Could Browns follow the Seahawk Model?

BY foxsports • February 1, 2015

There's no question the NFL is a copycat league.

Whichever teams are successful, other teams try to emulate their success.

The Seattle Seahawks, who will play in the Super Bowl Sunday will be trying to win their second-straight title.

Can the Browns follow the Seattle model to a rise of their own? GM Ray Farmer hastalked about the way the Seahawks were built. We'll take a look at the Seahawks and see where the Browns are in the process.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll started the process in 2010. The Seahawks were 7-9 in his first year and then were 7-9 once again in 2011. They jumped to 11-5 in 2012, 13-3 in 2013 and 12-4 this past season.

The Browns finished 7-9 in Mike Pettine's first season.

"There are a number of kind of tenets you know, but developing a really competitive roster, keeping it young, always trying to upgrade," Carroll said this week in preparation for the Super Bowl. "That mentality is really pervading. It shows up everywhere.

"The style of play that we want, that we agreed to, about being a physical team and running the football and playing defense on teams," Carroll said. "And with that thought, those are all just kind of the tenets that we've built it on and we've tried to remain uncommonly consistent in that commitment. I think that's at the core of everything."

The Seahawks have been successful because of their success in rushing the ball and playing top-flight defense. Seattle led the NFL in rushing in 2014 gaining 172.6 yards a game.

Meanwhile, the Browns finished 17th in rushing as they averaged 108.0 yards a game. There is hope, however, as the Browns were not far behind the Seahawks, averaging over 146 yards a game when center Alex Mack broke his leg in the fifth game.

Marshawn Lynch rushed for 1,306 yards with 13 touchdowns on 280 carries (4.66 avg.). Even though the Browns don't have bell cow like Lynch, the duo of Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell combined for similar numbers as they rushed for 1,280 yards on 319 carries (4.0 avg.) and combined for 12 touchdowns.

The rushing offense is predicated on a good offensive line. Left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger are Pro Bowl players. Coincidentally, the Browns have a Pro Bowl left tackle in Joe Thomas and Mack at center. Joel Bitonio has a good chance of becoming a Pro Bowl performer, as well.

The Seahawks had the 27th-best passing offense with receivers Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and tight end Luke Wilson.

Farmer has used the Seahawks as an example of how they found their receivers through late-round picks and undrafted free agents.

"I'd like to ask everybody here one question, as well," Farmer said last year after his first draft with the Browns defending why he didn't draft a wide receiver. "How many of the receivers that were with the Seattle Seahawks during their entire season (2013) and through the beginning of the playoffs were drafted players?"

Even without Josh Gordon, Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel, Travis Benjamin are similar to the Seahawk receivers, providing the Browns re-sign Jordan Cameron and Miles Austin.

That brings us to the quarterback. Everyone knows how important the quarterback is in the NFL.

Russell Wilson is just finishing his third season in the NFL with two Super Bowl performances. Wilson passed for 3,475 yards, including 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Wilson also rushed for 849 yards and six touchdowns.

Obviously, finding a quarterback takes a little bit of luck. The Seahawks didn't draft Wilson until the third-round of the 2012 NFL Draft and he's about to become one of the highest paid quarterbacks, if not the highest, in the NFL.

In 2012, the Seahawks weren't counting on Wilson as they paid free agent Matt Flynn a fortune to be their starting quarterback. However, Flynn was unable to beat out Wilson and the rest is history. If the Seahawks were so smart they wouldn't have signed Flynn nor would they have waited until the third round to draft Wilson.

The Browns are due for a little luck at quarterback, but until that happens the search continues, whether the answer ends up being Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel or someone not on the roster.

Now, the comparison is with the defense. Pettine is a defensive-minded coach who wants to have a dominating, physical defense. The Seahawks are in the Super Bowl again because they have the number one ranked defense in the NFL

Meanwhile, the Browns finished 23rd. However, there are some positives to build on.

The Seahawks are known for their secondary. Three of their four defensive backs are Pro Bowl performers with cornerback Richard Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.

The Browns had three Pro Bowl performers in 2014, as well, with cornerback Joe Haden and safeties Tashaun Gipson and Donte Whitner. Ironically, Whitner was an alternate who went to the Pro Bowl in Thomas' place as the Seahawks were in the Super Bowl.

The Seahawks play a 4-3 scheme, with the Browns a 3-4. Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner is a Pro Bowl performer, but K.J. Wright and Bruce Irvin are solid players.

The closest the Browns have is inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, who was playing at a near Pro Bowl level before he was injured. Paul Kruger had 11 sacks last season, but the Browns have to get more out of Barkevious Mingo and Jabaal Sheard, if they re-sign him.

On the defensive line, the Seahawks have Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett. The Browns have a solid defensive front with Desmond Bryant, Phil Taylor, Billy Winn and Ahytba Rubin, if they retain him, but currently no Pro Bowl players on the line.

The Seahawks have continuity and stability over the past four seasons and they have ascended to the Super Bowl the past two seasons. The Browns offense is comparable to the Seahawks, with the obvious absence of an elite quarterback.

They also have a good secondary and have some of the personnel that could develop into an upper echelon defensive team with a few pieces.

The Seahawks have built their team through the draft and free agency with proper decisions.

The question is will the Browns make the moves necessary to accomplish the ultimate goal.

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