While addressing reporters Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium, Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll took a moment to reflect on not only how far his team came in his four-year tenure, but also the NFC West as a whole.
Carroll guided the Seahawks to a 7-9 finish in 2010, which was good enough to win what was then a downtrodden NFC West. In 2013, the Rams’ 7-9 showing was good for fourth in the division, evidence of what has become the fastest progress of any division in the league.
“It has been a remarkable change from when everybody didn’t even want to admit that we were in the playoffs,” Carroll said. “I was actually talking with (San Francisco) Coach (Jim) Harbaugh about that, how we’ve watched this thing happen so quickly, and it’s very impressive. There’s no question about it, this is a very tough division. We know, because we have to play in it. Defenses are loaded up, their commitment to the running game is there. They just have terrific athletes and their quarterbacks are playing well.”
The NFC West was the only division to include three teams with 10 or more victories in 2013, and the four teams posted an NFL-best record of 30-10 outside the NFC West. All four teams also boasted top-15 defenses, with Seattle, Arizona and San Francisco ranking in the top-10. With the Rams holding the second and 13th overall picks in this year’s draft, the division’s rapid ascent shows no sign of slowing.
Rams General Manager Les Snead also expounded on the success of the NFC West as a whole on Friday, a trend that Snead asserts has been primarily a product of the balance and depth on each team’s roster.
“Teams win and individuals don’t, but when you look at this division, all of them have really good defenses,” Rams General Manager Les Snead said. Nobody in this division is relying on one human being and whether he has a hot day or not. You’ve got some well-built teams that are winning the old-fashioned way.”
The Rams’ success in winning the ‘old-fashioned’ way has come with a decidedly youthful bent under Snead and Head Coach Jeff Fisher. The progress for much of the Rams’ previous two draft classes has been swift, a trend Carroll has certainly noted. Three of the four games between the Rams and Carroll’s Seahawks in the past two years have been decided by a single possession, despite the Rams fielding the league’s youngest team in each season, and the Seahawks making a pair of postseason appearances, including a Super Bowl title this year.
With the Rams’ advantageous draft position this spring, Carroll has little trouble envisioning the league’s most successful division continuing its ascent.
“I don’t think much is going to change about it,” Carroll said. “The Rams are going to get better and they’ve got a tremendous draft opportunity coming up.”