Seattle begins trying to erase Super Bowl disappointment
SEATTLE (AP) They all processed the events differently, just as Pete Carroll encouraged. He wasn't going to direct how to get past arguably the most stunning Super Bowl conclusion in history.
Some may never get over what occurred when Russell Wilson's pass found the arms of Malcolm Butler and not Ricardo Lockette. But the Seattle Seahawks are in agreement that the easiest way to escape the cloud of what happened is getting back there again.
''We were on the 1-yard line. We don't need to change much,'' Wilson said. ''I think that's kind of our focus.''
Seattle begins the season trying to become the first NFC team to win three successive conference titles. The Seahawks remain the class of the NFC West and with Green Bay are widely considered the best two teams in the conference.
But there are new issues the Seahawks face that have nothing to do with any hangover from that February loss to New England.
There's internal strife: Strong safety Kam Chancellor - a Pro Bowl talent and respected locker-room voice - is holding out, and there is no signal of a resolution.
There are personnel questions, specifically along the offensive line where veteran Max Unger is no longer around and Seattle will begin the season with two players, Drew Nowak and Garry Gilliam, who have never started an NFL game.
And there's the inevitable pull back to that post-Super Bowl feeling and if Seattle will get the chance to erase that memory.
''That's such an obvious factor because it gets brought up all the time, and you get asked the questions and stuff. We understand that, and everybody gets that,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ''How many teams get back to a championship game twice, and then how many teams get back to it three times? There's no reason for anybody to think you can do that, it just doesn't happen. So that's a cool thing, that's a cool challenge for us. So all of that kind of has a subtle way of fueling us.''
What to watch for as the Seahawks open the season on Sunday at St. Louis:
FEED THE BEAST: Marshawn Lynch is entering that unique age for running backs where production typically drops off. Lynch turned 29 in April, but if last season was any indication, he is not slowing down. Lynch rushed for 1,306 yards - second most in his career - and a career-high 13 touchdowns in the regular season. The addition of veteran and close friend Fred Jackson should make it possible to give Lynch breaks; Jackson will likely be Seattle's main third-down running back.
HERE'S JIMMY: Seattle stayed basic during the preseason with how it used new offensive toy Jimmy Graham. Expect the Seahawks to start showing off Graham's versatility now.
The tight end's presence in the offense should open coverage for wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse. Wilson should also have the chance to be more aggressive with some of his throws downfield because of Graham's size.
The question for Graham is if he can be a capable blocker in the run game and not a liability.
SHUFFLE THE DECK: The offensive line will be under close watch throughout the season. Left guard was so problematic that Justin Britt was moved from right tackle - where he started all last year - to guard midway through training camp. Coaches have raved about Nowak's strength and athleticism, but he was a defensive lineman in college. Right guard J.R. Sweezy and left tackle Russell Okung are the only certainties on the line as the season begins.
LEGION OF WHOM?: It's strange to think the questions with Seattle's defense rest in the secondary. All-Pros Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas are still there - although Thomas' health is still somewhat in question after offseason shoulder surgery. Chancellor's holdout creates a void not easy to fill because of the unique size and athleticism he brings to the position. Dion Bailey will likely get the first opportunity to step in for Chancellor. There are also questions about who should start opposite Sherman after an unimpressive preseason from veteran Cary Williams.
LONG-TERM SUCCESS: Even before the season begins, Seattle's already been successful by getting Wilson and All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner signed to extensions. The core group Seattle has amassed is talented enough that its championship window would appear to be open beyond this season, giving the Seahawks even more opportunities to make the Super Bowl loss to New England a faded moment.
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