The 2010-12 Seahawks Offer a Lesson on How to Rebuild an NFL Team

All NFL franchises have good years and bad years when it comes to success. As star players age, and the pieces around them change, even the best teams reach the point when a rebuild is inevitable. For example, with Tom Brady’s departure, the Patriots may be on the verge of a rebuild.

Unfortunately, not all teams manage the process successfully. One of the best models of how to rebuild an NFL team comes via the Seahawks. From 2010 to 2012, Seattle drastically retooled its lineup and won a title. Let’s look at three things rebuilding teams can learn from the Seahawks’ success.

1. The Seahawks drafted smart

The draft is one of the most vital tools for a rebuilding team. The best franchises don’t just rely on high draft picks. They also scout players lower in the draft who they feel have untapped developmental promise or who are a good fit for their system.

Seattle succeeded in both regards during the 2010, 2011, and 2012 drafts. In 2010, they drafted safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, as well as cornerback Walter Thurmond. Those three players formed the core of Seattle’s fearsome “Legion of Boom” — one of the most dominant secondary units ever and a key reason for its 2013 Super Bowl win.

In the 2011 draft, the Seahawks selected cornerback Richard Sherman, who also played a vital role in the Legion of Boom. They also took outside linebacker Malcolm Smith in the seventh round. Smith later went on to win Super Bowl MVP honors in 2013.

In the 2012 draft, the Seahawks selected defensive end Bruce Irvin, cornerback Jeremy Lane, and quarterback Russell Wilson, among others. Many analysts second-guessed Seattle’s choice of Wilson, who ultimately proved his doubters wrong by leading the Seahawks to their first-ever title.

2. Seattle assembled the best possible coaching staff

No matter how much talent a roster possesses, it likely won’t live up to its promise without equally talented coaching staff. Obviously the most important piece here is the head coach. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who joined the team prior to the 2010 season, played a huge role in orchestrating the Seahawks’ rebuild both on and off the field.

Carroll also received top-notch help from defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Bradley spent four years with the Seahawks, from 2009 to 2012. During the 2009 season, the Seahawks were 24th in total yards allowed, with 5,703, and 26th in points allowed per game at 24.4. By 2012, Bradley improved the Seahawk’s defensive performance to fourth in total yards at 4,899 and first in points allowed per game at 15.3.

It’s also worth noting that the Seahawks benefited from a competent front-office staff. In particular, General Manager John Schneider played a huge role in the Seahawk’s drafting success between 2010 and 2012. In fact, Schneider lobbied to select Russell Wilson during the 2012 NFL Draft.

3. The Seahawks weren’t afraid to defy conventional wisdom

For virtually all of NFL history, teams have embraced the idea that veteran leadership is a vital aspect of building a championship contender. This kind of thinking is why most teams spend gobs of money every offseason picking up overpriced free agent veterans. The Seahawks weren’t scared to veer away from this wisdom.

As a result, the Seahawks fielded one of the youngest teams to ever reach the Super Bowl. Even more impressively, they set a record for the youngest team to ever win a Super Bowl, with an average team age of 25.7 years old. This record only stood for one year, however, before the Patriots beat the Seahawks in the next year’s Super Bowl. That Patriots team had an average age of just 25.5 years old.

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