At the end of training camp in August, there was a lot of concern from fans about the Seahawks' decision to cut ties with Lawyer Milloy and put their faith in a second-year, fifth-round draft choice at strong safety.
At this point in the season, Kam Chancellor is considered to be a candidate – albeit a longshot – for the Pro Bowl and a big reason why Seahawks fans are so excited about the future of this team.
On the "Bob and Groz" show Tuesday, the poll question of the day asked, "Which team is better, the 2010 Seahawks or the 2011 Seahawks?" It was a landslide in favor or the 2011 team. Remember, the 2010 Seahawks made it to the second round of the playoffs and had the huge "Beast Quake" win over the defending Super Bowl champion Saints. But the '11 Hawks won big because of the promise of things to come from some of the players on this team.
One of those promises is in the form of a 6-foot-3, 230-pound defensive back. Chancellor's stats so far: 73 tackles, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 4 interceptions and 11 deflected passes.
The value of Chancellor outside of those Pro Bowl-caliber statistics is that he allows defensive coordinator Gus Bradley a lot of options. Because of his size, range and ferocity, he is the perfect hybrid player against the run and the pass. That's exactly what you want out of a strong safety.
The biggest challenge Bradley faces every week is matchup problems. If the offense spreads out the formation with four wide receivers, you need to have the defenders to cover them. But if there's a running back behind center like the Rams' Steven Jackson, you need someone physical enough to play the run.
In Monday night's game against the Rams, Chancellor showed his versatility during a second-quarter series that led to St. Louis turning the ball over on downs. On second-and-5, he dove in front of a Sam Bradford pass to receiver Austin Pettis, nearly picking it off.
On third-and-5, on a direct snap to Jackson, Chancellor came up to the line of scrimmage and JACKED UP Jackson! The perfect tackling-form and ferocity that he exploded into Jackson with puts any linebacker in the NFL to shame. I don't remember the last time I saw Jackson de-cleated with a hit like that. Remember, this is a defensive back we're talking about.
I had the honor of playing with some of the best safeties in NFL history. I played with Kenny Easley my rookie year and then three years with Dennis Smith (possibly the hardest hitter in league history) and Steve Atwater.
I would argue that without the two ridiculous "defenseless receiver" penalties and subsequent fines, and the penalty for sacking Browns quarterback Colt McCoy, we'd all be comparing Chancellor to those players. He's that good. 15 years ago, he'd have three less penalties and those plays would've been an attribute rather than a detriment.
On top of that, Chancellor has emerged as a leader in the locker room as well. He has a quiet confidence and his hard work and leadership by example is trickling down to the rest of this team – all of this from a 23-year-old.
Chancellor may be the most promising player this franchise has seen in years and the main reason fans love the 2011 Seahawks.