Is Tariq Woolen the Seahawks' 2nd-most valuable player?
Seahawks fans voted on their favorite new players and more: Seaside Joe 1363
It is easy for me to pin down the day that I was most closely connected to a total “athlete moment” in my journalism career. It was January 18, 2015 and the Seattle Seahawks had just pulled off a remarkable late fourth quarter comeback against the Green Bay Packers to advance to the Super Bowl for the second year in a row.
I was lucky to be covering the game as press and that day delivered a number of worthy memories to recount, but nothing compares to Doug Baldwin accosting his own Seattle media that always loved and defended him after the comeback.
Russell Wilson scored two of the last three touchdowns, Marshawn Lynch ran in the go-ahead score, Wilson made magic happen on the two-point throw to Luke Willson, Chris Matthews recovered the onside kick attempt that was muffed by Brandon Bostick, Jermaine Kearse caught the game-winner, but Baldwin, though he did have 106 yards, fumbled a kickoff that gave Green Bay a free three.
Following the insane victory that galvanized the fanbase, the media waited outside of the Seahawks locker room for our turn to go interview the players about what the hell just happened. But before we could go in, a player came out: Doug Baldwin.
I was shocked that nobody else thought to record Baldwin’s post-NFC Championship rant, but me, the guy who had to beg for the last seat in the press box that day (and trust me, I got the LAST seat—another story for another day) pulled out my 2015 phone and recorded nearly every last drop of his emotional expression in that moment. The TL;DR: “Everybody doubted us.”
That was fun and it got my name an appearance on SportsCenter, something that will never happen again.
But it wasn’t funny. No, what was funny was that after Baldwin left and went back into the locker room, somebody in the media (I want to say it was Bob Condotta but I have no idea really) said, “But the Seahawks were favored.”
Hands down some of the best real life comedy I’ve ever experienced. “Everybody doubted us,” and yet Seattle was the defending Super Bowl champions, at home, and the game was only close because of how poorly the Seahawks played for 57 minutes.
Doug Baldwin has been and will always be one of my favorite Seattle Seahawks players of all-time and I’m not taking anything away from his part in getting the franchise back to the Super Bowl. In fact, as confounding as it was to think that the Seahawks were now “the underdogs” simply because they played like shit for three quarters, and not because of anything that the media wrote, is one example of WHY I cherish the time that Baldwin spent in the NFL.
Here was this former undrafted free agent who I am quite sure fueled his entire unexpected career—two Pro Bowls, leading the NFL in touchdowns in 2015, two Super Bowls, one championship, two 1,000-yard seasons—off of this motivation to prove people wrong (what does every athlete or musician say if not, “This is for everybody who doubted me”?) and when it comes to getting his own uninterrupted time to say whatever he wants to ‘the world’ after a crazy victory, of course he’s going to lead with that.
“This is for everybody who doubted us.”
Actually, I use that same motivation myself. Every time I go for a run, I’ll tell myself or text Seaside Jay, “This morning everybody seems to be doubting me? They’re saying that I “won’t go for a run at all today” because I’m “too tired”! Such bullshit. I’ll show them.”
And then I do it. Run or whatever I need to do that I don’t want to do. Skepticism is quite a motivator. Even if you have to make up and pretend that there are people doubting you, whether there really are or not.
Usually (sorry Doug) not.
But 11 years after the Seahawks drafted Richard Sherman in the fifth round, a college teammate of Baldwin’s and one of the most prolific users of “They doubted me” that sports has ever known, Seattle went back to the well of wide receiver-turned-cornerback prospects who are out to prove the world wrong.
In this week’s Seaside Seahawks Fan Survey for Seasiders and Seahawks Fans, I asked who you think is Seattle’s “so-far MVP” of 2022. To the surprise of nobody, Geno Smith got 81.4% of the vote. However, who would you have guessed to get the second-most votes?
If you guessed, or read today’s headline, then you know now that it is Tariq Woolen. There were not many votes for anybody besides Geno (175 of 215) but Woolen got 17 votes and that’s surprising for a number of reasons:
Woolen is a rookie
Woolen is a day three rookie
Woolen is a cornerback
Woolen has only been playing cornerback for about three years
It’s surprising in the grand scheme of things based on what we expected before the season, but it is not a shock based on how Woolen has played: Five interceptions, one pick-six, nine passes defended, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, one blocked FG that led to a touchdown, one tackle for a loss, a passer rating allowed of 59.7, and he’s only missed one tackle.
I think Tariq Woolen might be good. No doubt.
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Quinton Jefferson has already been calling his shot that Woolen will get into the Hall of Fame one day.
I know that it can be a struggle for fans to accept such early praise of a player, and I do get that because normally I would be right there with you asking for patience, but I have to admit that I no longer DOUBT Tariq Woolen. His fifth round draft status is meaningless. He should have gone before Derek Stingley, Jr., the number three pick in the entire class.
I didn’t know it then. I do know it now.
You also voted Woolen as your favorite Seahawks rookie, of course. Not an easy task with this class.
Ken Walker came in second place, while Seattle’s other second round pick (of the A-grade variety) did not receive a single vote. That’s because Boye Mafe doesn’t get the same playing time opportunities maybe, it’s harder to stand out from that position without sacks, but I’m not surprised that Walker is more of an early fan favorite.
On the other hand, another edge rusher was your favorite new Seahawk:
Uchenna Nwosu finished first, with Shelby Harris and Marquise Goodwin well behind him in second and third.
Your favorite Seahawks player who isn’t on his first Seahawks rodeo is of coures Geno Smith, but look at Bruce Irvin getting second place despite only spending a month back on the team.
If we ran this poll without Geno Smith again, do you think Irvin would finish in first? Or Will Dissly? Or Al Woods or Ryan Neal, as they tied for fourth?
Doug Baldwin once change my outlook on how much support I felt a team could reasonably expect from any rookie, not just a day three pick or undrafted free agent. Baldwin’s rookie season in 2011 was truly unprecedented, gaining 788 yards and stealing the spotlight away from Mike Williams at a time when we all thought the ball would start going to the former first round pick.
Maybe if we had been skpetical of Williams, and believed in Baldwin, history would be quite different.
I don’t doubt it.