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Bigger. Faster. Stronger. Louder.
It’s more than the slogan for the 2012 Seahawks. It’s a strategy, one that general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have followed since they were hired during an eight-day span in January of 2010.
“When (owner) Paul Allen brought us both together, we talked that evening about a philosophical plan to have a very fast defense – guys who could jump off the ball, especially playing in a loud stadium,” Schneider recalled recently. “That advantage is so huge.”
This quest to get bigger, faster and stronger is at the root of the 602 transactions – and counting – that Schneider and Carroll have made in the past 32 months. They’re constantly looking for players to allow Carroll to play the game the way he wants to play it: fast, aggressively, physically.
Or, bigger, faster, stronger, if you will.
“That’s what we’ve been preaching since we walked in the door – to make the team bigger, faster, stronger,” Schneider said. “We felt we had to change kind of the infrastructure of the team, and keep getting guys to build off of that theme.
“But it’s not like we’ve invented this philosophy.”
They have, however, worked extremely hard to not only follow, but execute, it.
Of the players on the 90-man roster, only 10 remain from the team Carroll inherited – cornerback Marcus Trufant (2003), linebacker Leroy Hill (2005), wide receiver Ben Obomanu (2006), nose tackle Brandon Mebane (2007), defensive end Red Bryant and punter Jon Ryan (2009) and center Max Unger, wide receiver Deon Butler, tight end Cameron Morrah and defensive back Roy Lewis (2009).
The restocking of the roster with players who fit that bigger, faster, stronger strategy started in 2010, when leading rusher Marshawn Lynch, sack leader Chris Clemons and kick returner Leon Washington were acquired in trades; Pro Bowl fullback Michael Robinson was signed in free agency; Pro Bowl safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, left tackle Russell Okung and wide receiver Golden Tate were selected in the NFL Draft; and right tackle Breno Giacomini was signed off the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad.
Last year, it was another round of the same strategic moves. Cornerback Richard Sherman, linebacker K.J. Wright and offensive linemen John Moffitt and James Carpenter were added in the draft, while free agency delivered leading receiver Doug Baldwin, Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Browner, tight end Zach Miller, guard Paul McQuistan, defensive tackle Alan Branch and wide receiver Sidney Rice. This year, it was middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, defensive end Bruce Irvin, quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Robert Turbin in the draft, with quarterback Matt Flynn, defensive lineman Jason Jones being signed in free agency and tight end Kellen Winslow coming over in a trade.
Bigger? Browner and Sherman, the starting corners are 6-4 and 6-3, while Chancellor is 6-3 and Wright is 6-4.
Faster? Watch Thomas display his warp speed after an interception, the speed and relentlessness off the edge that Irvin and Clemons deliver and how quickly Washington accelerates with his first step.
Stronger? There’s Giacomini, who is 6-7, 318 pounds and “a bad dude,” in Carroll’s words. There’s Bryant, a little-used tackle in his first two seasons who has turned into a 330-pound force at end since moving outside in 2010. There’s Lynch, who Robinson says is the strongest player he has ever seen on one leg.
Louder? As far as the 12th Man crowd at CenturyLink Field is concerned, is that even anatomically possible?
“I don’t know that it can get any louder at the stadium,” Schneider said through a grin. “I’m not sure about that one.”
But it is time, in the Seahawks third season under Carroll, for the team to make more noise. Last year’s 7-9 record was an improvement over the 7-9 record in his first season. But the goal is to reach .500, and beyond – to post the franchise’s first winning record since 2007 and return to being a perennial participant in the postseason.
That’s what all the changes – this bigger, faster, stronger approach – have really been about.