Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.
January 20, 2009 10:25 AM
Posted by Danny O'Neil
Three years ago the teams played for the NFL championship.
Now, the Steelers are one win away from repeating while the Seahawks are less than a month removed from their worst season since 1992.
What happened? Plenty to the rosters of both franchises. Each team lost a Pro Bowl guard in free agency. Both have the same starting quarterback as they did in Super Bowl XL.
Here's a roster breakdown starting with the offensive starting lineups for the teams in Super Bowl XL compared to this season. A couple of notes: Seattle started Super Bowl XL in a three-receiver formation that lacked tight end Jerramy Stevens, the starter for that season. Also, this season, Pittsburgh's Max Spaeth is listed as a tight end, but he started 13 games in the regular season alongside the team's No. 1 tight end, Heath Miller.
[A reader pointed out that Carey Davis is the starting fullback, but he's actually started only three of the team's 16 games whereas backup tight end Spaeth has started 13.]
|Super Bowl XL||2008||Super Bowl XL||2008|
|FB||Dan Kreider||Max Spaeth||M.Strong||Leonard Weaver|
Each team has undergone a fairly complete overhaul of the offensive line. The Steelers have
two only one offensive lineman who was a starter on that Super Bowl team. [Editor's note: Thanks to Seattleisnice, who pointed out an error in the chart that listed Hartwig as the starting center in the Super Bowl and even named him as the only guy still starting in the same spot. Wrong. Jeff Hartings was center in the Super Bowl. Danny O'Neil will be punished accordingly.]
The Steelers lost a playmaker in Antwaan Randle-El, but replaced him with the big-play talent of Santonio Holmes.
The Seahawks went old at tight end with Marcus Pollard in 2007. That didn't work so they went young with John Carlson in 2008, which did work.
But Seattle's biggest deficiency last season was at receiver. The Seahawks got tired of Darrell Jackson's reluctance to practice and participate in offseason workouts, which is one reason they gave up a first-round pick for the privilege of paying Deion Branch a contract the Patriots wouldn't.
Branch performed well enough the final month of the season to spawn hope that he still might be a productive component, but right now he is the only receiver under contract with Seattle for 2009 who caught more than nine passes in 2008.
Let this serve as a starting point for a longer discussion about the changes that happened to the two franchises. I'll post a summary later this afternoon with some statistical additions. We'll analyze the defensive changes on Wednesday.