“We have so much experience, so many guys have been through the fire,” says quarterback Russell Wilson. Seattle is listed at 8-1 odds to win the Super Bowl in 2017.
Roughly 24 hours after Carolina had recovered a last-gasp Seattle onside kick to sew up a divisional playoff win against the Seahawks on Jan. 17, Pete Carroll began setting a theme for the 2016 season.
The feeling coming out of the loss, he said, essentially was the same as it was after the Seahawks’ playoff loss at Atlanta in January 2013, the previous time Seattle had staged a dramatic comeback before losing a divisional playoff game against an NFC South team.
“It leaves us in a frame of mind of looking ahead,’’ Carroll said the day after the loss to the Panthers. “I think we said that it’s somewhat reminiscent of coming out of the Atlanta loss. So we’re going to try to build on this thing and really go for it again, and have a great offseason with very high hopes for the future.”
Carroll has repeated variations of that theme several times since then, and he has good reason to hope history can repeat itself. The Seahawks rebounded from the 2012 loss at Atlanta to win the franchise’s only Super Bowl the next season.
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But as the Seahawks enter their second week of organized team activities (OTAs) it’s not just Carroll who has a little sense of déjà vu.
“The best year you can compare it to is the Atlanta year, after we lost that tough game,” quarterback Russell Wilson said last week. “But I think it’s even more in the positive direction. And the reason why I believe that is that we have so much experience, so many guys have been through the fire. Been through amazing wins and very, very tough losses. Guys have changed with families and kids, there are even more men on the team in the sense of guys and the maturity that we have, and that’s a positive thing.”
There are some other obvious similarities with the two offseasons.
The Seahawks lost 30-28 at Atlanta on a last-second field goal after falling behind 20-0 early. They rallied to take the lead before the Falcons used a two-play drive to set up the winning points.
The Seahawks fell behind 31-0 Carolina before scoring 24 second-half points to rather-amazingly get within one score before the comeback fizzled.
Also reminiscent of the 2013 offseason is how the Seahawks generally are viewed — something that was reinforced in a couple of different ways in the past few weeks.
Even though the Seahawks hadn’t reached the NFC title game or won their division the previous season, they were considered a favorite to win the Super Bowl entering the 2013 season. Seattle was listed at 7-1 by Las Vegas oddsmakers in August 2013, third behind Denver at 5-1 and San Francisco at 6-1.
The latest odds have a familiar look — Seattle is listed by Bovada at 8-1 to win the Super Bowl, second behind the Patriots at 7-1.
And a recent NFL.com assessment of the most-talented teams had the Seahawks at the top of the list.
One difference might be that part of what led to the excitement over the Seahawks in 2013 were offseason moves, making huge additions without giving up anything off the roster. They traded three draft picks for Percy Harvin and signed Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril as free agents.
The Seahawks didn’t make similar high-profile free agent or trade acquisitions this offseason but are optimistic about a 10-man draft class that some around the team believe could be the best since the monumental 2012 collection that featured Wilson and Bobby Wagner. A handful of players are expected to contribute immediately.
And as Wilson noted, the players are a few years older, and a lot wiser. The innocence and what often felt like a sense of giddiness at what might be to come that permeated the offseason of 2013 might be impossible to replicate.
But the same sense that the Seahawks again are a team with something to prove and the talent to prove it looms promisingly.
The betting website Covers.com recently listed the Seahawks as one of five teams with the highest win total for 2016 at 10.5 (Carolina, Green Bay, Pittsburgh and New England were the other four).
In a story on its website explaining the reasoning, Jason Simbal, the vice president of risk management for CG Technology, said: “We always add a little bit to the Seattle Seahawks, because they’re the best team and people like betting them. It became clear that of those five teams, the public was more bullish on the Seahawks and the Packers than on those other three.”
If a win total of 10.5 seems familiar, then maybe it should. That also was the Seahawks’ projected win total entering the 2013 season, according to several websites.