A spirited game of ping pong in the Seahawks locker room Monday brought a sense of familiarity to the first day of Seattle's offseason program. The fact that Tyler Lockett was taking on Marcus Johnson, the receiver who came to Seattle as part of the offseason trade that sent Michael Bennett to the Eagles, served as a reminder that change is the norm in the NFL, and that was especially true for the Seahawks this offseason as they made significant changes to the coaching staff and the roster.
"It does feel different," receiver Doug Baldwin said. "Obviously having new coaches and a lot of new faces, it makes for a different first day of school, if you will."
"It's such an exciting time," added quarterback Russell Wilson. "It's a new year, it's a new season, new opportunity, new faces. We're looking forward to playing some great football… It feels like a new start, a fresh start, so we'll see what we can make that into."
Change in personnel doesn't mean a change in the high expectations that come with every new season for the Seahawks. Yes, some longtime Seahawks like Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett are gone, but the Seahawks have high hopes for a number of the players they added in free agency, ranging from linebacker Barkevious Mingo to guard D.J. Fluker to tight end Ed Dickson to defensive tackles Shamar Stephen and Tom Johnson. And just as importantly, players and coaches alike are confident in the young returning players who will take on bigger roles this year.
"It's exciting to get back and see all the new faces, there's a lot of changes around here," linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "It kind of feels like coming into a new situation. I'm excited to kind of get going, start to build the relationships we'll need to be successful, and prove the doubters wrong.
"I feel really good about the talent we have in this room. It's an opportunity for guys who played behind the likes of Sherm and Mike B to step up and show what they've got. We have a lot of great talent here, and we're going to do everything we can to show that we can continue to be successful. We love and appreciate those guys, and it's to us, me, K.J. (Wright), the guys who have been here to continue the success, and I know for a fact that we will."
Added Wright: "We'll be fine. There's a lot of good players here, a lot of new guys who will step up. Jarran Reed and Frank (Clark), they've done a great job, but as years go by, you've got to step your game up even more. We've doing this for a while, we still have good core guys here. We're going to be just fine."
The Seattle Seahawks kicked off their 2018 offseason workout program on Monday, April 16, as players reported to Virginia Mason Athletic Center for physicals, testing, and a team meeting.
The Seahawks are returning to work following their first non-playoff season since 2011, a 9-7 season that general manager John Schneider described as "a pit that sits in your stomach and really fuels you."
Players are equally disappointed by last season and plan to use it as motivation, beginning with the offseason workouts that begin this week.
"Personally it was upsetting, frustrating," receiver Doug Baldwin said. "Because once you set a standard, it's hard to fall below that. I'm one of those guys where I hate losing more than I like winning. It's hard, and I know there's a lot of guys in this locker room who felt the same way."
Baldwin also talked about the team recapturing its identity, which on offense starts with a running game that has not been what the Seahawks expect it to be over the past two seasons. Earlier this offseason, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called it "hugely important" that the Seahawks get back to running the ball. The Seahawks hope some of the moves made this offseason, including a new offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, and offensive line coach, Mike Solari, will get them back to being the balanced, physical offense they were when they were when they were at their best in recent years.
"One of the key elements for us on offense is to establish the running game," Baldwin said. "Now with Schottenheimer coming in here re-emphasizing that, and then some of the moves we made emphasized that—we're going to run the ball because that's our bread and butter, that's how we have the most success."
The Seahawks hope that in addition to some offseason changes helping the offense, they will also reap the benefits of continuity on the offensive line with four starters returning.
"It's just learning the new system with Solari and Schotty and going from there, growing from there," said center Justin Britt. "Our line is mostly the same for once, it's pretty much the same people plus the addition of D.J. We've just got to continue to grow and the cohesiveness should be there.
"You think about me and Ethan, we played the last half of the year, and towards the end of the year we started really working together really well. If he stays there, it's just working with the same guy you worked with last year, and continuing that. And Duane (Brown) being in the system one more year and getting it to know us more, and Germain (Ifedi) getting more comfortable at right tackle, and just seeing the young guys grow, we're all new to Solari except Fluker, but it's a great opportunity for us."
Photos from Phase 1 of the Seahawks' 2018 offseason workout program on April 17, 2018 at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.