It’s in 2023 that the job gets quite a bit more challenging.
Two seasons 11 years apart in Seattle Seahawks football history are shaping up to be possible replays of one another. Similar circumstances, similar roster holes, similar doubts, similar expectations, similar front office. But for discerning fans, 2022 is maybe more of a Schrodinger’s Campaign — it both is and isn’t 2011 all over again.
Let’s get the ugly details out of the way first. ‘22 can’t be ‘11 because Bobby Wagner is a Los Angeles Ram, which, ew. Russell Wilson is about to suit up for the Denver Broncos; again, gross, double gross. Plus the entire LOB has retired, with decidedly mixed results in their post-football personal lives.
So while there will be no second coming of Marshawn “Highlander” Lynch
and no Richard Sherman redux exploding onto the national scene, and definitely no Kam Chancellor announcing himself to unsuspecting Montario Hardestys in the open field —
— there exists a list of compelling reasons to believe the Seahawks are properly preparing for an eventual ascendancy mirroring their rise from a decade ago. They’ll start the new season with:
It’s a start. Plus, the parallels between the receiver corps from then and now are pretty cool. Tarvaris Jackson had his own DK Metcalf already in Sidney Rice, a 6-4 target recently coming off a Pro Bowl 1,312 yard season. in 2011, Tyler Lockett already existed in the person of Doug Baldwin, two men who were conclusively proven to be clones right here on this website.
Charles Cross could easily be the new Russell Okung (without all the bitcoin maybe?) and Abe Lucas is a fine Baby Breno Giacomini in limited action so far.
And at quarterback. Aaaaat quarterback. Is there a better comp for Geno Smith than early-career T-Jack? There’s a reason the current guy reminds us of his predecessor 11 years ago, besides the surface similarity of “vet given a second chance.” Check out their career stats before arriving in Seattle.
In general, Jackson was also more careful with the football, with 24-22 career TD-INT while Smith checks in at 29-36. Still, neither man managed to offset his giveaways with enough scores to preserve a starting job.
The culture is unchanged from 2011. Pete Carroll looks and acts like he’s aged eleven minutes instead of eleven years. John Schneider continues to swing for the fences in trades and the draft while playing it pretty cool in free agency. They’re the same people, only hopefully a little wiser. (Hopefully.) They’ve been here before and they know what they need to do, and they know how they’re gonna do it. They just have to… actually do it.
The high-profile departures of your leaders on each side of the ball is one of the most striking parallels. Lofa Tatupu came to symbolize the Seahawks defense when they were going to the playoffs five years in a row and winning the conference once. Matt Hasselbeck’s graduation from preseason darling to actual season darling coincided with that run.
And then, almost without warning, between 2010 and 2011, both men stopped Seahawking.
Tatupu was released and never played again; Hass made some money (and even some occasional plays) for the Titans and Colts as he won 16 of his final 29 starts.
Both were informed just days apart that their Seattle playing days were over at the end of 2010; their incoming replacements were a high-floor-low-ceiling QB (check) and a young MLB playing a new position (check). I won’t draw a direct line from K.J. Wright to Jordyn Brooks like I did earlier with Jackson and Smith, but it won’t be that squiggly, either.
So when it begins to feel like the 2022 squad is missing an elite linebacker and a franchise quarterback they used to rely on, well then, welcome to the future, same as the past. If you’re a Seahawks fan older than a teenager, you’ve definitely been in this zip code before, even if the street address is somewhat unfamiliar.
Oh, but there are ways that 2011 definitely won’t be replayed.
You could not recreate or reconjure the LOB, not with a hundred drafts and a roomful of Scot McCloughans. Teams simply don’t get to have three All-Pro DBs at once, it’s not a thing. Besides, 2011 is when Sherman started a full season for the first time, Thomas left his rookie growing pains behind him, and Chancellor began to lower the boom. The current secondary will not be taking such dramatic leaps forward, no matter how much they blossom.
Plus you had Brandon Browner, a hockey enforcer in the body of an outside linebacker playing cornerback half the time and MMA fighter the other half.
The 2022 Seahawks are gonna be vicious at times, but they don’t have a BB. Or the generational talent that can rescue the game when the offense stalls.
In several ways, the roster construction element of surprise that helped fuel 2012-2015 — when the Seahawks led the league in scoring defense and DVOA four straight times! — is not going to be reproducible. Pete and John will not revolutionize secondaries by putting giant hitters at corner and installing impossibly rangy and violent safeties as the last line of defense. They do not have a five-time future All-Pro at linebacker. (Jordyn Brooks is good, maybe great, but he is not Bobby.)
Seattle will not steal an MVP candidate quarterback at pick 75 because the rest of the league thinks he’s too short, and they won’t have the novelty of the read-option to lean on. Put most plainly, the Seahawks are massively unlikely to draft another RW because all-time college passer rating leaders with mobility and off-the-charts intangibles don’t just come along in the third round every spring. Their best chance at a dominant offense is to get lucky at quarterback with a draft pick next year and tweak the Sean McVay offense enough to keep it from getting stale.
The QB-related and LOB-related roadblocks to duplicating a championship rebuild don’t mean we’re headed for a letdown and that a Super Bowl is unattainable in three seasons. It just means it’ll be harder to get there. It’ll take good process and good fortune. Plenty of the latter.
Thus the challenge won’t be making this upcoming season feel like ‘11. That’s doable, with all the significant caveats sprinkled above. The bigger problem is how much harder it’ll be to make 2023 match 2012.
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