Seattle Seahawks

SeahawksNFL Team Column
By Trevor Page
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2009 Draft Analysis
2010 NFL Draft

29 July 2011

Quarterback Situation Changing

***** Before we get started it’s only right that I touch on the Quarterback situation that has been in flux the last few days.  In part 1 of my column I mentioned that Tavaris Jackson had put up very similar production to 10 year starter Matt Hasselbeck and is not only 8 years younger, but would also cost $4 million a year less.  As it turns out, Jackson is the new Seahawks QB and Hasselbeck is off to Tennessee to “babysit” Jake Locker.  Terms of Hasselbeck’s deal haven’t been released yet, but it sounds like Jackson’s deal with Seattle is 2 years and $8 million.  Before the NFL Lockout began there was a rumor that Hasselbeck had turned down a 1 year offer worth $9 million from Seattle, so my estimation of saving the team around $4 million a year doesn’t sound like it will be too far off.  Here’s the bottom line; Hasselbeck wasn’t going to be part of the future. 

After a decade with the team, a 37th birthday coming in September, and declining production, it was time for him and the team to move on.  I’m not saying that Jackson is magically going to lead the team to a mind-blowing 7-9 record and a first round playoff win (that’s a joke btw) but I won’t be convinced that this is a massive downgrade.  If he can start 16 games, I honestly feel Jackson can throw for 3,000 yards and 17-23 TD’s.  In signing Sidney Rice, Seattle finally has a big play WR that it never had with TJ Houshmandzadeh or Deion Branch.  Rice, along with Mike Williams, Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, Ben Obamanu, Golden Tate, John Carlson, Cameron Morrah, and Deon Butler gives Jackson plenty of weapons to work with and for the first time since 2005, the offensive line actually shows some signs of being competent.  I will be going into full detail on the Jackson, Rice, and Gallery signings in the next few days, along with all the other moves the team makes between now and then.*****  

Back for Part 2 covering the initial look at possible Free Agents the Seahawks may want to look at position by position.  Part 1 covered the offense (including my pre-agreement thoughts on Tavaris Jackson over Matt Hasselbeck at QB), and here, it’s time to go over the defense, a defense that ranked 27th overall, 31st versus the run, and 25th in scoring defense.  In the 2011 Draft, the Seahawks used 6 of their 9 total picks on the defensive side of the ball, half of those in the secondary.  Seattle hasn’t lacked talent on defense recently, but inconsistency has plagued the team since their Super Bowl run in 2005. 

The team has to begin infusing the roster with more impact players and continue to develop the young players they have added over the past 2 seasons.  Earl Thomas, Aaron Curry, David Hawthorne, Red Bryant, Walter Thurmond, Kam Chancellor, and KJ Wright are 22, 25, 26, 27, 23, 23, and 22 years old, respectively.  That’s a nice start to building a unit that could eventually win games for this team (as witnessed by the first 6 games of 2010 in which the Seahawks ranked 2nd in the NFL in rush defense and was 13th overall).  Seattle needs to look for potential starters on the defensive line and secondary, and add depth at linebacker.  Again, with $41 million under the new salary cap, the team will be aggressive with some of the free agents they are targeting. 

Defensive Line: Defensive Tackle Brandon Mebane is the Free Agent for the Seahawks that scouts and analysts believe is the most talented player Seattle could lose in Free Agency.  Mebane, a 3rd round pick in 2007, has always showed glimpses of the jaw dropping talent that had him as one of the up-and-coming young D-Linemen in the entire NFL, but he also hasn’t strung those moments together to form any kind of consistency.  Given his skill set at DT, it’s safe to assume that Mebane will have several suitors and someone will probably end up paying him a lot of money to the point where he could price himself out of what Seattle would like to pay to retain him.  With Craig Terrill and Junior Siavii also free agents, they could have a real problem with depth, so regardless of whether the Seahawks keep Mebane or not they still have work to do to fill in the rest of the spots on a D-Line that allowed 120 rushing yards per game.

Pass rushing Defensive End Ray Edwards from Minnesota would be a great addition to work alongside Chris Clemons on passing downs and at 6’5 268lbs, Edwards has proven to be able to hold his own against the run during his 5 seasons with the Vikings.  Former NY Giant Barry Cofield would fit in the Defensive Tackle rotation.  Marcus Spears is a 5 technique DE who could bring versatility but never really lived up to the 1st round pick status with Dallas. Yes, an upgrade to the pass rush is more than welcomed, but the Seahawks must beef up the tackle position if they hope to improve on that 27th overall defense rating. 

Possible FA Targets at Defensive Line- Edwards-UFA DE, Minnesota, Mebane-UFA DT, Seattle, Cofield-UFA DT, NY Giants, John McCargo-UFA DT, Buffalo, Remi Ayodele-UFA DT, New Orleans, Tim Crowder-UFA DE, Tampa Bay, Tommie Harris-UFA DT, Chicago (released in February).

UPDATE: Cofield has signed a 6 year contract with the Washington Redskins

Linebacker:  The Seahawks have invested heavily in the linebacker position not only over the last few years, but for the better part of the last decade. As of this moment, Seattle has Aaron Curry, David Hawthorne, and team captain Lofa Tatupu as the 3 starters and very little depth behind them.  4th round pick KJ Wright is a specimen who can play all 3 LB spots and has starter potential (especially if Tatupu is cut and Hawthorne is forced to move inside), but for the benefit of the defense the team will need to sign several backup and special teams “type” players at the position. 5th year LB Will Herring has proved his value to the team, backing up all 3 LB spots during his career.  Due to the fact that the only other LB currently on the roster is 7th round pick Malcom Smith out of USC, signing Herring is of upmost importance.  Because the top 4 LB’s are pretty much set, I don’t really see the team going after the top names on the FA market. 

Inside LB Stephen Tulloch, a FA from Tennessee, is a tackling machine and would be a playmaking/younger version of and a replacement for Tatupu, but with so many other needs, the odds of the team putting even more money here seems unlikely.  Look for the Seahawks to sign a few minimum salary LB’s and undrafted FA’s to fill the 2-3 remaining roster spots.

Possible FA Targets at Linebacker- Herring-UFA, Seattle, Prescott Burgess-UFA, Baltimore, Thomas Howard-UFA, Raiders, Akeem Jordan-UFA, Philadelphia

Cornerback/Safety: Going into the 2011 season, Seattle only has 1 starter remaining out of the 4 secondary positions they had in 2009, and for good reason.  The Seahawks have finished 19th, 32nd, 30th, and 27th (out of 32 teams) in passing yards allowed per game since 2007.  Needless to say, the backline of the Seattle defense has been terrible.  Only Dallas and Houston gave up more TD passes than Seattle’s 31 in 2010 and it’s time for a major shake-up.  The 2010 NFL Draft brought the team 3 of the new potential starters for the 2011 season in Free Safety Earl Thomas, CB Walter Thurmond, and Strong Safety Kam Chancellor.  Recent high draft picks like Kelly Jennings and Josh Wilson have not worked out here and an emphasis on finding bigger/stronger/faster players for the position was in full effect in the 2011 draft seeing the team draft CB Richard Sherman (6’2 195lbs), SS Mark LeGree (6’0 211lbs), and CB Byron Maxwell (6’1 207lbs). 

The one staple in the secondary since 2002, Marcus Trufant has battled inconsistency and injuries over the past 4 seasons.  He also has a big contract.  Seattle hasn’t been shy about requesting their vets to take pay cuts, and Tru might be a candidate for just that.  He will continue to start this season and while the front office and the fans are clamoring for him to step up his game, I have a feeling that this may be his last year with the team.  7 year veteran Jordan Babineaux has always been a very versatile player but he already took a pay cut before the 2010 season and I’m not sure the team would bring him back for a penny more than what they cut him down to last year.  With the youth at CB, it would make sense for the Seahawks to use some of their cap space on another veteran who can come in and eliminate one half of the field.  There are a few big name and big game CB’s on the market. 

Nnamdi Asomugha, a Pro Bowl CB the last 3 years in Oakland, would be a God-send, but he has labored in rebuilding mode with the Raiders his entire career.  He will end up in a place that can win immediately.  Former Pro Bowler and “Father of the Year” candidate Antonio Cromartie is a freakish talent and will command a large salary, but he is inconsistent and not physical enough to play the press coverage Pete Carroll wants.  Cincinnati FA corner Johnathan Joseph might be a level below those two talent-wise, but he has averaged 17 passes defended and 3 interceptions a year in his 5 seasons and he does his best work in press coverage.  Seattle will need to add a player or 2 at Safety for depth but if I were to spend any significant money in this secondary, Joseph would be my number 1 target. 

Possible FA Targets at Cornerback/Safety- Joseph- UFA CB, Cincinnati, Cromartie-UFA CB, NY Jets, Carlos Rogers-UFA CB, Washington, Ashton Youboty-UFA CB, Buffalo, Atari Bigby-UFA SS, Green Bay, Michael Huff-UFA FS, Oakland, Reed Doughty-UFA SS, Washington

As of me submitting this column the Seahawks had already come to agreements with Free Agent Guard Robert Gallery, QB Tavaris Jackson, and WR Sidney Rice.  All 3 were discussed in part 1 of my look at Free Agency.  Now that some potential targets have been discussed it’s time to start covering the initial reactions to players finally putting pen to paper.  While these and other deals have been agreed upon, nothing can be made official until Friday, July 29th.  There will continue to be reports of where players will be going and it’s 100% certain that between now and the weekend there will be a number of moves that reshapes this roster, so I will be doing my best to cover every move here.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

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27 July 2011

Seattle Seahawks Pre-Season Update

NFL Football is a year round sport these days.  After the Super Bowl in February Free Agency starts before you know it.  A month later the Draft comes followed by mini camps and a month after that come more camps.  Suddenly it’s July.  Preseason games start the first part of August, and as we enter the fall in September you’re starting to plan your tailgating menus.  As someone who loves sports and loves to write about them, there’s not a lot that happens during the year that is more exciting than March-July in the NFL. 

This year however, the NFL unfortunately forced me (and a majority of all of you) into a boredom induced coma as the billionaire owners locked out the millionaire players as the previous collective bargaining agreement ended.  Luckily, I woke up from that 130 day hibernation today to find that your favorite sport, and mine, has been unlocked and is back in business. 

All those rumors and secrets, the speculation and misinformation and the rest of the fun that gets thrown around during those five spring months every year is about to be crammed into the next 15 days.  Christmas in July is a phrase that has never been more appropriate.  Going into Free Agency that will start this week (Free Agents can be contacted starting Tuesday and can be signed as soon as Friday) only one team in the NFL, the Tampa Bay Bucs, has more money to spend under the new Salary Cap than the Seattle Seahawks. 

Playing in the NFC West does give Seattle a very decent possibility to get into the playoffs again, but when you look objectively, is this really a team that can win a Super Bowl this year?  Not to me….and that’s why the Seahawks need to use that $41 million they have under the Cap and bring in as much talent as possible.  Let’s outline some players Seattle should keep, some they should bring in as new Seahawks, and who may have played their last game in CenturyLink Field (doesn’t roll off the tongue, does it?).

