Coach Pete Carroll’s climb to the NFL’s pinnacle has resulted in a well-deserved contract extension with the Seattle Seahawks.
Carroll took over the Seahawks in 2010 and has guided his teams to three playoff appearances in four seasons. Seattle finished 13-3 and had the NFL’s top-ranked defense in 2013 before its dominating Super Bowl victory against the Denver Broncos last season.
The climb to the top was difficult for Carroll.
It will be harder for his team to sustain that success.
"It’s really hard to get there, and it’s really hard to maintain it," Carroll recently said at the NFL owners meetings. "I do think the challenge of sustaining is greater than getting there. It’s been demonstrated that teams can get there, but for the most part, can’t stay there. There’s a lot of natural things that happens to the teams, attrition, expectations, and all those things you have to deal with that make it very difficult. With great expectations, we take that challenge on, and we’ll see if we can demonstrate how to do that."
Carroll is referring to the Super Bowl curse, a subject every NFL observer is aware of, and one most championship coaches hope to circumvent.
Since New England won back-to-back championships in 2003 and 2004, no team has repeated as NFL champions. Only three teams since 1990 have won consecutive Super Bowl titles: Dallas Cowboys (1992 and 1993), Denver Broncos (1997 and 1998) and New England.
Prior to Seattle, three of the past five Super Bowl winners failed to make the playoffs. Baltimore (Super Bowl XLVII), the New York Giants (Super Bowl XLVI) and Pittsburgh Steelers (Super Bowl XLIII) failed to make the postseason after their titles.
"When you win that first one, there is that sense of excitement and you kind of caught the chicken, proverbially, and then you kind of let it go and start chasing it again," Saints coach Sean Payton said. “I think they’re both challenging. I know this. Once you’ve tasted it and had a chance to experience it, you recognize how special it is and how much it’s worth it, the journey."
Packers coach Mike McCarthy agrees, but believes the journey to a first title is more difficult than chasing the elusive second crown.
"It’s difficult every year,” McCarthy said. “It’s a goal that everybody strives for. It was as good or better as I thought it was going to be when we got there. We’re doing everything we can to get there again. It’s probably harder to win your first one because of the element of building your program, getting your team to develop, and the years it took us to win the first one."
Carroll does not plan to back away from the expectations that will be placed on his team in the upcoming season.
Seattle re-signed defensive end Michael Bennett during free agency, which was a key move. He rejoins defensive end Cliff Avril, cornerback back Richard Sherman, safety Earl Thomas and linebacker Malcolm Smith, the reigning Super Bowl MVP.
Offensively, Seattle excelled most of last season without Percy Harvin, who returned a kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown during the Super Bowl. Golden Tate signed with the Detroit Lions during free agency, but Seattle placed a second-round tender on receiver Doug Baldwin this offseason. Then there is quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch, the leaders of Seattle's offense.
"The most important thing that will happen when we come back together is we recapture the work ethic that made us what we are,” Carroll said. “That’s always the greatest challenge. Can you recapture that work ethic, that standard that you operate with daily? That’s what counts. Nothing else really matters. If that isn’t there, we won’t be as good as we’ve been. They know that. They know that is the expectation, and they have to be able to live up to that."
Even though history says to expect failure with Carroll’s team in the upcoming season, he is prepared to maintain Seattle’s success.
"We went into the season as a pretty highly rated team, and we had the opportunity to deal with those expectations right from the start, and the same questions were asked last year about that," Carroll said. "That was a good step of understanding there are expectations. We dealt with that language and all that. It’s different. It’s even more so, but the staging of that was important to us because when that was happening, I was talking about this happening, and what it would be like and how it would translate and transfer to the next level of expectations."
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