Is this Seahawks team better than the 2013 Super Bowl champions?
Oct 5, 2016, 9:43 AM
The Seahawks survived the first four weeks of the season with a 3-1 record.
They survived quarterback Russell Wilson’s ankle and knee sprains. Their offensive line survived bad matchups against the defensive lines of the Dolphins, Rams and Jets. They survived injuries to wide receiver Tyler Lockett and a few others.
With the Cardinals trailing Seattle by two games and reeling with problems heading into their Thursday night game against San Francisco, the Seahawks can take this bye week to reflect on what they are as a team.
There is a sentiment that these Seahawks are better than or equal to the 2013 Super Bowl champs, which is the gold standard for the franchise.
“There’s a chance,” coach Pete Carroll said Monday when asked if this is his best Seahawks team. “I think we have a chance to, because of the experience and the great leadership that we have, the development and coming of age of the quarterback and we have our kicking game in order.’’
Could the Seahawks be better than they were 2013? Let’s review.
Carroll mentioned the experience. You see it on defense. They essentially have eight starters remaining from that team 2013 who are all in their prime. Defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril were technically backups in 2013 after signing with Seattle in free agency. Now they are starters who are playing at a Pro Bowl level. Bennett is one of the best defensive players in the league. Jeremy Lane was part of a deep group of corners that included Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Byron Maxwell, Walter Thurmond, Perrish Cox and DeShawn Shead.
Safe to say, the 2016 team may not be as deep as 2013, but it’s defensive production is comparable.
The 2013 team gave up 14.4 points a game. This year, the Seahawks are giving up only 13.5 through four games. The 2013 team shut down opponents, limiting them to 273.7 yards a game. This year, they are allowing 264. It can be argued that the 2016 team is better at stopping the run. The Seahawks are giving up only 80.3 yards a game on the ground. The 2013 team gave up 101.3.
For talent, the Seahawks’ defensive line is loaded with run-stoppers: Jarran Reed, Tony McDaniel and Ahtyba Rubin. Garrison Smith, picked up off the streets from San Francisco, shows decent run-stopping skills. The developments of Frank Clark and Cassius Marsh give the 2016 team some of pass-rushing talent it had with Avril and Bennett coming off the bench in 2013. The 12-sack start for Seattle is a testament to the addition of their speed.
The biggest argument in favor of the 2016 team is the improved talent on offense.
“We’re growing on offense up front,’’ Carroll said. “They’re doing a good job, and pass protection is a big deal to us right now. We’ll grow in the running game.’”
The 2013 team still holds the edge on the offensive line. It had Russell Okung, Max Unger, J.R. Sweezy, James Carpenter and Breno Giacomini. Tom Cable is still sorting out the youth of this current group. The Seahawks may not have Marshawn Lynch in the backfield but they are deep with backs. Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin are playing at a Pro Bowl level while the receiving corps as a whole is deeper and faster.
Wilson’s development puts this group over the top. In 2013, he was winning quarterback who could make plays. Now, he’s one of the five best quarterbacks in the league.
“I’ve liked this team all along. I’ve seen it coming,” Carroll said. “Just the way they’ve gone about the work. We have a chance to be really good. We just have to go out there and keep doing it one week at a time and one day at a time and we’ll see where that leaves us.’’
Over the next couple of months, Seattle’s defense will face four quality quarterbacks from the NFC South as well as Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. If the Seahawks can hold those offenses down, they may top 2013. We’ll see.
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