When you look over the Seahawks roster there isn’t more than a handful of positions where you can definitively say that they have as much talent there as possible.  They do have “building block” type players on both sides of the ball in LT Russell Okung, Safety Earl Thomas, LB David Hawthorne, RB Marshawn Lynch, and WR Mike Williams.  These are all players that you can use as part of the nucleus to build an annual contender.  That means that there are 50 other roster spots that could be improved.  Seattle has 22 Unrestricted Free Agents and will have tough decisions to make even before they start looking at players from other teams.  With that said, let’s look position by position at some possible FA’s (Free Agents) the Seahawks should/could be contacting and signing to continue stocking this roster. 

OFFENSE

Quarterback:

Matt Hasselbeck is 36, has played 16 games once since 2006, and in that same span has thrown 80 TD’s and 71 interceptions with a 74.7 QB rating.  A long winded way of saying that not only is his best football behind him, but he is not the franchise QB that you can build your team around anymore.  What he does do is provide a veteran bridge that can help you stay competitive while you search for your new franchise guy (preferably in the QB loaded 2012 Draft).  There have been rumblings over the past few days that Hasselbeck, who has plenty of other options and suitors for his services, might not even be offered a contract by Seattle and that former Viking Tavaris Jackson is the Seahawks new target at QB.  Jackson knows new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s playbook inside and out having played in his system during his entire 5 year career in Minnesota. With only 14 days until the first preseason game against San Diego on August 11th, Jackson could conceivably come in and give the offense a running start as opposed to a player having to learn on the fly and adjust to a new system and new terminology.  Jackson has started 21 games, including 1 in the playoffs, and while he hasn’t set the world on fire, he has thrown 24 TD’s and 22 INT’s with a 76.6 QB rating in the last 5 years.  Those numbers look familiar?  Just based off of numbers, it seems that Jackson would be offering similar statistics to Hasselbeck, but is 8 years younger and will probably come cheaper.  Possibly up to $4 million cheaper.  Everyone has their opinion on what Seattle should do at QB, but if you’re going to decide between two veterans who have the same stats, I’m signing the one who is younger and cheaper.  There are a few QB’s that will be available via trade, but are Kevin Kolb, Kyle Orton, or Donovan McNabb players that you can put the entire franchise on?  Giving up valuable draft picks for a QB who won’t be part of your future past 2 years just doesn’t make much sense. 

Possible Targets at QB: Jackson-UFA Minnesota, Kyle Orton-Trade Denver, Kevin Kolb-Trade Philadelphia, Carson Palmer-Trade Cincinnati

Running Back/Fullback: Over the past 2 years, Seattle has traded a draft pick for 2 out of the top 3 RB’s on the depth chart.  That fact should pretty much leave this position as is when the season begins.  Marshawn Lynch is only 25 years old and with improved Offensive Line play, he does have #1 RB potential.  Justin Forsett, also only 25, is a solid backup/3rd down back and averaged 4.4 yards per carry last year. Seattle also re-signed Leon Washington to a 4 year $12.5 million contract to be the 3rd RB and to continue being one of the elite return men in the entire NFL.  FB Michael Robinson is a FA but could be resigned because he does offer the versatility the team likes at the position.  Bevell might look for a more traditional FB to help in the running game more than Robinson can. I’d say that if any move is made in the offensive backfield, it would be to find Robinson’s replacement.

Possible FA Targets at FB: Robinson-UFA Seattle, Jason Snelling-UFA Atlanta, John Kuhn-UFA Green Bay, Korey Hall-UFA Green Bay

Wide Receiver/Tight End:  With new Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell coming over from Minnesota, rumors are already swirling about former Vikings Tavaris Jackson and Ray Edwards (who we’ll get to) joining him here in Seattle, but there are also rumblings about former Pro Bowl WR Sidney Rice.  Rice is coming off of hip surgery that limited him to 6 games last year, but his upside and impact at the Flanker (or Z WR) could be massive for this offense.  Rice would fit perfectly as a deep threat and big play guy opposite of Mike Williams, who showed last year that he can be the chain moving/middle of the field threat you need from the Split End.  Seattle invested 3 year contracts for both Williams and Ben Obamanu, spent a 2nd round pick on Golden Tate, and Deon Butler led the team in TD receptions before his broken leg in Arizona last November, so unless they can get a player at an elite level, I don’t see them adding that much more money here with so many other needs.  Rice will be pricey and he’s really only “done it” for 1 season (83 rec, 1,312 yds, 12 td’s in ’09), but at only 24, he could be worth the risk.  Seattle has tons of young talent at TE and won’t be spending much, if any, time on that position in Free Agency.

Possible FA Targets at WR: Rice-UFA Minnesota, James Jones-UFA Green Bay

Offensive Line: For some reason it seems like people have been disappointed in the Seahawks’ O-Line over the past 5 years.  Could it be the 31st ranked running game (only 89 rushing yards per game) and the 35 sacks allowed?  All joking aside, Seahawk fans have been clamoring for upgrades across the line for years.  Through the last 3 drafts, Pete Carroll and John Schneider have has drafted 4 O-Line starters, so there is some young talent, but the emphasis is on ‘young’.  It doesn’t matter who plays QB for this team if whoever is put back there is running for his life.  1st round picks Russell Okung (’10) and James Carpenter (’11) will be the bookend Tackles for the next decade, 2011 3rd round pick John Moffitt, who should start at Right Guard, is known for his nasty attitude and his ability to play all 3 interior line positions, and 2009 2nd round pick Max Unger will most likely take over at Center for UFA Chris Spencer who probably won’t be resigned. 

One more starter will be needed along with some quality depth as 4 of the 22 UFA’s the Seahawks have are Offensive Linemen (Sean Locklear, Ray Willis, Chester Pitts, and Chris Spencer).  With former Oakland head coach Tom Cable hired as the O-Line coach/assistant head coach, there has been a lot of speculation that UFA Left Guard Robert Gallery could come to Seattle to be the veteran presence this young line desperately needs.  The former Raider has already said he won’t return to Oakland, so brining in the 2nd overall pick in the 2004 draft does seem like a fit. Davin Joseph, another FA Left Guard with a nasty disposition, is a younger option, although the former Pro Bowler with Tampa Bay will probably be more expensive than Gallery.  Lots of options here at a position that, to me, is the number one area of need and where Seattle MUST make a big move to improve. 

Possible FA Targets at O-Line: Gallery-UFA Oakland, Joseph-UFA Tampa Bay, Justin Blaylock-UFA Atlanta, Marshall Yanda-UFA Baltimore, Charlie Johnson-UFA Indianapolis, Deuce Lutui-UFA Arizona

Because I didn’t update the column while I was in hibernation, we’ve got a lot of information to cover so I will split this into 2 entries.  The entire Offense can be read here first with the Defense to follow.  Be sure to come back to check in on the defensive side of the ball as “NFL Madness” is about to commence.  On top of this 2 part entry, I will be updating the column hopefully once a day to keep all of the Seahawk fans out there up to date with every move the team makes signing, trading, and releasing players over the next 2 weeks.  As always, feel free to email or get to me through Twitter to ask questions or to send some column ideas of your own… my contact info is on the top of the page.  Also, now that the 2011 season is up and running, make sure to check in to www.nfldraftdog.com to get info on every teams’ moves as everyone scrambles to prepare for Week 1 on September 11th. 

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27 April 2011

Current State of Seahawk Roster-Draft Options per Position

My last post summarized the Seattle Seahawks uneven but yet exciting 2010 season and an even more exciting (and unexpected) finish in the 2011 Playoffs.  Focusing on the Draft, I also ran through some of the Seahawks most pressing draft needs along with players that might fill those needs in the first 2 Rounds based on availability and scheme fit. Despite the uncertainty of the 2011 season with the still ongoing “battle” between players and owners, I really wanted to get into pending Free Agency and how that affected Seattle, especially with so much cap space cleared to bring in players to continue building this already overhauled roster.  Unfortunately, it is just too difficult to guess who, when, and how teams will act if and when the Free Agency period begins. 

As of right now there are over 500 FA’s (Free Agents) in the NFL…almost 1/4 of all players in the league.  With no collective bargaining agreement there has been speculation that for this year all restricted and unrestricted FA’s will be available to teams to sign without restriction because of the time constraints the lockout is having and will have as we get closer and closer to training camp.  The other part of this that makes a Free Agency discussion difficult is the fact that there can be zero contact between players and teams.  For example, during the Draft this weekend once a player is drafted by a team, the player can have no further communication with that team. Usually during Free Agency “madness”, there are all sorts of rumors, smoke-screens, exaggerations, lies, and truths…pure fun!  I’ve just decided for now to focus all attention on the upcoming draft and hopefully when it comes time to tackle Free Agency pertaining to the Seahawks, we will have more concrete information to report on. 

In the section of my last post focusing on the draft, I listed the Seahawks 3 most pressing needs as the roster stands right now with those needs being Offensive Line (specifically Right Tackle and Right/Left Guard), Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, and Cornerback.  As I read back over my post, one quote really stood out to me; “the team obviously has several positional needs”.  I’ll be honest…this isn’t really true.  We all have a tendency to look at the teams we follow or love with rose colored glasses, ignoring some of the holes the team has that are keeping them from being successful. 

As I look over the Seahawks roster, there are positive signs, but I feel like that quote needs to be corrected.  The quote really should read, “The team obviously has several positional needs. All of them”!  Ok, ok…maybe that’s taking things a little far.  With young building blocks like Earl Thomas, Russell Okung, Max Unger, Marshawn Lynch, Mike Williams, Aaron Curry, Walter Thurmond, David Hawthorne, and John Carlson on board it’s not as if the cupboard is bare.  However, in order for Head Coach, Pete Carroll and General Manager, John Schneider to get this team where they (and we) want it to be they still have a lot of work to do to make a 53 man roster as deep and as talented as possible. 

So...with that said, instead of listing just a couple positional needs and a few players that may be a fit and available to the Seahawks in the 2011 Draft, I’m going to go over the entire team…position by position…player by player..  I’m not going to lie, this makes it WAY more fun for me too because I get to dig deep into the $100+ of draft guides and 2010 NFL Season guides I have at my disposal!

Seattle Seahawks Roster Position by Position and Subsequent Draft Options:

Offense

Quarterback- Players on Roster:

Matt Hasselbeck

Charlie Whitehurst

Current State of Position:

By now, we all know about Matt Hasselbeck’s current situation.  The Seattle Seahawks all time leader in yards, completion percentage, completions, pass attempts, yards per game, and games played by a QB is a Free Agent.  At 35 years old most believe Hasselbeck has 2 or 3 good-to-solid years left in him.  Hasselbeck made it clear after the season that he wanted to return for his 11th year with Seattle and the team did the same.  As we entered the NFL lockout though, things have become more clouded.  Schneider and Carroll cannot comment on any players or working transactions and the players obviously can’t either with communication between the two on hold.  There have been rumblings lately that both Hasselbeck and the Seahawks might be heading in different directions, but it’s difficult/impossible to take anything that is said at this time seriously. 

With that said, there is a very real possibility that Seattle will start a season without Matt Hasselbeck on its roster for the first time since 2001.  Whitehurst is actually the only QB currently on the roster entering the 2nd year of a 2 year contract signed with Seattle following his trade from San Diego last spring. Whitehurst showed that he could manage a game last season while winning the “winner-in/loser-out” game versus the Rams, but can he be a player who transitions from career backup to starting QB you rest your entire season on?  He has fans in Schneider and Carroll, but they might be the only two on the “Clipboard Jesus” bandwagon and I don’t even think they feel Whitehurst is the answer.

