No one expected the Seattle Seahawks to have the kind of season that they had.
There were some expectations after the acquisition of quarterback Matt Flynn, who was supposed to join an offense that already included running back Marshawn Lynch and wide receiver Sidney Rice.
But doubts built when head coach Pete Carroll named rookie Russell Wilson the starting quarterback after the third week of the preseason.
In the first half of the season, there were some moments where you could see the glimpses of what Wilson, a third-round pick from Wisconsin, brought.
But it wasn't until the Seahawks won seven of their final eight games to end the season at 11-5 that Wilson showed that he could be the quarterback of the future.
During that stretch, Wilson led Seattle to a overtime win in Chicago and led a scoring explosion where the Hawks totaled 105 points in three games against Arizona (58-0), Buffalo (50-17) and San Francisco (42-13).
While the season ended in the NFC divisional round with a 30-28 loss to Atlanta last Sunday, consider that Seattle was able to score 21 points in the final quarter to come back from 20 points down.
It was also Wilson's best game of the season, as he threw for 385 passing yards and two touchdowns on 24 completions.
If there's one thing that Seattle fans can be sure of heading into the offseason, it's that the Seahawks have found their franchise quarterback for the next decade.
While Wilson made his case to be the 2012 NFL Rookie of the Year, a big part of the offense came from the rushing attack, led by Lynch.
Lynch ran for 1,590 yards and 11 touchdowns. Wilson and rookie running back Robert Turbin also had success running, which shows how well the offensive line was coached by Tom Cable.
Seattle has already had some changes, as defensive coordinator Gus Bradley left to take the head coaching position with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
I feel that Dan Quinn, who comes in after a successful season at the University of Florida, could maintain the dominance that the Seahawks have had the last few seasons on defense.
When it comes to the draft, I think that Seattle could always aim to find another diamond in the rough to play in the secondary or the defensive line.
But if Seattle wants to take that next step to Super Bowl contention, there is plenty of money to spend on free agents—about $18.6 million (raises pinkie to side of lip, as Dr. Evil's music plays).
Back on track, there are plenty of wide receivers who could be on the market.
While Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin had pretty good years, none of them had 100 receptions or 1,000 yards like a true No. 1 receiver would for a championship contender.
Wes Welker is an immediate name that comes to mind as potential free agent that Seattle could go after. But I could understand if the Seahawks end up with someone like Dwayne Bowe or Josh Cribbs.
While there have been some talks of trading Flynn, I would recommend keeping him as a good backup option to Wilson. We've seen plenty of teams fall out of the running when they don't have a viable second option.
But since teams like Arizona and Jacksonville need a starting quarterback, the Seahawks should at least listen to what kind of draft picks or potential starters they could gain to continue building their team around Wilson and Lynch.
Seattle has come a long way since being mocked as a 7-9 playoff team in 2010.
And with the young talent that the Seahawks have, we could be looking at a dynasty in the Pacific Northwest.
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