Pete Carroll loves to do things differently, and if he still wants to build a dynasty — even if he won’t say it in those terms — he certainly will get his chance to do it in a way it has never been done.
The Seahawks are the second team to ever follow up a Super Bowl win with a Super Bowl loss the next year, and if they are going to become a historically dominant team, they will have to get back a lot sooner than Washington did.
Joe Gibbs’ Redskins won in the strike-shortened 1982 season and made it back to the Super Bowl in 1983, losing to the Los Angeles Raiders.
But Washington couldn’t get back again until 1987 — losing in the first round in 1984, not making the playoffs in 1985 despite a 10-6 record and then losing in the NFC title game in 1986.
Gibbs’ team ended up winning again in 1991, completing a 10-year run in which Washington had a .702 winning percentage and a 3-1 record in the Super Bowl. It was enough to get Gibbs and many of his players in the Hall of Fame — even if they weren’t quite a full-fledged dynasty.
If not for the 49ers’ dominance during that stretch — four titles in nine seasons — the Redskins would have been the team of the 1980s. But Bill Walsh’s team won 71.9 percent of its games and four Super Bowls from 1981 to 1989 — the 1989 title came with George Seifert as coach after Walsh left.
In fact, the 49ers had the longest sustained run of success in NFL history — 16 straight years of double-digit wins under three coaches, with five titles in five Super Bowl appearances and five more appearances in the NFC Championship Game. Belichick’s Patriots are on a streak of 12 years with at least 10 wins and six Super Bowl appearances in 14 years.
This three-year run of double-digit wins is the first time the Seattle franchise has ever strung together even two seasons with 10 wins each, but Carroll is not likely to stick around long enough to put together streaks like the 49ers and Patriots have enjoyed.
The Seahawks’ Super Bowl window is much narrower than even Washington’s was under Gibbs, both because Carroll, 63, probably will retire by the end of the decade and because the salary cap will make it hard no matter how long he stays.
As John Schneider said the other day, “This league, because of the parity, drives you to 8-8.”
However, Carroll still can make the Seahawks the team of the 2010s and create one of the few dynasties in NFL history. It will require winning the Super Bowl at least twice in the next five years — which would give Carroll’s team a 3-1 record in seven years.
No team has gone to the Super Bowl three straight times in the salary-cap era, so even that would be a feat.
Buffalo’s four-year run of losses began before the salary cap was instituted in 1993, and the Bills were broken up by free agency.
Miami went to three straight Super Bowls in the early 1970s, when it was much easier to keep a core of great players together. The Dolphins lost in 1971 and then pulled off back-to-back titles in 1972 (their 17-0 season) and 1973.
Bill Belichick’s Patriots are the only dynasty in the salary-cap era. They won three titles in four seasons (2001-04) — they missed the playoffs after the first Super Bowl win — but then had gone 0-2 in the title game over the past seven years until they beat the Seahawks in XLIX.
Right now the Patriots and Seahawks are each 1-1 in the Super Bowl in this decade (2010s), so the team of the decade will be determined over the next five seasons.
Some people erroneously said a win by the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX would have represented the transfer of one dynasty to another. Not quite.
But there’s still time for Carroll to pull it off. He just will have to do it in a way it has never been done.