OK, you’ve had a week to heal, but moving on is hard, given the baffling circumstances.
You’ve gone through the stages: Disbelief, despair, anger. You’ve apportioned blame, and targeted your favorite suspect.
You’ve seen the replay a thousand times. It never changes; the Patriots still beat the Seahawks.
And you’re haunted by being a yard short of another world championship.
(And you know full well the football field is 100 yards long because Russell Wilson tells you that every interview).
Because it was so abrupt, and so unexpected, this dismay will be even more stubborn than the tenacious contempt you bore for the officials in Super Bowl XL, the ones you’re convinced stole the game from you and gave it to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Dr. Dave is going to help you out. Maybe I’ve been in too many Pete Carroll press conferences, but the best way to get over this is to look forward.
Every oddsmaker I can find online has installed the Seahawks as the favorite for Super Bowl 50. Not to just get there, but to win it. The odds of 5-to-1 or 6-to-1 seem extremely high 51 weeks ahead of the game.
As difficult as it is for Super Bowl winners to repeat, it’s even rarer to have a team appear in three in a row, as the Hawks look to be the first to accomplish that since before free agency and the salary cap made such a streak seem impossible.
Here’s how they do it.
•They must be fast healers:
Injuries to Kam Chancellor (knee), Earl Thomas (shoulder), Richard Sherman (elbow), Jeremy Lane (arm) and Cliff Avril (concussion) are fresh in your mind.
But don’t forget the key guys who earlier went on injured-reserve: Zach Miller (ankle), Brandon Mebane (hamstring), Jordan Hill (knee), Cassius Marsh (foot), Paul Richardson (knee) and Derrick Coleman (foot).
Send them to Mayo, send them to Switzerland, send them to Lourdes, whatever, but get them fixed and do it promptly.
•Pay the studs:
The front office has been making decisions the past two years with an eye toward having the cap space to lock up Wilson. Word is they should be in position to extend Wilson and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, and upgrade Marshawn Lynch.
Byron Maxwell and a few others might end up Golden Tate-ing, finding their value on the market above what the Hawks can spend.
•Stop the brain drain:
Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is gone to Atlanta and linebackers coach Ken Norton, Jr., is off to Oakland. It’s been amazing how well they’ve kept the staff intact until now. Hiring from within to replace Quinn seems logical as a gesture to continuity and stability. But the two losses have to be mitigated and the team appears to be doing so by reportedly promoting defensive backs coach Kris Richard to replace Quinn.
After enjoying relative health in the first title run, the critical mass of injuries left them short on depth this time around, and it cost them. Of the 46 guys active for Super Bowl 49, seven were signed during the season or elevated from the practice squad: Chris Matthews, Bryan Walters, Steven Terrell, Will Tukuafu, Landon Cohen, Tony Moeaki and DeMarcus Dobbs.
The contributions of those guys were surprisingly significant, but the quality of the rotations among several units was nonetheless diminished.
•Draft and free agency:
The offensive line’s run blocking was very good, but the pass protection subpar. The 42 sacks of Wilson this season (at times not solely a function of faulty line blocking) were 12th most in the NFL on a team that had the fewest pass attempts.
Wide receiver could use an infusion, too. They don’t pass much, but they could benefit from a better variety of threats. The play of Matthews, a rangier receiver, in the Super Bowl was an example of how a tall target could help.
•Refine the schemes:
Despite the outcome of the Super Bowl, I stick with my assessment late in the season: This was Pete Carroll’s best job of coaching. He led the Hawks to the Super Bowl after being 3-3 and 6-4, despite the disruption of the trade of their highest-paid player (Percy Harvin locker-room pugilist).
Even though the goal-line sequence in the Super Bowl ended in disaster, the Hawks finished ninth in the NFL in total offense, their highest rank since 2007.
But time management and red-zone offense (20th in TDs in league, 51.5 percent) could all stand to be reassessed.
•Get everybody back onboard:
Not everybody on the team is convinced the staff gave them the best chance to win at the end. Carroll is already sending his message of healing and reuniting.
The players have a couple reasons to buy back in. It’s obvious the core talent is there to stay competitive at the highest levels for a while.
And those who might be disinclined or skeptical, two words should convincing them: Percy Harvin.
If you’re not with the program, or not fully invested, they’re perfectly willing to trade you to the Jets.