Now that it has been just around 48 hours since Sunday’s Super Bowl, the magnitude of the Seahawks dominance over the Denver Broncos has finally settled in entirely. What Seattle did to their opponents was as impressive a dismantling as I can remember ever seeing on such a stage and I’m convinced if the two teams played 10, 100, or 1000 times over, the Seahawks would win every time. Their 53-man roster was too skilled, dynamic, and determined within their own philosophies to lose to an inferior group of players that just happened to have Peyton Manning. The collective talent and dedication to their message made Seattle unstoppable once they got through the NFC Championship game against the 49ers.
Once Sunday’s demolition officially concluded, every fan of any team not called, “The Seahawks’ was racking their brain as to what moves their own team could do to reach their level. Why wouldn’t one be jealous of Seattle? Their roster seems almost unfair. Their core of key players is almost entirely homegrown, they have been able to trade for elite talents such as Marshawn Lynch and Percy Harvin, and somehow they had the salary cap flexibility to add free agent luxuries heading into this past season. From all the sports talk radio and message board fodder I’ve read the past couple of days, if your team isn’t targeting six-feet and taller corners, linebacker-sized safeties who can move, and a front four that collapses lineman like a garbage compactor they might as well give up.
The Seahawks are as close to a perfect roster as one has seen over the past few Super Bowl winners. Unlike the Ravens after last season, who jettisoned several playmakers from the team that captured the title this time last season, Seattle looks like they could be contenders for the better part of the next decade. However, just because their roster appears to be perfect does not mean every team in the NFL should try to construct their team like a mirror-image. The Seahawks roster, an undertaking that was set in motion (for the most part) prior to the 2010 season was constructed with a message and a philosophy that was exclusive to the Seattle brain-trust. General Manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll decided on a path to success that they felt could yield them a championship in a matter of years. By not wavering on anything, from the type of players they targeted to the style of play they utilized, the Seahawks were able to progressively build upon each year’s accomplishments. They reinforced their message incessantly, they involved the fans, they made it so their players’ primary focus and dedication was to being a Seahawk. Through three seasons of building, with some luck in the draft and free agency, Schneider and Carroll’s approach paid off and the juggernaut that took the field Sunday night was complete.
Make no mistake, Seattle probably would have beaten any team in the NFL with their performance at the Super Bowl. On the surface of Sunday’s game, it was a showdown of the top offense against the top defense in the NFL. Beyond that, it was a matchup that was destined to have the Broncos at a substantial disadvantage from the opening snap. A team geared to pass the ball underneath and have their receivers make plays against the strong-tackling, extremely physical Seattle defense was a recipe that was never going to benefit the Broncos. They did not respect Manning’s ability to throw the ball downfield and took their chances that Denver was going to try to use the same rub/pick action to get their receivers the ball in space. Sure enough, from the first huge hit by Kam Chancellor on Demaryius Thomas, Denver’s attack was rendered almost useless and it was easy pickings for the entire Seattle defense. The NFC was superior to the AFC this season. I cannot think of one team, maybe the Colts with a healthy Reggie Wayne, that could have actually put constant pressure on the Seahawks. As long as the Seahawks made the Super Bowl, they were going to beat any opponent that the AFC had to throw at them.
While I mentioned earlier that I thought the Broncos could not beat the Seahawks no matter how many times they played, I do NOT find that to be the case with some other teams in the NFC. The 49ers went to Seattle and were as close to winning there as they were to winning the Super Bowl the year prior. The Cardinals, who missed the playoffs, beat the Seahawks in Seattle during the regular season. The Rams are on the upswing, the Packers are still a threat, even the Bears could give Seattle problems. Then, there is the Eagles.
“When you look at what Seattle did throughout the course of the season, you just have a tremendous respect for that football team and the way they’re built, I think they did things the right way – they built through the draft, then they supplemented with free agents who fit their scheme.”
While this is far from breaking news, it’s what the Philadelphia GM said regarding trying to emulate the Super Bowl Champs that gave a better idea of how the Eagles are going about their business.
“When you’re chasing teams like that, you’ve probably already missed the window…You know, it’s a copycat league, so now everyone’s going to go into the draft and moving up these big corners with length. We tried to do that starting last year, those were the kind of defensive backs we were looking for. … One of the reasons we were so excited about hiring Coach (Chip) Kelly is, we want to be at the forefront of what we’re doing and have people follow us, as opposed to being at the back end of it because when you are on the back end of it, it may be already too late or those (prospects) are going to be overvalued right now, as opposed to finding something there that you can take advantage of.”
This is the type of statement one should want to hear from his or her team’s general manager. Roseman acknowledges the success of his counterpart, but by no means does he acknowledge how he achieved that success as the only way to do so. The Seahawks are the envy of every fanbase in the NFL, deservedly so. However, big defensive backs and a strong run game are not the only way to put together a potentially dominant team.
Just because the Eagles want to go about building a contender with their own message and philosophy does not mean they should not utilize certain principles that the Seahawks did to field a winner. In fact, Philadelphia’s direction bares some similarities to Seattle’s path to the Super Bowl.
The most important thing the Eagles are doing that the Seahawks excelled at was honing in on the type of player they want to shape their evaluation process. With few, albeit notable exceptions, the Seahawks roster is riddled with long, athletic, strong players. On both sides of the ball, the emphasis on size and length across the field was evident whenever watching Seattle. Some of the most important players on the team were on the (relatively) shorter side, notably Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, and Bobby Wagner.. However, they were able to mask their height deficiencies while still reaping the benefits of their supreme athleticism and awareness. They were able to afford having a few players on the shorter side at important positions because everyone around them was bigger and stronger than what used to be considered ‘the norm’. The shortest player (s) on the Seahawks were 5’10” and most of the roster is above six-feet tall.
“We want taller, longer people because bigger people beat up little people,”
“This might be the most natural pass rusher in the entire draft. He’s only 245 pounds, he’s got an explosive get-off, and he’s an explosive player, but there are red flags off the field. Pete Carroll has never been afraid of taking on a problem child.”