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Earl Thomas, Jon Ryan named to All-Fundamentals Team by USA Football

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas and Punter Jon Ryan have been named to USA Football's All-Fundamentals Team for 2014. I actually like this annual award because its main goal is to recognize proper technique that players utilize on the field. Earl and Jon are two great examples of this.

Earl does a great job of diagnosing plays, always takes great angles of pursuit, and has really cleaned up his tackling over the years. He has rarely missed tackles this year, and it's been approximately several years since any quarterback completed a deep pass to the deep middle of the field over Earl's head, a testament to how well he does his job. Earl's responsibility is to carry any post or seam routes up the field, and if there are two, he has to split the difference between them. He does a great job of this, and a lot of it goes to his footwork and eye discipline. Fundamentals.

As for Jon Ryan, we know that he's become one of the most accurate punters in the game, routinely placing the ball in the "coffin corner" so the Seahawks can maintain control of the field position game for their defense. Ryan recently poked fun at himself for the dropped snap against the Eagles, but he's a very dependable and skilled punter.

Also, Golden Tate is on the list this year, which is pretty cool considering he was at one point considered to be a very raw talent at the receiver position. Now, after four years in the league, he's developed a great feel for routes, always uses great hands technique in catching the football, and is a strong blocker in the run game.

Here's the press release and full list:


Twenty-six NFL players across 22 teams have been selected for the 2014 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team. This team honors players - 11 offense, 11 defense and four special teams - who exhibit exemplary football techniques for youth players to emulate.

USA Football is the sport's national governing body and educates more youth and high school football coaches combined than any organization in the United States.

The sixth annual USA Football All-Fundamentals Team recognizes NFL players who employ proper technique, particularly when blocking and tackling, which fosters inherent safety benefits and better on-field performance.

Each player chosen for the All-Fundamentals Team will receive a $1,000 equipment grant from USA Football to donate to the youth or high school football program of his choice.

A fan vote at will determine All-Fundamentals Team captains. Fans may vote for one captain on offense, defense and special teams. USA Football will award each of the three captains an additional $1,000 equipment grant to donate. Voting is open through Tuesday, Dec. 23.

"These 26 men serve as examples to the millions of youth football players across the nation that fundamentals are vital to success at every level," said CARL PETERSON, USA Football's chairman and longtime NFL executive who helped select the team. "According to medical experts, players who master the fundamentals and learn them at younger ages are safer as they progress within the sport."

USA Football in 2014 educated more than 150,000 youth football coaches in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., through its online courses. Approximately 2.6 million American children age 6-14 play organized tackle football, placing it among the country's most popular youth sports.

The USA Football All-Fundamentals Team was assembled with guidance from a five-person selection committee:

  • CHARLES DAVIS, USA Football spokesperson, football analyst for NFL Network and FOX Sports
  • HERM EDWARDS, ESPN NFL analyst and former NFL head coach
  • MERRIL HOGE, ESPN NFL analyst and former NFL running back
  • CARL PETERSON, USA Football chairman, former NFL team executive and assistant coach
  • BILL POLIAN, ESPN NFL analyst and former NFL general manager

More on past USA Football All-Fundamentals Team players' techniques is available at:

2014 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team - Offense:




Peyton Manning, Broncos

Running back

Matt Forte, Bears


John Kuhn, Packers

Wide receiver

Golden Tate, Lions

Reggie Wayne, Colts

Tight end

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots


Jason Peters, Eagles

Joe Thomas, Browns


Zack Martin, Cowboys

Marshal Yanda, Ravens


Ryan Kalil, Panthers

2014 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team - Defense:




Cameron Wake, Dolphins

Sheldon Richardson, Jets


Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers

Kyle Williams, Bills


Khalil Mack, Raiders

Luke Kuechly, Panthers

Tamba Hali, Chiefs


Vontae Davis, Colts

Terence Newman, Cowboys


Ryan Clark, Redskins

Earl Thomas, Seahawks

2014 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team - Special Teams:



Return specialist

Jacoby Jones, Ravens


Chandler Catanzaro, Cardinals


Jon Ryan, Seahawks

Long snapper

Cullen Loeffler, Vikings

About USA Football: Indianapolis-based USA Football is the sport's national governing body, leading the game's development for youth, high school and other amateur football players. The independent nonprofit works with leading medical organizations and football leaders for a better, safer game and is the official youth football development partner of the NFL, its 32 teams and the NCAA's Atlantic Coast Conference. USA Football (, endowed by the NFL and NFLPA in 2002, is the sport's leader in coaching education and player skill advancement.