Pete Carroll: We 'will be surprised if we didn't' repeat as champs

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NEW YORK -- So much of the conversation in the aftermath of Seattle's 43-8 victory against Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII revolved around the youth of the Seahawks and if they, somehow, could turn themselves into a dynasty.

When he heard that late Sunday night, quarterback Russell Wilson slowed down those expectations, saying he was simply happy Seattle had claimed its first NFL title.

But there's little doubt that the youth of the Seahawks squad -- it was the second-youngest team ever to compete in a Super Bowl -- will give plenty of people plenty of visions of how Seattle could make a deep run into the playoffs an annual tradition.

"The first meeting we'll have will be [Tuesday]," coach Pete Carroll said at his Monday morning news conference. "Our guys will be surprised if we didn't [repeat as Super Bowl champions]. We have an eye on what's coming. We won't dwell on what's happened. We'll have a celebration on Wednesday and we'll enjoy the heck out of it. But that doesn't mean we can't set the sights of where we can go. We are in a very fortunate situation."

Heading into the offseason, the Seahawks will have to decide what to do about free agents like receiver Golden Tate, defensive end Michael Bennett and receiver Doug Baldwin. But Wilson will only cost $662,000 next season and less than $800,000 in 2015, and most of the core of this team should return to defend its Super Bowl title.

Carroll pointed to the roster wizardry of general manager John Schneider.

"John Schneider has done an extraordinary job of structuring this roster of looking ahead so that we keep our guys together," Carroll said. "A lot of times what happens is that teams have a big fallout after the Super Bowl. We don't need to be in that situation. We've done that with foresight so that we'll be ahead. We'll get going for the next challenge."

And it's not all about the stars on the team, anyway. Look at Malcolm Smith, the Super Bowl MVP who wasn't even invited to the NFL combine after his career at Southern California.

Asked what he would say about himself, a guy who was taken in the seventh round of the 2011 draft and who wasn't supposed to make this kind of impact in the NFL's biggest game, he said, "I guess that there are unlimited possibilities. That [the lack of a combine invite is] not the end of your story. Just keep playing, stick to what you have to do and get things going for yourself."

And while many of us were surprised that the Seahawks played so well against one of the best offenses in NFL history, Carroll and his team have been preparing for a moment like this.

"We developed a mentality from the first day where we started talking about getting ready for these kind of moments," Carroll said. "This is exactly what we envisioned. We'd have deserved it, we'd have earned it. This is exactly what we prepared for and expected. It might sound cocky and arrogant. But it's a mindset. How could you handle it if we started talking about it two weeks ago? There would be no foundation. But we had a foundation. We came in here knowing this could likely happen. There's not one guy who was surprised by it. That's a long process to bring guys into that mentality. ... There's something powerful about that understanding."

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