You're going to see the Golden Tate "Fail Mary" reception against the Green Bay Packers from Week 3 of the 2012 season a lot this week. A lot of talking about how "so-and-so can get redemption" or "whositnow" wants to prove it was no fluke, but the fact of the matter is that so-and-so and whositnow probably won't be playing in this game. More than half of the combined starters from that game won't be playing this Sunday.
Seattle fans might be surprised to find out that the roster churn has never really stopped. Slowed down maybe, and they've been spending a lot of money to lock down their key players that have been added since 2010, but more than half of their starters from 2012 are either on another team or on injured reserve.
Seahawks that started that game that won't be starting this Sunday:
Michael Robinson, Golden Tate, Sidney Rice, Zach Miller, Paul McQuistan, John Moffitt, Breno Giacomini, Red Bryant, Alan Branch, Chris Clemons, Brandon Mebane, Marcus Trufant (!), Brandon Browner, and LeRoy Hill.
That's 14 of 22, if you consider the nickel package the "starters." Bobby Wagner did play in the game as well.
Here are the guys that will be playing on Sunday at those positions instead:
Robert Turbin instead of Robinson. (You could say Will Tukuafu or whatever, but Turbin is a more appropriate answer probably.)
Jermaine Kearse instead of Tate. (Paul Richardson, we dedicate this game to you.)
Kevin Norwood instead of Rice.
Luke Willson instead of Miller.
James Carpenter instead of McQuistan.
JR Sweezy instead of Moffitt.
Justin Britt instead of Giacomini.
Michael Bennett instead of Red.
Cliff Avril instead of Branch.
Bruce Irvin instead of Clemons.
Kevin Williams instead of Mebane.
Tharold Simon instead of Trufant (!).
Byron Maxwell instead of Browner.
Malcolm Smith instead of Hill.
I might have gotten a few of those "wrong" or whatever, because Seattle switches up their positions fairly frequently, but it's basically true. They've also replaced their defensive coordinator, no small measure. And I think it's pretty clear that the Seahawks are better.
Hmmm, it's almost as if they've won a Super Bowl and earned two number one seeds since then.
Other than the losses of Miller, Mebane, Tate, and Clemons, this team is significantly better. A lot of that comes with the experience gained by Wagner, Irvin, and Russell Wilson, who were all playing in their third career game. And the way that the offense has changed to adjust to the evolution of Wilson, has been a massive transformation.
For one, Wilson and Doug Baldwin were rarely on the same page that year. Baldwin gained just 366 yards and he did miss a couple of games with injury. Rice was actually the leading receiver and Tate was second. Miller was third, and Anthony McCoy was fifth. And even though they weren't "starters," Wilsons first few passes were completed to Ben Obomanu, Charly Martin, and McCoy.
Other than the maturation of Wilson and the other rookies, it's worth noting that the offensive line looks significantly better and the defensive line is night and day. Bennett and Avril are imposing figures that were playing in other cities in 2012. Nothing against Red and Clem, but it's just different, and probably different in a way that's better suited for today's NFL.
God bless Marcus Trufant, but the secondary had not gained legendary status yet.
The Seattle Seahawks are clearly a better team right now than they were in Week 3 of the 2012 season. It's been a metamorphosis on the scale of Mothra. How about the other guys?
Packers that started that game that won't be starting this Sunday:
Cedric Benson, James Jones, Jermichael Finley, Greg Jennings, Marshall Newhouse, Jeff Saturday, Ryan Pickett, BJ Raji, CJ Wilson, DJ Smith, Charles Woodson.
That's 11 of 22 for Green Bay, and here are their replacements:
Eddie Lacy instead of Benson.
Randall Cobb instead of Jennings.
Davante Adams instead of Jones.
Andrew Quarless instead of Finley.
Corey Linsley instead of Saturday.
David Bakhtiari instead of Newhouse.
Mike Daniels and Letroy Guion instead of Pickett and Raji.
Julius Peppers instead of Wilson.
Sam Barrington instead of Smith.
HaHa Clinton-Dix instead of Woodson.
It's not as dramatic of a change for Green Bay, but it's still half of their starters.
Though Lacy is a better back than Benson (at least at the times they're facing the Seahawks), it's worth noting that Benson had a bigger impact on that game than Aaron Rodgers did, kind of. Rodgers was sacked eight times in the first half and Green Bay was still stuck on zero going into the locker room. They had just 91 total yards of offense.
The big change in the third quarter was that Benson started to get into a rhythm, and they kept feeding him on the opening drive of the second half, on their way to a field goal. That'll be up to Lacy now. He's a good player, obviously, but he did have 12 carries for 34 yards in Week 1 against Seattle this year.
Downgrades above are probably Quarless, the defensive tackles, and Adams. Upgrades are Lacy, Peppers, Cobb (he had one catch for -1 yard in the Fail Mary game, and one carry for 20 yards) and I'm not sure what to think of Clinton-Dix versus old Woodson.
It might not be a better team or a worse team, but it's definitely a different team.
They're both very different teams. The game in 2012 was a lot more exciting, interesting, and the impact it had on the league was as significant as any game I can think of in the last 10 years (because, as you may remember, the refs are also much different) but while most people are going to be talking about "Fail Mary" this week, the first game of this season is probably a lot more telling.