Building for the Long Term

Going from NFC West champions to 2-5 is taking its toll on the Seahawks, coach Pete Carroll and the team’s fans. But as history shows, struggles usually precede long-term success.

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John Schneider’s title with the Seahawks might be general manager, but it just as easily could include construction foreman and connoisseur of children’s books.

The Seahawks are in the second year of a building project that began in January of 2010 when Schneider and coach Pete Carroll were hired, and there are different ways to approach what can be an arduous undertaking in this win-now/win-more era of the National Football League.

“I always liken it to the ‘Three Little Pigs,’ ” Schneider said. “You can build it with straw or stick. Or you can work your tail off and know that you’re doing the right thing and kind of do it the old fashioned way and have a big, strong, sturdy foundation.

“Then, you can weather all the storms.”

That’s how Schneider and Carroll have chosen to build a Seahawks team that won a combined nine games in the two seasons before they arrived: One brick at time.

But the wolves are out – and huffing and puffing over this, that and seemingly everything – because of the Seahawks’ 2-5 start, especially after back-to-back losses to the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals made that Week 5 upset of the New York Giants at the Meadowlands look more mirage than measuring stick of the team’s progress to this point.

Just when it appeared the team had cleared a hump by beating a team with a winning record on the East Coast, the howl-inducing bumps have bull-rushed their way taken to center stage as the Seahawks prepare for this week’s game against the Dallas Cowboys in the Lone Star state.

“Right now,” Schneider said, “we’re in the process of weathering storms.”

The Seahawks have been in the path of storms before, and so has Schneider.

After Mike Holmgren was hired in 1999, the Seahawks backed into the playoffs and an AFC West title in his first season. Then, Holmgren decided to remake the roster. Twenty-five games into his tenure (including playoffs), Holmgren had an 11-14 record and was struggling to find a quarterback from a group that included Jon Kitna, Brock Huard and Glenn Foley.

Holmgren’s QB quandary remained unsettled even after he made a trade with the Green Bay Packers to acquire Matt Hasselbeck and signed Trent Dilfer as a free agent in 2001. An injured and ineffective Hasselbeck struggled through the 2001 season. Dilfer was named the starter in 2002, only to be injured twice. The team went 9-7 in ’01 and 7-9 in ’02.

We all remember what happened in 2003: The start of the most successful five-season run in club history, as the Seahawks advanced to the playoffs five times, won four NFC West titles and captured the franchise’s first conference champion in 2005.

In looking back at the bad ol’ days during those good times, Holmgren said several times that without the patience of owner Paul Allen, he wouldn’t have made it to 2003 – and the team likely would not have made the most of his roster reshaping in those early seasons.

Schneider knows, because he also was here in 2000 – as director of player personnel.

“When I got here that year, we knew we had a long way to go,” Schneider said. “We were looking for a quarterback. So we knew we were going to take some lumps. We knew there was going to be a building time. It was hard on the coaches and everybody involved in our football program, because you want to win right away. And in today’s society, it was, ‘OK, where’s our gratification? We just hired Mike Holmgren.’

“But if you look at the successful teams, they have programs that just have solid, sound foundations in place. That’s why it’s so important to have the time to get the program to where you want it to be, because once you make the changes the last thing you usually see are the results.”

via Building for the Long Term.