The Denver Broncos who come to Seattle with revenge on their minds this weekend are not exactly the same Broncos the Seahawks demolished in the Super Bowl.
Sure, John Fox is still their coach — one of the best in the league — and they still have the legendary Peyton Manning at quarterback. But so many other things have changed.
On offense, Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno left in free agency — replaced by free-agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders and second-year running back Monte Ball. Left tackle Ryan Clady is back after missing most of 2013 with a foot injury. And top slot receiver Wes Welker returned this week after his suspension was overturned thanks to the new drug policies ratified by the union and the league.
Even with the changes, Manning has been typically masterful in Denver’s 2-0 start, completing 69 percent of his passes and throwing for six touchdowns.
“They’re terrific,” coach Pete Carroll said. “Their whole system, their function, their tempo, their style of offense, the intricacies, the concepts of route running and all that. Really, it’s impeccable. They give us every challenge that you could ever want, and they’re off to a great start.”
Funny how a team can go from 13 wins to nine in just one week.
The Seahawks came into this season amid pomp and circumstance as Super Bowl champs, and they merely added to their aura of invincibility with a blowout win in the opener against Green Bay.
Everyone fully expected them to carry that over to Week 2 in San Diego, but no one — particularly the Seahawks — was prepared for the Gates of Hell. A resurgent all-star tight end and debilitating heat conspired to overwhelm Seattle’s vaunted defense.
There is no Walter Jones in this group. No once-in-a-generation, first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Former Seahawks draft picks Shawn Springs and Kevin Mawae are among the first-year-eligible nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015, announced Tuesday.
They join former coaches Chuck Knox, Tom Flores and Mike Holmgren and former running backs Shaun Alexander and Ricky Watters as nominees who coached or played for the Seahawks.
Those seven are among 113 total nominees — a list that will be whittled to 25 semifinalists in November and 15 finalists in January before the inductees are selected Super Bowl weekend.
The Seahawks have had a good run in the Hall of Fame recently, with career Seahawks Cortez Kennedy and Jones being inducted over the past three years. They join Steve Largent as the only career Seahawks in the Hall (and they shared a great moment before the Seahawks’ opener a couple of weeks ago).
But do any of Seattle’s current nominees have a chance to join that trio this year? Let’s take a look at each of the seven, starting with the coaches:
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com gives a detailed breakdown of how the Chargers beat the Seahawks and then concludes, “Even with the winning script in hand, it still takes flawless execution to defeat the defending Super Bowl champs.”
As the Seattle defense prepares to face a star quarterback for the third straight week, coach Pete Carroll says, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Having beaten Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers and lost to Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers, the Hawks now prepare to host Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in a Super Bowl rematch. And Carroll cracked that they ought to add Tom Brady and the New England Patriots during the Seahawks’ Week 4 bye.
“It’s as hard as it can get,” Carroll said, not meaning that in a bad way. “It’s great for us. It’s going to help us during the course of the season. You can’t get any better challenges than these guys throwing the football. Aaron is phenomenal. And look what we just saw (with Rivers). And here comes Peyton.
“This is a great stretch for us. It’ll only help us,” Carroll said of playing the three top-rated active quarterbacks in the NFL. “We have to be so on the mark and so right in everything we’re doing to defend these guys.”