Put these Seattle Seahawks in a Football Time Machine, spin the dial to a random era and they’d step out, suit up, and be competitive.
More work remains before the current Seahawks qualify as what analysts sometimes call a “team for the ages.” But there’s little doubt the core group of the last couple of seasons would be a team successful in any era.
Think about it. They had a name for Beast Mode in the 1930s: Bronko Nagurski.
Marshawn Lynch is the modern equivalent.
Versatile quarterback Russell Wilson might have been an even bigger threat in the days of the single-wing offense.
The Seahawks defense, meanwhile, would have no problems playing in leather helmets without facemasks. They’d probably love it.
Picture this secondary in an age when the receivers weren’t so babied by the rules of contact, and think about guys like Jack Tatum and Dick “Night Train” Lane. They’re the forerunners of Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas.
Or consider how effective Michael Bennett would be in the days when pass rushers could unleash the head slap.
The offensive line? Well, the Flying Wedge is a good example of zone-blocking principles.
This run-oriented offense and aggressive defense were common to the likes of the Packers of the 1960s and Steelers of the 1970s. But a unifying thread that continues through the 49ers of 1980s and Cowboys of the early 1990s is a toughness and competitive mindset.
“Old school? You could say that,” Chancellor said, laughing at the time-travel premise. “You know what looks you’ll get from us. It’s just line up and let’s play ball. That’s football, running and hitting. All that complex stuff and trickery, I don’t know about that stuff. Just lining up and playing, yeah, that’s football.”
Seahawks quarterback coach Carl Smith has coached since 1971, and confessed that “I have not studied film on Bronco Nagurski.” But he liked the image of Wilson and Lynch in a single-wing attack enough that he said: “We’ve got a few days before the game. Maybe we should put in a couple plays.”
Smith and line coach Tom Cable both had no trouble pointing to the taproot of the Seahawks’ philosophy: Coach Pete Carroll.
“Whatever Pete’s image is, he’s a football coach,” Smith said. “He understands and loves every aspect of the game and the physical approach, the collisions, the way to tackle properly and defend each route. It comes from his years in the game with some great defenses in Minnesota and San Francisco. He understands the structures and fundamentals of defense.”
Cable corroborated Carroll’s tenets of timeless football: Special teams, defense and running the football.
“I think that’s what I appreciate the most,” Cable said. “He’s found this way to do it. And it still works now if you’re willing to be that way. It’s not Star Wars, but it would have fit 10 years ago, 15, 20, and on back in time. It’s a credible philosophy that works in the game of football.”
It’s easy to picture Carroll being delighted if the Seahawks could come out of Super Bowl 49 with the stats the Steelers had in scoring the 16-6 Super Bowl 9 win over Minnesota. They rushed for 248 yards, threw only 14 passes and held the Vikings to 17 rushing yards. They were plus-three in turnovers and dominated physically.
“I think our toughness really comes through, and in that way, there’s similarities to the really good teams,” said Dan Quinn, defensive coordinator. “The other thing is how connected really good teams are. When you win the locker room first, and you know how close these guys are and are dedicating their play to the other guys, then you’re going to be a pretty good team in any era.”
As a receiver, Doug Baldwin might be one who would prefer the Seahawks open up the offense a little, but said he likes the Seahawks’ approach “because we’re winning. … That makes it good.”
He could easily picture the Hawks’ success translating to different times.
“We’re very much old school, the way we run the ball, control the clock, play stifling defense,” Baldwin said. “I don’t want to offend anybody, but I think we definitely could hang with the teams in those times.”