Draft Options:

I would estimate that about 65-75% of the Mock Drafts I have seen during this draft season have or have had the Seahawks taking a QB in the 1st Round.  Those mocks’ have listed Jake Locker from U of Washington, Ryan Mallett from Arkansas,  Christian Ponder from Florida State, and Andy Dalton from TCU in their #25 draft spot.  Draft “experts” seem to think Ponder or Dalton fit the Seahawks offensive scheme better than the others, but here’s the deal with the QB position in this draft… Between picks 11 and 32 of the 1st round there are only 3 teams that could possibly look to pick a QB; Miami at #15, Jacksonville at #16, and Seattle at #25.  Carolina, Buffalo, Arizona, San Francisco, and Tennessee are all teams picking in the top 10 that could be going QB as well. 

However, if a player like Blaine Gabbert from Missouri or Cam Newton from Auburn falls past the Washington Redskins at pick #11, there is a possibility Seattle could be put in a place where the talent available at the QB position quashes the want to look at other needs.  When John Schneider was Director of Football Operations with the Green Bay Packers, they had a tendency to draft the best player available and he has been on record saying he will follow the same philosophy now that he is with the Seahawks.  Again, who knows what to believe, but with no Free Agency, teams may be looking to gather as much talent as possible as opposed to being pigeon-holed into one position and possibly reaching for a player with less talent.  But there is a real possibility that we will see Seattle picking a Quarterback with one of their first 2 picks (#25/#57) in this draft. If you ask me, unless Newton, Gabbert, or Locker fall to #25 I see Seattle addressing more pressing needs with equal/more talent available.

Speaking of QB’s, it needs to be put out there that John Schneider said in a radio interview last week that he has been very open about wanting to trade down or even out of the 1st Round in order to acquire more picks.  The last quarter of the picks in the 1st Round are very attractive to teams who want to trade up to get a player who maybe slipped down the board or to get a player they don’t feel will be available when they have their next pick the following round.  Josh Freeman-Tampa Bay, Tim Tebow-Denver, and Brady Quinn-Cleveland are 3 recent examples of teams trading back into the 1st Round to take a QB the team had targeted.  Point is, don’t be surprised if the ability to acquire extra picks (especially to recover the 3rd Round pick given to San Diego in the Whitehurst trade) becomes too tempting to pass up. 

Running Back- Players on Roster:

Marshawn Lynch

Justin Forsett

Leon Washington

Chris Henry

Michael Robinson (FB)

Current State of Position:

The October trade that brought Marshawn Lynch to the Seahawks from Buffalo has really solidified this position for the next several years.  At 25 years old, Lynch is just entering the prime of his career and forms a nice trio at the position with Forsett and Washington. In March, Seattle signed Washington to a 4 year $12 million contract and is a Pro Bowl level Kick Returner as well.  Forsett is still only 25 and he seems to make a big play or 2 every game. Though not explosive or great in any one area, Forsett is very solid and doesn’t hurt the team when he’s on the field.  Michael Robinson is a very versatile player at Fullback, but Seattle could look to find a more traditional FB in the later rounds depending on how much the position is used in the offensive playbook. This is one of the Seahawks most stable positions on the team although they could stand to add a player with speed to keep defenses on their heels.     

Draft Options:

We have seen over and over that anything can happen during the NFL Draft, but I would be very surprised if Seattle used any of the 7 picks they have on the Running Back position before round 6.  They just have too many other positions to work on, but keep an eye on Taiwan Jones from Eastern Washington University.  At 6’0 200lbs, Jones led the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision, previously Division II) in rushing yards with 1,742, averaged 174 total yards per game, scored 17 touchdowns, and in the off-season he ran a 4.27 40 yard dash on a broken foot that he said was, “85-90%” healed.  He would be the home run hitter this backfield lacks.

Wide Receiver- Players on Roster:

Mike Williams

Ben Obomanu

Golden Tate

Deon Butler

Ruvell Martin

Brandon Stokley

Isaiah Stanback

Patrick Williams

Current State of Position:

Within 11 days in January, the Seahawks decided to lock up their 2 most productive WR’s from the 2010 season.  Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu each signed 3 year contract extensions.  Both Obomanu and Williams are 27 years old and are entering the prime years for a WR. Tate disappointed a bit in ’10, struggling to consistently run clean routes or pick up the playbook to the coaches liking.  A 2nd Round pick in 2010, Tate needs to step his game and study habits up this year to take his game to the next level. Butler suffered a devastating broken right leg while catching a 2 yard TD on December 12th @San Francisco.  He had really started to break out during the first 3/4 of the season with his ability to stretch the defense. 

Following that type of injury, his recovery cannot just be assumed, but the Seahawks are optimistic he will be back in the fold when the season begins.  Stokely had big catch after big catch down the stretch and in the playoffs amassing 30 receptions for 373 yards and 2 TDs playing in 6 of the last 8 games of the season (he was active but limited in games vs Atlanta and Tampa Bay).  I have a feeling that if the Seahawks stay with a veteran QB they will keep the veteran WR as he became Hasselbeck’s favorite 3rd down target.  Martin also had a big play or two, but he, Stanback, and Williams are all depth/special teams type players.

Draft Options:

Another position on the team that when you look at the depth chart you come away pretty happy with the talent Seattle has.  However questions remain about whether Tate can pick his game up or if Butler can fully recover from his leg injury.  Similar to the RB position, the WR corps also lacks a player with breakaway “home run” speed.  Obomanu and Williams are both strong going up and after deep throws, but Seattle lacks a player with the ability to turn a 5 yard pass into an 80 yard TD.  I expect the Seahawks to maybe look to draft a speedy WR with size between rounds 4 and 7.  A couple names to remember would be Vincent Brown from San Diego St (6’0 185lbs, avg 19.6 yards per catch with 10 TD’s as a Senior and played special teams), Edmund Gates, Abilene Christian (6’0 190bs, 66 rec 1,182 yds and 13 TD’s as a Sr), and Jeremy Kerley, TCU (5’9 190lbs, slot WR and return specialist that excelled at making something out of nothing in college, more quick than fast but a playmaker). 

Tight End- Players on Roster:

John Carlson

Anthony McCoy

Cameron Morrah

Jameson Konz

Current State of Position:

All 3 of the TE’s on the Seahawks roster are what evaluators consider to be receiving TE’s as opposed to a blocking TE, but each have a unique skill set.  Carlson has improved his blocking but with the limited ability (that’s being nice) of the Offensive Line over the past 3 years, the team has been forced to keep their TE’s on the line to protect the QB.  Easy to recognize this by looking at Carlson’s decreasing reception totals the last 3 seasons.  Morrah looked like a Wide Receiver at the end of last season, breaking away for several huge plays before being injured early in the playoff loss in Chicago but I have a feeling the team has big plans to utilize his athleticism, size, and soft hands. 

Anthony McCoy was regarded as one of the most complete TE’s in the 2010 Draft but slipped due to a positive drug test. Konz is listed on the depth chart as a Tight End, but he could be used at several different positions.  At 6’3 235lbs, Konz actually played Linebacker at Kent State but blew the doors off at his pro day running his 40 in 4.41 seconds and a 46”inch vertical jump.  A freak athlete but coming off a knee injury from his Senior year in college, he could be used at WR or TE or could just as easily be cut at any time although his size/speed combination is intriguing. The team could definitely use a big TE who is proficient at blocking, a role veteran Chris Baker filled last season.   

Draft Options:

Seattle has spent a draft pick on a Tight End in each of the last 3 NFL Drafts.  2008 they used a 2nd Round pick on Carlson, ’09 used a 7th Round pick on Morrah, and last year a 6th Round pick on McCoy as well as the 7th Round “flier” on Konz.  Along with Chris Baker, who was released in March, the team carried 4 TE’s last year which is fairly unusual but they wanted to keep all of the “blossoming” young talent in McCoy, Morrah, and Carlson. I really can’t see them using a pick in this draft on another Tight End, but  look for the team to address the blocking TE position through free agency or with a rookie free agent following the draft. 

Offensive Line- Players on Roster:

Russell Okung

Max Unger

Stacey Andrews

Mike Gibson

Tyler Polumbus

Michael Robinson

Chester Pitts

Ray Willis

Sean Locklear

Chris Spencer

Current State of Position:

I’m not going to sugar coat it…the O-Line has been holding this offense and this team back for the past 5 years.  Injuries, poor drafting, and ignoring the position in Free Agency have all been factors in the rapid demise of the line’s production and this off-season really doesn’t offer anymore relief for Seahawk fans who have been hollering for upgrades.  There is some good news.  Okung and Unger are 23 and 25 respectively, and do give Seattle 2 pieces to work with.  Okung, the #6 overall pick in the 2010 Draft committed zero holding penalties in 10 games last season and will be the starting Left Tackle for the next decade. Unger has the ability to play either Guard spot as well as Center, increasing his value with his versitility. 

Andrews is 29 and while semi-productive last season, he is a “stop gap” player at Right Tackle.  Gibson, Robinson, and Polumbus are all backups and are just “ok” although in my opinion, Polumbus deserved some team MVP votes last season as he played 15 games with 7 starts, and he did so at 3 different positions; Left Tackle, Right Tackle, and Left Guard. 

As for Locklear…let me just say that I am not a player evaluator or talent judge by any means, but I do know football and Sean Locklear had one of the worst seasons at the Right Tackle position that I have ever watched from week to week.  Missed blocks, blown assignments, costly penalties, and general lethargy were all too prominent during Locklear’s 7th season with Seattle.  His high price tag (he signed a 5 year $32 million contract in 2008) along with his declining play add up to Locklear almost certainly being with another team in 2011. 

Pitts, Willis, and Spencer are all free agents.  Pitts was coming of microfracture surgery entering training camp last summer and was really never healthy playing in only 7 games.  Willis, a solid player at Right Guard in 2009, missed the entire 2010 season with a back injury and his multiple injury issues may cost him a place on this team regardless of the depth/talent issues.  Spencer had his best year as a pro since the Seahawks drafted him in the 1st Round of the 2005 Draft. 

Due to injuries and ineffectiveness, Spencer was forced to play multiple positions during his first several years in Seattle, never allowing him to settle in at one spot on the line.  Finally locked in at Center, he has improved over each of the past 2 years and was the best O-Lineman on the 2010 squad.  Coming off a breakout season and still only 29 years old, he will probably be looking to cash in on his free agency, possibly looking at Jason Brown’s contract with the Rams as a monetary target (5 years $37.5 million, $20 million guaranteed).  Brown was only 26 when he signed that deal with St. Louis and with Spencer already a year or 2 into his prime, I would say something closer to 5 years $25 million with $10-$13 mil guaranteed would be a more reasonable amount to spend in order for the Seahawks to keep a very solid player at an important position.

Draft Options:

2011 NFL Draft guides break up the college prospects eligible for the draft into the Tackle, Guard, and Center categories.  As I go through them to assess who the Seahawks could look to as draft options I have realized something; almost all of the prospects listed have to be considered “in play” for Seattle as they look to continue rebuilding. They should be hitting this position early in the draft. I see Seattle looking to draft either a Right Tackle or Guard with 1 of their first 2 picks.  At #25 two interior linemen stand out and could very well be available.  Mike Pouncey, 6’4 313lbs from Florida, and Danny Watkins, 6’4 310lbs from Baylor are players that would instantly upgrade the O-Line which in turn upgrades all other positions on the offense. 

