week out, in games and every day in practice, we’re always going to ball. We’re always creating turnovers. You see the big d-linemen dancing and letting it all hang out. We’re always having fun. I’m blessed to be part of a group like that, especially when you have special players like Richard Sherman.
That game Sherm had was incredible. When you’re battling one of the top receivers in the league like Larry Fitzgerald, and you catch an interception on him, that says a lot. That shows how much Sherm prepares, how much confidence he brings to the table, and how smart he is. There are a lot reasons why I love that guy, but maybe the most important reason is his mind, the way he uses his brain playing the game. He’s a very intelligent guy, and I love that about him. He’s not scared to be himself. Everybody knows Sherm is kind of a nerd, but he stands up and he holds his own, and that’s what you love about him. He’s an original. I love playing with guys like that.
It’s scary how connected we are as a group. That connection is a big circle, and there are no breaks in a circle. There’s a great energy going from one guy to another. We all feed off each other. I love that. Because it’s not just one guy. It’s not just me or just Sherm or Kam Chancellor, Byron Maxwell, Walter Thurmond, or Jeremy Lane. It’s whoever is out there.
Our defense is like Phil Jackson’s triangle offense. We have a triangle defense. We’re all connected on that string. When we’re playing perfect football, it’s like a big triangle, with the d-linemen being the base and us on the back end keeping the same vision and same focus. It’s very hard to beat us when we’re on it. When you have that connection, that builds championships. Because more than anything, that respect factor comes in. We all respect each other just because of the grind and what we’ve learned from each other outside of football.
We need to have fun, and keep doing what we’ve been doing. We have to realize that what happened last week doesn’t define us. Every week is a new opportunity for us to show who we are.
I’m dedicating this game to our 12s. I want to feel the connection that we always feel each week. I think if you bring the fire like you always bring the fire, we’ll do the rest.
“Just simply show your greatness, always maintain swag and focus on always finding the ultimate challenge.” – Earl Thomas III