As training camp opens Thursday, questions about the Seahawks' offensive line, defensive line, running game, receiving corps and secondary all remain. Which is why anticipation for training camp just doesn't seem to be rocking the Richter scale.
This is usually the time of year I point out how the Seahawks have all the pieces to add another Lombardi Trophy to their case. Or maybe how they have to act quickly before their Super Bowl window closes.
Last year, the question was whether the team could reconcile its other-worldly talent with its apparent locker-room discord. But now, the Seahawks seem to be suffering from an acute case of JAT. Short for Just Another Team.
Maybe I’ve developed an immunity, but that usual training-camp buzz seems to have disintegrated. The Seahawks that spoiled this town over the past five seasons are barely recognizable.
Just walk past CenturyLink Field and check out all the faces they’ve replaced along Occidental Avenue. It’s the first time in years those pictures require names so that fans know who they are.
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Gone is Richard Sherman, the brashest, baddest cornerback this organization has ever seen. Gone are multitime Pro Bowlers Michael Bennett and Jimmy Graham, both of whom earned national fame. Gone are fellow Pro Bowlers Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril, who each suffered a career-ending neck injury. And gone, for now at least, is Earl Thomas — the future Hall of Fame safety who is holding out for more dough.
Last year, a child would have begged his parents to go to camp just to see one of those players. This year, the scroll of iconic Seahawks has been reduced to a note card.
There isn’t “electricity in the air” so much as a flashlight or two. Expectations haven’t been this low since at least 2012.
Granted, fans of the Browns, Buccaneers or Bears scoff at sentences like the above. When you have respective playoff droughts of 16, 11 and eight years, there isn’t much sympathy for Seattle, which made five straight postseasons before last year.
Still, the Seahawks have been the presumed class of the NFC for almost all of the Russell Wilson era. And when you’re so used to awesome, average can feel like atrocious.
Actually, if Vegas is your guide, the Seahawks will be below average in 2018. At 50-to-1 to win the Super Bowl, they are considered the 22nd best team in the NFL this year. Cleveland and Tampa Bay, meanwhile, are tied for 23rd.
Then again, these are the kind of odds that ninth-year coach Pete Carroll lives for defying. He knows not much was thought of his 2012 team, which was coming off back-to-back 7-9 seasons.
When you have a perpetual MVP candidate in Wilson at quarterback, and when you have what is likely the NFL’s best linebacking duo in Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, you’re still in contention. This team was three makable kicks away from being at least 11-5 last year (12-4 if it would have beaten Atlanta in overtime).
The Seahawks are not decimated. They have Doug Baldwin, who led the NFL in touchdown receptions in 2015. They have cornerback Shaquill Griffin and strong safety Bradley McDougald, who provided admirable production in the secondary last year.
Left tackle Duane Brown has made four Pro Bowls, including last year’s despite playing just 10 games. And rookie running back Rashaad Penny broke the season rushing record at San Diego State, where Marshall Faulk played.
Still, what the Seahawks have pales in comparison to what they’ve lost. And when you remove so many key ingredients, it’s hard to prevent a bland taste.
Questions about the offensive line, defensive line, running game, receiving corps and secondary all remain. Which is why anticipation for training camp just doesn’t seem to be rocking the Richter scale.
This doesn’t mean this team is doomed. History has shown that if you mix quality quarterbacks with proven coaches and the variables of football, positive results can occur. But unlike the past few years, the fans aren’t expecting anything epic.
Want to get that buzz back? The Seahawks are going to have to earn it.