Speaking of upgrades, one is definitely needed at Right Tackle. In my last post I mentioned Tyron Smith, Tackle-USC, Nate Solder, LT-Colorado, Gabe Carimi, Tackle-Wisconsin, and Derek Sherrod, Tackle-Miss St. as targets for the Seahawks at the Tackle position.  Smith played Right Tackle at USC but is projected at Left Tackle in the NFL, but Carimi and Sherrod would both be great options. Carimi (6’7 327lbs) has seen his stock slip just a bit over the past month because a perceived lack of athleticism has scouts calling him a Right Tackle only, but he is almost universally thought of as the best run-blocking tackle in this draft.  Sherrod, at 6’6 305lbs, has experience on the left and right side of the O-Line but again, his strength is in his run blocking. 

Derek Sherrod has long arms but limited athletic ability is projecting him as a Right Tackle. Either of these players could play opposite Russell Okung and form a nice set of bookends on the line for the next 10 years. It’s tough to assume that either Carimi or Sherrod will be available when Seattle picks at #57 in the 2nd Round, but in hearing recent evaluations of both players the chance of that happening is a lot more realistic now than it was a month ago.  In other words, if the Seahawks go with another position at #25, keep these two names in mind when they are on the clock on Day 2.

Aside from the early picks Seattle could very well look to add to the Line in the later rounds, especially adding depth at the interior line positions.  With new O-Line coach Tom Cable in the fold, Seattle might finally be able to find a “diamond in the rough” type player who can be coached up to a solid-to-Pro Bowl level…something the Seahawks haven’t done since…um…since never.  This franchise has never produced a homegrown Offensive Lineman drafted after the 2nd round in its 35 year history. 

Unless, of course, you count household names Floyd Wedderburn, Steve Gemza, Floyd “Pork Chop” Womak, Wayne Hunter, and Dennis Norman.  It’s pretty sad.  One last thing to keep in mind is that there are several solid veteran free agents available at O-Line with Jared Gaither, Tackle-Baltimore, Carl Nicks, Guard-New Orleans, Davin Joseph, Guard-Tampa Bay, Ryan Kalil, Center/Guard-Carolina, and Justin Blaylock, Guard-Atlanta being a few of the names I have heard mentioned in connection with the Seahawks this off-season.  GM John Schneider has had success drafting O-Linemen in the later rounds of the draft while with Green Bay (Jason Spitz, Daryn Colledge, Josh Sitton, TJ Lang all taken between 2006 and 2009). 

I ended up going into a little more detail than I expected to while examining the current state of the Seahawks roster, but I think this is the right time to really dig deep into each position and really evaluate where this team stands with the 2011 NFL Draft right around the corner.  This is the time to get out as much information as possible, so with that in mind, make sure you come back often over the next week in order to catch up on all the Seattle Seahawks information you can stomach. 

Look forward to the next week.  With the amount of preparation I put into the 3 days that make up the Draft, it is especially fun to be able to share my football-nerdness with all of you.  Keep reading, and again, check back in tomorrow for more on the 2010 NFC West Champion Seahawks (yes…that really happened). 

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17 March 2011

Introduction-State of Seahawks-Draft Preview #1

In 1978, the Seattle Seahawks finished their 3rd season of existence, finishing with the teams’ first winning record at 9-7.  It was also the year I was born.  5 years later the Seahawks entered the best 6 year stretch in franchise history going 57-38 from 1983-1988.  Little did Seahawk fans know that it would be 25 years later until they would win another playoff game and following the 1988 season, they would endure a stretch of only 3 winning seasons in the next 14 years.  Finally, 30 years after their inception, the Seahawks enjoyed their “watershed” moment.  Just mention the year 2005 to followers of the Seahawks and it’s easy to get lost in the memories of a season where it seemed nothing could go wrong.  It gave the entire city a sense of what it is like to have winning football as part of the fabric of the community.  I’ve been alive for 33 of the Seahawks 35 years, and this introduction to the work I will be giving all the readers who come here is only to let you know the time, passion, and detail I will be posting here.  You deserve to have an outlet to read about the team YOU are passionate about, and I will do whatever I can to include the statistics, numbers, names, dates, and any other data I can find to offer an informative way to follow the Seattle Seahawks.

So let’s get to it.  Seattle is now 6 seasons removed from their run to Super Bowl XL, and just about everything you can change within a football organization has been changed.  New GM, new Head Coach, new Coaching Staff (entirely), and from the 285 roster moves in the 2010 season I think it’s safe to say there are new players as well.  From that Super Bowl team only Matt Hasselbeck, Jordan Babineaux, Marcus Trufant, Sean Locklear, Lofa Tatupu, LeRoy Hill, Chris Spencer, Craig Terrill, and Ray Willis remain with the team.  Hill, Terrill, Locklear, Willis, and Hasselbeck are all free agents heading into this very strange off-season, so there is a very distinct possibility that 6 short seasons after the greatest year in Seattle Seahawks history, they could go into the 2011 season with only 2 or 3 of those players.  When you’re an NFL team though, turnover is inevitable and high.  Players are either recycled or sent to the trash.  We’re going to spend some time in this, my first post, discussing some of the potential arrivals and departures via Free Agency, as well as an early preview of the 2011 NFL Draft and what holes Seattle has to fill..including positions of need and specific players that may fit those needs and could be possible targets of the Seahawks.  

In the past 5 NFL Drafts the Seahawks have made 37 total draft picks.  Of those 37, 19 are still on the roster, 8 have moved on to other teams, and 10 are out of the league completely.  Those are about average numbers for an NFL team.  Seattle heads into this years’ Draft needing to be better than “average” to continue the growth and development that Head Coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider started almost immediately following taking their posts last Spring.  Last April, Seattle seems to have had one of those “above average” drafts taking impact players/starters/potential starters with 6 of their first 7 picks.  Russell Okung looks to be an anchor on the left side of an offensive line that desperately needed to solidify the Left Tackle position (oh, we’ll get back to you soon enough Offensive Line!).  Earl Thomas was a Pro Bowl alternate and tied a Seahawks rookie record with 5 INT’s, and still at 21 years old, looks to be once of the most dynamic secondary players Seattle has drafted since Shawn Springs (if you consider him “dynamic”. Me..not so much).  In Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, Kam Chancellor, and Anthony McCoy, Seattle drafted 4 players who look to be big pieces of the plan PC (Carroll) and Schneider put into motion last year.  Can Seattle come out of the 2011 Draft with 6 more players that offer hope of a similar impact?  The optimistic way to preview the Seahawks options in the Draft (April 28th-30th) is that, while the team obviously has several positional needs, they are also in a position in the 1st round (25th overall pick) where they can take the best player available.  Too many times Seattle has taken a player in the later stages of the 1st round based on need and possibly missed out on a player that could have created a bigger impact.  As for the players that will be available for the Seahawks to look at when they come up on the clock for their first 2 picks (#25 of the 1st Rnd, #57 in the 2nd), I’m going to list the positional needs in order of which needs are more pressing, followed by some players that might fit those needs and realistically still be available for those first two picks the Seahawks own. 

*Just information on draft options for these needs.  Free Agency options for these needs will be covered in post #2.

  1. Offensive Line- No one likes to hear it, but unfortunately it’s true.  Ever since the Transitional Tag was placed on Steve Hutchinson the struggles of the O-Line hasn’t exactly been a secret.  Between FA and injuries Seattle really only has 2 spots on the line written in stone for the 2011 season.  Russell Okung at LT and Max Unger at either RG or Center.  Locklear, Spencer, Tyler Polumbus, and Ray Willis are all Free Agents and at the cost, I doubt the team will bring back Locklear, Spencer, or Willis unless they can keep them on with 1year deals or a discounted contract (keep in mind this is all up in the air depending on the situation with the Lockout and CBA).  Polumbus has enough talent and can be kept more economically, not to mention he played well last year at LT and LG, so he should be back.  Stacey Andrews and Mike Gibson were up and down last year but provide veteran options depending on what Seattle can get done in FA/Draft.   

-Players To Target: Tyron Smith, Tackle/USC.  Nate Solder, LT/Colorado.  Mike   
   Pouncey, Guard/Center/Florida. Steve Wisniewski, Guard/Penn St.  Gabe Carimi,                                                  
   Tackle/Wisconsin.  Derek Sherrod, Tackle/Miss St.

-Summary: Tackles always climb draft boards between the Combine and the Draft, and Smith, Solder, and Sherrod could get taken in a “run” of Tackles in the early/middle of the 1st round.  It has happened in 3 of the last 4 Drafts.  All 3 are 1st round talent.  Smith is a converted TE who is still very young (21) and put on 11 lbs to weigh in at 301 at the Combine.  Wisniewski and Pouncey are generally regarded as the best interior linemen in the draft and at #25, the Seahawks should have their pick of either.  Pouncey isn’t quite jumping off boards as his twin brother Maurkice did in the 2010 Draft, but he is every bit as strong and intelligent. 

  1. Cornerback- No, that doesn’t say Quarterback… As of now, Seattle has 2 starting caliber Defensive Backs and a great mix of veteran and youth on the depth chart at Safety and CB.  Kelly Jennings is a FA and while he has had some very, very solid seasons (2008 especially) it seems like the team is ready to move on.  Ranking 27th in PYA tends to lead to changes.  Getting a starting caliber CB with a size/speed combination to play the man to man and zone structure of Carroll and Gus Bradley’s defense could possibly change the entire makeup of the D from front to back, impacting the Line as much as the back-7.  Marcus Trufant will return as a starter on the left side, Seattle resigned Roy Lewis, and they still have Walter Thurmond and Jordan Babineaux (who plays 3 different positions) on the depth chart.  Seattle could very well be grooming Thurmond as a starter.  He was a borderline 1st/2nd round pick before his knee injury his Senior year, but if talent falls to them, they won’t hesitate to upgrade the position.

-Players To Target: Jimmy Smith, CB/Colorado.  Brandon Harris, CB/Miami (Fla.).  Aaron Williams, CB/Texas.  Curtis Brown, CB/Texas.  Ras-I-Dowling, CB/Virginia.

-Summary:  All 5 of these CB’s are 5’11 or taller and offer the size/speed combination that all NFL starters must have.  Smith is the tallest at 6’2 but also one of  the fastest, running a 4.46 40 yard dash at the Combine, tying the time of Ras-I Dowling. Smith has some serious character issues, to the point where during a radio interview in Seattle, John Clayton couldn’t begin to give any details on some of them!   Dowling, a surefire top 15 pick coming into the 2010 season was slowed by knee and ankle injuries all year.  His one perceived weakness was his speed, but the 4.46 at the combine might have him rising draft boards again.  Brown is 5’11 190lbs and has the speed all evaluators love, but does has some limitations in run support.  Williams is almost ideal in size/speed at 6’0 203lbs and has great hands.  He also enjoys the physical aspect of the game. 

  1. Outside Linebacker/Defensive End- Why would Seattle be looking for OLB’s with Aaron Curry and David Hawthorne as starters and Will Herring as a monster backup?  Actually, the Seahawks draft from last year gave away a bit of their intentions for how they will be running their defense when they drafted Dexter Davis and EJ Wilson.  Even though Wilson didn’t make the team, at 6’3 289 lbs he was the in the mold of the “large” DE’s to play on the left side that Red Bryant ended up having such a huge impact in.  Davis is an OLB/DE “tweener” who was used as a pure pass rusher his rookie year (as well as on special teams).  This is no longer a by the book 4-3/Tampa-2 defense.  Pete Carroll has infused a lot of 3-4 and some very unconventional Zone coverage into the D and that unit had its best success last year either loading the defensive line with DE/OLB’s or by putting 6+ Defensive Backs on the field at one time.  The team ended the season ranked 13th in the NFL with 37 team sacks, but too many times Seattle was beat mercifully in the secondary as time after time QB’s sat in the pocket just waiting to pick out open receivers.  Look for Seattle to target pass rush “experts” who can either fill an OLB spot on 1st/2nd down and/or the “Elephant” position in obvious passing situations.

