The Seahawks will forever be haunted for blowing their chance to win back-to-back Super Bowls and establish themselves in the exalted company of repeat champions.
Having already won Super Bowl 48 by pulverizing the offensive machine of the Denver Broncos, Seattle steamrolled all opposition on the way to Glendale, AZ only to have their hopes of becoming a dynasty derailed by one play.
With a Super Bowl win a virtual lock and the Seahawks having the ball on the one-yard line with the best short yardage back in football, head coach Pete Carroll dialed up a play that will forever live in infamy.
Rather than run the surly wrecking ball Marshawn Lynch for the winning score, Carroll called a pass play right into the teeth of the Patriots defense.
It was intercepted. Game over, Patriots win. Stick a fork in the ass of the Seattle dynasty.
Compounding the idiotic play calling was Wilson’s inability to come through in the clutch with that one throw that essentially cost the Seahawks their chance to repeat as champions. Some have speculated that Wilson would have been a more fan friendly choice as the MVP than the ill-tempered and unpredictable Lynch who may have alienated millions if he went off during the postgame celebration.
Since that fateful day, the Seahawks have never managed to get over the hump again in the playoffs despite solid regular seasons.
Now that the window of opportunity is closing, 2017 may be the last shot for this once formidable team to win another ring.
With Seattle, it always starts with defense and a home-field advantage that is one of the best in the NFL. The D continues to play at a high level – finishing 5th overall last year – but something has been missing ever since the days when power runner Marshawn Lynch aka Beast Mode was pounding opponents.
The presence of the punishing Lynch kept the chains moving and the defense fresh but this is Russell Wilson’s team now and whether the quarterback can bounce back from a hugely disappointing 2016 is the key to this year’s championship aspirations.
Wilson’s less than stellar performance can be attributed to injuries – he was stepped on in the very first game – and a lousy offensive line as well as the lack of a consistent running game. The leg injuries led to a loss of the mobility that has always made him deadly. Still, Wilson finished with 4,219 yards passing, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Those numbers will have to improve and he will need to stay healthy this year.
The Seahawks hope that the running game will improve as well and the backs suffered through their own injuries in 2016, they should be healthy now and former Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy has been signed as well. If Lacy can keep his weight down and stay healthy, he may be able to assume the role that Lynch once played.
The receiving corps really doesn’t have any superstars – outside of tight end Jimmy Graham whose best days are behind him and he never replicated his success in Seattle – but a versatile cast of playmakers provide Wilson with plenty of targets. The top being Doug Baldwin who like Wilson, is also looking to rebound this year.
The offensive line will continue to be an issue this year and is not a good omen for a team so dependent on Wilson.
Defensively, the Seahawks should continue to be one of the best in the NFL despite a collection of volatile personalities like cornerback Richard Sherman and lineman Michael Bennett, both of who could be locker room problems is things go wrong for Wilson as both have been outspoken advocates for the team’s signing of Colin Kaepernick.
It certainly doesn’t hurt the Seahawks defense to be in a division where the only real quarterback is the over-the-hill Carson Palmer and the NFC West got lucky to draw the QB wasteland of the AFC South as their inter-conference opponents in 2017.
Pete Carroll is the man charged with keeping this mess together and he has one heck of a job on his hands this year.
So, what does it all mean?
Look for Seattle to post at least 11 wins and cruise to the division title but this has been the case for the last few seasons. It’s what happens in the playoffs that counts.
The Seahawks are certainly talented enough to represent the NFC in Minneapolis come next February but it is imperative that they avoid the injuries and discord that could derail them short of what is likely their last chance at a second title.