For the Seattle Seahawks, this past offseason has been quite an adventure.
With head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider in charge, 'Hawks fans saw their team re-sign key players like Marshawn Lynch and Red Bryant, sign arguably the best free-agent option at quarterback not named Peyton Manning, take an "unconventional" approach to April's draft and adopt on a whole new look as well.
Following two consecutive 7-9 finishes in Seattle, expectations are high this year as the team seems poised for bigger things. Whether the Seahawks can do it remains to be seen, but for now here's a quick review of the seven things we've learned this past offseason about the 'Hawks.
You can read that statement any way you wish, but either way it's the truth.
Carroll and Schneider are doing things their way and aren't going to make any apologies during the process. This became very clear during the draft when the 'Hawks made arguably the most surprising pick of Round 1 with Bruce Irvin and then proceeded to select little-known players from smaller schools like Utah State.
While you could argue with some of the selections the 'Hawks made or didn't make, thus far the approach of the brain trust has worked. The 'Hawks now have one of the youngest rosters in the league with some solid talent at key positions, thanks in large part to some great moves.
Regardless of what anyone says here or elsewhere, it seems the people that truly matter are buying in.
With the exception of David Hawthorne, just about every significant free agent the team targeted or needed to re-sign came into the fold.
Carroll may no longer be coaching college football, but he's still a recruiter at heart capable of selling players on what the Seahawks have to offer.
The mantra "Always Compete" has been in effect since early on and for the moment looks to have a solid hold on the organization from top to bottom.
At the same time it seems that Carroll is never satisfied with what he has.
A few months ago Tarvaris Jackson was the Seahawks' starting quarterback, Matt Flynn wanted the chance to play as a starting quarterback, and Russell Wilson simply wanted a chance to play at the pro level.
Quite frankly, it's hard not to think Carroll would like it any other way. Generally speaking, it's not a good or bad thing when it comes to building a roster.
Yet it is a bit of a concern if the situation doesn't solve itself sooner rather than later at the most important position on the team.
Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports penned an interesting piece on the topic a short time after the rookie camp:
But shouldn't the Seahawks have had an answer by now as to who will be their top option for a long-term successor to Matt Hasselbeck? Shouldn't there be some sense of commitment to Matt Flynn, the former Green Bay backup who was signed in free agency? Shouldn't Tarvaris Jackson get more than one season to show his ability?
Fair points, and a few of which I'm sure we will see play out over the next couple of weeks. Until then, as Cole concludes:
The team is still hop-scotching from one candidate to the next faster than a night of speed dating.
While that isn't a guarantee of failure, it's also far from an assurance of success.
And if you don't have success at quarterback, failure is likely.
With that said, what about the rest of the roster?
OK, so the 'Hawks just did trade for Kellen Winslow, Jr., but overall it looks like the team is set as we head to camp this summer.
With players like Marshawn Lynch and Red Bryant, who are key cogs, staying put, not to mention veterans Marcus Trufant and Leroy Hill returning to the team, it would seem the 'Hawks roster is finally stabilizing after years of constant turnover.
Just about all of the players that Carroll and Schneider inherited are now either long gone or back under contract with their blessing. This should be a good thing as players can compete with each other knowing the majority of their teammates are likely staying put, provided they perform.
Continuity now means the team can take chances on players that can fill specific needs.
With the re-signing of Leroy Hill and drafting of Bruce Irvin, it would appear the 'Hawks are willing to offer second chances to players with issues off the field.
Once again it depends on how you wish to view this point, but I don't think Carroll is looking to run a boys choir. This is fine so long as there are real consequences for any significant or multiple missteps.
So while I think Irvin will make good on his opportunity with the chance he's been given, I'm still unsure about bringing back Hill. Hill, for whatever reason, keeps finding trouble yet, following a solid season and the Seahawks' lack of in-house options, was re-signed by the team.
With a young team still trying to find leaders, is bringing back Hill a good idea?
Let's hope he makes good on his deal.
When the schedule was released a few weeks ago, I decided to put together a game-by-game analysis of how things might unfold.
With no gimmies and very few easy wins, this looks to be a tough schedule.
Making matters more complex, the early going could be particularly rough with the likes of Dallas, New England and Green Bay all coming to visit within the first six weeks. Not to mention several trips east of the Mississippi throughout the season and a short week before facing the 49ers on the road following the New England game as well.
On the bright side, the schedule does seem to ease up a bit towards the end, with a bye during Week 11 and the team's final two games set to be played at CenturyLink Field.
The key, it would seem, will be getting to the second half of the season in good enough shape to contend at the end.
Last but not least.
Forgive me, but I'm still trying to adjust to these uniforms.
When they were released, they made quite an impression upon fans of all ages, but mostly for younger fans. It was a rather bold step by the organization as every other team kept in line with what they had been wearing before Nike took over the NFL contract.
The 'Hawks are now distinctive, but how soon will other teams follow?
For now it doesn't matter, but I am genuinely curious to see these unis in action once the games begin.