Back in 2012, the Seattle Seahawks came out of pretty much nowhere to win 11 games and emerge as one of the best teams in football. Led by a third-round draft pick at quarterback (Russell Wilson), a Buffalo Bills castoff at running back (Marshawn Lynch), and a group of defensive backs that would become known as the Legion of Boom, the Seahawks bruised and bullied the rest of the NFL.
Things continued on that way for the next few seasons as the Wilson-led offense improved and the LOB-led defense added even more talent. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor were joined by Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, and more, and the Seahawks made the playoffs every year from 2012 through 2016, winning one Super Bowl and narrowly losing another along the way. During that five-season span, only the Patriots and Broncos won more games than Seattle, and only New England had a better point differential.
Last season, things finally slowed down for the Seahawks amid injuries and inconsistency. Sherman ruptured his Achilles tendon. Avril and Chancellor each suffered potentially career-ending injuries. And the offense couldn't quite pick up all the slack.
A few months later, much has changed. Sherman's a 49er. Avril was released. Chancellor's retiring. Even defensive coordinator Kris Richard, who was with the team from the beginning of the LOB era, has moved on to take a position with the Cowboys.
Sherman, never one to mince words, did not hold back when asked by The MMQB's Robert Klemko about the breakup of the Seahawks. Here's what he said:
"It's just unfortunate. It's really unfortunate. I think it'll all come out when they do the 30 for 30. Mistakes and poor judgment on things ruined what could have been a really special deal. You don't have much left right now. And to say you're not going to pay Earl Thomas is just ... There's no decline in play there. He's played the game the right way. Who do you have to pay? You have the two best linebackers in the game. You have the quarterback. You have a great wide receiver in Doug [Baldwin]. And you're paying Duane Brown.
"They've lost their way. It's as simple as that. They've just lost their way. When you make too many mistakes over a long period of time, you kind of dig yourself a hole. And then when you backtrack, you gotta make a bunch of rash decisions to try and fill the hole and hope that it holds up.
"When we were rolling it was an environment for pure competitors. When it becomes something else, then it's more difficult to thrive in, and I think that's what was tough on Earl, that's what was tough on a lot of guys. But I think as it kind of progressed, you start seeing the writing on the wall. You're like, 'Not only are they probably moving in a different direction,' but it's like, 'Ah, well, I kind of want to move in a different direction, too.' So it happens like that. All great things must come to an end, I guess.
"I'm not even going to worry about it now. I've got bigger fish to fry."
Some of those mistakes have been talked about ad nauseam (the goal-line interception that cost the Seahawks a second Super Bowl) while others will probably take a few years to come out into the open. Either way, Sherman is surely correct that all great things must come to an end. The Seahawks were always going to break up eventually, for one reason or another. It just happened to come this year, and for reasons both within and beyond their control.