Success. The Seattle Seahawks now know what it's like to win. Pete Carroll has one of the rising quarterbacks in the league in Russell Wilson and a defense that allowed the fewest points scored in the league. Many insiders are picking them as the favorite to represent the NFC on Super Bowl Sunday.
The Seahawks entered last season unsure of where they stood at the most important position in the NFL; quarterback. Just one year later it certainly appears they have found their answer. Once Carroll really opened things up for Wilson last year and fully turned over the reigns the offense was putting up over 42 PPG. He was the first rookie QB, drafted outside the first round, to start opening day since 2005. The Seahawks tried to protect him early by keeping the play-calling conservative before finally opening things up by mid-season. What was thought to be a pedestrian offense immediately exploded onto the scene. Russell finished by tying Peyton Manning's rookie record of 26 touchdown passes and also threw in an 11-5 record.
As important as Russell is to this offense, that's also how much Marshawn Lynch matters. He is one of the hardest runners in the league and is coming off a career year by racking up 1,590 rushing yards. Even though he has only missed one game in the past two seasons, he is known for having a chronically sore back. It causes the team some concerns about his durability. To help give him some rest the team will occasionally bring in Turbin. He is a big, strong back who averaged just over 4.1 YPC last season.
The defense shined last season ranking number one in the league with the fewest points allowed. A new defensive coordinator steps in, Dan Quinn, as the old one, Gus Bradley, heads over to Jacksonville to assume their head coaching role. The only question on everyones mind is whether or not Seattle the will become even more aggressive from their hybrid formations.
The one question mark on the defense is the line. The ranked only 18th in the league for sacks, turning in a surprisingly low 36. The lack of a consistent pass rush is what led to unit being ranked 17th in 3rd down conversion percentage. It's surprising that a team with those numbers still ranked as high as they did overall, but if they don't generate more pressure up front they won't be the king of the mountain for long.
Last year a move by general manager John Schneider showed exactly the type of moves that separate the good teams from the great ones in this league. They let Hawthorne leave in free agency after leading the team in tackles for the three previous seasons. He then found Hawthorne's replacement, Wagner, in the second round of the draft. Wagner was younger, faster and significantly cheaper, all while finishing runner-up for defensive rookie of the year.
Seattle is the owner of the best secondary in the NFL, and that was before they added Winfield. The cornerback duo of Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman match up well with any team in the league. Sherman tied for 2nd with 8 interceptions and 8th overall in the league for targeted pass success rate. These two corners can do it all and especially like playing physical at the line of scrimmage. They are so big and strong there are very few receivers who they can't disrupt at the line of scrimmage.
The Seahawks were one of the hottest teams in the league last year and they are likely to start this year the same way. They are marked as a Super Bowl favorite on many peoples sheets and that's more than just wishful thinking. If Wilson can continue on the foundation he built last year and even improve in areas, the future looks awfully bright for this team.