SEATTLE - Pete Carroll, who is always the sun shining above the Seahawks, walked away sprinkling giddiness. Of course he did. Carroll could make a wart seem like a beauty mark.
As the Seahawks coach reviewed a fruitful offseason Thursday, he was so merry he managed to refer to struggling backup quarterback Brady Quinn as “next to perfect” at his job, even as the team worked behind the scenes to bring back Tarvaris Jackson.
Blah must sit next to perfect.
What’s really next to perfect is the momentum the Seahawks have right now. They followed an 11-5 season and second-round playoff exit with an epic offseason featuring a trade for versatile wide receiver Percy Harvin and including a free-agent bonanza of affordable pass rushers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. Add in a typical solid draft, and general manager John Schneider has the Seahawks in the enviable but pressure-packed position of prime Super Bowl contender.
Consider it a next-to-perfect rebuilding job.
And now that the phase is over, get ready for one of the most important and dangerous seasons in Seattle sports history.
The next time we see the Seahawks together, they’ll be in training camp in late July, preparing feverishly for a year on Front Street. They’ll receive more premature love than they ever have, but they’ll set franchise records for scrutiny, too. Every little thing will be a big deal.
The limelight will be cool and fresh, but if the Seahawks don’t handle it well, it will become a burden. Sometimes, hype can be as perilous as a football field full of land mines. These very large men should watch their steps. And during this five-week break, they should ingest as much humility as possible. (If you have to trick them and label that bottle “Adderall,” so be it.)
On the verge of something unprecedented, the young Seahawks must prepare to compete with the same urgency they’ve had in climbing to contender status the past three seasons. Excuse me for ignoring Seattle’s cruel pro sports history, but the Seahawks have the potential to break the cycle. They have perhaps the NFL’s most talented roster, and 75 percent of those players are still teething. They have the best all-around young GM in Schneider. They have Carroll, who employs an ideal system to make the best of this team-building model.
They’re set up so well that it would be a shock if this team didn’t at least make it to a Super Bowl in the near future. And if quarterback Russell Wilson remains the maestro we believe he is, they will reach a point in which a championship, maybe even multiple championships, seems inevitable.
It’s crazy talk considering how difficult it is to win it all in a league legislated for parity. It’s even crazier talk considering Seattle sports history. How much mediocrity have you had to endure? How much talent have you watched go to waste? How many potential championship teams have you seen falter and then crumble long before their time?
It’s daunting to overcome that level of despair, but heartache doesn’t have to be genetic. Besides, sports teams don’t share the same DNA; it only feels that way.
If hype doesn’t poison the Seahawks, they can set a new standard.
“I make my own expectations,” Wilson said. “I don’t worry about what the media or anyone else is saying. I just want to be consistent. Play as hard as we can every Sunday, every practice. You have to believe, through hard work, success will come.”
Carroll praised his team’s leadership thus far. He says the Seahawks accomplished plenty this offseason in rookie minicamp, organized team activities and the just-completed three-day mandatory minicamp. The pieces are there to have a good offense and a great defense. The pieces are there to be one of the league’s most complete teams. Apparently, the desire is there, too. That’s because most of their best players are working the hardest.
“It’s not so much what they say,” Carroll said of his leaders. “It’s who they are.”
Lost in the rash of performance-enhancing drug suspensions – and the Seahawks can only blame themselves for that – is the fact that this team has plenty of character. It will be tested starting in late July. But the Seahawks were built through rugged competition on the practice field. Their popularity has a blue collar wrapped around it. That won’t change as long as Carroll is the coach. His teams are competitive because they are put in competitive situations every day.
“We’re going to do this with a clear thought of working really hard every single day,” Carroll said.
It’s the classic winning philosophy: Work the process, enjoy the results.
Some might even say it’s next to perfect.