ORLANDO Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll embraces the challenge of trying to become the first Super Bowl winner to defend a title since the 2004 New England Patriots. What's more, Carroll believes that playing in the ultra-competitive NFC West is a built-in advantage abetting his team's quest to repeat.

So Carroll welcomes taking the best shot from the San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams twice each next season.

That's really the best thing about our division that it calls for us to be at our best,'' Carroll said during Wednesday's NFC coaches breakfast. This whole thing is about consistency and maintaining your level of play.

One of the hallmarks is that we have those type of matchups so our division is as good as it gets making as good as we can be as good as we get.''

Though the Seahawks retained pass-rushing defensive end Michael Bennett, they suffered the free-agent departures of receiver Golden Tate, defensive ends Chris Clemons, Red Bryant along with cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner.

Carroll was asked which is harder, reaching the Super Bowl or returning?

It's really hard to get there and it's really hard to maintain it,'' Carroll said. The challenge of sustaining is greater. It's been demonstrated that teams can get there but for the most part, they can't stay there. There's all these natural things that happen to a team. There is attrition and expectations all those things that have to deal with that success that make it very difficult. So there are really, really great expectations to get that challenge on and demonstrate how to do that.''

He hasn't found the numerous celebrity appearances available to players a distraction to date.

You can work out and still be on the 'Tonight Show,''' Carroll said. We set our direction of having the greatest offseason of our lives each day. That doesn't mean they can't have a good time and have fun. We'll find out.

The most important thing that will happen when we come back together (April 21) is that we recapture the work ethic that made us what we are.

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