-Players To Target:  Sam Acho, OLB/DE/Texas.  Jeremy Beal, DE/Oklahoma.  Brooks Reed, DE/Arizona.  Justin Houston, DE/Georgia. Jabaal Sheard, DE/Pittsburgh.  Aldon Smith, DE/Missouri.

-Summary: Acho, Beal, Reed, and Smith all figure to make the switch from college DE to NFL OLB.  Reed is the “overachiever” type who ripped up the Pac-10 the past 3 years totaling 17 sacks.  Smith and Acho are “freak” type athletes who would add speed and aggressiveness to a defense that could definitely use an infusion of both.  Houston is the “underachiever” type who has all the talent, speed, and skills to dominate, but seems to do so only when he wants to.  He is one of those players that all coaches think they can wake up to help them realize their potential.  Beal, at 267 lbs, combined for 27 sacks in his 3 years starting at Oklahoma and is applauded for his intelligence and football instincts, some experts compare him to Steelers OLB LaMarr Woodley.

Over the next few weeks before Christmas (oops, I mean the NFL Draft), I will continue to expand on the other positions Seattle will be looking to boost in the draft and more of the players that could help a team that looks to build on their 2010 NFC West Championship.  I will also start digging into Free Agency and what the uncertainty of the off-season means personnel-wise.  Seattle has millions of dollars available to spend in Free Agency, but no one really knows yet if they will even get a chance to spend it! 

As always, I will place alerts on Facebook and Twitter when a new post is placed on the site, and make sure to come back often to nfldraftdog.com to check out the updated Mock Drafts for 2011 and 2012 along with the other NFL Team Columns to get your information on the entire league. 

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3 September 2010


Season Will Begin With Uncertainty.

The Seattle Seahawks complete another preseason with more questions than answers...again. Up until the fourth and final game, it appeared pretty obvious that the defense would be the unit that carries the team into the regular season. Then that unit, that had been playing pretty well, gave up 17 points in the 1st quarter of the game.

Sure, the 1st team on both sides of the ball really didn't play. A lot of the depth that the Seahawks are going to need to rely on this year got some great minutes, and a few players really shined.

RB Justin Forsett looks like he probably solidified his hold on the starting job.

Rumors that the Seahawks are shopping WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh so that the young wideouts on the team get more playing time, and development might be a great move considering the outstanding play in the preseason of WR Deon Butler, and the upside of WR Golden Tate.

K Olindo Mare and P Jon Ryan are again very solid, and look like they are one of the better special team duos in the NFL. How well the coverage teams back up those two is another question. Youth and athleticism abound in the special teams, but often that leads to mental lapses and can cause big returns that put pressure on the defense that they really don't need.

QB Charlie Whitehurst might see action in the regular season if the Seahawks continue to struggle on offense. Three and out to start the game is such a common occurance (doesn't appear to have changed at all so far under Pete Carroll) that it looks like the Seahawks will be playing from behind for the majority of their games.

LT Russell Okung out with a high ankle sprain is less of a hand wringer than it would have been last year due to the play of fill-in OL Mansfield Wrotto. Wrotto comported himself very well in his biggest test of the preseason, DE Jared Allen and the Minnesota Vikings.

The Seahawks traded CB Josh Wilson to the Baltimore Ravens, showing how much confidence they have in 4th Round pick CB Walter Turmond III. CB Kelly Jennings appears to be the starter heading in to the regular season, but I think Thurmond will see plenty of time in nickel situations.

WR Mike Williams continues to be a great story heading in to the regular season. His skill set gives the Seahawks a valuable weapon, especially in the redzone, but it remains to be seen if the offense can take advantage of him.

This year another 7th Round DE has turned some heads like DE Nick Reed did last year. DE Dexter Davis (7th Round, Arizona State) has shown a lot of skill and technique as a pass rushing end. Look for Davis to spend the majority of his time on special teams, but if the Seahawks struggle getting to the QB to start the season, look for his playing time to increase.

The staff has a lot of work to do now to get the roster set at 53. It seems like new Head Coach Pete Carroll is more than willing to swap pieces out pretty quickly if he sees a weakness, or a possible fit on the horizon, so look for a fluid roster this year.

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17 August 2010

New Additions Impress Early By

Of course the first victory under new Head Coach Pete Carroll was a meaningless preseason game, but there was something cathartic about the 20-18 win over the Tennessee Titans Saturday. The offseason has been a busy one for the Seahawks, and while none of the additions (or subtractions) have really been earth shattering, one can get a sense that the new regime in Seattle is trying to find the right pieces to put on the board. It will probably take a couple of years worth of tinkering to assemble the final product, but it sure seems to me that mediocrity will no longer be tolerated.

QB Charlie Whitehurst was the clear star of the evening, going 14-22, 214yds, 2 TD, 1INT. It was pretty easy to tell what the Seahawks had seen in Whitehurst to make the trade for him, he looked like a starting NFL Quarterback.

Another player new to the Seahawks this year that did well was WR Mike Williams, who had an impressive 51 yard TD catch in the 2nd Quarter. If Williams can stay in shape for the upcoming year, his football skills will be something that the 'Hawks have not had at wideout in a long time.

With new schemes on both sides of the ball, it is kind of hard to really evaluate the performances of the units. You could tell that things for the most part were pretty vanilla, especially in the games early stages. I liked the energy that the defensive line showed as the game wore on, and the depth that it looks like the unit has will definitely be a strength for the team as the season progresses.

It looks like a few of the Seahawks draft choices this year have the potential to make valuable contributions right away, and I'm not talking about the two first rounders (OT Russell Okung, and S Earl Thomas). Safety Kam Chancellor (5th Round) made his physical presence felt in a big way with some boneshattering hits. DE Dexter Davis (7th Round) impressed with his quickness, reording a sack. CB Walter Thurmond III (4th Round) looks like he might compete for the nickel spot with (most likely) CB Kelly Jennings.

Next week the Green Bay Packers come to town for the 2nd preseason game. How the Pete Carroll staff coaches up the players week to week will be interesting to watch. So far, so good though...considering what we had to sit through the last couple of years.

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24 April 2010

Day 3 Analysis

On Day 3 of the NFL Draft the Seattle Seahawks made a couple of trades that brought in some depth as well as drafting some new talent to add to the depth chart. All told, the Seahawks drafted 9 new players, and 3 via trade.

RB Leon Washington, RB Lendale White, and DT Kevin Vickerson came to the Seahawks for various draft picks. Lendale White being a former USC Trojan under new Head Coach Pete Carroll is a good pick up not only for the familiarity aspect, but also because of what he brings on the field as a power runner. Leon Washington became redundant on the New York Jets roster with the development of RB Shonn Green and the acquisition of RB LaDainian Tomlinson to be the back-up. I know nothing of DT Kevin Vickerson other than he is a big body, and he has had very little production over his 4 year career (45 tackles, 1 sack).

The six players that the Seahawks drafted on the final day will give them some depth at a few key positions, as well as bolster the talent on special teams.

Round 4- pick #13:
Walter Thurmond III, CB- Oregon 6' 180
Thurmond would have been drafted a lot higher if not for an injury plagued Senior season, but he brings a pretty productive career with him to the Seahawks. He left Oregon with 253 tackles, 12 int, and a 25yd/KO return average. While probably not going to compete for a starting job until he can prove that his knee is 100% healthy, he could end up being a pretty important part of the special teams this year with his ability to tackle in the open field.

Round 4- pick #29
E.J Wilson, DE- North Carolina 6'3” 280
Wilson looks to an end that would work better against the run vs. the pass. He didn't have a whole lot of pass rushing productivity at North Carolina (12 sacks) in his four years, but he did have 29 tackles for loss.

Round 5- pick #2
Kam Chancellor, S- Virginia Tech 6'4” 230
Nowhere near the talent that S Earl Thomas has in coverage, but he works well in the box stuffing the run. With his size Chancellor could very well make the conversion to an OLB at the next level.

Round 6- pick #16
Anthony McCoy, TE- USC 6'5” 255
A big bodied Tight End that was considered to be the best blocker in this years Draft. McCoy should work well under his new boss (his old college coach), and as a compliment to TE John Carlson. Has decent hands, and a body that can shed tacklers, but doesn't bring the speed and play-making abilities that the other Tight Ends in the Draft brought to the table.

Round 7- pick #29
Dexter Davis, DE- Arizona State 6'2” 252
A typical pass rushing DE at Arizona State, Davis had an exceptional Sophomore and Junior years (21.5 sacks, 28.5 tfl), but failed to excel during his Senior year. Whether he has the quickness or strength to compete for a job at the next level remains to be seen.

Round 7- pick #38
Jameson Konz, Ath- Kent State 6'3” 227
I listed Konz as an athlete because I really don't know where he will be able to play on the Seahawks. He kind-of played WR in his senior year at Kent State, but wasn't very productive (21rec, 298yds, 2TD). If he sticks around, I see a career Special Teams player in the making.

None of the selections on Day 3 really lived up to the promise showed the first two days, although I think some of them may turn into decent players in a few years. The players selected in the first two days on the other hand should all be starters by the midway point of their rookie year.

Day 1 Grade: A-
Day 2 Grade: B+
Day 3 Grade: C+
Overall Grade: B

23 April 2010

2010 NFL Draft : Day Two Analysis

With only one pick on day two of the Draft, the Seahawks added a pretty darned good player to the roster in WR Golden Tate (Round 2- Pick #60).

The first word that comes to mind when describing Tate's play is TOUGH. While being only 5'11”, Tate is an energetic receiver that excels in running after the catch. He will bounce off of first contact, and be able to get some tough yards out of the slot.

The three players that the Seahawks have drafted should be able to contribute right away, if not start.

In LT Russell Okung, the Seahawks have a bookend that can finally protect QB Matt Hasselbecks blindside. Okung will be able to play right away, and do well against NFL defensive ends.

Safety Earl Thomas is going to be a phenomenal pro, but I don't know if he is ready to start just yet. I really want to see him at camp, and give him some time in an NFL training environment.

WR Golden Tate will probably help the team out on special teams from the get-go, both as a returner and on coverage. Look for him to be a great third option in three WR sets, with T.J Houshmandzadeh, and Donald Butler.

Overall Grade of the Seahawks Draft so far has to be an A-. They have been able to draft both for need and the all important “best player available”.

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22 April 2010

1st Round 2010 NFL Draft Analysis

Pick #6- Russell Okung, OT- Oklahoma State
Okung has always been the OT that I had targeted for the Seahawks to take with their first pick. When the Redskins reached for OT Trent Williams with the #4 Pick, that left the 'Hawks with possibly the most complete Tackle coming out this year. Left Tackle for the last two years has been a huge need for the Seahawks, and with a pair of 1st Round picks in the Draft it was imperative that they addressed that need. (Grade: A+)

Pick #14- Earl Thomas, S- Texas
Thomas is a heck of an athlete, able to play Corner as well as Safety. While Thomas isn't the physical presence at the position, he brings almost an unprecedented cover ability that the Seahawks lacked to protect the corners. (Grade: B+)

With a lot of really good DE's on the board, I could easily have seen the 'Hawks go in that direction, and I wouldn't have been terribly disappointed. Philly trading up to the #13 pick and taking DE Brandon Graham tells me that they thought he wouldn't get past the Seahawks at #14 (My pick).

