2014 is about… Repeating. The Seahawks should be considered a legitimate championship contender, but history isn’t on their side. Although Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon compared the Seahawks to the Dallas Cowboys of the early 1990s, who happened to win three Super Bowls in four years, a team hasn’t successfully defended a Super Bowl title since 2004. The league is built for parity in the salary cap era, which is why the last eight Super Bowl winners have failed to win a playoff game the following season.
Core players: Russell Wilson (QB), Richard Sherman (CB), Earl Thomas (S), Marshawn Lynch (RB)
But they lost… Chris Clemons (DE), the veteran pass rusher who accumulated 38.0 sacks over the last four seasons. Clemons provided a consistent speed rush off the edge from the LEO position in Carroll’s defensive scheme; Golden Tate (WR), who led the Seahawks in receptions and receiving yards last year. Tate was Seattle’s primary punt returner last season and was one of their most explosive players on offence. On defence, Seattle lost Walter Thurmond III (CB), who signed a one-year deal with the New York Giants after a highly productive season. Thurmond III excelled as the team’s nickel cornerback but had the versatility to play outside. As well, the team lost key veteran experience with Red Bryant (DT), Michael Robinson (FB), Sidney Rice (WR), and Brandon Browner (CB) departed from last year’s Super Bowl winning team.
Yeah, but they got… Kevin Williams (DT), the six-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman who provides needed depth after the team lost Bryant, Clemons, and nickel rusher Clinton McDonald. At 34, Williams should stay fresher throughout the season in a deep defensive line rotation after playing more than 800 snaps with the Vikings last season; Paul Richardson (WR), who was Seattle’s second-round draft pick in May. He’s a speedster who is built similarly to DeSean Jackson.
Growing from within: Percy Harvin (WR), who only appeared in three games (including playoffs) after Seattle paid a premium price to acquire the highly talented but injury-prone receiver from Minnesota, showed his value in the Super Bowl where he returned a kickoff for a touchdown and rushed for 45 yards on two carries. He has been the team’s most dynamic player throughout training camp; O’Brien Schofield (DE) will see a significant spike in playing time after Clemons’s departure. He has exceeded the team’s expectations this summer and will line up beside Cliff Avril in third-down pass rushing packages; Jeremy Lane (CB), who will fill in for Thurmond III at the nickel corner position, is a special teams guru who has played well when called upon. He should have a huge role in 2014.
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Why this team? The Seahawks still have the core of the ascending roster that has gone 18-3 in its last 21 regular season games. And they could be even better this year. Russell Wilson is only entering his third season and if the pre-season is any indication, he could be in line for the best year of his career. He has scored on 11 of 13 drives, going 33-of-42 for 437 yards and three touchdowns. Add to that a healthy Harvin and internal growth from wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, and the Seahawks offence should offset any regression from a record-setting defence in 2013.
Why not? As promising as the Seahawks roster is, there are still issues. They lost a lot of quality players in free agency and they do not have nearly the same depth on the defensive line or in the secondary. The offensive line also remains a concern. The guards (James Carpenter and J.R. Sweezy) have had trouble in pass protection and they’re relying on a rookie to hold down the right tackle spot. Mix in the toughest and most physical division in football, and the Seahawks won’t have a cakewalk to another NFC West title.
Perfect for fans of… The “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons from the late 1980s-early 1990s: They’re loud. They’re brash. They talk trash. And the coaches both had grey hair. They have a tight-knit group of young players that feeds off criticism and is built for a sustained run. But they’re polarizing. Richard Sherman is not for everyone. He talks A LOT.
How much hope? 8.5/10 — As tough as repeating is, the Seahawks are not built like a typical Super Bowl team. They were the youngest team ever to win a championship and got even younger this season. They still have the majority of their core pieces on defence and should see much improvement on offence.
Will you be mocked for front-running? Yes, they are a franchise with a history of mediocrity. They just won their first ever Super Bowl. This is the dictionary definition of bandwagon hopping.