One hundred days before their season opener, the Seahawks were on the field for their first organized team activities of the offseason. And while it's far too early to make conclusions about who will win what position battles, or how a rookie will look come September, what was evident in what amounted to the team's first practice since the Super Bowl is that the fire that helped drive them to the first championship in franchise history burns as intensely as ever.
Maybe a tough NFC West will stand in the way of a repeat. Or maybe another team will just be a tiny bit better when it matters in January. Or maybe a bad run of injuries will derail the Seahawks. What seems clear, however, is that complacency won't be an issue.
Whether it was Doug Baldwin jawing at defensive backs after making a catch down the sideline; or Earl Thomas rushing over get in the ear of Byron Maxwell after the cornerback was beaten on a deep pass; or Max Unger screaming at a side judge who missed an offside call; no one was taking Tuesday's workout lightly.
Yes, less than a week after they visited President Barack Obama at the White House, the Seahawks took the field in May and, as Pete Carroll put it “practiced like crazy.”
“That's how this place is,” Carroll said. “I was thrilled to see that we were right back on track.”
And it turns out that Tuesday's intensity didn't begin on the practice field, but rather earlier in the day the first moment players had a chance to begin the smack talk.
“To get the full thing of it, you had to come in the locker room,” receiver Percy Harvin said. “As soon as we stepped in the building today, it was a couple of DBs — I think it was Sherm and a couple of the guys walking up to (Russell Wilson) telling him they weren't going to have it today. We hadn't been in the building for more than 20 minutes. And after we came out of meetings, Russ came back out and started chirping back at them. It's what makes this place fun.”
For Carroll and the Seahawks, a big part of avoiding a Super Bowl hangover is not allowing the team to get drunk off its success in the first place. From the newest Seahawks who practiced for the first time in rookie minicamp earlier this month to veterans like Thomas to coach Carroll, the message has been clear: what happened in New Jersey last winter was exciting, but it has nothing to do with what the Seahawks will do going forward.
“We don't talk about it,” Thomas said. “I don't talk about unnecessary stuff.”
Carroll knows what it's like to sustain success while coaching a team with a target on its back thanks to his time at USC. Now he intends to do it in Seattle by keeping things the same in a post-Super Bowl offseason.
“I feel very comfortable with the way that we have to look at this,” Carroll said. “The language that we're using and the perspective that we hold is the same in that regard. I think it was that same perspective and language that helped us continue to win sometimes, too. So I'm hoping that this going to come to light for us and we'll see it. That's our whole objective to see how good we can get, and we'll see how far that takes us. So we're doing like we've done before.”
Carroll always has preached that the past, good or bad, has nothing to do with the play of his current team. That means he won't let his players feel like they're entitled to anything just because they are the defending champs. Nor will he worry about how recent Super Bowl winners have done trying to follow a championship season. Since the Patriots won back to back titles in the 2003 and 2004 season, not only has there not been a repeat champion, no defending champ has won a single playoff game since the '05 Patriots.
“No,” Carroll said when asked if he's looked into the struggles of Super Bowl champions. “I couldn't care less about that stat. I couldn't care less about that.”
The Seahawks might continue that trend — after all, the NFL is a league designed to create parity — but Tuesday's workout served as a good reminder that ring or no ring, presidential visit or no presidential visit, complacency won't be the culprit if the Seahawks do come up short in 2014.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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