So much for the distractions, the complacency and the post-Super Bowl stupor everybody expected would afflict the Seattle Seahawks.
And you can put aside those concerns that Marshawn Lynch’s contract discord would affect his play, and whether Seattle would be able to find a way to fit Percy Harvin into the offense.
Surely, the schedule would be tougher this year, and they’d have a target on their backs — starting with the first game against the Green Bay Packers.
Forget all that. With an overpowering effort in a 36-16 win over the Packers, the Seahawks put that all to rest and started 2014 the way they finished 2013 — by clobbering a quality opponent.
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The Packers are likely better than they looked Thursday, since many consider the Packers one of the top contenders to dethrone the Seahawks in the NFC. Now? Everybody else is a longshot.
“That’s the start of a new beginning,” said safety Kam Chancellor, who spent the evening bludgeoning the Packers with 11 tackles.
Frankly, these Seahawks look better — to an almost-frightening degree — than the club that opened up their Super Bowl season.
The offense in particular is so much more diverse.
Lynch, who held out the first week of training camp, ran as tough as always, as if he hates tacklers even more than clogged drains. He pounded out 110 yards on 20 carries.
His yards could come easier this season, as the offensive line looks much improved.
Rookie right tackle Justin Britt, considered the biggest question mark, was not a liability. The guards that were deemed substandard last season, James Carpenter and J.R. Sweezy, were a pair of road-graders.
Harvin, meanwhile, ran sweeps and caught passes and returned kicks for a total of 160 yards.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell designed and called a beautiful game, including a tricky misdirection play early in the second quarter that turned into a 33-yard touchdown pass to Ricardo Lockette.
With 398 yards in the opener, the Hawks offense surely looks capable of ranking much higher than the 17th position they finished last season.
With an effective line and the threat of Harvin attacking from all over the field, quarterback Russell Wilson will be even more efficient.
Wilson was in such control (19-28, 191 yards and two touchdowns) that he almost was unnoticeable. When Wilson isn’t forced to make spectacular plays while scrambling out of trouble, the Seahawks are at their best.
Of the 16 points the Hawks gave up, two scores were helped along by an Earl Thomas muff of a punt and a 44-yard pass interference call on linebacker Bobby Wagner.
The suspicion was that opponents would target cornerback Byron Maxwell, the junior partner of the Legion of Boom secondary, and the Packers did so with some success. But Maxwell also came up with a key interception.
And other than the pass interference call on Wagner, the Hawks were flagged just three times. The Seahawks led the league in penalties last season, and the offseason concern was that the league’s new points-of-emphasis would cause the physical secondary to be buried under an avalanche of flags.
“That will really help us down the road,” coach Pete Carroll said.
For the Seahawks to open with such a convincing win over a club like the Packers, and to answer so many of the questions that have been posed in the offseason, is about the best possible outcome in this nationally televised opener.
But the Seahawks aren’t content. Cornerback Richard Sherman, for instance, sounded a little grumpy afterward, concerned that they weren’t their best.
“We don’t compare ourselves against other people,” Sherman said. “We compare ourselves to our standard, and we weren’t up to par tonight.”
It’s possible that nobody else in the league is going to be either.