RENTON — Pete Carroll said he never would have even thought about it if it hadn’t been brought up, but it’s hard not to notice. The question posed to the Seahawks coach was in regard to Monday being the first organized team activity (OTA) since Seattle’s Super Bowl win in which no players from that championship squad were present.
Not so much, Carroll said. That wasn’t on his mind — even if it might be for Seahawks fans across the state. It’s a new year. It’s a new challenge. It’s a new energy.
“There is a vibe about this group. Every year the team takes on kind of a new makeup, and it comes from the personalities of the players and the leadership,” Carroll said. “The leadership has shifted a little bit. That’s obvious. It feels like, as it is, it’s a new season. It’s a new team, and here we go. It’s fun to watch, and watch it take shape.”
How much does leadership matter for an NFL team to be successful? That probably depends on whom you ask. I imagine most coaches and veterans in leadership roles would say it’s incredibly important. I also imagine most scouts would value speed, strength, size and smarts in a player over his leadership skills.
But when a nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback heads to a new team, the offense might not have quite the same direction at this point as it would in years past. And when an eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker leaves, the same could be said about the defense. There’s a new set of faces every year when OTAs begin — but what stands out about the Seahawks is the lack of old ones.
Tight end Will Dissly is preparing for his fifth season with the Seahawks. On Monday, he was asked about quarterback Geno Smith — who’s battling Drew Lock for the starting spot — if he’s become the offense’s de facto leader.
“I would say everyone’s kind of leaning on each other. So you know, whoever’s in control, whoever has the knowledge you know,” Dissly said. “Drew comes from a different organization. J [quarterback Jacob Eason] comes from a different organization — whatever information you can get in this time is a win. So Geno obviously being in [offensive coordinator Shane Waldron’s] system, having the knowledge of the routes and what the progressions are is definitely helping.”
Until the season actually begins, it will be awfully difficult to gauge how much progress the Seahawks have made. In May — just like in June, July and August — every team is brimming with optimism about what’s ahead. But if we’re playing the optimism game, Seattle linebacker Jordyn Brooks is someone who could get the 12s pumped up.
Last season, Brooks set a Seahawks record with 184 tackles — good for the second-most in the league. Now, in the third year with the team, Brooks is taking over Wagner’s role as the defensive play-caller.
Pete said he looks at you as a leader, what does that mean to you?
“It just means I’ve got to handle business and make sure that I’m doing everything right at all times,” Brooks said. “You go down a list of great Seahawks that played here. Great leaders of the past teams. Take a little bit of pride in that. And so, I just want to do the best job that I can for our team.”
It wasn’t all that long ago when many of the Seahawks legends were in a similar situation as Brooks. They were young, they were teeming with potential, but they hadn’t accomplished much in terms of team success. Will folks be talking about Seattle’s younger players the way they do now with Wilson, Wagner, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Doug Baldwin, among others? Hard to say — that was some of the best drafting in NFL history. But you never know.
As Carroll said, the leadership has shifted. Oh, who are we kidding — the whole franchise his shifted. This was one of the most consistent club’s in the NFL, and now simply breaking .500 seems like a big ask.
But new leaders and legacies will emerge from this group. Lots of new faces, lots of new possibilities.