Joe Nicholson, File
September 11, 2015

RENTON, Wash. (AP) This is the lineage - and expectation - that Kris Richard has inherited.

Under the watchful eye of Pete Carroll from the start, the Seattle Seahawks developed into the best defense in the NFL, starting with Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator. They remained at the pinnacle of the NFL with Dan Quinn running the defensive show.

And now the Seahawks fall under the control of Richard, about to become the youngest defensive coordinator in the NFL when the Seahawks open the season on Sunday at St. Louis.

''I do have a much bigger voice in regards to the overall grand scheme of how we're going to operate,'' said Richard, about to begin his sixth season with Seattle. ''So in regards to how we operate while we're on the field, the only real difference is now they hear my voice over the headsets.''

Richard has been with the Seahawks since Carroll's arrival as head coach in 2010, first as an assistant defensive backs coach. Since 2012, Richard has been the head defensive backs coach, helping develop the ''Legion of Boom'' secondary featuring All-Pros Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman, and safety Kam Chancellor.

It's been a rapid rise for Richard, 35, who spent two seasons as a graduate assistant at Southern California on Carroll's staff before following him to Seattle. But it's all been with the goal of moving up the coaching ranks and joining Seattle defensive coaches that have taken the next step.

Prior to the Super Bowl last season, Richard said his goal was to one day become a head coach in the NFL. The previous two Seattle defensive coordinators - Quinn and Bradley - both landed jobs as head coaches. Bradley is about to begin his third season in Jacksonville, while Quinn makes his debut as a head coach in Atlanta this week.

''When I set off on coaching from day one, I wanted to be the absolute best coach that I could be in whatever position that I was in. That was what I was going to be locked into,'' Richard said. ''Of course there are aspirations to move on and ahead and do all that stuff right there. But that's too far out in the future. I am focused on the things that are right out in front of me right now.''

Richard doesn't need to seek any credibility inside Seattle's defensive meeting rooms because of his influence in developing what has been the best secondary in the NFL in recent seasons. And he's not overhauling major aspects of the Seahawks defense. The only changes from the top defense in the NFL last season are the additions of Ahtyba Rubin at defensive tackle, Cary Williams at cornerback and Dion Bailey starting at strong safety with Chancellor holding out.

''It's the same system. The guys are the same, everybody understands their role,'' Sherman said. ''The players are more experienced and more disciplined. Every year the players grow and get better.''

If there is one lingering question, it will be how Richard calls a game. Will he be aggressive in dialing up blitzes in the way Quinn was or will he play coverage a bit more like Bradley did with the Seahawks defense?

''You never really know how they're going to play it until we get into the game because preseason you don't want to show everything,'' linebacker Bobby Wagner said. ''When you get to the actual games, you're going to figure out what they're into, what they favor.''

Having been in the same position group room with Richard since he arrived in the NFL, Sherman thinks it will be similar to how Bradley and Quinn approached games.

''I don't think that's a shot to him but I think he's not going to reinvent the wheel,'' Sherman said. ''He's got to understand what we do well and put guys in position to be successful. He's going to give a lot of great energy and great enthusiasm and support guys and that's what Gus and DQ did.''

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