Legacy by the strictest definition cannot be determined until after some phenomenon is completed. But in practice, it is fairer to say that a full legacy cannot be known until completion. Legacies are built on reputations, and those are built in real time.
Whatever damage Peyton Manning did to his legacy in Super Bowl 48 likely depends on what you think is important when considering such things. If it's multiple championships then the legacy is tarnished. If it's Manning's virtually unparalleled portfolio of accomplishments then virtually nothing can alter his legacy now. Actually, Manning's legacy is not what interests me. That's a post for another day. Probably not by me.
Instead, it is the legacy of the 2013-14 Seattle defense that interests me today.
The season is complete, and this defense will never be exactly the same again. So, yeah. It's fair to talk about its place in the history of SINGLE SEASON defensive performances. It's clearly one of the best, and there really is no rational counter-argument. One of the many, many things that annoys me about the culture of sports
talk demagoguery is that you can't make delimited comparisons without someone completely ignoring the limits and getting all pearl clutchy. So I will say it again, slowly. In any objective, data-based comparison of SINGLE SEASON defensive performance, Seattle compares favorably to any defense you can name. It's not the top one, but it's undeniably one of the 10 best. Say it loud. Say it proud. It's just the truth. Sacred cows, be damned.
Now, WHAT WE CANNOT SAY is whether this is one of the best defensive groups of all time over a multi-year period. We will just have to wait and see.
The national NFL media really should read Field Gulls, Hawkblogger, Seahawks Draft Blog, and a host of other Hawk-focused sites, because boy are they way late to the party on how Seattle constructed this roster. In the aftermath of the Super Bowl they have noticed Seattle's youth and feel like Seattle is "ahead of schedule", prompting speculation about a potential dynasty.
As much as I'd love to see that, what they're missing is that Seattle's roster doesn't just happen to be young. It's young by design. Seattle isn't so much "ahead of schedule" as it is dependent on a young athletic roster, particularly on defense. This team needs to be young to play the way it wants to play. In that sense, Seattle resembles the early 1990s Jimmy Johnson Cowboys. It would be great to repeat their success, but the odds against it are insanely high. That's part of the Rozelle/Goodell legacy.
Don't be confused, now. The window of contention is wide open for Seattle and set to stay that way for a while. But "dynasty" talk seems to go against my understanding of what Pete Carroll is doing at a philosophical level. If "Win Forever" is really about the journey and not the outcome then the organization's focus is on keeping the window open. That's what an organization can do. The question of winning multiple titles has to be settled on the field by the players.
Why will Seattle's window remain open? In a word, consistency. Consistency is not mystical or magical, but neither is it a "formula" or "blueprint". There is always variance in human performance. Consistency merely implies minimizing that variance. In an era of egomaniac coaches who fancy themselves chess grand wizards, Seattle plays a basic style that is repeatable. It travels. It is fairly weather-resistant. It is not uniquely dependent on the singular talent of any one dynamic player, though it can easily incorporate dynamic talent. Most importantly, it can be developed in relatively inexperienced players.
Why will Seattle's window remain open? To use another word ending in "y", redundancy. (I needed a word for "depth" that ends in "y".) This is the major difference between Seattle's and San Francisco's respective rosters. Pete Carroll and John Schneider don't find carbon copies, despite the "big corner" meme. Each player at a position needs to be able to perform particular roles, but the front office looks for people who can fulfill those roles in unique ways. Earl Thomas, as many have noted, is probably the one player that would cause Seattle to play fundamentally differently if he were out.
Cut Up Your Disrespect Cards, Seahawks Fans
Those days are over. Those caveats you're hearing about how Denver didn't do this and that. Or, "No disrespect to Seattle, but no way this defense belongs in the same conversation with the 2000 Ravens". (I didn't even know that Ravens defense was a sacred cow until today.) Well, that's what respect looks and sounds like. If, like Ralphie, you thought you were gonna get that vaunted A+++ then think again. This is "respect", and it's probably not as pretty as you thought. Let that be a lesson to you. That's why you better learn to love the journey and not the destination.
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