LT, S, DE were the top 3 needs of the Seahawks, and they were able to address two of those in the 1st Round.

The biggest head scratcher of the 1st Round had to have been Jacksonville at #10 taking DE/DT Tyson Alualu. He wasn't on most 1st Round boards, and could have been there for them in the 2nd round.

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27 February 2010

2010 Seahawks Draft (7 Round)

Here is my 2010 Seahawks Draft Mock for what its worth. Heading into the Combine, new Head Coach Pete Carroll, and GM John Schneider will be under the microscope concerning their personnel evaluation skills. Two lackluster seasons in a row have left bitter tastes in the mouth of Seahawks fans, and a great Draft can go a long way towards saving the faith.

Round 1

Pick #6
Russell Okung, OT- Oklahoma State
Biggest need in the 2010 Draft is a LT, period. Whether it is with this pick or the 14th, not taking one of the top LT in the 1st Round would really set a bad tone for Pete Carroll's initiation into the NFL.

Pick #14 (From Denver)
C.J. Spiller, RB- Clemson
1212 rush yds, 12 TD, 36rec 503yds, 4TD...5 return TD (4 KO, 1 PR)
I have wanted the 'Hawks to grab their QB of the future with this pick, but with QB Sam Bradford's stock rising every day it looks like that wont happen. If Spiller is still on the board with this pick, it would give the Seahawks a very dynamic play-maker, something lacking the last few years.

Round 2

Pick #40
Mike Iupati, OG- Idaho
Best Guard in the Draft fits well in the Offensive Line overhaul that has been long overdue in Seattle.

Round 3

Pick #72
O'brien Schofield, DE- Wisconsin
62 Tackles, 24.5 TFL, 12 Sacks, 3 FF in 2009
Slick DE that spends a lot of time in the opposing teams backfield. DE Patrick Kerney appears to be done in Seattle, with a large cap number and a few years worth of injuries piling up.

Round 4

Pick #104
Kyle McCarthy, S- Notre Dame
101 Tackles, 5 INT in 2009 (110 Tackles, 2 INT in 2008)
Tackling machine, should be able to make an impact in the Seahawks secondary. Really want to see him run at the combine.

Round 5

Pick #136
Jared Valdheer, OT- Hillsdale
Huge upside from a small college. Should fit in as the future RT for the 'Hawks.

Round 6

Pick #168
Blair White, WR- Michigan State
70 rec, 990yds, 9TD in 2009
Phenomenal hands, not the fastest, but runs really nice routes.

Round 7

Pick #200
Billy Cundiff, QB- Ashland
Very accurate, with a pretty good arm.

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8 January 2010

Coach Jim Mora Era Over

In what came as a little bit of a surprise, the Seattle Seahawks fired Coach Jim Mora on Friday, ending his one year tenure as the face of the franchise. I cannot say that I am completely shocked, or even disappointed in the news however. About a third of the way through the season, I began to experience unease in the mental preparation of the team. There seemed to be a lot of finger pointing from the coach without a lot of solutions oh how to fix problems that arose.

The team now needs a GM and a Head Coach, and I assume that the former should come first so that he may choose “his guy”. Successful franchises have a cohesive front office that seemingly works in concert with the on the field staff to build a winning mentality. This is something that the Seahawks have sorely lacked the last few years, and now must try and fix in a hurry.

A gap in overall talent between the Seahawks and the elite teams in the NFL needs to be bridged, and hopefully hires can be made that are adept at evaluating said talent are made. I wish things could be repaired this off-season and a playoff run is imminent, but I am a little more realistic than that. I just want the team to make choices that make sense, and make the difficult times ahead less painful.

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3 January 2010

Season Ends With a Loss

Mercifully the 2009 NFL season ended for the Seahawks Sunday with a 17-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans. RB Chris Johnson of the Titans became the 6th member of the 2000 yard club, and the way he was running early in the game it looked like Eric Dickerson's record (2105) might have been in jeopardy. I was proud of the Seahawk defense for the way they buckled down after letting the Titans march down the field and score on the opening drive. Seattle actually out-gained Tennessee (309-304), and at times the offense looked really good, but a critical interception in the 4th quarter by QB Matt Hasselbeck sealed the loss.

Thus ended a bittersweet year for the Seahawks. A 5-11 record for the 2009 season, one better than the 4-12 2008 record, but the way the team played the last four weeks (outscored 119-37 in 4 losses) left a very bitter taste in a lot of fans mouths.

Quarterback:
QB Matt Hasselbeck was dinged up for much of the season, but ended up passing for 3029yd. What will be remembered from this season from Hasselbeck is his performance in the last 3 weeks of the season (3TD, 9INT). Last years draft failed to produce the QB of the future for the 'Hawks, and I thought midway through the season that if the team was able to fix a lot of problems around him that Hasselbeck would be the best option at QB next year. Now, I am not so sure. I think that even though there are bigger holes to fill for the team, a solution for the future of the QB position needs to be addressed this off-season.

Running Back:
RB Justin Forsett led the team with 4 rushing TD, and averaged 5.4yds per carry. He proved himself as a very dependable player in the running game for years to come. RB Julius Jones came away with 663yds to lead the team, but was injured often. He was effective at times, but seemed to lack the ability to move the pile and get tough yards. While not one of the really big holes to fill, a better athlete to share carries with RB Justin Forsett next year would be very nice.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends:
Free Agent acquisition WR T.J Houshmandzadeh ended up with 79 rec, 911yds, 3TD but never really seemed to click with QB Matt Hasselbeck. TE John Carlson ended up with the most receiving TD on the team with 7, but was under-utilized for most of the season because he was needed for pass protection.

WR Deion Branch had another disappointing season (45rec, 437yds, 2TD), and probably needs to find another team. For the 1st round draft pick that was given up for him, his stats for the 3 years he has been in town seem to be lacking, mostly due to injuries.

Offensive Line:
The mass of injuries that characterized the previous year for the offensive line carried over into this one. The line again was dealt a spate of injuries all year long, the most notable being LT Walter Jones who probably will retire at the end of the year.

A complete rebuild of the line, other than C/G Max Unger seems to be in order. Drafting the LT of the future is probably the biggest priority this year. While the 2010 crop of talent isn't nearly as deep as it was last year, there will still be players available that will immediately make the line better. Throughout the year Coach Jim Mora questioned the toughness of the line, and adding some better run blockers at the Guard position, and maybe Right Tackle could be what is needed.

Defensive Line:
The defense finished 15th (111yds/gm) against the run this year, and the additions made in the off-season (DT Colin Cole specifically) seemed to pay off for the most part. The front four was really unable to get a lot of pressure on opposing QB for a variety of reasons, and as a defense ranked 28th in sacks.

If a draft pick is going to be used on any of the DL positions, it would probably be to add depth, unless someone with elite talent really slips past the 1st round.

Linebackers:
Injuries really crippled the defense this year, mostly in the LB corps. Losing LB Lofa Tatupu for the majority of the season was a killer, even though LB David Hawthorne stepped in and proved to be a very capable replacement (117tkl, 4sacks, 2int). A lot more pressure was put on rookie LB Aaron Curry with Tatupu, and LB Leroy Hill injured, and as a result fatigue and injuries of his own took their toll late in the season.

For next year, if Curry, Tatupu, and Hill can all stay fairly healthy this should be the strength of the defense. A healthy LB corps would also help with QB pressure and pass coverage.

Secondary:
CB Marcus Trufant was injured for the first 6 games of the year, and when he came back was picked on unmercifully by opposing QB. CB Josh Wilson had 2 INT, and ran both of them back for touchdowns. The Seahawks ranked 30th in passing yards allowed (245/gm), so obviously changes to this unit need to be made. Probably the biggest need in the secondary are more athletic Safeties for both run stuffing, and pass coverage.

Special Teams:
The strongest unit for the entire season, both K Olindo Mare and P John Ryan excelled at their craft.
K Olindo Mare absolutely crushed kickoffs (22 touchbacks) and and was money with his Field Goals (24/26).
P John Ryan had a 46.2 average on his punts (7th), and 28 kicks inside the 20.

The biggest problem with the Special Teams was the lack of a backup long snapper when Kevin Houser went out with a collapsed lung, and CB Kelly Jennings was given the duties. That to me is more of a coaching issue than a personnel issue.

Offensive MVP: RB Justin Forsett (16games, 114rushes, 619yds(5.4/carry), 4TD).
Defensive MVP: LB David Hawthorne (16games, 117tackles, 4sacks, 2INT)

It seemed like the season went way too fast. Now we can only hope that the powers that be will get things moving in the right direction this off-season. A GM that knows how to evaluate talent is a must of course. Adding some good Free Agents would be nice, but a really strong Draft will be necessary.

Once again Seahawks fans this year wasn't ours. So let next year be the one that we can be proud of.

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28 December 2009

Seahawks Continue To Lose Big...48-10 To The Packers.

I don't know if it was lucky or not to have missed watching the 48-10 thrashing that the Green Bay Packers (10-5) laid on the Seattle Seahawks (5-10) Sunday. I had kind of hoped that when I got home from work in the evening a different result would appear on the computer screen when I checked that scores. Alas, QB Matt Hasselbeck has his second 4 INT game in a row, and the high powered Packer offense was happy to provide the majority of the scoring.

The Seahawks normally decent run defense (106.4 yds/gm) was torched for 153yds and 5 TD...yes, 5 rushing touchdowns!!

The season wraps up next week at home with the Tennessee Titans (7-8) coming in. All-Pro RB Chris Johnson comes calling next week needing just 128yds to break the 2K mark.

The Seahawks have been outscored a combined 106-24 the last 3 weeks. They have allowed fewer than 17 points only twice (shutouts to the Rams and Jaguars) yet have been unable to score more than 10 points in 6 games.

Depending on the outcome of their final game next Sunday, the Seahawks could wind up with a draft pick somewhere between 6th and 12th.

A few questions that I need to answer in the upcoming weeks:

With the performance this season of QB Matt Hasselbeck, does the drafting of a QB with a higher upside become the biggest priority?

With one of the weaker OT drafts coming up in recent history, should the Seahawks draft good skill position players in the 1st round and pick up linemen in the later rounds?

Is the combo of RB Julius Jones, and Justin Forsett the tandem for the future of the Seahawks, or would the drafting of a C.J. Spiller be the way to go?

What is the next step for the defensive secondary if CB Marcus Trufant cannot regain his Pro-Bowl form?

Just about every position on the team needs to be evaluated, and overhauled. I want to see an aggressive Seahawks this off-season, because we basically have the same set of needs this year as we did the last.

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21 December 2009

Seahawks On Cruise Control: On The Wrong Side Of The Freeway

I like to normally think of myself as an eternal optimist when it comes to my sports teams. Take the Seattle Mariners trading for oft-troubled OF Milton Bradley. Most people think that this pick up was a pretty bad idea given the history of emotional meltdowns that Bradley has shown over his career. I on the other hand think that with the positive vibe that was shown in the clubhouse last season, and the type of veteran leadership that the Mariners have at their disposal, that Milton will work out just fine, and do good things for the Mariners.

