Three Steps Back to the Super Bowl

For as awful as Seahawks fans feel this week, there is plenty of reason for optimism. The most obvious being that Seattle is among the favorites to win it all next year - a testament to the club's talent and youth. What do the Seahawks need to do during the offseason to accomplish this feat? We provide a three-step checklist.

No amount of repeating it will put a second ring on their finger, but the Seahawks can take some solace in the fact that they "should" have won their second consecutive Super Bowl.

Lost in the painful aftermath of "The Call" and its disastrous results were the positives of Super Bowl XLIX from a Seattle perspective - the emergence of Chris Matthews, a ball-hawking defense that intercepted Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady twice, and typically efficient performances from Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch.

Some believe Seattle is the favorite to return to a third consecutive Super Bowl next year.

Following this three-step checklist would do it:

3. Heal With Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Jeremy Lane among the Seahawks facing off-season surgery, the top priority for Seattle is simply recovering. Those waiting for operations are just a small portion of the players on Seattle's roster who have simply played more games than other club in the NFL over the past two seasons and need to heal.

Operations and rehabilitation can lead to physical recovery but the Seahawks must also heal emotionally.

A loss like Sunday's would crack some clubs. It might unite other teams. What affect will it have in Seattle's locker room? Among the coaching staff?

Who will Pete Carroll tab as his new defensive coordinator? If it is a promotion from within the building as widely expected, how will the new defensive boos be accepted by his former peers?

I don't know. I don't think the Seahawks know.

2. Assess and adjust

Care to play the "What if game with me?" What if some of the free agents Seattle lost a year ago had been playing against New England? Think Golden Tate is more likely to catch that late slant from Wilson? What kind of pass rush would Clinton McDonald have provided against Brady? Would Red Bryant have tipped one of Brady's passes? How much better suited to covering Edelman would Walter Thurmound have been rather than Simon? Would Breno Giacomini have allowed six tackles and a sack to Rob Ninkovich?

When you boast a roster as talented as Seattle, losing good players to free agency comes with the territory. Seattle will lose several more players this year. Long before he was the only healthy starter among the Legion of Boom, John Schneider identified cornerback Byron Maxwell as the top priority in free agency and the general manager was correct to do so. Unfortunately, Maxwell may very well rank among the least likely of Seattle's free agents to return, though, simply because he's likely to get significant interest from other clubs, which could drive his price out of Seattle's reach.

There has been plenty of speculation that the Seahawks are in the final stages of extensions for Wilson and Lynch, among others. Deals with either could provide some flexibility but the lifeblood of this - and every successful NFL team - is through the draft.

Schneider and his scouting department will have to continue to find cheaper, talented options via the draft. I project one player who could help in this early mock draft. early mock draft

Fortunately, the 2015 class is especially gifted in what could prove to be Seattle's biggest areas of concern - receiver, depth along both lines and running back.

1. Believe in the process

Three facts for you... No team has won more games over the past two seasons than the Seahawks. Seattle is currently the favorite to win next year's Super Bowl. As a certain "hard-hitting" insurance spokesman would tell you, the first two facts hit hard enough, you don't need a third.

If the Seahawks regain their health and turn their disappointment into focus, there is no reason to believe they can't repeat as NFC Champions a year from now. The division is talented but until another team finds a franchise quarterback to contend with Wilson, Seattle is in position to rule the NFC West in much the same way that New England controlled the AFC East.

If that is the case, Seattle's opportunities for Super Bowl success are just beginning.

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