So, this is my first fanpost here, but I've been reading Field Gulls for quite a while now and have been watching football and doing sports journalism for even longer. But I won't bore you with extraneous details of my past... Why I'm really here is to share with all of you lovely people an observation that I have made while following the NFL this past offseason. That observation is as follows... (I know you're supposed to bury the lede and all, but to hell with convention!) I believe that the Seahawks are creating a cult of sorts in their clubhouse, an infectious environment that will soon spread throughout the entire NFL, where little satellite Seahawks will pop up all over the place, like the Soviet movement in Eastern Europe. Did that intrigue you? Good, because that's what it was supposed to do. Now, read on as I compare the glorious Pete Carroll and John Schneider regime to the USSR and Christianity in the same article.
As I'm sure many others have probably noticed, the National Football League is going through a period of transition and behind the wheel of that change-train are teams like the Seahawks and 49ers. These teams are young, fast, energetic and have depth. And their coaches are NCAA transplants bringing a new brand of energy to the pro football game, turning their clubhouses into a tight-knit family. While there are only a handful of teams who currently boast such an environment, how long will it be before this becomes the norm? Especially if the Hawks and Niners see success in 2013.
I first noticed just before draft time, but it seems like more teams built like the Hawks are on their way, lead by the first disciples of the Holy Church of PC/JS... Also known as John Izdik and Gus Bradley. Izdik has seen first hand the inner workings of the Seattle Seahawks front office, and knows exactly how they found success through draft depth and team building. Whereas Bradley was a driving force behind the Hawks' success, building the strong foundation of the team, its defense. Will there come a time in the future where the almighty teachings of Pete Carroll spread across the land like the word of God? Maybe. Although the sample size is relatively small, this dynamic, quick play calling scheme was hugely successful in 2012, and there's no reason to believe that it won't do the same in 2013.
Then again, maybe it's just a fad, like the Dolphin's use of the Wildcat formation several years ago. An offensive style which was quickly adopted by other teams after it saw success against the Patriots in Week 3 of 2009, then subsequently adapted to by every team's defense until it became practically useless. The first few games of the 2013 season will tell us a ton about how successful teams like the Hawks will be, as many teams will have spent a large chunk of their offseason watching film on and preparing for the week when they have to face the Seahawks' sledgehammer of an offense. If it can in fact be defended, look for its popularity among other teams to go the way of the dinosaurs.
With Gus Bradley and John Izdik leaving the Seahawks to go elsewhere in the country, the seeds of the PC/JS style of management have been sown. Now, all they need is some nurturing and a bit of time, before they blossom into beautiful copycat flowers. One can already see the resemblance between the John Schneider style of management and what Izdik has done thus far in his short tenure as the Jets' GM. First off, he drafts a mobile quarterback, Geno Smith, early in the draft, to compete with his veteran QB in training camp. On top of that, just before the draft, he trades away Darrelle Revis to stockpile draft picks and then uses a strong scouting team to dig up what they hope will be hidden gems of players that no one has ever heard of. Izdik also seems to be keeping Rex Ryan and his giant, jiggling gullet around, at least for this year, to help build a strong defense, maybe one similar to the Ravens system that Ryan helped build from 1999-2008. Whatever else Izdik and the Jets have in store, you can bet that they'll be tearing a lot of pages from the Seahawks' book.
While Gus Bradley is in a different position than Izdik, being a Defensive Coordinator turned Head Coach, evidence of the Pete Carroll influence is already stacking up. When Bradley left for Jacksonville, he brought with him two former Seahawks coaches, O.C. Jedd Fisch and D-Line coach Todd Wash as well as several players he'd worked with in the past, like CB Marcus Trufant and one of my personal favorite ex-Seahawks, Justin Forsett. Bradley also began to lay the foundation for a similar defense to the one he built in Seattle by drafting several Richard Sherman sized corners in the draft and bolstering the D-Line and Linebacker corps with smaller, quicker guys like he had in Seattle.
The era of the 35-year-old veteran leader seems to be a thing of the past, replaced by cheap labor straight out of college, young players who come in and change their team instantaneously. Soon enough, if it hasn't already happened, the age 30 is going to be the new "old" for football players. More and more often, we are seeing teams simply look in the draft for replacement players, instead of keeping around veterans for the sake of their experience. The Seahawks started a trend as soon as Pete Carroll arrived, by trading away, cutting and releasing their veterans and instead looking to the draft for more affordable, and oftentimes more skilled and energetic players to replace them. When Izdik took over as GM of the Jets, he quickly ditched Darelle Revis and his giant contract, drafting Dee Milliner in the first round as his replacement, despite the fact that, Revis for the most part, was still in his prime. We saw the same thing happen with Bradley in Jacksonville, where most of the "dead weight" that was cut this offseason was older than 28, and replaced with younger, cheaper players. And why not? With players being on measly rookie contracts for several years after being drafted, why wouldn't teams drop all their old dudes and build their team around hip, young kids?
Sooner, rather than later, more teams are going to catch on and start mimicking the Seahawks, especially with all the success they WILL see in the coming years. But will any of these satellites be as successful as the original? History says no, as the original Soviet Union was the only communist regime that wasn't completely torn apart by infighting, whereas places like The Socialist Fedral Republic of Yugoslavia only lasted five years before it turned into a giant clusterf*ck in the hands of Josip Tito. But, should the football gods shine upon Petey Carroll and his merry band of Seahawks, allowing them to withstand the test of time, maybe Carroll's commemorative "Three Consecutive Super Bowl Championships" statue won't be beheaded like countless Vladmir Lenin tributes throughout Europe.