Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll hinted this week that he’s been keeping some secrets.
“We’ve been working on the start of the season … for some time now,” Carroll said last week. “So it’s fun for the coaches to finally get some of the stuff that we have kind of kept under wraps ... into (the) full game plan.”
In other words, fans are going to see some things out of this team they haven’t seen.
And in a larger sense, that might not be a bad cover blurb for the whole season. Already, there have been star players on the covers of national magazines, and Super Bowl projections by dozens of analysts.
Well, the wraps come off this morning in North Carolina as the Seahawks open against a Panthers team, led by multifaceted quarterback Cam Newton, that fell to Seattle in a close game last season.
And we’ll start getting real evidence if this will turn out to be a season like none other we’ve seen from the Seahawks.
Here’s a shot at what you might see between the start of today’s game and the end of this highly anticipated season:
• Quarterback Russell Wilson, in his second season, will complete at least 70 percent of his pass attempts.
While only four players in NFL history have been that accurate, it’s not a great stretch because Wilson completed 67 percent in his final 11 games as a rookie, a stretch when the Seahawks assumed an offensive approach that will be the basis for this season’s attack.
Wilson this week cited
an improvement in “my understanding and patience and just being so clear-minded in everything.”
I think that means he’ll take chances when they’re reasonable but otherwise make the smart and conservative play.
• Marshawn Lynch might have fewer carries this season than the leg-wearying 351 he had in 18 games last season, but he might exceed the career-high average of 5.0 yards per carry he set.
Lynch veers away from the media and saw such little action in the exhibition season that he has been overlooked among other higher-traffic story lines.
But in practice, Lynch has looked fitter, leaner and faster than any time since he’s been with the Seahawks.
• Tight end Zach Miller, so long used as a blocker, reminded the staff late last season how valuable he is as a receiving threat. He had three touchdown catches and a two-point conversion in the final six games, including eight catches for 142 yards in the playoff loss at Atlanta.
Wilson and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell have not forgotten.
• The questions at the end of 2012 remain concerns at the start of 2013: Can the Seahawks stop the rush and pressure the quarterback?
Only five teams surrendered rush yards in bigger chunks than Seattle last season (4.5 yards per carry), and injuries have plagued the interior this exhibition season.
Last season’s leading pass rushers Chris Clemons (knee) and Bruce Irvin (suspension) are not available for the opener, and acquisition Cliff Avril has barely practiced because of injuries.
And that’s not even starting to examine the Seahawks’ defensive breakdowns on third-and-long in 2012.
Deficiencies in those three areas, if chronic, might be enough to keep Seattle from meeting the expectations so many have placed on the table.
• While the team is expected to be improved with so many starters having another season of experience together, that might not mean a major improvement of their 11-5 record of 2012.
This season, four of their road games are against teams with 11 or more wins last season, including three division champions.
From Sept. 29 through Oct. 28, the Hawks have only one home game, with four on the road at Houston, Indianapolis, Arizona and St. Louis.
So, this season is going to be fun. The franchise had some characters and exciting players back in the early days, but the competitive success rarely matched the personality.
This group is different. And more confident, too.
There will be big plays, controversies and unexpected developments throughout the season.
And barring key injuries or further suspensions, this team will go 12-4, roll into the playoffs and end up in the Super Bowl.