Every year about this time, teams study the Super Bowl champion to see if their path to the title can be emulated, or copied, or, let’s be real, stolen.

It wasn’t too useful in 2020, because “sign the greatest quarterback in NFL history” isn’t a readily available tactic.

This year, however, the copycat league has a model to latch onto — or so it would seem. The Rams won by audaciously and unambiguously going all-in. They embraced the philosophy of one of their long-ago coaches, George Allen, who famously declared “the future is now.”

These latter-day Rams traded away an inordinate number of draft picks in the service of obtaining current stars in single-minded pursuit of a Lombardi Trophy. You could say that their motto was a twist of Allen’s: “The future be damned.”

So, can the Seahawks, who had to watch the whole rest of their division perform in the postseason, employ a similar “go-for-broke” strategy to get back to the promised land?

I’d maintain that they’ve already tried — and it hasn’t worked. Not yet, anyway.


The Rams are a perfect example of how tenuous such a scheme can be. The line between ultimate success and galling failure is razor thin. To wit:

If Matthew Stafford doesn’t lead a drive to a game-winning field goal in the final 38 seconds of their second-round playoff game against Tampa Bay, who’s going to bet against Tom Brady in overtime, especially if the Rams lose the coin toss?

If Jaquiski Tartt doesn’t drop a sure-fire interception late in the fourth quarter, maybe the 49ers win the NFC title game instead of blowing a 17-7 fourth-quarter lead.

And if Joe Burrow works his normal magic in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, maybe it’s the Bengals that everyone is studying for a secret formula (not that they aren’t anyway; just not as intensely as the Rams).

If L.A. had lost at any of those perilous junctures, no one is talking about their strokes of genius: Bold trades for Stafford, Jalen Ramsey, Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. that helped fuel their Super Bowl run (along, of course, with a couple of brilliant draft picks, Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp).

Instead, we’d be talking about how the Rams don’t have a first-round draft pick until 2024 (ending a stretch of seven years without one — unless they trade it away again) and don’t even have a Super Bowl to show for it.


But, of course, they did pull it off, so all glory to them.

Which brings us back to the Seahawks. They’ve made their own aggressive moves in an attempt to get back to the Super Bowl. And they ended up with Scenario B.

To refresh your memory, the Seahawks traded away two first-round draft picks, as well as last year’s third-round pick, for safety Jamal Adams, and then gave him a massive four-year, $72 million extension.

If ever there was an “all-in” strategy at work, that was it (not unlike their one-time trades of first-round draft picks for Percy Harvin and Jimmy Graham, the first of which was bumpy, to say the least, but did contribute to a Super Bowl title; Graham, not so much).

The Seahawks also gave up various levels of draft picks to get Carlos Dunlap and Gabe Jackson, which helps explain why they had but three picks in last year’s draft — in the second, fourth and sixth round.

And little to show for going big. They did win the NFC West by going 12-4 in 2020, with Adams recording 9.5 sacks (a record for defensive backs) and Dunlap getting five in eight games to fuel a second-half resurgence of the defense. But the Seahawks were ousted in the first round of the playoffs and followed with a 7-10 season in 2021 in which Adams never got untracked, and the defensive line’s inability to muster a consistent pass rush was one of their undoings.


The Seahawks will tell you that it’s in their DNA to be aggressive every year; perhaps their first losing season since 2011 will motivate them to go even bigger. But you’ve got to augment that strategy with effective drafting, and that’s an area the Seahawks have fallen short. As mentioned, the Rams have unearthed gems in the draft, much like the Seahawks did when they were building their Super Bowl title team. It’s as much a part of L.A.’s Super Bowl path as the free-agent haul. But that talent pipeline has not been nearly as prolific in Seattle over the eight years since they last went to the Super Bowl.

The Rams employed their “go big or go home” strategy for a specific reason: To make a dent in the crowded Los Angeles sports market amidst legacy teams like the Lakers and Dodgers, they needed star power to get noticed. And the way to do so was to not worry about the ramifications down the road. As Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post wrote:

The Rams discard draft picks for sport. They collect superstars. They order everything on the menu and let the credit card company figure it out. As other franchises have grown more aggressive and prioritized now over later, the Rams have laughed and forced them to keep up.

The Rams got the last laugh last Sunday. And the Seahawks are right back to where they were before: Trying to keep up.