The 2014 NFL season kicked off with the Seattle Seahawks beating the Green Bay Packers in emphatic fashion by a score of 36-16. Seattle unveiled the 2013 championship banner and got their first win, on the road to being the first team to repeat as champions since the ’03-’04 Patriots. Many believe this team has the talent to repeat, but in today’s NFL, with all the parity and talented teams, can they?
Repeating as NFL champions has become one of the most difficult things to do in all of sports because of how balanced the league has become over the past decade. In the year after winning the Super Bowl, the winners, going all the way back to the 2005 Patriots, have only managed to win one playoff game. Many factors go into this, like injuries, player turnover and luck, but mainly it just comes down to the fact that the NFL is set up for new teams to be good every year. Both the way the league schedules and the amount of talent in each year’s draft lends itself to a new champion every year, but the Seahawks have the talent and experience to buck this trend.
As with every Super Bowl winner, the Seahawks lost a good deal of talent during this offseason, especially from their defense. Both Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond are gone from the now famous “Legion of Boom” secondary, which depletes their depth at corner. The main contributors from the secondary, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, are still there, however, meaning it should still be the best secondary in the league. The defensive line also lost some key pieces in free agency as well with Chris Clemons and Red Bryant both heading to Jacksonville to play with their old defensive coordinator, Gus Bradley. These are not huge losses when considering how good the talent around them is, but one of the main contributing factors in Seattle’s championship run was their depth – especially on defense.
The Seahawks offense should be much improved from last year, which should help in their title defense. Really the only big piece they lost was Golden Tate, who went to the Detroit Lions in free agency. He was Seattle’s leading receiver last season, but the loss will be less dramatic considering they will get the services of Percy Harvin for more than just one game this year. Harvin missed all of last season until finally getting to play in the Super Bowl, and his presence was certainly felt there. In the win over the Broncos, Harvin made some huge plays, including returning a kickoff for a touchdown. For offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, having a playmaker of Harvin’s caliber will greatly improve the offense.
No one doubts the talent the Seahawks have, both in players and coaches, but some see the task of repeating as something that this team cannot accomplish. A huge factor in this is playing in the NFC West, which is arguably the toughest division in the NFL. There are no easy opponents in that division and now the defending champs will have an even bigger target on their backs. Avoiding injury was something Seattle was extremely lucky with last year – on defense especially – and many think they will not have that luck this year.
With all the talent remaining and the experience gained from winning last year, it is hard to not think Seattle is capable of winning again. Of course, things have to break their way and certain injuries have to be avoided, but that is very possible for this extremely talented team. A repeat is not out of the question, but with certain players like Russell Wilson needing to be paid soon, it is unlikely their dominance will continue for years to come, although it is not impossible when you consider the way the Patriots have been able to continue to be contenders in the Belichick era. Starting this year is when the Seahawks players and coaches have to show they are here to stay and their title was not just a one-hit wonder.
Commentary By Max Petkevicius