Seattle Seahawks: Lesser Known Offseason Tidbits That Bode Well for Seattle
As I've been reading B/R articles recently, I've noticed a few trends. One, the quarterback competition and draft choices still remain at the forefront of discussion. Two, everyone on B/R and other fan sites is extremely optimistic about the 2012 season.
I'm not here to spoil anyone's fun (unlike the people at NFL network), so I won't beat against those positive ideas.
Instead, I will take a unique approach to the situation. I'm going to give you all new insights into things that you might not have noticed so far this offseason and explain the significance of these lesser known truths.
You can thank me later.
Without further ado, let's fantasize.
P.S. if you disagree, I dare you to comment at me.
Coaching Staff Consistency
Pete Carroll, Darrell Bevel, Gus Bradley, Ken Norton Jr., Kris Richard, Sherman Smith, Tom Cable. These are just a few names of coaches who were on the Seahawks payroll in 2011 that will return in 2012.
That's right. In fact, the vast majority of the staff—from head coach to defensive coordinator to director of player personnel—will stay under contract for this year.
I cannot stress how huge this is. There are many ways to engender success in the NFL. Many coaching systems have succeeded. One common trend belies most all of those systems, and that trend is consistency.
Players must adjust to a new style of play and coaching with every new regime that comes in. That is why we see bad teams remain bad; new coaches come in every few years, implement systems based on different philosophies than their predecessors and struggle to succeed because players take time to adjust.
Pete Carroll is improving this team, due in large part to his excellent coaching staff. He was given almost nothing to work with when he came in and now has churned out five Pro Bowlers and a top-10 defense. With the quarterback position being addressed, Carroll is showing that he will reward fans and owner Paul Allen for being patient with him.
For those who doubt Carroll and John Schneider (pictured above), keep in mind that very few coaches come in and have immediate success due to an inherited franchise (Jim Harbaugh, Bill Belichick). Mike Holmgren, the best coach in Seattle history, didn't even make the playoffs his first three years in charge of the organization. But with the consistency he employed in his tenure, he built a steady, powerful franchise that had a five year string of success.
Given the same chance, Pete Carroll absolutely can provide the Seahawks some success (alliteration!) in the future.
Player Relationship Improvement
Players on each squad like each other, and they take Pete Carroll's "compete" mantra very seriously.
We saw this recently. As was oft publicized, the Seahawks were penalized two OTA practices for being too aggressive, whatever that means. In response, Tarvaris Jackson had the wide receiver corps and running backs come to his Seattle home during those two days, and they ran routes and went through plays in an attempt to compensate for what they had lost.
Was this a stunt by T-Jack in order to gain standing in a QB competition that he is most likely going to lose? I personally couldn't care less. (If you want to see who I have winning this competition, by the way, check my article here.)
What this shows is that 1) Jackson, and presumably the other QBs on the roster, buy into the quarterback competition wholeheartedly, and 2) there is chemistry between the offensive players.
There is an old adage that goes something like, "the team that stays together wins Super Bowls together." (I might have made that up.) The point is that all successful offenses have chemistry. When the line "gels," so to speak, the QB is protected. When the QB and the receivers "gel," their knowledge of one another's tendencies lead to picture perfect play execution and potential play extension if things go haywire.
The great QBs all have chemistry with their receivers, and this chemistry develops over time. Want to argue otherwise? I'll see you in the comments section.
On the defensive side, things are even better. Whereas the offense has a lot of work to do to improve, the defense is already coming to prominence.
These units are like family. These predominantly young guys were in large part drafted by the Seahawks and have grown on the team together in the past few years. If you want to get psyched about our defense, check out this video and flip to 1:46 to see the defensive backs' "money maker" chant.
Overall, team player consistency contributes to player chemistry, and chemistry is vital to success. We're taking steps, that's for sure.
Nasty Nature Tune-Up
For all the success the Seahawks had in the past decade, there was one team aspect that was never really present. That element was intensity. The Seahawks were a "finesse" team above all else, and they had a reputation of appearing "soft" to other teams. Even former 49er Michael Robinson claimed that Seattle didn't want to hit for a full 60 minutes.
No more. Hard hitting has just about defined the Seahawks this past year. Pete Carroll chose to start 6'3" and 6'4" press corners, a huge safety and a 300+ pound defensive end, along with the other monster D-linemen. Essentially, the Seahawks have turned from feel-good-story players like Isaiah Kacyvenski to smash-mouth players who get fined for hard hits.
I love it. There is no denying that reputation plays a legitimate role in the minds of opposing players when they go up against you. And when Wes Welker, Greg Jennings and Calvin Johnson line up opposite our defense this year, I want them to hesitate before they take off on that slant route for fear that Bobby Wagner or Kam Chancellor will be waiting to blow them up.
Those intangible, reputational elements contribute hugely to a team's overall success and dynasty. That's why players like Dick Butkus and Mean Joe Greene are enshrined in NFL lore. They were nasty, and that nastiness contributed to their team's success.
The Seahawks' chippiness made itself present back when a fight broke out between Ben Obomanu and late-round draft pick Jeremy Lane. Earl Thomas even took a swing at his teammate of three offseasons.
Though the offense and defense independently will get along quite well, there is little love lost when they square off on the practice field, which is preferable in my opinion.
These chippy scenarios will push players to play harder. Kellen Winslow likes to talk smack; Doug Baldwin likes to talk smack; Earl Thomas likes to talk smack; Richard Sherman LOVES to talk smack. It inspires the team to perform at a higher competitive level. Heck, it even makes star wideouts question their route-running ability.
If nothing else, Seattle's front office has effectively re-signed key players to contracts that fit the team's needs without being too much cap casualty.
We all know that Beast Mode is locked up until age 30, which perfectly suits the trend of running backs being good until then.
Red Bryant received a lucrative contract. His run-stuffing ability is crucial to defensive line success, and his leadership is fundamental to team morale.
Heath Farwell is an under-the-radar signing, but he led the league in special teams tackles despite playing in only 10 games. This is a very smart signing, as special teams is usually overlooked.
Michael Robinson's contract renewal is perhaps my favorite. Not only do we keep a Pro Bowl fullback, which is crucial to the success of every great running back (seriously), but there will be more episodes of the Real Rob Report coming up!
Really, the only big name free agent we didn't retain was David Hawthorne. Although I liked the Heater, I am a fan of this move. For his 2011 performance, he expected a large contract that would keep him secure for at least four years, perhaps more.
With the surplus of excellent linebackers in this year's draft, Seattle was smart to determine that a high draft pick would be far more cost effective than a lucrative Hawthorne contract (he wasn't that good anyway). This cap space allowed other free-agent signings and will benefit the team when the contract of Kam Chancellor expires soon, and he expects (within reason) a large contract.
Overall, these are some lesser talked about offseason items that will help the team in the future. Let's go, 12th man!