What the Seattle Seahawks emphatically proved in last night’s 43-8 destruction of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII is that defense can not only win you a championship, it can make a statement in the process. Seattle’s defense and their Kam Chancellor-led “Legion of Boom” set an aggressive tone from the get-go and managed to quell what had been a record-setting Denver offense.
They were so utterly dominant and relentless in their aggression that if it weren’t for the “Manning” embroidered across the back of Denver’s No. 18, fans may have thought they were watching some hack first-timer under center. And that’s in a game where his 33 completions set a Super Bowl record!
In what is historically a copycat league, the impact that Seattle’s secondary has had on both their on-field success as well as their identity as a team is something that may likely warrant replication attempts from teams around the league. It’d be a justified replication, too. The fact that the league’s No. 1 defense so brutally manhandled the league’s No. 1 offense en route to a Super Bowl title would make me want to drop what I was doing and put an emphasis on the secondary as part of my offseason plan in hopes of having a similar result.
However, from a Rams perspective, one of a team with very obvious depth issues in it’s secondary, that may not be the right way to direct an offseason that is now officially underway
(*Eyes roll back in head as realization that football season is over finally sets in*)
The road to the Lombardi Trophy looks like it will go through Seattle for the next few seasons at least, which is a big problem for future playoff teams and an even bigger problem for Seattle’s NFC West counterparts. The Rams don’t have to simply get to the playoffs before worrying about Seattle, they have to compete against these guys twice a season for the same playoff spot. While coaching was a factor in the Super Bowl outcome, the fact that the Broncos’ pool of offensive talent (one that runs much deeper than St. Louis’, mind you) sputtered so shamefully against the Seahawks means that it will take a huge effort to upend their hold on the NFC West. Therefore, trying to replicate their successful secondary, what may be an appealing option for many teams, may not be the right answer for the Rams.
St. Louis seems poised to at least add help at safety whether through free agency or the draft, and could stand to add another cornerback if they are going to consider approaching a level of production similar to that of Seattle. However, no matter how many times defensive end Robert Quinn sacks Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson in years to come, the Ram offense will still be the unit that has the unenviable task of unlocking that historically impressive defense. For that reason, despite some personal wavering back-and-forth in regards to offseason strategy, it seems like the Rams need to go big on offense or risk going home again in 2014.
According to both Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com, the scales of guard Rodger Saffold’s future with the Rams appears to be tipping toward a test of the market. It would be a major blow to an offensive line unit that was arguably the most unstable among all Rams’ positions in 2013. Bringing Saffold back has always been the top priority of this offseason (at least among the pundits), but the Rams must shore up the offensive line first-and-foremost to even have a shot at moving the ball against defensive end Cliff Avril and co., and Saffold’s signature would be a solid step in that direction.
After that, head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead have to seriously consider going all offense in the first two rounds. For me personally, a guy who has very little general manager experience (read: none), I’m saying that wide receiver Sammy Watkins doesn’t seem like much of a reach anymore with the second overall pick. The Rams will need a stable of offensive weapons to keep that Seattle defense on it’s heels, and Watkins’ abilities in that department seem limitless. After Watkins, the Rams have to go offensive line at pick 13 and in the second round as well, despite Fisher’s historical reluctance to use his selections in that area. The team is working with very limited cap space (even less if the bring back Saffold) and may not be able to afford free agent reinforcements along the front five. Give me a tackle at 13 and a guard in round two.
I realize that this is very much a knee-jerk reaction to a one-game performance, but the talent that makes up that Seattle defense isn’t going away any time soon. If they hope to force open their own playoff window, the Rams will need elite-level offensive talent by the boatload to keep the Seahawk unit on their toes and assert themselves in the battleground of the NFC West.
Re-live the Top-5 moments of the 1999 Super Bowl season.