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Seahawks' Carroll has a plan for sustaining success better than other teams have

Pete Carroll celebrates the Seahawks' 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2
Pete Carroll celebrates the Seahawks' 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Seahawks knew they were going to beat the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. They didn't wish it or hope it or merely plan to do it – they knew it.

They were right, of course, as they put on one of the greatest defensive displays in Super Bowl history and nearly shut out the best offense in league annals.

Almost immediately after that game, talk of a dynasty began. Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson were not shy about it.

"Our guys will be surprised if we (don't win again next year)," Carroll told reporters. "We have an eye on what's coming."

"You just have to win the first one first," Wilson told NFL Network while talking about building a dynasty.

"Nobody here thinks we're done," he added to "And we really think we have such a great chance here to keep it going. That's how you distinguish yourself in this game."

On Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., Carroll talked more about his main mantra: winning forever.

"It's really hard to get there and it's really hard to maintain it,'' he told reporters. "The challenge of sustaining is greater. It's been demonstrated that teams can get there but, for the most part, they can't stay there. There's all these natural things that happen to a team. There is attrition and expectations -- all those things that have to deal with that success that make it very difficult. So there are really, really great expectations to get that challenge on and demonstrate how to do that.''

A number of teams have put together very nice runs of sustained success during the 20 years of free agency, but only one has managed to create a legend-making dynasty: Bill Belichick's New England Patriots.

The Patriots have dominated the AFC for most of the past 13 years. They have played in five Super Bowls, winning three during a dynastic stretch from 2001 to 2004. They are the only team to go 16-0, although they lost the Super Bowl to the Giants in that 2007 season. And they just missed out on three other Super Bowl appearances, losing in the AFC title game thrice.

That is the level of success to which Carroll – Belichick's predecessor in New England -- aspires. And he quite obviously has a plan for achieving it.

"We've worked really hard in our mentality to deal with success," he told reporters at the league meetings. "We have to handle it really well and deal with it better than people have dealt with it if we're going to be successful. It's an incredible challenge and we're deep, deep into it."

Carroll referenced his USC dynasty in the 2000s, which produced two national championships, one loss in the title game and eight straight seasons with at least 11 wins.

"I've been through this on a level that you can at least compare," he said, "so I'm really excited to see our guys take to it. We have a way to do this and I'm looking forward to it."

So how will Carroll do what only one other team has been able to do in the free agency era? How can he and the Seahawks do what teams such as the Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers have not been able to do?

Just use the formula that got them here: a general manager with an eye for hidden talent; a flexible coach who gets more out of his players than most coaches; a hypercompetitive, dominant defense; a strong commitment to running the ball; and the savvy and skills of a quarterback who is still growing into an elite player.

While plenty of fans have bemoaned the Seahawks' personnel losses since the Super Bowl victory – 10 key players – and the inability to land Pro Bowl pass rusher Jared Allen, the fact is the Hawks were prepared for everything that has happened. And they are not worried about it.

In fact, just a few days after the Super Bowl, Carroll made it clear he is comfortable with the roster he has.

"We have what we need," he said. "We just need to get back to work when the time comes – with the right attitude and the right focus -- and that’s all I’m concerned about.

"We’ll have the opportunity to add some players to our team through the draft and all; we’ll take a good look at free agency," Carroll added. "There are some very difficult decisions … we’ll have to make, as you always do at this time of year. (But) I don’t see anything that we need to add. We just need to get better."

He outlined the ways he expects that to happen:

**"I think you’ll see us utilize our personnel better in time when we get to know our guys. It was halfway through the year before we put our pass rush together, where we really had a sense and a plan for it."

**"The growth of the young guys that have been contributing on the defensive side, Bobby Wagner and K.J. (Wright) and all of those guys coming together, they will improve and get better."

**"I think you’ll see Russell continue to grow. He’ll be more efficient. He’ll be better than ever because he will put in all of the work and time and he will just grow."

**"I think that coming together to bring Percy (Harvin) into this offense and seeing how he can add to it, we’re just scratching the surface there."

**"I don’t know how (Steven) Hauschka can kick it a whole lot better or I don’t know if Jon Ryan can kick it a whole a lot better, but I know we could improve with our (kickoff) return game."

**"We can also get rid of those penalties a little bit better than we did during this season (the Hawks led the league in flags). That will be a big factor for us.”

Keep in mind that the Seahawks claimed the NFC's No. 1 seed despite playing without their top pass rushers early in the season, losing their starting offensive tackles for half the season, having three key defenders suspended at various points and facing many of the league's best defenses all year.

Barring an injury to Wilson or perhaps Earl Thomas, it's hard to see them needing to overcome more challenges than they did last year.

The Seahawks have all had fun celebrating and being honored this offseason, but Carroll knows they will come back ready to work when the team reconvenes April 21.

“We set a direction on having the greatest offseason of our lives, individually,” Carroll said Wednesday. “That doesn’t mean you can't go out and have fun and live the life. You can work out and still be on 'The Tonight Show.' The most important thing that will happen is if we can recapture the work ethic that made us what we are. Nothing else really matters.

“If a guy’s not having the best offseason of his life, he’s going to get beat out, I think. That’s kind of the way we roll.”

Carroll continually reminds everyone that the Seahawks are focused only on themselves. They are not concerned about what other teams do or what other people say. It is evident in the unconventional way Carroll and Schneider have built the team. It is clear in the way Carroll has coached it: running the ball in a pass-happy league, building his defense from the secondary forward to stop all of those passing teams; and relying on a smart, dynamic quarterback to facilitate the offense.

Carroll is focused on making all of those elements better, starting with the next time his team gets together on April 21.

"It doesn't have to do with expectations. It doesn't have anything to do with what the writers are saying," he said. "It doesn't matter what the other teams do – our division or anybody. It's going to be about what we do. And we have to see if we can manage this exceedingly well and then take it one day at a time -- forever.

"It's not about next year's Super Bowl," he said. "It's about the first day on the 21st they get back: Are they ready to go to work? And we make a great April 21 of it. And then go to the next day. And do that with the discipline and the focus that obviously other people have a hard time doing. There's a million distractions and all that kind of stuff. Screw it; we're going to deal with it."

That is the confidence of a man with a far-reaching plan for winning. And after what we saw last season, there is no reason to doubt him.

The Seahawks know they are going to win more Super Bowls. They aren’t wishing it or hoping it or merely planning on it. They will simply do it.

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