A new era of Seahawks football dawns Sunday against a team that serves as a reminder of their greatest moment.
That the what-might-have-beens of the Pete Carroll-era Seahawks may linger forever became apparent again Friday in the release of an SI.com story detailing anew hard feelings in the locker room that arose largely out of the Super Bowl loss to New England.
But as former Seahawk Cliff Avril said repeatedly during a discussion of the article in his role now as a host on KJR-AM 950, the focus on what the Seahawks didn’t achieve can obscure that they did actually win one Super Bowl after the 2013 season against Denver.
And as the Seahawks again face the Broncos on Sunday in the regular-season opener at 1:25 p.m., it’s the template of that game and season Carroll is trying to recreate as he leads Seattle into a new era.
Because that is undoubtedly what this is, the true dawning of a new era of Seahawks football, with the rosters of both teams Sunday illustrating how quickly things change in the NFL.
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Less than five years after that Super Bowl matchup Seattle has just five players remaining on its active roster who took part in that game.
Denver, meanwhile, has just two remaining who played in that game (receiver Demaryius Thomas and linebacker Brandon Marshall) and just five who were on the roster that season (including linebacker Von Miller, who missed the Super Bowl with a knee injury).
But if the names have changed, Carroll’s goal for this season is to get the Seahawks back to playing the kind of game they did that magical 43-8 night in New Jersey.
The Seahawks intimidated early (Kam Chancellor’s hit on Thomas setting a tone that combined with his interception later in the first quarter probably should have won him the MVP) and suffocated the Broncos throughout.
A Denver offense that scored 606 points that season — which remains an NFL record — was held to just 306 mostly empty yards and one late touchdown while committing four turnovers, one returned by Malcolm Smith for a TD that broke the game open.
The offense, meanwhile, took advantage of one short field after another — none of the Seahawks’ five scoring drives was longer than 58 yards — while the special teams delivered the decisive blow, Percy Harvin’s kickoff return that allowed Seattle to truly start partying with almost a half of football to go.
The formula of offensive efficiency, defensive playmaking, special-teams explosiveness and overall swagger — all underlined by a team that just seemed to be having so much fun — was so irresistible on that night it seemed the good times might go on forever.
As this week’s SI.com story revealed anew, though, the party ended more quickly and suddenly than anybody expected.
So now to see if Carroll can get it started again after an offseason of massive coaching and personnel turnover that has many prognosticators thinking the Seahawks appear headed instead to potentially extended mediocrity.
In his final pregame news conference Friday, though, Carroll came off loose as can be, even knowing questions about the SI.com story were to come, joking about the appearance of one reporter and also his own basketball game (he stopped to shoot a few shots before talking to the media).
And he said he’s as eager as anyone else to begin getting the answers to all the questions that await.
Can Brian Schottenheimer’s offense begin re-establishing the run?
Can Mike Solari’s offensive line protect Wilson better than it has in years past (or if you’re a believer that Wilson is often the problem in how he bails out of the pocket, at least work better with him to create a cleaner passing game)?
And can a defense that will likely include just two players from the Super Bowls — Bobby Wagner and Earl Thomas — come at least somewhat close to replicating the play of the Legion of Boom era (the pass rush, Shaquem Griffin and the secondary as a whole looming as particular curiosities)?
Carroll said he can’t wait to begin seeing how it all unfolds on the field.
“Really, it’s a coach’s thrill,’’ he said of the process that has gotten the Seahawks to this point. “We spent so much time putting this together and from all facets of it. We go through all of the work. It’s been months already since April with the guys here. So many stories have come to life and the draft picks that have seemed to flourish in this culture and put themselves into position to play and contribute right away for us. It’s really exciting.
“And there’s going to be some unknowns that are going to show and we’ll deal with it. There are going to be some really good ones out of this next couple of weeks as we see these guys emerge in the regular season. It’s been a thrill. I’ve told them. I’ve loved working with these guys because they’ve been so much fun to challenge and to push and to watch excel and all of that. It’s been really exciting.”
Now to start seeing if the Seahawks’ future can make everyone stop dwelling on the past, or if it’s just going to make everyone even more wistful for days gone by.