SEATTLE – The Seattle Seahawks just wrapped up their first 0-4 exhibition season in franchise history.
They also lost a host of fan favorites in the offseason.
So it’s no surprise that most NFL analysts aren’t expecting much from the team.
But there are reasons for optimism.
Here’s five reasons Seattle might surprise people in 2018:
Russell Wilson is still the quarterback.
Entering his seventh season as the Seahawks’ signal caller, Wilson has won more games over the previous six years than any quarterback not named Tom Brady.
Last year, he led the NFL in touchdown passes and the Seahawks in rushing yards.
Coach Pete Carroll recently pointed to Wilson’s work in-between seasons as a key to his success.
“He is really dedicated in the offseason to work throughout to make sure he’s in the best position physically,” Carroll said.
For his part, Wilson has pointed to the change in leadership, with new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and line coach Mike Solari.
“I definitely think we’re ready,” he said. “We’re prepared. Coach Schottenheimer has done a tremendous job of stepping in and really teaching us all the fine details of what we want to do.”
Regardless of who else is on the field, No. 3 will likely account for at least a few wins all by himself.
The line looks improved.
With Pro Bowler Duane Brown cemented at left tackle, the addition of D.J. Fluker at guard, a new offense, new coordinator and new line coach, the Seahawks’ offensive line should be better.
Sure, that’s a low bar, considering how bad the line has been, but it is a start. So far, they’ve looked a lot better in the exhibition season, too.
“I think the guys are really working together very well,” Carroll said. “We’ve had the good fortune of keeping them solidly connected throughout the offseason, and it’s helped.”
After years of watching Wilson scramble in the face of immense pressure, he found time to stand in the pocket during the preseason and made teams pay for it.
If that continues, Seattle’s chances of returning to the playoffs will definitely be improved.
Bobby Wagner is the best linebacker in the NFL.
The Seahawks’ defense is missing a lot of familiar faces. But, just like Wilson on offense, Wagner is the key to everything on defense.
To have him roaming the middle of the field, sure-tackling anything that moves, Seattle’s defense retains its most valuable piece.
Wagner, though, may be more excited about the new faces around him.
“I see guys taking the coaching to the field,” he said. “I see guys flying around.”
If that’s the case, the Seahawks will be in a lot better shape than most predict.
Having Wagner, the top-ranked linebacker in the league according to Pro Football Focus, mentoring all the talented youngsters should help speed up the process.
The schedule might not be that daunting.
Three of the Seahawks’ first four games are on the road, but none of the games are against teams that made the playoffs last season.
In fact, Seattle plays just five games against 2017 playoff teams: the Rams home and away, Panthers on the road and Vikings and Chiefs at home.
If they can pick up a few early road wins and hold serve at CenturyLink Field, the Seahawks could find themselves in the hunt for the playoffs yet again.
A fast start will be key.
Carroll plans to win forever.
Since joining the Seahawks in 2010, Pete Carroll has led Seattle to 79 wins. That’s just seven behind Mike Holmgren for the most by any coach in franchise history.
He may be the oldest coach in the league (about to turn 67), but he’s also one of the best and most optimistic.
“We have a chance to keep improving,” he said recently about this year’s Seahawks squad. “We have a long ways to go, but we’re still, we’re making really good progress. I think this is the most solid we’ve been in some time.”
High praise from Carroll, whose 2010 book “Win Forever” outlined a philosophy of competition, preparation and will to succeed.
After publishing that book, Carroll went on to lead the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. But perhaps more impressive was the streak of 85 consecutive games (95 including the playoffs) without losing by more than 10 points.
That’s not winning forever, but it is a level of competing never before seen in the NFL.
As long as Carroll is on the sidelines, you’ve got to believe the Seahawks have a fighting chance.