Kevin C. Cox
I am going to write an entire blog with no numbers.
The Seahawks have vaulted into the national discussion at an unprecedented level this offseason. The team was gaining steam during this last season season, but right now, the hype train is moving powerfully down the track. Of course, haters exist, but many loosely affiliated fans/media are jumping on the bandwagon from a national perspective. There are even fans of other team's considering "adopting" the Seahawks as "their" team.
Pete Carroll and John Schneider are seeing the fruits of decades of football labor come to full bloom in their latest "program". Decades of work in college football, high school recruiting, and NFL coaching failures have been paired with college scouting road trips, NFL back-office dealings, draft rooms, cap analysis and film-work in Green Bay. Seahawk fans are reaping the benefits of these decades of football experience.
I will always fondly remember the early days of PCJS roster churning and cutting old regime players that fans had so much attachment to. Those days were no less important than today. The Seahawks have transitioned from a punchline to a trendy pick, to a "groupthink" pick to be a Super Bowl favorite.
I have to admit, initially, I am skeptical to predict Super Bowls "on paper", but I have been staring at "the paper" and the roster looks like something I have never seen before. Ever. I have been pouring over this roster for years, inserting draft picks and scenarios years in advance, trying desperately to fill hole after hole. Hoping some free agent would solve a myriad of problems. The roster used to be old and overpaid and declining. Riddled with holes like the the target of a gangster movie drive-by. Now, the roster is improving and young. Some key players are "Paid" and yet many key players are creating value far beyond their current paycheck.
Hungry. Slighted. Angry. Competitive. Misunderstood.
I don't have to name the names, you know the names. Not only do Seahawk fans know the names, NFL fans and pundits know the Seahawks' roster now. The current roster is now well known, now joined by Percy Harvin, Cliff Avril and God knows who else may walk through the VMAC doors in free agency and the draft. Anything could happen.
In the past I would look to other regimes, the "Mount Rushmore" of the NFL, for answers. These were historic teams like the Steelers and Packers who have stayed on top and had a shared organizational "memory" built up over decades of success (and learning from failure). Now, I don't look at what they, or the Ravens or Niners or Patriots are doing. Pete Carroll and John Schneider are doing it "the Seahawk WinForever/Always Compete" way and it's something that no team has ever done before. Pete Carroll stated "we are trying to do things better than they have ever been done before".
I used to laugh at that statement, (and Seattle still has no ring), but, I don't laugh anymore. Pete and John may pull it off.
These two, working in communication with Paul Allen, have blended decades of football intelligence to form perhaps the greatest Coach/GM tandem in recent memory. The last one this prolific may have been, interestingly, Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren in their Packer Days.
Carroll and Schneider abide by a strong set of principals, yet they are not easy to predict. They blend hours of conservatism, folding hand after hand, with flurries of shocking and aggressive "all-in" bets. I am one of the worst poker players you will meet, but these two have a hint of that "tight-aggressive" poker mentality. Yet, in some strange way- they remain "tight and aggressive" yet "play a lot of hands". They remain hard to read, but opponent NFL teams can't help but notice that they are amassing a formidable chip-stack. "Tilt the room" or at least "Tilt the table."
They don't do anything half-way (meaning, half-assed). They don't get enjoyment finding a "good" all around player- they don't stock their roster with "safe" picks. They build their roster filled with players with unique characteristics. This means that, more than likely, this player has as many "checkmarks against him" as he does have unique and special talents. A reject of many teams. A castaway. Not worth it. Too much trouble.
If you possess unusual size, you are thought of by the rest of the NFL as too slow. If you possess unique skill or speed, you are thought of by the rest of the NFL as too small. If you are highly competitive and not afraid to express yourself, you may be thought of the rest of the NFL as a "locker-room distraction." I won't name names but you know the names. Challenging the conventional wisdom on how to build a football team and what players "should" look like.
Conventional Wisdom? My corners don't have to be fast, but one of my safeties does. Huh?
The NFL is a passing league, but we are going to be a running team. What?
Hurry up offense? We only run 61 snaps a game. We only throw 24 times a game!
I need my edge pass rushers to be almost as fast as my cornerbacks. My corners look like safeties. My safety looks like a corner. My other safety looks like a linebacker. My strong side linebacker looks like a defensive end. My defensive end looks like a linebacker. My other defensive end looks like a defensive tackle.
We are a one-gap defense, except that we also two-gap.
My quarterback is the shortest quaterback to start in decades. My split end looks like a running back. All my players have dreadlocks. My running back looks like a beast. I just paid a slot WR $67M dollars. I made up the idea of a "double Leo".
I am making history.
Seattle radio is desperately trying to get fans to get excited about the other major sports. And there does remain strong interest in the future of the Supersonics, the promise of a new Mariners season, and the local college teams. The Sounders have a strong following. I am interested in all those teams as well, but it's clear that media and radio know, without a doubt, that the hottest topic in Seattle is the Seahawks and their possibilities in the NFL elite.
The engine is cranking. This train has left the station. Will we reach our desired destination, or will we jump the tracks?
This ship is going to end in an inferno of amazing wreckage or a blaze of amazing glory.
No one knows for sure, but I do like sticking my face out of the window and feeling the wind. I do like flying by milepost after milepost. I do like my fellow passengers old and new. I see a city on the horizon. We are all aboard a runaway train.