The Seahawks full of new, mostly young faces on offense
NFL teams don't change overnight. Sometimes it takes a whole week. The Seahawks showed that in the seven days after the longest work stoppage in NFL history ended, making changes that were as significant as they were sudden.
Seattle Times staff reporter
NFL teams don't change overnight.
Sometimes it takes a whole week.
The Seahawks showed that in the seven days after the longest work stoppage in NFL history ended, making changes that were as significant as they were sudden. They signed Tarvaris Jackson and left guard Robert Gallery, added Pro Bowlers Sidney Rice and Zach Miller and then waved goodbye as quarterback Matt Hasselbeck signed in Tennessee and defensive captain Lofa Tatupu was released.
And when it was over, coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider took a look at the team they inherited two years ago and marveled at the change.
"We thought it would take three years to really get a young football team in here," Carroll said.
It took less than two.
Just don't call it a facelift. This was more than cosmetic surgery, and a procedure that cost millions of dollars and took months of patience.
The Seahawks signed the big-name receiver they'd been seeking for more than a year by adding Rice. In Miller, Seattle acquired a tight end it considered an elite, Pro Bowl player for years to come. Jackson has been given the chance to prove he's a viable starting quarterback in this league while Gallery is a veteran added to stabilize an otherwise young offensive line.
Seattle isn't rebuilding its offense anymore. The offense is rebuilt, and the question is how long it will take for the group to come together and show progress.
"I don't think you put a timeline on that," Carroll said.
It's a new era in Seattle because of all the adjectives that might be hung on this team, old is not one of them. There isn't a projected starter on offense or defense older than 31, and only two players on the entire roster were born before 1980.
For all the roster moves Seattle made a year ago — there were 284 of them — the majority affected the lower third of the roster. The starting lineup wasn't overhauled that dramatically.
This season is different.
The quarterback of the most successful decade in franchise history is gone, the middle linebacker who stabilized the defense of its only Super Bowl team was released. Only one of the 11 players expected to start on offense was a Seahawk before Carroll became coach: center Max Unger.
The offense that was Seattle's signature in the Super Bowl season of 2005 had aged and atrophied. For all the millions Seattle spent on veteran wide receivers from Nate Burleson to Deion Branch to T.J. Houshmandzadeh, they never found a Pro Bowler for Hasselbeck to throw to.
For that matter, Seattle never found a potential successor to Hasselbeck in the draft, nor did the Seahawks draft someone to replace Walter Jones. At least not until last year when the first draft pick of Carroll's tenure was used on Russell Okung.
Jackson was considered a youngster in Minnesota, but he looks around his new locker room and sees a team full of peers.
"More people that I can probably relate to a lot more," he said. "Most everybody is around the same age, if not just a little younger."
Quite a change from three years ago when the Seahawks were hoping Jones could come back from knee surgery at the age of 35 and Edgerrin James still had a little left in the tank at 31. The Seahawks were relying on a free-agent wide receiver that year, too: Houshmandzadeh. He was 31 at the time.
Look at the offense this season.
There's Jackson, 28, under center, seven years younger than Hasselbeck. Rice is lined up outside. He just turned 25 last week, and at 6 feet 4 he's the kind of No. 1 receiver the Seahawks have courted for more than a year. The Seahawks played footsie with Brandon Marshall before he was traded from Denver to Miami last year and they sniffed around San Diego's Vincent Jackson. Rice just might be the NFL's best receiver not named Larry Fitzgerald when it comes to going up and over the defense for a reception.
Miller was the cherry on top of Seattle's free-agent sundae. Only four tight ends in this league have caught more than 50 passes in each of the previous three seasons, and he's one of them. The Seahawks' needs at quarterback and left guard took precedence the first couple of days in free agency, but when the dust began to settle, the Seahawks couldn't believe Miller was still on the market.
The Seahawks' commitment to youth was so extreme that they needed to acquire experience. Left guard Robert Gallery, 31, is Seattle's graybeard in a strictly metaphorical sense.
His beard is as black as it is formidable, the length making up for the fact that it isn't all that thick.
But the left guard learned he would be the salty veteran expected to season this offense when he met the rest of Seattle's offensive line.
"I didn't really realize how young it was until I got here," Gallery said.
Gallery has been in the NFL for seven seasons, appearing in 92 games. The other four starters on Seattle's offensive line have a combined total of four seasons of NFL experience and 27 regular-season starts.
"I've been lucky to be under some great veteran guys in my career," Gallery said. "It's my time to help lead these guys."
The fact Seattle would have to import veteran leadership gives an idea of just how young this team has become.
That inexperience breeds uncertainty, but there's also some excitement in the mix. This may be Carroll's second season as coach, but it marks the start of a new era for Seattle's offense.
"This is one of my favorite starts to a season ever," he said. "The excitement of a T-Jack coming in, a new receiver and the upgrade in the offensive line. It's a big shift."
The offense that had aged and eroded from 2006 to 2009 is pretty much brand spanking new. No one knows if it's going to be better, but you can be fairly certain it's going to be different.