Perhaps the Seahawks should sign a punt returner


The primary concern regarding the decision to make safety Earl Thomas the Seahawks’ punt returner related to the potential impact of the added duty on his health.  No one worried that maybe Thomas wouldn’t be very good at it.

Thomas committed three blunders in three returns on Thursday night.  First, he caught and returned for three a punt that he should have fair caught and not returned.  Second, he tried to catch a punt and muffed it, after a Packers player was blocked into him.  Third, Thomas allowed a punt to hit the ground at the 18, which nearly hit a teammate as it bounced around on the turf.

After the game, coach Pete Carroll expressed confidence in Thomas.

“He really should have fair caught the ball on both of those,” Carroll said in reference to the first two attempts, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.  “He’s so aggressive, he got vulnerable that second time and he got pounded that first time, too.  So we will keep working on it and get better.”

But there’s a chance it won’t get better; there’s a chance that these kind of things will simply happen with Thomas returning the punts.

“I was really just being me,” Thomas said.  “Being aggressive and playing with no fear. I can’t control what happened.”

The team can control what happens going forward, by giving the job to someone else.  When the Packers punted in garbage time, receiver Bryan Walters got the nod — and fair caught the ball.  Moving forward, the question becomes whether Walters or someone else should handle punt returns.

By playing in the first game of Week One against the Packers, the Seahawks have an advantage over 30 other teams.  Green Bay and Seattle can now sign vested veterans without guaranteeing their full salaries for the entire season.  That puts players like Josh Cribbs and Marc Mariani in play, if the Seahawks are willing to devote a game-day roster spot to a punt returner.

Based on last night, maybe they should.

49 responses to “Perhaps the Seahawks should sign a punt returner

  1. Marcus Thigpen was snatched from the Dolphins waiver list to the Patriots Practice Squad. He literally led the league in KR just 2 years ago and was ranked 3rd for KR/PR. He is the Hawks for the taking. He is also a versatile Slot WR.

  2. Thomas is too daring and valuable to be back there. He exercised poor judgment. Walters is more than capable of the PR duities.

    There’s really no other reason for him being re-signed. I think Pete had that in mind as a fallback position, anyway.

    No need to sign anyone. Moving forward it will be Walters. They kept 8 WRs and they throw 25 times a game. Do the math.

    The Hawks will be fine.

  3. This is silly. If they don’t want to use Thomas to return punts than Bryan Walters is a perfectly capable option already on the roster. They were forced to cut some quality players in the last few weeks because of overabundance of talent; they are not going to waste a roster spot on an outsider to come in just to return punts. I would expect Thomas and Walters to alternate in that role for the next few weeks.

  4. Put Harvin back there. He’s going to be hurt a few times during the season due to his uber aggressive play on every play, so you might as well get the most out of him while he is on the field.

  5. Catching punts like that is high risk, high reward. The Seahawks are good enough to take a few risks like that.

    Once he breaks one for a TD, or starts having good return yardage, everyone will calm down.

  6. Seattle just re-signed Bryan Walters everybody, if you watched pre-season he got just as many returns as Earl Thomas. We are carrying 8 WRs right now on the roster and

    I love Earl but he was forcing the issue yesterday and it was the reason Packers put up 7 points with that fumble. A good punt returner calls the fair catch. Pete needs to rethink this because Earl’s comment about “being me” makes it sound like he will do it again.

  7. The hubris of this Seahawks team will be their undoing. It won’t be another team, it won’t be free agency, it won’t be age.

    It’s going to be their hubris that does them in.

  8. Gotta love the arrogance of people who think the Seahawks are arrogant. It’s like they assume they have some moral superiority.