However, I am finding my usual sense of optimism under a brutal siege after having to suffer through one of the most troubling losses of the season, 24-7 to the Buccaneers (2-12). With a fairly weak schedule ahead of them to wrap up the season, the hopes that the team could have finished on a positive note and a .500 record were dashed at the hands of the wayward Bucs.

There were so many advantages that the Seahawks (5-9) had heading in to this game. Playing at home in front of some of the loudest fans in football. An opponent with 1 win on the season. An opponent that has to travel as far as physically possible to get to your stadium. Having your Head Coach questioning your toughness during the week, and making changes on the offensive line to try and motivate you. All of these advantages leading up to the game should have resulted in a fairly easy win today.

With a 7-3 lead at half time, and an offense that was moving the ball fairly well, one would have thought that the team exiting the tunnel to start the 2nd half would go out and finish the job. The defense had played pretty well in the 1st half as well, picking off QB Josh Freeman on his 1st pass of the game.

To me, it was like another team had crept into the Seahawks locker room, and put on their jerseys. The Buccaneers outscored the 'Hawks 21-0 in the 2nd half, and won the game easily. QB Matt Hasselbeck ended up with one of the worst games that I have seen him have, tossing 4 interceptions and losing a fumble. In the 2nd half, turnovers and penalties put the team in terrible field position and allowed the Buccaneers, and an increasingly confident QB Josh Freeman, short scoring drives.

The running game heading in to the half had been a big advantage for the 'Hawks with as many yards rushing, as the Bucs had in total offense, and the numbers total offense were exactly double 234-117. That the Seahawks ended up with only 128 yards rushing, shows a lack of commitment to the facet of their game that had been the strongest for them.

Still, the Seahawks out gained their opponent 380-339, and mustered up more 1st downs as well, 22-15. But, even in running 12 more plays than the Bucs, once more we lost the time of possession battle 32:04- 27:56.

With the Buccaneers coming in 30th is points allowed, and 31st in rushing yards per game I was hoping that a fast start would be in the cards. With the Seahawks scoring the games first points on a 29yd TD pass to TE John Carlson with 4:31 left in the 2nd quarter, this dream like a lot this season went unrealized. I don't know what it is about this team, but it seems like we start every game with a 3 and out, and wait to score until the 2nd quarter.

An oddity to me in this game, that I hope gets answered this week is the fact that CB Kelly Jennings is the back-up long snapper apparently. With LS Kevin Houser out with injuries, it fell to the 5'11” 180lb Jennings to go in and handle the duties. I know I can't be the only one scratching my head on this one, especially since two years ago we drafted a guy specifically as a long snapper.

The offensive line may have played their best game of the season as a unit, only allowing 1 sack in the face of the many blitzes that the Bucs threw at them. Conversely, the Seahawk defense contributed 0 sacks, and very little pressure, and against a rookie QB that had been struggling greatly.

I won't deny that my confidence in this team is the lowest it has been in I don't know how long. In my opinion, I really don't know how much longer to give Jim Mora to get things turned around. I had believed that we were better than the bottom feeders of the NFL, a team somewhere in the middle, that could be competitive with other teams like us. With todays loss to one of the worst teams in the NFL, a lot of soul searching needs to be done by the Seahawks at every level of the organization.

Questioning the toughness of the team in the week preceding the game did not send a wake up call to the players. Hitting rock-bottom usually sends you a wake up call that the status-quo just isn't good enough anymore.

I would say losing to the 1 win Tampa Bay Buccaneers might be as close to rock-bottom as it gets in this league.

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14 December 2009

How Many College Teams Could Beat The Seahawks Right Now?

It was painfully obvious from the first snap of the ballgame today that the Houston Texans had arrived ready to play, and the Seattle Seahawks had sent their C-Squad to face them. The Seahawks entered the game riding the wave of a 2 game winning streak. The Texans had lost 4 in a row, and everyone seemed to think that this match up would prove an entertaining one to watch.

I wish I could tell you that this game was entertaining...from a Seahawks perspective, but that I cannot do. The Texans scored on the very first play from scrimmage (a 64yd pass to WR Andre Johnson), and the very long day began for the 'Hawks.

The 34-7 loss to the Texans dropped us to 5-8, and I cannot help thinking, “How the hell have we won 5 games??” It seemed like the team really did not have a desire to win the game, let alone compete against a team that should have been a decent match up for them.

If a complete overhaul of the offensive line is not done this coming off-season, then heads need to roll.
You cannot blame the complete lack of protection for the QB, or running room for the backs on “a new scheme” that players are getting used to. Maybe I am wrong to blame the players for not being able to pick up a blitz. Maybe they have been poorly coached, and the coaches need to look in the mirror and take responsibility for the physical punishment that QB Matt Hasselbeck has taken this season.

The defense also needs a big time wake up call. The supposed strength of the team game up 174yds, 8 1st downs, and 17 points, in the 1st Quarter! The Seahawks offense conversely gained 13yds, 0 1st downs, and 0 points. The defense failed to sack QB Matt Schaub, and allowed 3 on QB Matt Hasselbeck that the hurting hurler could ill afford to take.

I really am getting to the point where I can't make any more excuses for this team. I would be terribly disappointed if the Seahawks didn't win another game this season, and finished at 5-11. To say that I would be surprised by that happening would mean that I had not watched this game.

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11 December 2009

A Rant About the Future...

So there are 4 games left in the season, and the Seattle Seahawks with their 5-7 record need to decide what kind of team they really are. Every week, a win or a loss sends a guy to the boards looking to see where the team will pick in the upcoming Draft. This years team really isn't a lot different from the last, what with the injury problems at various key positions and free agent pick-ups that have yet to make their true impact felt.

The Seahawks have proven themselves so far able to beat the dregs of the NFL, and unable to compete at all with the teams likely to be in the playoffs. This coming off season will really define the direction of the team for the foreseeable future. With a new front office staff taking over, and a coach with a track record for talent evaluation that is virtually unknown to us (how much pull did Mora really have in payer selection in Atlanta?), making sound decisions in the next few weeks/months will go a long way to salve some of the wounds we fans have suffered these last few years since the Glory of reaching the Super Bowl.

The talent available in this years Draft, and the abundance of picks to grab it will make for a fun time after the season has ended. Hopefully we can end with some sort of momentum, both on the field and off. Players need to be replaced that have held their positions on the current team for years. This team got old in a hurry, and we need an infusion of youth and energy to make a better future.

Really, the needs on the field have really not changed for the last couple of seasons. The offensive line has got to be the biggest focus this off season. We need to draft and acquire via free agency the players that can keep QB Matt Hasselbeck, or a suitable replacement on his feet and off his back. We need an offensive line that can at least give us a little opportunity to run the ball and gain some balance.

We all know what kind of emotion we can bring to the team we love when they at least give us a chance to cheer for a winning club. It isn't like we expect a Super Bowl every year, but it would sure be nice to say we were in contention. I am sick and tired of mediocrity, dammit! Finish the season strong, and give us a reason to believe that next year will be THE YEAR!

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29 November 2009

Seahawks Win Their First Road Game 27-17.

Check out my College Football All-Freshman Team I put together a few weeks ago.

QB Matt Hasselbeck did not have a sharp day (14-25 102yds), but an emerging star had his back. RB Justin Forsett coming off the worst rushing game in franchise history against the Vikings, took advantage of the weaker opponent this weak with an excellent game (22 carries, 130yds, 2TD).

The Seahawk defense was able to capitalize on a depleted Rams offense, and came away with an impressive performance. Even though the Rams offense gained more yardage (364-265), and had a lot more time of possession (33:32- 26:28) the 'Hawks defense was able to not break throughout the game, allowing what the at times inept offense to put a few points on the board.

K Olindo Mare was a perfect 2/2 in his FG attempts, and CB Josh Wilson was able to score on an interception return. Mare has now gone 19/21 for the season, and continues to produce touch-backs on kickoffs.

The Seahawks were able to get a lot of pressure on QB Kyle Boller throughout the game, coming away with 4 sacks and tons of pressures. Conversely the Seahawks offensive line, which is the healthiest they have been all year only gave up 1 sack to the Rams.

While a win is a win, I would not point to this game as anything special from the 'Hawks. The offense especially has a long way to go. Play calling, and lackluster performances from a lot of key players has me very nervous about this unit.

The schedule for the Seahawks from here on out is pretty easy, with only the Green Bay Packers (7-4) having a winning record. Obviously a playoff berth is virtually out of the question, but I really want to see this team play hard to finish the season.

As far as from a Draft perspective, this game really changed nothing as far as team needs personnel wise. A dominant LT, Physical Safety, and QB of the Future continue to dominate the list of needs for next year.

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22 November 2009

Seahawks Drop to 3-7!

It was pretty obvious from the get go just whom the better team was Sunday in Minneapolis. In just about every aspect of the 35-9 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the Seahawks were deficient.

Quarterback play, Running Back play, Offensive Line play, Defensive line play, Secondary play, and Special Teams play...all were areas that the Seahawks struggled to keep up with the better team. The only corps that held its own today was the linebackers, and that was really due to one person. MLB David Hawthorne flew around the field all game long, racking up a game high 13 tackles.

There were so many negatives for the 'Hawks in this game..

Rushing for a total of 4 bleeping yards!

A 42:11 to 17:49 time of possession differential!

Two turnovers to none for the Vikings!

10 penalties for 64 yards...including quite a few offsides penalties from the Tackles standing right over the bleeping ball!

Not getting a first down until the 2:11 mark in the 1st Quarter. The first points on the board at :43 in the 3rd Quarter.

Now the Vikings are a very good team, no doubt about that, maybe even a Super Bowl quality squad. I was disappointed with the coaching in this game, not just the quality of play on the field. With players out in the secondary for the Vikings, for some reason we refused to try and take advantage of the only weakness that was available to us. Even when we did have some success in that area, Nate Burleson for example had 6 catches for 100yds, the effort was not driven home. On a 3rd and 1 in the 3rd Quarter the 'Hawks decided to line up in a power running formation instead of trying to throw the ball. They play lost yardage and any momentum that the drive had going was lost due to a failure in the play calling.

The secondary, while giving up 5 TD, I thought played a lot more physical game than they did last week. QB Brett Favre showed surgical precision, going 22-25 213yds, 4TD.

While the defense gave up 160 total rushing yards to the Vikings, I wasn't completely unhappy with their efforts against RB Adrian Peterson and company.

The screen game produced good gains for RB Justin Forsett, 8 catches 80yds.

The defense was able to get good pressure early in the 1st Quarter against the excellent line of the Vikings, but after the 2 early sacks that was it.

A big positive from this Sunday however was the Denver Broncos lost their 4th straight game, lowering the 1st Round pick in the 2010 Draft that the Seahawks received from them. Keep coming down to earth Broncos, because we really need to add more talent.

In reality looking at the remaining schedule it looks like maybe 2 more wins for the Seahawks the rest of the way. The Rams (1-9) and the Buccaneers (1-9) left for the 'Hawks that are playing worse football, and even those games at this point might be tough.

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16 November 2009

A Better Showing, but....

While the Seahawks played much better this time around against the Arizona Cardinals, the end result was still a loss by a score of 31-20. The loss today virtually extinguished any chance of a playoff push, dropping their record to 3-6.

The 'Hawks actually led 17-10 at halftime, care of a stingy defense, and an offense that was able to manage a good blend of run and pass. This was a game of two completely different halves though, as Arizona went on to outscore them 21-3 the rest of the way.

