MOSCOW, IDAHO, August 27, 2014 — Just over six months ago, the Seattle Seahawks brought the first ever National Football League Championship to the Pacific Northwest. From owner Paul Allen to General Manager John Schneider to coach Pete Carroll, the business side of the operation was first rate.
On the football field, the Legion of Boom led by Richard Sherman has a realistic chance to be one of the great defenses of all time. Quarterback Russell Wilson is young and far more than a game manager. No sooner had the confetti from the parade been swept away before fans and analysts began tossing around the D-Word. Could the Seahawks become a dynasty?
Some of the greatest teams of all time never became a dynasty. The 1976 Oakland Raiders, 1985 Chicago Bears, 1996 Green Bay Packers, 1999 St. Louis Rams, 2000 Baltimore Ravens and 2006 Colts all fell short at creating a dynasty. Getting to the top of the mountain is tough enough. Staying there is much tougher. The Seahawks have the talent to do it, but will they? Will they be hoisting another Lombardi Trophy in February of 2015?
There is a valid argument to be made for the Seahawks to repeat, but there is also a valid argument as to why they will not.
Players make incredible sacrifices to win it all. Once they have the ring that can never be taken away from them, getting paid often becomes paramount. Players take big pay cuts for a chance to win their first Super Bowl ring. The most notable examples were Deion Sanders and other superstar veterans who joined the 1994 49ers. After they won it all, they immediately left for bigger paychecks.
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is not happy with his contract. He is a strange duck to begin with, and could be a big distraction if adversity hits the team.
Complacency is very tough to overcome. That first hit to the mouth in the first regular season game is often a wakeup call to remind the players that they are no longer celebrities. They are one of just 32 hungry teams. Every week they will face the best of every team, even the worst teams.
The Seahawks were relatively healthy last year. One devastating injury can change the entire complexion of a team.
The Seahawks play in the nastiest division in football. For all their supposed invincibility at home, their division rival Arizona Cardinals beat them in their regular season home finale last year. The 49ers took them to the breaking point before Seattle barely survived. The Rams slugged it out with them in St. Louis in a game that came down to the final play.
In the AFC, the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots loaded up in the offseason. Whoever emerges in the AFC will be far better than the Denver team Seattle trounced last year.
The last eight Super Bowl winners have failed to win a playoff game.
Everything broke right for Seattle in 2013. They will not be so fortunate in 2014. They will not repeat.
This team is young and hungry. Pete Carroll washed the monkey off his back with Gatorade. Now Carroll wants to cement his legacy.
The same can be said of Carroll’s defense. Being the best of 2013 was nice. Bringing the first ever NFL title to the Pacific Northwest was fun. Now it is about being allowed into the conversation as the best of all time. Pete Carroll wants to be in that conversation.
Another Super Bowl title would make him a lock for the Hall of Fame. The Seattle defense wants to be mentioned along with the Pittsburgh Steelers Steel Curtain, the 1985 Bears and the 2000 Ravens. The defenders are more than just supremely athletic. They are tough, smart individuals who know the difference between being one-year wonders and all time legends.
The rest of the NFC West is expected to be worse. The Rams are finished thanks to the injury to quarterback Sam Bradford. The Cardinals overachieved last year and are thought to take a step back this year, especially on defense. The 49ers have been riddled by injuries and arrests. Coach Jim Harbaugh and General Manager Trent Baalke can downplay their differences all they want, but they appear headed for divorce after this year.
Harbaugh is a great motivator, but if his act wears thin the 49ers could falter. Seattle could have a much easier time in the NFC West than last year. This will help in the battle for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Seahawks are still monsters at home. Despite the Arizona stumble, they were 8-0 at Quest field in 2012 and 7-1 in 2013. The 12th man is powerful, and the rain makes life miserable for opponents.
Russell Wilson is only going to get better. Marshawn Lynch is tough but replaceable. Running backs know this is a passing league now.
Seattle won it all last year without Percy Harvin. If Harvin stays healthy, the Seahawks will have a game-changing threat on offense and special teams who will take significant pressure off of their vaunted defense.
This team has a nasty attitude. As desperate as other teams want to humble them, that makes them more motivated to show that their trouncing of Denver in the big game last year was a beginning rather than an ending. Pete Carroll fuels this us against the world mentality. This is one team that will not be complacent.
This Seahawks team is better than last year’s team, giving them every reasonable chance to begin their dynasty.
PREDICTION: The Seahawks have the talent and desire to repeat, but there is always another hungry bunch of wolves lurking out there in the shadows. As ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman says, “That’s why they play the games.”
On Thursday, September 4, the Seahawks begin their title defense at home against the Green Bay Packers. Seattle manhandled Peyton Manning last year, now they face Aaron Rodgers.
If the Packers go on the road and steal the win, then Seattle will absolutely not repeat. If Seattle barely survives, it could expose some vulnerabilities. If Seattle thrashes the daylights out of Green Bay like they did Denver, then the rest of the league had better prepare for a serious title defense run deep into January and perhaps February.