  9. Wow I like the sound of Josh Cribbs. One of the better returners of this generation why not throw a flyer on him and use him like we did Leon Washington a couple years ago

  10. Unless I’m mistaken, the best punt/kick-off returner that’s still a free agent is Marc Mariani. You may recall he was the No. 1 returner in the AFC as a rookie in 2010 and was voted to Pro Bowl. (That year, he broke Derrick Mason’s record for the most total return yards on punts and kickoffs in franchise history.) An alternate wide-receiver, he missed the last two years due to consecutive injuries (including a broken leg). Returning this year, he looked like his old self but was one of the Titans’ final preseason cuts since the team is stacked in both good returners and receivers.

  11. A few things to consider.

    A few weeks ago when Thomas broke off a 50+ yard punt return, a good number of people were warming up to the idea of having him return punts (he is perhaps the 2nd fastest player on the team behind Harvin).

    The argument has been raised that punt return is dangerous and unnecesarily exposes players to injury. The fact is that punt returners don’t get injured that often.

    There is also this train of thought that Thomas doesn’t know what he’s doing. This isn’t his first rodeo. He did some clutch punt returning in college. Outside of Percy Harvin, their isn’t a more qualified person on the Hawks roster. Sure Walters has good hands, but he’s one of the slowest recievers on the team.

    The Hawks philosophy is rooted in ball control and winning the field position battle. When it comes to winning the field position battle, special teams is CRITICAl. So why would you hamstring your efforts by using the least talented players on your roster?

  12. The Hawks had the game in hand but for punts!

    It is always disputable to propose “what might have been”….but had the punt been fair caught and no short field given to the Packers on that series, Seattle could have gone in at halftime up by 17-3.

    The punt muff kept the Packers in the game, it gave them the lead and a little momentum. I think it also took a little wind out of the Hawks’ sails. It is the kind of “c’mon man” moment that can turn around a game…see the SB and the first play from scrimmage….

    Granted the Hawks are so full of “hubris” that they refuse to give into that thinking easily. LOL!!! But it can happen.

    Special Teams are important and they can change games and kill hope…see the SB and the first kick return of the second half….

    These are lessons that the Hawks have witnessed in other games.

    So they need to be mindfull….do not let any aspect of the game get by you.

    Take away a punt muff and the Hawks win

  13. You people will calm down when Earl looks like Ed Reed out there on returns. The first one he should have fair caught for no gain, but instead he got three yards out of it. The second one a player was blocked into him while he was trying to catch it, but hey let’s put all the blame on Thomas there. And the third one he let bounce and his man was almost dragged and thrown into the ball. If the ball did touch a Seahawk player, which it didn’t, the ball would have still belonged to Seattle since the Packers were shoving him into it. Bottom line is that you’re all making a big deal out of nothing. The man is not going to get hurt on a punt return.

  14. The Seahawks are the champs for a reason, but they are not invincible. Get them on the road and then pick on their special teams and run defense and I think there are 3-4 teams that win battle that more often than not.

    (Saints, Chiefs, Patriots, and, gulp, Cardinals)

  15. I can’t wait for HGH testing to begin, players are going to be dropping like flies and the NFL Network has room for only so host. Hell, I would bet that they relax or eliminate the policy on under class men because of all the suspensions.

  16. Walters is a fine replacement option if they decide the risk/reward on Earl doesn’t make sense. No way they take a ST specialist at this point. Need to go get a Center or Guard to replace JP and that is where the veteran cost reduction advantage will come in handy today or tomorrow. And really, what free agent vet wouldn’t hope to come try to tag along for a ring as a backup after last night?

  17. Or perhaps we should remain quiet, sit back and relax, and let the coaching staff do their job? Seems to me that they’ve done a pretty good job so far!

    I’ll be very surprised if all you nay-sayers aren’t eating your words in October.

  18. How is a defender running into him right when the ball gets there Thomas’s fault? And how is the 3rd one where the Packers almost threw Lane onto the ball Thomas’s fault? Sure, 1st one he should have fair caught it. But he didn’t and it didn’t hurt anybody.

