Seattle's chances of making the playoffs in 2009 not as difficult as it might seem
In each of the past five NFL seasons, at least two teams have made the playoffs after winning five games or fewer the year before.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Rebounds may be a basketball statistic, but they've become an NFL trend.
The Dolphins went 1-15 in 2007, but won 11 games this season, matching the largest one-season improvement in league history. The Falcons went from 4-12 in 2007 to being a playoff team.
The Seahawks might have bottomed out in Mike Holmgren's final season as coach, but as they prepare to try to bounce back, it's worth pointing out new coach Jim Mora has a little bit of experience in that regard.
In 2004, he was hired to coach an Atlanta team that won five games the year before. He took the Falcons to 11 wins and the NFC Championship Game his first year as Atlanta's coach. Mora will hold his first news conference as Seahawks coach this morning, and the biggest question will be whether he can inspire a similar turnaround in this Seahawks team.
History says it has become increasingly common for teams to rebound from abject disappointment. In each of the past five NFL seasons, at least two teams have made the playoffs after winning five games or fewer the year before.
What does that say in the eyes of Seahawks president Tim Ruskell?
"The personnel is pretty darn close team to team," Ruskell said. "So if you get an attitude shift, or a team's gone through something really horrible in terms of a bad season, and all the players are upset and want to change that, you get that commitment and the chemistry going.
"You can do it."
That sounds almost good enough to be a presidential campaign slogan. Yes, the Seahawks can. The question is whether they will.
Ruskell said Thursday this is not an offseason in which Seattle will overhaul its roster. Change is going to have to come from within if the Seahawks are going to follow the path of teams like Miami and Atlanta.
"What it comes down to is just attitude," Ruskell said. "Those teams changed their attitudes. That came out via the coaching staff, or whatever changes they made in the front office."
Change the coach, alter the culture. That's been the most common route. Of the past seven teams to reach the playoffs a season after winning five or fewer games the year before, five had new coaches.
The Seahawks are banking on an overhaul of the coaching staff to breathe life into the roster. Holmgren is gone after 10 seasons, Mora is in. Casey Bradley was announced as Seattle's new defensive coordinator on Monday, and Greg Knapp became the new offensive coordinator last week.
Patience might be a virtue, it just doesn't apply to NFL coaches. At least not any more. Used to be that teams waited years to allow a coach's system to take root, but in the salary-cap era, teams have become more accustomed to quick results.
"A new coach was not expected to come in one year and turn it around," Ruskell said. "Now, you better get it done right now! It's hard."
And as a result of the Seahawks' worst season since 1992, they hold the No. 4 overall pick in April's draft. They have hopes of making 2008 an aberration rather than the end of the franchise's most successful era. History says it's possible, but it will be up to the Seahawks and their new coach to translate potential into reality.
"Four and 12 will be the absolute motivation, certainly on the players' part, to say, 'We are better than that, ' " Ruskell said. " 'We know that, and we will have to do everything that we possibly can starting immediately to make sure that doesn't happen again.' "
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|Era of new possibility|
|The implementation of the NFL's salary cap in 1994, coupled with the advent of free agency, helped open the door for teams to take the disappointment of a sour season and spin it into playoff gold the next year. Just look at how teams that went 4-12 fared in 11 seasons before the salary cap compared to how they've fared since:|
|Years||4-12 teams||Next season||Made playoffs|
|1983-1993||23||Avg. 6.6 wins||*2 (8.7 percent)|
|1994-present||35||Avg. 7.1 wins||7 (20 percent)|
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