You’ve seen a lot of praise of Pete Carroll and John Schneider in this column over the years. There has been criticism, yes, but mainly kudos for the Seahawks coach and general manager for their upkeep of the franchise.
No NFC team has been as consistent as the Seahawks since they started running the franchise 10 years ago. Playoffs eight of the past 10 seasons. Two Super Bowl appearances and one win.
It’s hard to beat that. Except one guy has.
(Cue the Imperial March music).
Patriots coach/GM Bill Belichick.
If the top minds in football are a group of Himalayas, Belichick is the Everest. And him signing former league MVP Cam Newton to a one-year deal for a bit more than $1 million (though he could earn up to $7.5 million if he hits all his incentives), may rank among his shrewdest moves yet.
After Tom Brady departed to Tampa Bay, questions abounded whether New England would have the personnel necessary to compete for another Super Bowl title. And with Newton, who played his first nine seasons with the Panthers, those odds just skyrocketed, no?
True, the former No. 1 overall pick has been hampered by foot injuries that caused him to miss 16 games over the past two seasons. There have been multiple shoulder surgeries throughout his career as well. But there are people such as former league MVP Kurt Warner, who shined with the Rams, then later signed with the Cardinals after enduring his own injuries, who thinks Newton can emulate his second act.
“I was able to return to form, playing at a Pro Bowl level and reaching the Super Bowl once more,” Warner wrote on NFL.com. “Knowing Cam’s track record and the competitor that lies within him, I would not be surprised if he once again rose to the top of the league.”
But this is less about Newton as it is about Belichick, whose long and short-term moves have netted the Patriots six Super Bowl wins, nine Super Bowl appearances and a record of 237-83 over the past 20 seasons.
This is the guy who drafted Brady in the sixth round and decided to keep riding him once Drew Bledsoe got healthy. This is the guy who traded a fourth-round pick to the Raiders for Randy Moss in 2007, when Moss caught a record 23 touchdown passes and the Pats went 16-0.
He picked one-time Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman in the seventh round, knowing he wouldn’t play his college position of quarterback. He signed cornerback Darrelle Revis to a one-year deal the year New England beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. He makes move after move that keeps the Pats in the championship hunt every year, and last year, provided them with the top-ranked defense in the league.
Like I said before, Carroll and Schneider deserve all the acclaim they’ve received. Drafting the likes of Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Bobby Wagner, among many others, is a permanent gold star on their resumes. Beefing up their roster with players such as Marshawn Lynch, Jadeveon Clowney or Duane Brown is equally noteworthy.
Masterful as Carroll may be as a coach, particularly on the defensive end, the personnel moves have been what’s kept Seattle near the top of the league all these years.
But they’re still the beta to Belichick’s alpha.
There are certainly no guarantees in sports. It’s possible that Newton doesn’t rediscover his form the way Warner predicted. It’s possible the dropoff from the greatest quarterback of all time to a guy who signed for the league minimum will be instantly recognizable.
But when it’s Belichick making the move, the natural instinct is to assume a home run vs. a whiff.
What’s that quote from Star Wars? “There’s always a bigger fish.”
Happy as Seahawks fans have been with their front office, they know this to be true.