O’Neil: This isn’t just a new season for the Seahawks, it’s a new era
The contender is now a question mark, the expectations replaced by uncertainty.
These Seahawks, who were considered a bona fide heavyweight when last season began, aren’t being given anything more than a puncher’s chance this time around.
Except nobody got that message through to coach Pete Carroll.
“This team has been pumped the whole time,” Carroll said. “The entire offseason, the energy and the juice of this group has been great.”
We’ll see Sunday at 1:25 p.m. when a Seahawks team that is 1-7 in road openers under Carroll plays in Denver, where the Broncos have won 17 of their last 18 home openers.
This is a tough draw. The Seahawks believe they have a better offensive line, but they’re going up against a Denver defense that has one of the league’s best pass rushes.
Von Miller has had 10 or more sacks in each of the past four seasons, rookie Bradley Chubb was the top defensive end available in last year’s draft and Shane Ray is a former first-round pick himself.
The Broncos have a new quarterback in Case Keenum, while the best-known members of the Seahawks’ defense are no longer Seahawks. Richard Sherman is a 49er. Michael Bennett is in Philadelphia. Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril aren’t going to play again, and we’re about to find out if Seattle’s success was due to a uniquely talented group of players, or if the Seahawks have a coaching staff and front office that’s capable of sustaining that success.
There is no question about the caliber of team the Seahawks have been. For the past six seasons New England is the only franchise with a better résumé.
The question now is how good the Seahawks will be. They have a franchise quarterback in Russell Wilson, top-shelf linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, a safety who feels disrespected and a whole bunch of question marks.
This isn’t just a new season, it’s a new era. This team has undergone its most thorough overhaul since 2011. Of the 53 players on Seattle’s active roster, 23 are new to the team this year. The defense that was the bedrock for Seattle’s run of five straight playoff berths will have five new starters on Sunday in a game that will tell us whether it’s going to get worse for the Seahawks before it gets better.