Back in 2012, the Seattle Seahawks surprisingly took the league by storm, powered by a rookie quarterback and a group of brash, young defensive backs who would soon become known as the Legion of Boom.
The Seahawks had finished 7-9 in each of the two previous seasons, but the emergence of Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Byron Maxwell, and Brandon Browner, plus Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Chris Clemons and more on defense, and Marshawn Lynch on offense, powered the Seahawks to an 11-5 record. They've been one of the NFL's best teams seemingly every year since that point, but last year, for the first time during that stretch, they did not make the playoffs.
The Seahawks underwent a lot of change this offseason, with Sherman leaving for San Francisco, defensive end Cliff Avril being released due to a debilitating injury, defensive coordinator Kris Richard moving on to Dallas, and more. Next season, they're going to look a whole lot different than they have in the past, and head coach Pete Carroll has noticed that the offseason has a 2012-type feel to it.
"It does feel like that," Carroll told The MMQB. "There was a time when our star players weren't star players yet, they were just coming up, and it was exciting to see that emergence. That's what we're counting on in the next year, seeing these guys start to come to prominence and make a spot for themselves. I'm not even concerned about it. I just want to see what the timeline is. I hope it happens now. I want to see it happen right away."
The fact that their star players held down positions for so long meant younger players on the roster didn't necessarily have a chance to win regular rotational jobs. That's changed now, according to Carroll.
"It's pretty plain to see, that when guys have established themselves for four or five or six years at a spot, and they've been really effective at what they do, it's hard to convince the next guy that he's going to take their spot," Carroll said. "That's for sure. So when opportunities are more open, it does create, in the truest sense, the best connection to what the philosophy and the approach is all about. And it feels like four or five years ago. It feels fresh and wide open, it's more of an open competition for some of the spots. And that's a really good thing for us, because it does feed into the whole approach."
Seattle has replenished talent as positions like cornerback (Shaquill Griffin), defensive line (Frank Clark, Jarran Reed, Malik McDowell), linebacker (Shaquem Griffin), and safety (Bradley McDougal, Tre Flowers) over the years, and now that some of the stalwarts have moved on or are holding out (Thomas) or coming back from serious injury (Chancellor), maybe some of those players will have a greater chance to make an even greater impact on Sundays.