Hawks stonewall Broncos, cement their place in history

The NFL has experienced a multitude of revolutionary game changers over the years, especially since the beginning of the Super Bowl era in 1967.  It has seen everything from Vince Lombardi’s invention of the zone blocking scheme to Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense to Don Coryell’s invention of the Air Coryell vertical passing attack.

Ultimately, football is a constant arms race for the next big thing, and revolutionary minds continually change the game.  Once such a mind comes through the league, the game changes as others try to emulate their success. Assistant coaches within a given successful system take the ideology with them on to bigger and better coaching jobs.

History will show that Pete Carroll’s 2013-2014 Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks are one of those teams that revolutionized the game of football.  It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about this year’s Seahawks that is so different than the rest of the NFL, or any other team we have ever seen, but the Seahawks are a new breed of successful, terrifying, and beautiful monster.

When Carroll joined Seattle in 2010 there were lots of excited fans in the Pacific Northwest, but not without that looming cloud of doubt that hangs over every Seattle sports fan’s head at the beginning of a given season.  After a turbulent first and only season from Mike Holmgren’s hand-chosen successor, Jim Mora Jr., Seattle needed a complete makeover. Carroll’s upbeat system was just the remedy.

Over the next couple years Carroll and General Manager John Schneider conducted a massive roster overhaul to bring in players with the type of mentality that fit Carroll’s vision.  While the players may not have always been the biggest, fastest, or most talented, Carroll and Schneider brought in players that were hungry, committed, and maybe even a little pissed off. 

With the genuine care of a nurturing mother coupled with the toughness of a drill sergeant when necessary, Carroll’s coaching staff set this group of misfits, such as Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Red Bryant and Kam Chancellor, up for success. 

In a football world that frowns on mental weakness and promotes keeping one’s psychological struggles private, Seattle’s coaching staff promoted mental health.  Through group and private therapy sessions, yoga sessions and other programs, Carroll and his staff created a culture of acceptance and ridded the Seahawks’ compounds of judgment.  The Seattle Seahawks became a family, and as the team’s pregame chant suggests, everyone truly has each other’s back. 

Things also changed on the field.  Carroll played to his players’ strengths.  Marshawn Lynch is a steamroller that likes to follow a lead blocker.  So Carroll built him a big, tough, and deep offensive line, as well as bringing in Michael Robinson who has become the Seahawks best fullback since Mack Strong. 

Russell Wilson’s best attributes are his brains and his feet.  So Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell developed an offense that would allow Wilson to get out of the pocket and use his legs as well as his arm. 

Then there’s the Legion of Boom (L.O.B.), who is likely to join the likes of legendary defenses The Steel Curtain, The Monsters of the Midway and The Purple People Eaters as one of the greatest defenses in NFL history.  While many think of the L.O.B. as just the Seahawks secondary, I think Richard Sherman himself would argue that the L.O.B. encompasses the entire defensive unit.

The Seahawks defensive scheme this season fully embodies the expression ‘simple but effective.’  The Seattle defense did not run fancy blitz packages, hybrid sets with multiple fronts, or anything close to resembling Bill Belichick’s witch’s brew of a defensive scheme.  They simply ran a base man-to-man defense with four rotating down linemen, and obviously it worked for them.

The scheme may be simple, but the players Carroll and Schneider brought on board fit the system, and the unit’s fervent mentality of accountability and doing one’s own job make the scheme extremely effective.

Exemplified by Seattle lifting the Lombardi trophy for the first time in Seahawk history, Pete Carroll’s vision has clearly been successful.  And with their first ever Super Bowl victory, the Seahawks now have the potential to become a dynastic franchise in coming years.  Carroll is a true innovator of the game of football in almost every way, and teams will be impersonating Seattle’s model for years to come.