Two consecutive Super Bowl appearances. Three straight seasons with at least 11 wins. One ring and one incomparable missed opportunity for a second.
Through all of the highs and lows, one thing has remained true: for the Seattle Seahawks, it’s championship or bust.
Seattle is no longer the young guns turning the old NFL onto its head. Instead, they’re the team that every single squad across the league is gunning for—defending champions or not.
If people thought the pressure was high in 2014, they haven’t seen anything yet.
Generally speaking, a team that’s made consecutive Super Bowl appearances faces less pressure. Such teams are expected to remain on top, but there’s something of a reasonable forgiveness for a team that’s dominated multiple seasons.
Seattle is an exception.
They’re brash and confident, but the Seahawks have backed it up—so far. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Thus, it’s hard to ask for much more than what Seattle has already done.
With the chance to build a true dynasty, however, the Seahawks cannot afford to let up on the gas pedal. Any crack in the armor could result in a key player leaving via free agency or growing frustrated with their role within the team and organization.
There’s a history of it happening in every sport: as soon as the wins stop pouring in, the individual egos come to the forefront.
In 2014, the first crack may have surfaced. The Seahawks had a chance to win a second consecutive title, but infamously chose to throw on a clear running play at the end of Super Bowl XLIX.
The rest is history, as Malcolm Butler clinched the New England Patriots’ victory and sent Seattle back to the drawing board.
Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots strong safety Malcolm Butler (21) intercepts a pass intended for Seattle Seahawks wide receiverRicardo Lockette
(83) in the fourth quarter in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Considering Russell Wilson is 26 years old and is already a Super Bowl champion, his mistake was generally forgiven. There are still memes and Facebook comments about it, but his legacy hasn’t been tainted.
As is the case with quarterbacks, Wilson’s Super Bowl win has provided him with a certain measure of all-time security.
As the 2015 season nears, however, the Seahawks are embarking on a mission to join the legends of yesteryear. Pete Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks could soon be held in a similar regard as Tom Landry‘s Dallas Cowboys, Bill Walsh‘s San Francisco 49ers and so forth.
It’ll take a lot more than a high win total and a solid postseason for Seattle to capitalize on this opportunity to achieve immortality.
The Seahawks need to win it all to reach these heights, and that’s where the, “Championship or bust,” mentality comes into play. There’s clearly reason to believe that Seattle will still be great in 2016, defending Super Bowl champions or not.
With Wilson’s contract up in the air and the term, “Dynasty,” slowly surfacing, however, there aren’t any years to take off.
At this time next year,Marshawn Lynch
will be 30. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Offensively, the Seahawks have been criticized for not giving Wilson enough help. Marshawn Lynch—29 years old, if anyone’s keeping track of what happens to running backs at 30—is on his way to the Hall of Fame, but Wilson’s receiving corps is far from imposing.
All the front office did to cure that woe was acquire premier tight end Jimmy Graham.
Graham had 85 receptions for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014. Every one of those numbers would’ve ranked No. 1 on the Seahawks, which is a testament to two things.
For starters, Seattle didn’t have the greatest of offensive weapons. Doug Baldwin is incredibly underrated, but he’s more of a lethal weapon than a true No. 1 receiving option.
As for Graham, he’s one of the most productive and lethal receiving threats in the NFL today.
Nov 9, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) celebrates after a first down against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Throw in Tyler Lockett, a promising young wide receiver selected in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, and Wilson suddenly has weapons to work with. In turn, the Seahawks have a passing game worth talking about.
With this improvement comes greater expectations.
Seattle cannot be described as offensively imbalanced, but instead as a team with as complete an attack as any in the NFL. Graham is the big-play receiver Seattle has been looking for, while Lynch and Wilson are a proven and dynamic duo.
If an improved offense and a still-dominant defense aren’t enough to get a second Super Bowl ring in three years, what would be?
Dec 21, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks safetyKam Chancellor
(31) and safetyEarl Thomas
(29) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Seahawks defeated the Cardinals 35-6. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Defensively, they’re still elite. Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas are the most feared safety tandem in the league, Richard Sherman is an all-world cornerback and the likes of Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner are incomparably under-appreciated.
On-paper hype and praise simply doesn’t amount to what it used to.
For however long as this group stays together, Seattle will be expected to win it all. Whether that’s a fair or foul expectation, it fits what this budding dynasty is becoming.
To miss out on the chance to solidify dynasty status would be an unfortunate turn of events, even if the players and coaches are—rightfully—not thinking about it.
There’s a chance for the NFL community to witness history. Any time that opportunity arises, the pressure mounts.
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