Now that the Seahawks have won the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history, coach Pete Carroll’s focus has shifted to making sure his team doesn’t join the recent list of one-and-done champions.
“Dancing With the Stars” it is not, and that’s a good thing. But at the NFL Annual Meetings, the next-best thing is Breakfast With the Coaches.
The owners’ meetings wrapped up in Orlando on Wednesday, but not before the NFC coaches meet with the media over scrambled eggs (the AFC coaches had their Breakfast With the Media on Tuesday). And Pete Carroll, as coach of the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, was a feature item on the media menu.
The obvious question: Which is more difficult, winning the Super Bowl or returning to the Super Bowl?
“It’s really hard to get there and it’s really hard to maintain it,” Carroll told the reporters gathered around his table at the Ritz-Carlton.
Winning a Super Bowl is not as easy as the Seahawks made it look on Feb. 2, when they throttled the highest-scoring offense in NFL history during a 43-8 romp over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. But is defending that title really as difficult as it has been since the New England Patriots became the last team to win back-to-back Super Bowls after the 2003 and 2004 seasons?
“The challenge of sustaining it is greater,” Carroll said. “It’s been demonstrated that teams can get there, but for the most part they can’t stay there. There are all these natural things that happen to a team. There are attrition and expectations, all those things that you have to deal with after having success that make it very difficult.”
Case in point, times eight: The Super Bowl champions in the previous eight seasons – the Pittsburgh Steelers (2005 and 2008), Indianapolis Colts (2006), New York Giants (2007 and 2011), New Orleans Saints (2009), Green Bay Packers (2010) and Baltimore Ravens (2012).
One and not necessarily done, but definitely unable to repeat as being No. 1 in back-to-back seasons.
“So there are really, really great expectations to get that challenge on and demonstrate how to do that,” Carroll said.
Despite the attrition, as the Seahawks have lost seven players the past two weeks in free agency – leading receiver Golden Tate; cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond; right tackle Breno Giacomini; offensive lineman Paul McQuistan; defensive tackle Clinton McDonald; and safety Chris Maragos; and also released two starters who signed elsewhere – defensive ends Red Bryant and Chris Clemons with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Despite the expectations, which also were being hoisted upon the Seahawks last year at this time. But they managed to handle them in going 13-3 during the regular season and then dispatching the Saints and San Francisco 49ers in the postseason before dismantling the Broncos.
Carroll has at least experienced this re-Pete performance thing before, as his USC Trojans won back-to-back National Championships in 2003 and 2004. He’s taking the same approach with his 2014 Seahawks, after his 2013 Seahawks won the franchise’s first Super Bowl.
“We set a direction on having the greatest offseason of our lives, individually,” Carroll said. “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.”
Carroll’s message on Wednesday was not new. He made similar statements after the Seahawks returned from New Jersey with the Lombardi Trophy in hand, and again at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month.
It’s just that the venue had changed, and included a menu.