Will the Seahawks forge a championship identity in 2017?
By Aaron Thomas
Every team has an identity, a personality. Every winning team, at least. Will the Seahawks have a winning identity in 2017?
In my latest book, due out this September called “Native Truth”, I discuss the importance of personal identity and how it plays a huge role in our success. I believe the team identity of the Seahawks and their continued success is just as important.
The onset of a few shoving matches led up to the climax of Frank Clark’s fist to Germaine Ifedi’s jaw. How will the physical altercations play a role in the team’s identity?
For one, I would argue that finding their team identity is one of the major question marks going into this season. Can we still say that this team is a smash-mouth, “I love you brother” team after all of the extracurricular differences between the defense and the offense last season? I don’t think we can say that is who we are. It definitely is who we were.
When Schneider and Carroll drafted our current core group of players, they all came in with the proverbial chip on their shoulder. Schneider loves getting guys that others may have tossed to the side to pull out the gangster in his players. See: Dion Jordan, Luke Joekel, Marcus Smith and to some extent the culprit in the recent fistfight, Frank Clark).
Then their rookie contracts begin to run out. Big money contract extensions started to happen. The team started having disgruntled players, even to the point of holding out (see Kam Chancellor’s 2015 season). The Percy Harvin situation blew up. Golden Tate left the team and had some choice words about the organization.
More from 12th Man Rising
- 4 prospects Seahawks could reach for at No. 20 in 2023 NFL Draft
- Seattle Seahawks Mock Draft: Post-first wave of free agency
- Seahawks podcast: A review of the first week of free agency
- 4 experiments the Seattle Seahawks could cut short in 2023
- 3 pros and cons of Seattle Seahawks drafting Anthony Richardson
How Much Did Money Really Play A Role?
Contract demands for more money. Demands for more respect. There was less of the chip on the shoulder, less giving and less forgiving. A “win at all costs” mentality arose. What I’m describing here wasn’t even a glimmer in the eyes of the 2010-2013 teams. That’s when the team had that hunger, that drive to learn, that willingness to play FOR the man next to them.
I honestly believe their current mantra of “win for my brothers” is just that; a mantra. I don’t see that they truly believe their identity is to “give at all costs”, to make sure they play for their brother on the team.
The Seahawks decided to not extend contracts for some vocal leaders, Bruce Irvin and Brandon Mebane. How did the team really react to that? Sure, we heard the “this game is a business” line that each of the core guys gave the media. But how does a man play for his brother when daddy decides to kick his brother out?
Furthermore, who guided our young players through all of the “the game is just a business” transactions? Did they get any veteran leadership advice to help Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin and especially Richard Sherman through it?
Related Story: Is there bad blood between the Seahawks offense and defense?
Identity is the key to winning
The NFL is a win now or go home league. If the Seahawks want to find their identity this season (and subsequent seasons) they will have to rely on their core guys to sustain the team. They will need to lean on their veteran leadership to create the identity and pass that culture onto the younger and newer players.
The good news in all of this is that they have some time to find themselves again. If veteran leadership can hold themselves and their younger, newer players accountable to this new identity, then the sky’s the limit. Think of ANGRY Doug Baldwin. Forget this talk of him being passionate. We want the ANGRY Doug to come out and play and have that chip on his shoulder again.
If they only play for themselves, fail to find an identity, go through the motions and yet say they are playing with 100% individual effort, I still see them failing at the end of the season to get past the second round of the playoffs.
Dynasty Teams Have Identities
Look at the team that has won it all the past few seasons, namely the New England Patriots. Look at other dynasty teams and how they perceived themselves. What identity did they create and execute season in and season out?
The “Patriot Way”, the “Steel Curtain” and “America’s Team,” all had at least one main ingredient to their teams (other than franchise quarterbacks): Identity. What is the identity of the Seahawks? Who are they as a team and who are they as individuals? Are they really playing for each other? Or are they playing to not get hurt, playing for that next contract extension?
The team will need its core guys more than ever because identity, full identity rarely comes from the team management. Who do you think started the 2012+ team identity of being a physical smash-mouth group of guys? I would argue it was Beastmode, specifically Beastquake that started that identity in 2011.
Who will forge the Seahawk identity?
Who is the next Beastmode for the Seahawks? What will be the next Beastquake? Time will tell. But I have a feeling that it’s going to come from one of the team’s second tier guys who will show his elder teammates how leadership is done. That man will be just as hungry, just as driven to win as his elders were in 2011-2013. Candidates include: Thomas Rawls, Jarren Reed, Cassius Marsh and a healthy Tyler Lockett.
A year from now we’ll be saying they had their superstar breakout year in 2017. Moreover, they helped generate the new identity this team’s been thirsting for since 2013.