RENTON – Since last season’s opener against San Francisco, the Seattle Seahawks starters have gotten 30 years younger, the offensive line has added 58 pounds and the starting secondary has sprouted 8 inches.
It’s increasingly clear that if they were to design an heraldic crest symbolic of the Pete Carroll/John Schneider regime with the Seahawks, it would feature a couple of grinning guys high-fiving above the motto: Younger, Faster, Stronger.
Assessments of the current talent level are subjective, and the age/size data disregard the value of continuity and veteran leadership. But none can argue that these guys have remained absolutely true to the blueprint they laid out when taking over in January 2010.
When the Hawks open Season 2 of the Carroll/Schneider era Sunday at San Francisco, there will be more rookies or first-year guys on this roster (12) than holdovers (10) from when they arrived.
Twenty-nine players have been added just since the cut to 53 before last season.
“You can see what they’re doing,” said linebacker Leroy Hill, one of the holdovers. “They talked about getting beefier up front on both lines, adding speed across the board, and getting younger everywhere. You see it happening.”
The average age of offensive starters (plus kicker) for last year’s opener against the 49ers was 28.25, 2.5 years older than this year’s projected starters. The difference is less marked on defense, where the average age of expected starters (plus punter) has dipped from 27.16 to 26.5.
The Niners on Sunday will face a Seahawks offensive line that averages 316 pounds a man (if injured guard Robert Gallery starts), whereas last season’s opener featured a Hawks line averaging 304.4 pounds.
As the Hawks have become one of the youngest teams in the league, it’s come at the expense of the leadership of former Pro Bowl talents Matt Hasselbeck (35 years old), Lofa Tatupu (28), Lawyer Milloy (37) and Olindo Mare (37).
Since the start of last season, though, high-end talent has been bolstered by younger Pro Bowl-level players Marshawn Lynch (25), Sidney Rice (25) and Zach Miller (25).
Running back Justin Forsett was surprised to hear he was one of just 10 pre-Carroll Hawks.
“It was exciting last year to be able to go to the playoffs for the first time since I’ve been here, and I’m optimistic we will keep getting better with time. … We’re young, with hard workers and a lot of energy and speed,” he said.
The turnover has created “a type of mentality,” Forsett said. “… You can’t ever be complacent; you know you always have to fight to earn your keep.”
Carroll considered it a sign of roster strength that the cuts were more challenging this year. “The depth was upscale, the competition was really intense and we had to make some decisions on some guys we really know can play, and we had to turn them away. It’s a good statement for the program.”
Carroll predicted at the end of last season that he expected the heavy roster churn to subside. But 24 players on the roster are new this season.
“I know … it seems much different than last year (but) we’re much more settled on the roster,” Carroll said. “This is a bunch of guys that are going to be with us through the long haul. Last year, I didn’t know that. We were just learning about our team and trying to figure out who was out there and who could help us.
“But I feel very confident that there won’t be a lot of moves from this point forward and we’re strongly committed to the guys that we’ve chosen. … We’ve got young guys that we’re developing that we know have a high upside. We’re not going to be switching and changing. That time is gone.”
Oh … OK.
Hey, aside from the emotion of losing some longtime fan favorites, few could argue that serious housecleaning was necessary. Speed and strength were needed; if youth is a part of it, so be it.
“They’re bringing in the right people for the plan they’ve got,” Hill said. “And I see good things happening.”
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 firstname.lastname@example.org