SEATTLE -- This is not something you hear from a team that just played its first game after winning the Super Bowl.
"Everything is finally clicking. Everybody is on the same page."
Now they're clicking? Apparently so for the Seattle Seahawks who, in their season-opening 36-16 thrashing of the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night presented a scary possibility: that they are better, particularly more dynamic offensively, than they were when they made their championship run and crushed the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII this past February.
The memories of that Super Bowl revolve almost exclusively around the defense and how it befuddled the Broncos' explosive offense. And that defense, which was able to keep most of the critical pieces in place this offseason, was expectedly terrific again Thursday, bottling up Aaron Rodgers to 5.7 yards per attempt and Eddie Lacy to 2.8 yards per rush. The Packers had just 255 yards of offense and Rodgers did not throw a pass to Richard Sherman's side of the field all night. Not one, essentially submitting to play the game on only half a field. The warp-speed offense that Green Bay promised did not rattle the Seahawks, who are happy to stay in their base defense as much as opponents want, because they are so good at it.
The Seahawks have now outscored their last two opponents -- who boast two of the league's best offenses -- 79-24. If there is good news for the Packers on a miserable night -- and there isn't much, considering that right tackle Bryan Bulaga's knee injury is a huge concern, and Lacy's concussion isn't a good start to the campaign -- it is that they are unlikely to face an opponent this tough, this multidimensional, again in the regular season.
But it was the speaker of that ominous-to-opponents quote, the Seahawks' everyman Percy Harvin, who embodied what might give the Seahawks an edge that previous champions trying to repeat did not have. The Seahawks have all of their best players available right now, something they did not have last year when Harvin was never fully healthy. He is now, and the Seahawks' expanded playbook was on full display. Harvin rushed for 41 yards, caught 59 yards of passes and returned kicks for 60 yards.
Harvin takes pride in playing so many positions, but the Seahawks want to use him in so many ways that he admits he sometimes gets fuzzy about his playbook, necessitating quizzes from coaches to make sure he is on top of his game. Harvin pointed to what the Seahawks call the "jet sweep" as his preferred play Thursday, because Seattle had little trouble getting to the edge on the Packers, allowing Harvin to take off.
"I think this is what everybody envisoned," Harvin said after he was asked if this is what he envisoned when he first came to Seattle. "We all keep saying , 'Sky's the limit,' especially having such a dangerous defense that can get us the ball on the short side of the field. Last year, we had a couple guys in and out. I was in and out. Everybody being here all at once, we all grinded together."
"That's just not the defense that we can play," linebacker Brad Jones said. "It wasn't it. That wasn't it. We got to figure out what we did because that is not acceptable."
The Seahawks are a rare defending champion, still very young and remarkably intact. Opponents did not pluck their coordinators and were unable to cherry pick much of their top talent. Instead, in getting added weaponry like Harvin back onto the field, the Seahawks may be fortified. Harvin, who missed 15 games with a hip injury last season, had more receptions in the Seahawks' first three offensive plays of the season (two) than he did in the entire 2013 regular season (one). Because he did not play in most of the second half of the 2012 season in Minnesota, this is essentially the first time Harvin has practiced and played regularly in two years. He said he has not been this healthy since college.
"Gosh, he's such a good football player," Pete Carroll gushed when asked about how to use Harvin. "We've got a million thoughts. Ideas aren't hard. He's a wonderful mix of player."
Perhaps we should have guessed a performance like this was in the offing when Carroll, little more than 24 hours before kickoff, popped up at a corporate event, making a pitch for the Bose headphones coaches will wear this season. In his sweatshirt and khakis, Carroll was as loose as ever, joking about how he likes to listen to music and telling an executive who had marveled at how difficult it must be to make critical decisions with deafening crowd noise in your ear: "It ain't that big a deal."
Not when you have his options, it's not. And the options are only getting greater.
"Absolutely," Harvin said. "If we already peaked in this game, we're going to be in trouble. I hope we can take this game and build on it."