The Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII largely on the strength of their defense. And though the “Legion of Boom” secondary was often the focal point, a deep and talented front line also came to the fore and illustrated what a team can do when it generates pressure without the need to blitz.
But as happens to championship teams in today’s NFL, the Seahawks are already evolving due to both choice and circumstance.
They released pass rush specialist Chris Clemons, who returned from a torn ACL in 2013, on Wednesday. DE Red Bryant and DT Clinton McDonald have already departed and DT Tony McDaniel is currently unsigned. So that seven-man rotation that was so good for the ‘Hawks a year ago has already been compromised even though Michael Bennett was retained while Brandon Mebane and Cliff Avril remain under contract.
What’s next? Don’t be surprised if linebacker Bruce Irvin, a first-round pick in 2012, sees more action at Clemons’ LEO position. Jason Hatcher, a versatile lineman who had a Pro Bowl breakout for the Dallas Cowboys in 2013, has also visited the team, per ESPN, and would be a perfect replacement if he’s willing to chase a ring with a club-friendly deal similar to the ones Bennett, Avril, McDonald and McDaniel accepted last year.
The Seahawks, who also have prospects like Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams in the pipeline, will look different in 2014. But GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll lead a franchise that may have adapted and cracked the code on winning in the modern NFL better than any other organization.