Seattle reminded everyone this season that defense still can win championships. But in doing so did the Seahawks likewise provide the NFL with a blueprint as to how a championship-winning defense is drafted and deployed?
That was a topic discussed in detail at the NFL Scouting Combine, and the following were among those who weighed in on the subject:
Coach Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
“It really starts with an overall philosophy of how the game works, which for us means eliminating big plays and playing great up front. That’s kind of the basics of it. And you have to build from that, start somewhere. So philosophically we have a really sound mentality and we build from that. We have been doing it for years. This is not just a one-year, two-year deal. And that guides the standards that we set so we are good up top.
“If you look at our defense and how well we play down the middle with (free safety) Earl (Thomas) back there, for years it’s been that way. That’s one of the building blocks that you are really good up top and you don’t let people score fast. And then as you move to the front we want to be more and more aggressive, always with speed.
“But if you don’t have a really clear vision of what you’re creating, then one year it’s going to be this and one year it’s going to be that. And I think we have a very solid mentality for what we are trying to make with our defensive team.”
General Manager Dave Gettleman, Carolina Panthers
“It’s not the Seahawks’ (unique) model. The Giants did it the exact same way before them. Teams have done it the exact same way before them. It’s a big man’s game; I don’t care what anybody says. The game is evolving, the style of play is evolving, but it’s a big man’s game.
“Heavy-bodied fronts, big men win. It’s just the way it is. And you look at Seattle; they’ve got heavy bodies up front. A couple of linebackers are a little bit smaller, but that secondary is monstrous. It’s a big man’s game. Don’t let anybody tell you anything different.
“If you look at the college game, (it’s) five wides and everybody’s throwing the flash screen, the zip screen, the tunnel screen, the hootchie screen. Everybody’s doing all that stuff. You have to tackle. That’s what we do well. That’s what Seattle does well. It stands to reason that a bigger DB should be a better tackler than a skinny little peanut.”
Executive VP of Football Operations John Elway, Denver Broncos
“You have to give Seattle a ton of credit on the defensive side. They can rush the passer. They have tremendous speed at the linebacker positions and great length in the secondary and speed back there, also. It really fed into what they did and their schemes on the defensive side.
“We are going to continue to evaluate players who are going to fit into our defense and our scheme and what we do and what (defensive coordinator) Jack (Del Rio) likes.”
General Manager Kevin Colbert, Pittsburgh Steelers
“(The Seahawks) put together a great program. That’s a program that’s unique to them. We have 32 teams. We are all different. We are made up differently. We all have different philosophies. Their philosophy was the one that won the Super Bowl this year, so congratulations to them. Their makeup is different than our makeup. It’s different than New England’s. It’s different than everybody’s.
“You have to be individual to your own organization and try to do what you can do within your constraints. So, to try to copy any (other team’s) offense, defense and organization, I think you’d be wasting your time. You have to be unique to yourself.”
General Manager John Schneider, Seattle Seahawks
“I think it’s just about trying to improve every single day in every aspect of acquisition. I think our staff is open-minded so they’re able to adjust on the fly. We moved (defensive end) Red Bryant when we got here. We knew he was a big, powerful man so they wanted to put him in a specific position to accentuate his strengths.
“I think Coach Carroll and his staff are very good at listening and being open-minded about players. Blueprint wise? I’d love to say this is exactly how you do it, but really it’s about getting up every day and trying to improve in every aspect that you can.”