I imagine Jim Harbaugh, and he's sweating, unable to focus because the following vision digs into him like a tick with an agenda: Pete Carroll walking over to Gus Bradley, right at kickoff. They watch Steven Hauschka tee off, ball spiraling end over end towards a touchback. Pete looks to Gus, and asks him how the men are feeling. "Hungry" Bradley responds. "Good," Pete says; they clasp arms. "Strength and honor."
"At my signal, unleash hell."
Twelves, it's time to revel in the potential of this defense. Out is the bend-don't-break approach. In is a crop of long, large and fast athletes, who have brought a quick-twitch attack to this defense that the Seahawks haven't had in a long time, if ever.
There are questions marks, for sure. Can Brandon Browner be less handsy than a bored prom-goer? Will Bruce Irvin bolster the pass rush, or be Jonah-ed by offensive tackles?
But let's focus on the enormous positives. The Titans (mythical beings who supported the heavens and earth, not the Tennessee outfit) themselves envy the strength of our D-line. Red Bryant looks like a lunar lander with arms and legs. With Alan Branch and Brandon Mebane, teams will find it easier at times to run through a brick wall, again. And while the defense succeeded last year without a terrific pass rush, the additions of Jason Jones and Irvin means it can't help but be better. The floor has been laid pretty high for this aspect of the defense, while the ceiling has been raised considerably.
Another opportunity this team has this year, to improve the pass rush, is the ability to install new blitz packages this offseason. The lockout, and personnel turnover, denied them an opportunity to develop this last year. With the speed in the front seven, I expect Pete and Gus to come up with some crazy stuff, blitzes that look like a game of Mousetrap. With agile and speedy players like Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin, K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner and Leroy Hill, I suspect opponents are in for some nasty surprises on third down this year.
I can't really add to the praise our secondary has received. All I can say is, would anyone be surprised if all four starters made the pro-bowl? I'm not saying it's likely, but the fact it's possible is something remarkable.
Normally, as a sports fan, I try to temper my expectations. This defense makes that hard to do. I see youth, speed, strength and depth. Anything can happen. Injuries and bad luck creep up often, every season. We are looking at possibly two rookie starters with some serious question marks. But I think there is an attitude among the players, a swagger that just keeps infecting the 12th man. And I'm not fighting it. Unleash hell.
Tom Cable looks at his group of linemen in a meeting. The room is big enough for 25 regular human beings, but for these ten, it feels ready to burst at the seams. There are, strewn about the room, mugs of mead and flagons of ale, and an unidentifiable carcass lays in the corner, its bones picked clean. It's raining sideways, the windows only a thin veil to chaos. It's dark, lightning flashes and thunder rattles everything but the men in this room. Cable digs in:
"Imagine where you will be, and it will be so. Hold the line! Stay with me! If you find yourself alone, riding in the green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium, and you're already dead!"
(Maniacal laughing ensues from all the men).
The Seahawks were beset by injuries to the offensive line last year. James Carpenter and John Moffitt were derailed, it seems nearly simultaneously, while Trent Cole decided to live out his favorite movie, 3 Ninjas: Kick Back, on the field, putting Russell Okung down for the year. And yet, this team lived on through its belief that on any given day, any man must and will be ready. We've seen this belief in practice, as Cable has players take snaps at multiple positions, creating unrivaled flexibility within this personnel group. Coupled with his ability to deftly teach his own brand of zone blocking, it would be hard to argue that there is a more valuable non-head coach coach (assistant head coach, he is) in the NFL then Tom Cable.
I sincerely hope his ability is overlooked by the rest of the NFL, but I suspect he will become a top candidate for vacancies in the near future. Alas, this is the price good teams pay. But for now, he's here, and our line is better for it.
[No scenario for this one. It's way better then anything I could write.]
"My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius. Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next."
Vengeance, in acceptable, legal forms, is awesome. It's reprisal, retribution, revenge and wrath. It's Batman stalking the streets of Gotham, it's Daniel LaRusso at the All-Valley Karate Tournament, and it's Denzel Washington, Man On Fire.
Pete Carroll seems to see Vengeance Factor as a vital statistic, like height and forty time. Doug Baldwin for example: the man obviously has sky high personal drive, so getting passed over in all seven rounds of the draft must have gnawed and gnawed at him. Pete likely multiplied this by the opportunity to send Baldwin head to head with his college coach, who passed and passed as well. In the end, Baldwin came clad in wrath, and the results have been outstanding.
Similar stories litter the roster. Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor were fifth round picks; Sherman's ire compounded by also playing for Harbaugh. Mike Williams, Braylon Edwards and Terrell Owens all belonged firmly in the reclamation category. Marshawn Lynch was unwanted and obtained cheaply. MikeRob was picked up off the street, after being cast off by San Francisco. Leon Washington was given up for a song like a wounded thoroughbred. Brandon Browner was shunned by the NFL, likely for the shortsighted thought that he did not measure like a prototypical corner. Red Bryant was on his way out. These players had all been told they're not good enough at some point by the NFL. They all have every right to the chip on their shoulder.
Carroll and Schneider have created a home for these chips to roost, where second chances abound for those with the will to seize the chance. It makes rooting for this team different. We're no underdog story; no Davids to some Goliath. We're stone cold killers, Roman generals forced into slavery, hell bent not on proving someone wrong, but seeing those who wouldn't believe suffer defeat at our hands. Vengeance, in this life or the next.
For more on the Seahawks, make sure you head to Field Gulls and join in on the discussion.