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Eying the opener, focused on getting better

Posted Aug 31, 2012

As impressive as the Seahawks’ 4-0 record in the preseason was, it’s how they won and the attitude they maintained while doing it that bodes well for continued success during the regular season.

The secret to the Seahawks’ unbeaten preseason wasn’t really a secret at all.
 
The 2012 summer edition of the Seahawks used a suffocating defense, a drive-sustaining running game, some opportune plays from its special teams and several moments of rookie-created magic from quarterback Russell Wilson to not only go 4-0, but beat the Tennessee Titans by 10 points, the Denver Broncos by 20, the Kansas City Chiefs by 30 and, finally, the Oakland Raiders by 18.
 
The Seahawks outscored those teams 122-44, by outscoring them in every quarter and every way imaginable. The defense scored on interception returns by cornerback Brandon Browner and free safety Earl Thomas and a safety by rookie defensive lineman Jaye Howard. The offense scored on five touchdown passes by Wilson and another by backup Matt Flynn, as well as on runs by Robert Turbin, Vai Taua, Kregg Lumpkin and Wilson. The special teams chipped in a 92-yard punt return by Golden Tate and 10 field goals by Steven Hauschka. There also were fumble forcing/recovery plays by rookies Bruce Irvin/Bobby Wagner and Jeron Johnson/Leroy Hill to setup scores.
 
Heady stuff for a team that has not posted a winning record in the regular season since 2007 and gone 7-9 in its first two seasons under coach Pete Carroll.
 
But the last time the Seahawks went 4-0 in the preseason – and the only other time it has happened in franchise history – was in 2009. They followed that with a 5-11 record in Jim Mora’s only season as coach.
 
What makes this 4-0 different from that 4-0 as the Seahawks adjust their blinders toward the Sept. 9 opener against the Cardinals in Arizona? Veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant remembers one and is relishing the other.
 
“It’s one of those things where you just try to keep getting better and better, and this team has done a good job of that,” Trufant said in the locker room at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night after the 21-3 victory over the Raiders.
 
Satisfied? Not these guys. As Thomas put it after his interception return for a TD in the victory over the Chiefs, “We’re young and we’re hungry.”
 
That they are, on both counts.
 
Just look at the roster. Trufant is one of only eight players who remain from that ’09 team, and that number could drop after the 75-man roster is trimmed to 53 on Friday. Defensive end Red Bryant, nose tackle Brandon Mebane and Hill are starters on a defense that was good last year and seems poised to only get better this season. Center Max Unger anchors the line that opened all those holes for all those rushing yards the offense generated in the preseason (a league-leading average of 178.3). Jon Ryan has become the most productive punter in franchise history. Ben Obomanu and Deon Butler are among the 11 wide receivers on the 75-man roster who are vying for five or six spots on the 53-man roster.
 
The rest of the roster has been restocked with players who have adopted Carroll’s always-compete philosophy and, as Trufant said, strive to improve every time they step on the field. Complacency? No, competition. Looking back? No, only ahead. What just happened? Who cares? It’s all about what will happen next.
 
“That’s kind of the theme, and that’s the kind of guys that we have on this team,” Trufant said. “I don’t think anybody is satisfied. It’s all about getting better. It’s all about competition. As a group, if we keep that in the back of our mind, it’s going to be good for us.”
 
It definitively worked for the Seahawks in their summer of success.