Two seasons later, it turns out it wasn't such a bad move. Carroll has completely reconstructed the Seahawks since 2010, with only eight players remaining from the 2009 roster — including punter Jon Ryan.
Those lucky eight players are wide receiver Ben Obomanu, center Max Unger, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, defensive end Red Bryant, linebacker Leroy Hill, cornerback Marcus Trufant and the aforementioned punter Ryan. The key to building a team under Carroll is to have players that are willing to buy in to his 'rah-rah' attitude. The Seahawks' head coach is less likely to intimidate players than he is to build them up with confidence and motivate them. Carroll took what he learned in his nine years at USC and has made it work for him with young players in Seattle. According to NFLEN.com, the Seahawks started the season with the seventh-youngest team, and the fourth-youngest defense.
Carroll's tenure with the Patriots proved that his system may not work for all players. The 1997-1999 New England teams were coming off a reign of terror under Bill Parcells. It would be tough to find a bigger character difference between two head coaches. While Parcells was calling Terry Glenn a "she," Drew Bledsoe and his offensive linemen were stage diving on Everclear fans under Carroll. It was like going from drill sergeant to fun-uncle.
The Seahawks went 7-9 and made the playoffs in 2010 as the only team in
NFL history to reach the postseason with a below .500 record. They
followed up their historic playoff berth with another 7-9 season in
2011, and are now looking primed for a better season in 2012. The key to the Seahawks are their defense, and especially their young secondary, which may be the best in football.
In 2011, three of Seattle's four defensive backs made the Pro Bowl, and that didn't include perhaps their best player. The Seahawks found both of their Pro Bowl safeties in the 2010 draft, the first with Carroll and general manager John Schneider pulling the strings. Earl Thomas was taken with the 14th overall pick and was looked at as a sure thing coming out of Texas, while Kam Chancellor was taken in the fifth round, and most teams viewed him as a future linebacker.
Brandon Browner was the third Seahawks defensive back named to the Pro Bowl last season, and he took the long way to the NFL. The physical 6-foot-4 221-pound cornerback spent five seasons in the CFL before the Seahawks saw enough in him to make him a starting cornerback in Week 1 in 2011. Browner struggled with penalties in 2011, but made up for it with big plays including six interceptions and two touchdowns.
Richard Sherman may be the best of them all, and he didn't get the same post-season honors the rest of his secondary-mates got. Sherman was Stanford's leading wide receiver his freshman year before switching over to cornerback his junior year after a knee injury. It was a wise move. Sherman was already one of the top corners in the league last year, and he's still learning the intricacies of the position. Sherman isn't as physical as the rest of the Seahawks defensive backs, but he's turning himself into a shut down cornerback on the left side of the defense.
The Seahawks could forsee a future with four Pro Bowl players in one unit. That secondary, combined with a pass rushing attack built around defensive ends Chris Clemons and 2012 first round pick Bruce Irvin could give shaky NFC West quarterbacks nightmares.
Before this season, the Seahawks were a team on the rise without a quarterback. Now the team is depending on exciting rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. If he can at least play better than what Seattle got out of Tarvaris Jackson last year, they should make the playoffs in 2012 with sky high hopes for the future.
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