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The Road Back, Part 1: Fresh Eyes

Seahawks fans should know 1983. Many of us may not remember it. Many of us did not yet exist. Some of us existed but were babies or small children. Others were cognitive but not yet Seahawks fans. But all Seahawks fans should know 1983. It may not have been Seattle's most successful season, though it was close, but it was surely the Seahawks first great season. It was great not just because Seattle finished farther in the playoffs than they did in any other season but 2005. It was great not just because it began Seattle's run of contention throughout the eighties. It was great because it was so unexpected, but much of what made it unexpected also made it possible.

New Head Coach

It is debatable whether Jack Patera was a bad coach, but by 1982, he was no longer good for the Seahawks. Chuck Knox was a successful coach but had his detractors. Most famous of which was former Los Angeles Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom. He thought Knox's philosophy was too conservative. Eventually Knox left the Rams to sign with Buffalo. He was successful but still embattled. By his own recollection, part of what attracted Knox to Seattle was general manager Mike McCormack's willingness to buy into Knox's coaching philosophy.

Some of this might sound familiar, Pete.

Apart from their back-stories, what connects Carroll and Knox is that both coaches took over talented teams hamstrung by critical deficiencies. Both coaches replaced coaches that had lost their teams. Whatever Patera's knack for creative play calling, he was a stern and guarded boss that didn't inspire his players. Both Knox and Carroll, in different ways, started their Seahawks careers by reestablishing an emphasis on the best players playing. For both, that meant new players and overlooked players playing in new positions. Knox instituted a 3-4. He reshaped the offensive and defensive lines. There wasn't the same kind of roster turnover or outspoken veneration of competition that we've seen under Carroll, but like Carroll, Knox was largely free of lived-in biases. He didn't know the team, its fans or its players and hadn't promised anyone anything but competitive football. He delivered.