Earl Thomasâ 2016 season ended prematurely when the heart of the Seahawksâ defense broke his leg in an early December game against the Panthers. Seattle would go 2-2 over the final month of the regular season before eventually losing to the Falcons in the NFC divisional round.
There is no question that the Seahawksâ defense struggled without Thomas, who is one of the leagueâs best safeties. And while he may have contemplated retirement in the days after his injury, Thomas is now fully focused on one thing: Getting back on the field with his teammates and making things right.
âMy drive comes from the strides I made last year and my understanding of how our defense works and how big of an impact I have on the defense,â Thomas told Seattleâs KIRO-AM recently. âI know if I train hard and commit myself, Iâll give myself a chance to be dominant again and also us a great chance to win a championship. I truly believe things wouldâve turned out differently if I wouldâve never went down last year.â
The consensus from media and fans was that Thomas was as important to the Seahawksâ defense as Russell Wilson was to the offense. So itâs not a stretch to suggest that things would have âturned out differentlyâ if Thomas wasnât injured. And that gut feeling is backed up by hard facts. NFL.comâs Kevin Patra has the details:
During the regular season, with Thomas on the field for 391 dropbacks, quarterbacks earned a 61.6 passer rating on 42 attempts of at least 20 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions, per Pro Football Focus, via the Seattle Times. In 202 dropbacks Thomas missed, those numbers jumped to a 112 passer rating, with four TDs and one interception on 32 attempts of 20-plus yards.
Itâs unclear how far along Thomas is in his rehab, but early last month he posted a video of himself jogging, and coach Pete Carroll said at the NFL combine in February that he thinks Thomas will be ready for the start of the season. And just the other day, Thomas posted this to Twitter:
If nothing else, weâve learned that when Thomas does decide to retire from football, heâll have a lucrative career producing motivational training videos.