February 3, 2014 in Sports

Blanchette: Seahawks built to last

John Blanchette Correspondent
 
Colin Mulvany photo

Spokesman-Review contributing sports columnist John Blanchette.
(Full-size photo)

NEW YORK – For the Seattle Seahawks, the first day of the rest their lives was passed in the glow of Super Bowl euphoria, their ears still ringing not just from the roars of the 12th Man but from owner Paul Allen chopping it up on guitar at the after party.

“Paul was hot last night,” offered coach Pete Carroll, who continued to buck the odds by showing up in a coat and tie to meet the media on Monday morning. “He was tearing it up. Big licks.”

On Wednesday, there’s a parade in the works in Seattle, with rumors of schools being let out so kids can join in.

“Heck, yeah, they should,” Carroll said.

And in between?

Well, the Seahawks will get to work on a repeat. The first meeting to set the agenda is today.

“Our guys would be surprised if we didn’t,” Carroll said. “We have an eye on what’s coming. We don’t dwell on what just happened.

“We won’t miss the fun part, but that doesn’t mean we can’t set our sights on how we want it to go,” the Seattle coach added.

How far, and how long.

In the hours after Seattle’s 43-8 stomping of the shellshocked Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, with the Peyton Manning Canonization Special having come to a screeching halt, the declarations of a Seahawks dynasty began.

They hadn’t had time for all of the players to so much as touch their first Lombardi Trophy and the punditocracy was fitting them for multiple rings.

How many can they win? Two? Three? Five?

This extrapolation was required because it’s never too early to a get a jump on the storyline for Supe XLIX, but also to set up a future scapegoat a la Manning if the Seahawks are somehow unable to deliver on their assigned destiny.

Arrange ye duckpins while ye may.

Not all that surprisingly, the Seahawks are more than willing to go along with the ruse. To demur is simply not in their DNA.

“If we stay together – we’re young, we’re talented – we feel like we can keep doing this and doing this and doing this,” said linebacker Bobby Wagner.

Agreed teammate Earl Thomas, “This isn’t the end of it.”

Depending on your data source, the Seahawks are either the youngest team to win the Super Bowl (average age: 26.4 years) or simply one of the youngest, with the spread among these innocents being a negligible year or fractions thereof. What in the days before the Broncoectomy was suggested as a vulnerability – youth, and the lack of Super Bowl experience – is now viewed as a one-way ticket to sustained dominance.

And this sort of thing has played out before. The 1971 Dolphins, the ’74 Steelers, the ’92 Cowboys – all similarly youthful, all with a run of success.

On the flip side, the ’85 Bears – every bit as young as the Seahawks, but whose dynasty ended that year.

Yet the Seahawks look to have been built to last.

“John Schneider has done an extraordinary job of structuring this roster contractually … so that we can keep our guys together,” Carroll said. “One of the things that happens every so often is teams have a big fallout after they win the Super Bowl. We’re not in that situation.”

In particular at quarterback.

Seattle gets another year of Russell Wilson on the cheap, the happy loophole that allowed the team to bring aboard pass rushers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, who cemented the defense as Nasty, Inc.

Still, there will be some salary cap calisthenics, sooner and later. What might encourage Seahawks fans is the way Carroll and Schneider put together this team in an almost “Moneyball” way, full of the undervalued or underrated or under-desired.

“We’re a bunch of misfits,” agreed cornerback Richard Sherman. “Fifth round, Kam Chancellor. Sixth round, Byron Maxwell. Fifth round, Richard Sherman. Fourth round, K.J. Wright. Undrafted, Michael Bennett.

“There’s a lot of guys that not a lot of people have heard of, who probably should be Pro Bowl and All-Pro. I think the world learned how complete of a team we are.”

Of the 46 players who suited up Sunday, 25 reached the league as fifth-round-or-lower draft picks, or as undrafted free agents. And as Sherman noted, they’re not special teamers. Receivers Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin were both free agents. Linebacker Malcolm Smith was a seventh-rounder.

That would be your Super Bowl MVP.

Even Wilson, a third-rounder, was taken 18 picks after the Broncos selected Brock Osweiler, who caddies for Manning.

And not to be understated is the Seahawks’ appeal out there in talent world. Carroll, as backed up by a recent ESPN poll, is the most popular coach in the NFL to play for; both Bennett and Avril joined the club at what might be considered a discount wage. Whereas the next-door Mariners – at least until they emptied the vault for Robinson Cano – have struggled to lure high-profile free agents, owing to remoteness, the ballpark’s reputation as a hitter killer and hapless management, the Seahawks are a virtual destination resort.

And, potentially, a jewelry store.


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