    I don’t think he’s incapable of returning punts at all. I just don’t think he should be doing it because he’s way too valuable as a safety to risk taking defenseless hits.

    As others have mentioned, the Seahawks don’t need to sign a punt returner. They’ve already signed one in Walters.

  19. I do not think that Thomas should be “blamed”.
    But the point that is important is the fact that the hawks punt return game was ineffective and cost them a TD.
    The rest of the Hawks game waqs strong enough to overcome that one type of play (punt return).

    The Hawks need to work on punt retuns a bit! Maybe they need to replace Thomas and maybe they don’t. It certainly is true that if Thomas starts returning punts for big gains and/or TD’s that the critics will quickly be quieted. But that IS NOT what happened last night.

    The Hawks Defense is what it was last year: Dominant enough to shut down a top tier NFL offense and historically good QB.
    The Hawks Offense is seemingly impoved and a bit more innovative this year than it was last year. The presence of Harvin opens up a lot of possibilities for Seattle. If Harvin hadn’t kept tripping over his feet (look at the highlights) he’d have gained even more yardage.

    These two factors indicate that the Hawks should have a good year (even if they don’t repeat).

    But if they are going to repeat they will need Special Teams to play at the same or higher level than they did last year. Because several teams ARE good enough to give Seattle a game, especially on the road.

    The 49ers might not be the team they were last year but it sure would be nice not to fumble punts and give them a short field to score on the Hawks! The 49ers are capable and “hate” the Hawks just because….this is like the old Cowboys and Redskins rivalry from long ago….

    The Hawks don’t need to give the Broncos any extra help from Special Team snafu’s. That defense is much improved over last year.

    The Cards beat Seattle at home. They will be tough, got to bring the A game here.

  20. Sounds like an opportunity for an NFL rule adjustment:

    “Teams may sign vested veterans without guaranteeing their full salaries for the entire season on the first business day after all teams have played their first regular season game.”

  21. “Being aggressive and playing with no fear. I can’t control what happened.”

    Earl, your defense of last night’s blunders is not a vote of confidence. Yes, you can control spotting your opponent 7 points if you’re too stupid to raise your hand to call a fair catch.

    I didn’t approve of putting the entire defense at risk by having you returning punts to begin with. Enuf of this insanity Pete….replace Thomas with Walters already….How many points does one give their opponent before you wise up?

    This isn’t college Earl! Hello, is this thing on?

  22. The sea turkeys created this whole problem by insulting Golden Tate with their contract offer. Not only did they lose their leading receiver, they lost their punt returners. In a close game, both of those losses will be felt. Tate is now wearing a Lions uniform, and he is almost certainly going to catch more passes than he did last year.

  23. I think we should trust our SB winning coach and his staff to make the best decision going forward. I know you all know what’s best, but I’ll trust our coaches.

  24. I’m not willing to give up on EARL just yet. He will work at it and eventually be good. It was his first real live game returning punts, give the guy a break, and it was not all his fault. The communication was not that good between the receiver and the coverage.

  25. Let’s bring Steve Largent out of retirement … he has GREAT hands and isn’t afraid to take a lickin’ … seriously one game does not a kick returner make (in the name of Earl Thomas) … so let’s give him another game or two to prove himself. But I swear, if he muffs just ONE more punt and the opposing team recovers the fumble and winds up scoring a TD … he’s OUT!!!

  26. omeimontis says:
    Sep 5, 2014 6:29 PM
    The sea turkeys created this whole problem by insulting Golden Tate with their contract offer. Not only did they lose their leading receiver, they lost their punt returners. In a close game, both of those losses will be felt. Tate is now wearing a Lions uniform, and he is almost certainly going to catch more passes than he did last year.


    The ONLY team Tate is worth $7.5M a season to is the Lions. Seahawks offered $5M, which was at the top of the market for a guy with his numbers. Baldwin was kept over Tate because Tate is a total no show in playoff games.

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