The copycat season is on.
Winning the SB with the 2nd youngest team to ever win it was the final clear indication that the Seahawks must be doing something right. The rush to copy this new formula has many focus points. Some look to copy the tall CBs and some think it's a rookie QB freeing cap space for more talent all over. Some look to run first and some feel it's the multiple faces of the Dline. They are all right and all wrong. The more you focus and zoom into the Seahawks roster the more you end up with meaningless facts without context. The same people that stated that RW is a few inches too short to be considered an NFL QB will rush now to find cornerbacks that are a few inches taller and feel they got it covered.
Everybody would love a bunch of low cost late round rookies playing at all pro level and winning championships. Easier said then done. The Seahawks system works because everything about this team is built to enable a young team with late round talent to perform as it does. It is a chain of concepts that support the cause and effect logic that drives this system.
Here is a big picture view:
How did the Seahawks get a defense with all LBs and DBs on rookie contracts and all but 2 guys drafted on day 3 or later, perform as well as they did?
Let me start with a statement – It's not because the FO are wizards at finding all pros on late rounds. (They are really good at providing the team with the talent needed but that's not it).
What it is is a system built to support and sustain such a performance. Here are the key points combined to make it happen –
Yes, everybody tries to draft the best players so what is the Seahawk's magic?
The Seahawks understand that you can't pick polished top round talent. They understand that they will need meaningful production from their late picks and hence they employ the following key characteristics to their pick process –
Rate physical attributes and upside above polished performance.
Pick those that are eager to fight for it and won't break easily.(grit…)
Pick the ones that are best suited to the way you'd want to play.(see below)
Pick a lot of them since they will have to compete for it and many will fail.
It's not a revolution but it's the first step for your system to work.
Teach and train them:
Considering the above guidelines for picking your players it is obvious that you will need to invest time and effort to teach and train each and every one personally to play the game the way you want them to. Obviously all teams do that but the Seahawk's system places more time and effort into teaching a player his craft and technique and training players as individuals then in group play and team play. Of course this is relatively speaking. They do it all but invest more effort then most team on promoting the individual. Create a culture that cares and supports the individual as he battles to improve and be the best he can be. Make it as much fun as possible, make them compete with each other but also push for a culture where players help each other improve. The no. 1 goal is always – get better as a player and the team will get better because of it.
Play them in a system were they can succeed:
You heard that before but what does it mean?
If you have read the above you understand that the investment in training and teaching unpolished raw talent must have a cost somewhere and this is were it is. Every expert or analyst and every Seahawks' player will tell you the same thing – "The Seahawks are playing a very simple and basic defense". They are.
If you want to teach unpolished talent and have them play an effective role on the field you can't play a very complex defense. It would be too much to integrate when you spend more time on personal skills. Keep it simple so the emphasis would be more on personal execution and less reliant on complex team play. Get a player to do what he is good at and what he was best trained to do rather then have him learn too many skills and tasks or formations. The more complex the system – the less accountable the player is for his individual performance. He can't learn to be good at everything quickly and we can't wait years for him to be there. KEEP IT SIMPLE.
Fill the holes with appropriate talent:
Ok, this is not collage football, this is the NFL. You can't just make it too simple and too basic just so it's a great fit for young late rounders. Get outside experienced talent were you need it. If you want your Dline to play complex rotating pass rush formations and run blocking – Have Red, Mebane, Clem, Avril, Bennett and pay them all till you grow your own.
Pick the players that have a chance to make it in your system. Get the right training personal to teach them individually. Get as many as you can so at the end of the competition you'll have enough talent. Create a culture that supports, cares for them and promotes them individually. Play them in a simple system that puts a premium on personal execution rather then complex team play. Win SB…repeatedly.
Or in other wards – If you think you just need to draft taller corners to win the SB – you missed the whole point.