The Seahawks must return to their roots in a very key area
When Pete Carroll and John Schneider came to Seattle in 2010 to start running the Seahawks, Carroll quickly implemented a philosophy that ultimately resulted in the franchise’s first Super Bowl title.
The philosophy was simple: “Always Compete.”
What that meant was there was regular competition for playing time and roster spots, and that allowed younger players and rookies to shine regardless of their draft position. Mid- to late-round picks like Russell Wilson, Kam Chancellor, K.J. Wright and Richard Sherman quickly became starters and contributors thanks to this, as did undrafted free agent Doug Baldwin.
But in recent years the Seahawks have been more of a veteran team. Former Seahawks scout Jim Nagy, who now runs the Senior Bowl, admitted a few weeks ago with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy that he was frustrated seeing Seattle get away from playing rookies and young players of late.
Nagy: “The way Seattle, the way (Carroll) and (Schneider) built that thing in the early days was playing young guys. And that’s honestly been a frustration watching them from afar now is they’re not getting the young guys on the field,” he said. “They’re obviously going to go through some growing pains, just like (Sherman) and (Chancellor) and Doug Baldwin. All those guys did. But they played them and they lived through the growing pains.”
“One of the things that has made the Seahawks so good and what made their early iteration of their program so incredibly good and special with Pete Carroll and John Schneider is not just finding a bunch of All-Pros and potential future Hall of Famers and Ring of Honor members here in Seattle, but the fact that they were able to get such great contribution out of their young players,” Heaps said. “If there’s one frustration that we have watched change is that you have gone a long period of time of not being that type of program anymore.”
Nearly every member of the Seahawks’ championship team are gone or retired, and the next chapter of Seattle football began after the 2017 season when the franchise turned over the roster. Since then, “this has been an organization that has more given opportunities to veterans rather than younger players,” Heaps said.
Rogers called that a “legitimate problem” for the Seahawks.
“I think the hesitancy has been the learning curve waiting for rookies to go from the newborn baby deer who doesn’t have their legs underneath them (when) you have a proven commodity,” he said. “There’s less time that it takes for a veteran, I think, to assimilate themselves to the Seahawks’ system than it does for a rookie to go one, two, maybe three years before they’re actually a huge contributor here.”
And since that turnover between the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Rogers thinks the Seahawks haven’t been nearly as patient as they used to be.
“I think they didn’t feel as though they could wait around for a lot of these guys to get to where they wanted them to be (in their) development,” he said.
Heaps called the Seahawks teams of the early- and mid-2010s a “draft and develop program,” which he doesn’t think has been the case for a number of years now. Part of the reason for that, Heaps said, is because young players developed into key contributors and starters who couldn’t really be pushed for playing time by new faces.
Heaps said the Seahawks could have still taken the approach of playing and pushing young players even with stars and established players on the roster.
“Like look, your secondary is in a really good spot. You look at different areas that they were able to solidify themselves,” Heaps said. “Well, why not then draft and develop from an offensive line standpoint and really hammer that out and focus on where you’re deficient with your roster, knowing that these guys (at other spots) have now turned into veteran players that are earning big money.”
While the Seahawks may not have done that in more recent years, he thinks they’re starting to trend in that direction thanks to better draft classes.
“They (now) need this draft class to be stellar in order to give them the needed boost with a couple key positions to round out everything that they are going to do in free agency,” Heaps said. “So coming back to that mantra, going back to your roots of drafting and developing, getting younger guys on the field, getting players that can outperform their contract is going to be vital for this organization moving forward.”
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