Well, that's it. You can officially pronounce the team that went to the 2005 Super Bowl a relic. Not that anyone was pretending that the Seahawks of late even remotely resembled the great teams of 2005, 2006 and 2007, but now I feel like it's become official. Of the Super Bowl XL team, only Marcus Trufant and Leroy Hill remain. The leaders and role players from the championship years have now all moved on, retired or have been traded --save for two.
You have a brand spanking new team now. There's a new identity. There's a new culture. There's a new coaching staff. There's a new front office. The Seahawks headquarters is in a new building and they hold training camp at a new venue. Shit, even the stadium they play in has a new name now.
In a nutshell, it's a whole new world (read it like you're singing the Aladdin song).
Is this disappointing? In a way, yes. I absolutely love Lofa Tatupu. I love Matt Hasselbeck too, but Lofa Tatupu has been my favorite player for a long time. It hurt when Matt moved on but I found myself actually moping around sadly yesterday at the thought of Lofa leaving. So in that sense -- yeah, it is pretty disappointing.
On the other hand though, it's pretty damn exciting. The teams from 2004-2007 were great to watch but the shell that remained from those squads were basically just a deteriorating facade of what once was. The teams we've seen in the past three years have been, frankly, too old, too slow, too untalented, and too over-matched to compete. Paul Allen saw this, and decided to clean house and start fresh. He fired Jim Mora after only one year and hired a new GM and Head Coach in John Schneider and Pete Carroll.
John and Pete were given license to give the organization a makeover and they have done so with a gusto. They started out in 2010 by trimming the fat and cutting loose players that weren't "all in." They moved to get younger and faster, but you can't do that in one year. They brought in some band-aids in Chester Pitts, Ben Hamilton, Brandon Stokley, Raheem Brock and retained the veterans Lawyer Milloy, Craig Terrill, and Jordan Babineaux until they could get more of the personnel they wanted to Seattle.
This patched together team overachieved (yes, 7 wins was overachieving) and managed to luck into a division championship. They caught fire at the right time and personified the old epigram "Any Given Sunday" by defeating the defending Champion Saints in the Wild Card round of the Playoffs. The Cinderella story ended there though as they lost their next game handily in Chicago.
The players I mentioned above are all now gone.
This season, Pete and John aren't trying to kid anyone -- they've continued to jettison the players that have no role in the future here. They've decided to let their franchise QB of old move on with an eye on the future. They released their leader on defense and will instead continue the youth movement. Their roster is young, but it has some intriguing prospects.
I don't have high hopes for 2011 as far as the win column goes. I'd love to see them surprise and win some games to contend for the NFC West title but I'll honestly be happy just watching the young nucleus of the team develop. It will be a trial by fire for a lot of players and they'll take their bumps along the way, but the idea that Pete Carroll is building a team that can win for a long time instead of this year alone is exciting to me.
People always throw out the argument that Pete Carroll wants to "win forever" and thus will do whatever it takes to win NOW. I don't think that's what's happening or even what "win forever" is all about. "Win Forever" essentially alludes to building a dynasty. You saw him do it at USC, and now he's trying to do it in Seattle. I don't want to come off like a homer (even though I am), but I feel like he's has a long-term plan and he's sticking to it.