5 Keys for Another Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl Title
It's difficult for any pro football team to win a Super Bowl twice in a row. For that to happen, a team doesn't have to just be elite, it has to avoid key injuries. And the front office often has to successfully replace players lost to free agency.
Luckily for the Seahawks, they have their core intact heading into this season.
Which players are the most significant for this upcoming season? For that matter, are the players themselves the most important piece of the Seahawks' championship puzzle?
5. Sharing the Load
The Seahawks' running game was among the best in the league last season, and that production was led by Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch has been a beast for the Seahawks for three seasons, but he's averaged 300 carries in each. The likelihood is that he's going to start to show wear and tear sooner rather than later.
The Seahawks have talented running backs behind him in Robert Turbin and Christine Michael. If they want to guarantee that Lynch can play 19 games, then giving the other two a few more carries may be in their best interests.
Besides, they are going to want to see if Michael can replace Lynch when the latter does begin to fade.
4. Retooling the Line
Unlike the rest of the Seahawks offense, the offensive line did undergo a bit of a change. All-Pros Russell Okung and Max Unger return to anchor the line, but what of the rest of the unit?
Right guard J.R. Sweezy solidified himself as a starter last season, but the other two positions have new members. Justin Britt at right tackle was the team's second-round pick, and it remains to be seen how he will perform in the NFL.
Luckily, Britt has veteran free-agent tackle Eric Winston to mentor him, so no matter which of the two players start, the Seahawks should be fine at that position.
Left guard is the more concerning spot. James Carpenter hasn't shown much since being a first-round pick in 2011, but if there's any year for him to do so, it's this year.
If all five can work together and form a cohesive unit, then this could be a fantastic offensive line, one which can run roughshod over defenses. Should the new acquisitions and younger talent struggle, it could be a tough year for quarterback Russell Wilson.
3. A Breakout Year for K.J. Wright
A team's secondary can be amazing, but the front seven has to be able to make plays as well. It is a good unit, but what it needs heading into 2014 is that playmaker up front who can change the course of the game.
Why am I targeting K.J. Wright? For starters, he's been a versatile linebacker and a guy who can fall into coverage and rush the passer. Wright is in a contract year, and a big season would make him one of the top linebackers on the market. It's also been reported throughout training camp that Wright "continues to shine each day."
If he can turn his camp energy into a monster season, then the losses of Red Bryant and others from the front seven will quickly become an afterthought.
2. Who Else? Russell Wilson
Of course a starting quarterback is going to be a key for any team looking to win a Super Bowl. Seattle is no different. In two years, Russell Wilson has quickly become one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
It is now up to him to be able to withstand the pressure of being a Super Bowl winner. Can be continue to perform at the level he has the past two seasons? If his top-notch play this preseason is any indication, I don't see a reason to believe otherwise.
Why is he only number two instead of number one? Unlike with other teams, Seattle's offense isn't as quarterback-centric as other high-powered attacks. Wilson can have an off game, and the Seahawks can still find ways to win.
1. The Number One Secondary
It goes without saying that the Seahawks had the best secondary in the NFL last year. Richard Sherman transformed himself into the league's best cornerback. Earl Thomas has solidified his claim as the league's best safety, and his running mate, strong safety Kam Chancellor, is nearly as good.
The only departure from this terrific group was Brandon Browner, who signed a free-agent deal with the Patriots. This would be a big loss for other teams, but as the fourth-best defensive back among the starters last year, he was replaceable.
The Seahawks are using Byron Maxwell as the team's starting cornerback opposite Sherman. The fourth-year player from Clemson showed promise last season and could easily be just as good as Browner.
I also have high hopes for Jeremy Lane as the nickelback. He appears to be someone who can step up and provide relief for Sherman and Maxwell.
It more than likely would take injuries for such a talented and cohesive unit to struggle in 2014. As long as the secondary is shutting down opposing receivers, flying to the ball and creating turnovers, a followup Super Bowl for the Seahawks is a distinct possibility.