One of the best things that I saw from the 'Hawks today was the ability of RB Justin Forsett to get the running game going. Against the 4th ranked Rush Defense of the Cardinals (93.1 yards/game) the Seahawks were able to rack up 164yds. Compared to the 14yds that they were able to produce in the last contest they played, this was pretty darned spectacular.

QB Matt Hasselbeck ended up throwing for 315yds, but only completed 50% of his throws (26/52). Towards the end of the game, I noticed that Hasselbeck's shoulder seemed to be bothering him, and the accuracy of his passes was really poor, as he ended up throwing a couple interceptions in crucial situations when they really needed scores.

For the most part the Seahawks defense really showed a lot of improvement compared to their last meeting. Down the stretch though, the bigger, more physical receivers of the Cardinals were able to dominate the Seahawks secondary.

The Seahawks Offensive Line was able to open some nice holes in the running game, but ended up allowing 4 sacks. A few of the sacks I viewed as Hasselbeck's fault as he failed to recognize an overloaded blitz coming at him, and didn't audible out of the selected play.

After the game I reassessed the personnel needs that the Seahawks need to incorporate next year, and they really haven't changed much.

Number one is a Left Tackle to replace the probably retired LT Walter Jones.

Next would be a physical Safety, that can dominate against the run, and punish wide-outs coming over the middle.

A QB of the future that can be groomed to replace an obviously aging QB Matt Hasselbeck would be nice as well.

If a more physical corner was available to play opposite CB Marcus Trufant, I would really like to see the 'Hawks add that as well.

Next week we have the Minnesota Vikings (8-1) on the road. Unless QB Brett Favre, and RB Adrian Peterson slip and fall getting of the bus, I hold little hope for a victory in that one.

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9 November 2009

It Took Longer Than Expected...Beat Lions 32-20

So in rolls the cure-all to your disappointing season, the hapless Detroit Lions. With the bad offense, and an even worse defense, this looked to be the springboard that the Seahawks needed to make themselves right. Instead, you get turnover, after turnover converted into points and a troubling 17 point deficit after the 1st quarter.

Just when I was about to break out the hard liquor and start drowning my sorrows at the misfortunes of my favorite team getting blown out by the Lions, things became a little more acceptable. The Seahawks outscored the Lions 32-3 for the rest of the game, finally putting it away with a 61 yard INT return for a TD. Still, a 32-20 win eases the heart just a little...it just took longer than expected.

True to form throughout the season, the 'Hawks have been slow starters on offense. An interception on QB Matt Hasselbeck's first pass, a fumble on the next possession, and failing to convert on a 4th and short after that made me start looking for the highest ledge I could get to in a hurry. I have no idea why this team is so sluggish out of the gates, it really is troubling against bad teams, and a nightmare against good teams.

QB Matt Hasselbeck actually ended up having a pretty darned good game, finishing 39/51 329yds 1 TD, 1 INT. And once he got rolling, the Seahawks pretty much abandoned the run only gaining 55yds for the game.

The stars of the game were the Seahawks secondary grabbing 5 interceptions from Lions QB Matt Stafford. LB David Hawthorne, who is filling in for the gaping hole left by LB Lofa Tatupu being put on IR, led the team with 9 tackles and added 2 of those INTs.

I was pretty impressed with the way the offensive line performed today as well, only giving up 1 sack, and providing Hasselbeck with plenty of time to find receivers most of the afternoon. Hopefully getting these guys to stay healthy for a little bit will help them continue to gel as a unit.

I hate to start thinking positive again, but with the 49ers losing again today, the Seahawks crawled into a tie for second in the division. The match up against the Cardinals next week could turn out to be very crucial considering that with a win the 'Hawks could be only 1 game out of first place (fingers crossed)

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18 October 2009

Not The End Of The World, but....

Thanks to Fox for not allowing my local station to broadcast the Seahawks game today due to their commitment to the MLB Playoffs (they showed poker instead of my game)....that was super duper of them! I like listening to sports on the radio, but the intricacies of the game can be lost, especially when you are trying to write a column about it.

The 27-3 loss to the Arizona Cardinals was more than just a woeful beat down at the hands of a divisional opponent. The Seahawks were looking to build on their big win against the Jaguars last week, and climb back into the picture in the NFC West title chase.

The Seahawks showed to me that they are not yet ready to return to prominence with their performance Sunday. Many a weakness were exploited by the Cardinals, not the least of which is the inability to field a healthy offensive line. Lack of physical Safety play, and corners that were manhandled by the Cards bigger receivers was another deficiency that was highlighted.

QB Matt Hasselbeck was under duress for most of the afternoon, going a measly 10-29 112yds, 1INT, and don't get me started on the 14yds of rushing that we produced.

That the defense allowed QB Kurt Warner unimpeded access to the end zone on its opening drive is one thing, but being unable to field the ball on the ensuing kick off is an embarrassment. The Seahawks were out played, out coached, and out hustled for the entire game. The defense did play better after the 1st quarter, but it wasn't enough, even if they had been able to force more turnovers, or keep the Cardinals from scoring.

Top needs leaving this game to fill are:

Dominant Left Tackle
Athletic Safety...someone that can punish a receiver for coming over the middle, and take pressure off of the corners.
QB of the future
Offensive Line depth...starting quality Left Guard would be nice.
Physical CB...someone tall enough and strong enough to match up better with a big receiver.

While getting all of these things next year would not guarantee success, the current players on the roster being healthy, and some better coaching of said players would definitely help.

In the games that the Seahawks have won this year, their opponents are 3-9, conversely the opponents that they have lost to are 13-5. Coming out of the bye next week, the Seahawks play opponents with a combined 22-33 record, including 3 teams that are winless (St. Louis, Detroit, Tennessee). That should mean at least 3 more wins right?

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12 October 2009

Something Worth Cheering About

With their 41-0 win Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seahawks obviously played the best game of this young season. This is the kind of game that the Seahawks desperately needed as well, and while it came at the hands of a team struggling just as bad as the 'Hawks, it was beautiful none the less.

True to form so far this season, the Seahawks offense was sluggish past the 1st quarter. They scored 31 points in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, and went into victory mode in the 4th. What I am guessing is that the script that the offense has for the first few series is just completely ineffective, because this trend of slow starts has happened in almost every game this season.

QB Matt Hasselbeck showed just how valuable he is for the Seahawks in his return from a cracked rib. The first thing that is noticeable about his game compared to back up QB Seneca Wallace is arm strength. Hasselbeck just has a little more zip to his throws that allows him to get the ball into tighter coverage. The second thing that is very apparent is that Hasselbeck can manipulate the opposing teams secondary better...pump fakes, looking off the safeties, all of that makes the passing game much more effective for the 'Hawks when they decide that they really want to pass the ball.

The running game for the Seahawks was virtually nonexistent for the most part, with a good majority coming after the game had already been decided. The Seahawks defense played inspired football Sunday, especially against the run. Holding Maurice Jones-Drew to 34yds on 12 rushes was insanely good, and Jacksonville as a whole to just 199 net yards total!

The Seahawks apparently read my column, because they actually let DE Nick Reed see the field. What did he do, you ask? Just make plays! Two Tackles, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery, 1 TD.

The defense showed a renewed energy this week, something that had been missing all season. Tackling was exceptional compared to previous weeks, and there were more gang tackles than I had seen also. Aaron Curry had his most complete game this year, finishing with 9 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble.

Facing the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday will require this kind of performance from the team, both offense and defense. The NFC west is wide open, and the Seattle Seahawks can makes strides towards a title if they can continue to improve week to week.

How unlucky is it that we traded for the Denver Broncos 1st round pick next year...and they are
5-0!

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6 October 2009

Assessing Performance and Need

I am not going to do a long, drawn out analysis of the Seahawks 34-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, because that would acknowledge the fact that they actually had a shot to win this game. Well, they didn't...not in their current form that is. The Colts this season,last week, were the better team by a long shot.

What I am going to do this week is break down the performance of the 2009 Draft selections from the 'Hawks, and give them a Quarterly Report Card. Also, I am going to look at the weaknesses that have prevailed into the season and identify a few college prospects that I think would help them out for next year.

2009 NFL Draft Grades:

1st Round- OLB Aaron Curry: B+
Curry has started all 4 games so far for the Seahawks this season. He did show up late for training camp due to a contract hold out, but nowadays that is almost to be expected of a player drafted with the #4 selection. Through 4 games Curry has 22 Tackles, and one sack, and continues to grasp the key aspects of the defense. While he hasn't been given a ton of opportunity to rush the passer, Curry is primarily effective against the run. He sheds blockers well, and delivers punishing hits to the ball-carrier. With both of his fellow starting linebackers having been injured so far this season, Curry has been thrown to the wolves a littler earlier than the coaching staff would have liked. I see Curry as a potential Pro Bowl caliber player, and hopefully the woes of the team as a whole don't stunt his development.

2nd Round- G/C Max Unger: A
What Max Unger has done so far hasn't grabbed any headlines, or been flashy at all. His versatility coming out of college fit right in with what the Seahawks needed coming off a year where every single member of their offensive line had been injured. So far the trend of injuries has continued, and Unger has excelled wherever he has been thrown. Really the 'Hawks won't know exactly how good Unger can be until he is given a chance to really master one position, and that will not come until they can keep a healthy line in general.

3rd Round- WR Deon Butler: C
Through 4 games Butler has seen very limited playing time, producing only 3 catches for 30yds. With a healthy Deion Branch back into the fold, the potential playing time for Butler was reduced even further. With good hands, and great speed the upside for Butler is huge..he just hasn't been able to display them yet.

6th Round- QB Mike Teel: Incomplete
Currently the 3rd string QB, who right now is one play away from starting for the Seahawks. With QB Matt Hasselbeck out with a broken rib, and QB Seneca Wallace taking all of the snaps, Teel could potentially see the field this season. No stats, and just a little playing time in the preseason leads me to not be able to give him a grade thus far.

7th Round- S Courtney Greene: F
Not on the team, cut during preseason.

7th Round- DE Nick Reed: Incomplete
Has played very limited time this season, producing only 1 tackle in 4 games. I would like to see him enter the game in obvious passing situations because of the skill he showed in the pre-season of getting to the QB, but apparently the coaches are happy so far with the lack of effective QB pressure.

7th Round- TE Cameron Morah: Incomplete
Morah is the 3rd TE on the depth chart so obviously he hasn't played much (1 catch, 3yds) but I think he could turn into a very good option in the future. Needs to improve blocking skills to move up the depth chart.

So let's Look at the 2010 NFL Draft:

The Seahawks will have two 1st Round picks in the 2010 NFL Draft. I had been hoping that the pick that they got from Denver in last years trade would be a very high pick, but so far the 4-0 Broncos have completely let me down in that regard. If the season ended today, I would give the Seahawks the 10th and 27th Picks in Next years draft.

10th Pick- Taylor Mays- USC
The safety play from the current roster has been absolutely terrible this season. Better athletes at the position would improve the defense by making the corners less vulnerable, even with CB Marcus Trufant, and CB Josh Wilson healthy. S Eric Berry, and S Taylor Mays are the top two Safeties in the draft, and Berry will not be available to the 'Hawks at pick 10.

27th Pick (From Denver, that will probably be a bit lower)- LT Ciron Black- LSU

It seems with the injury issues stacking up for future HOF LT Walter Jones, the bookend for the next decade needs to be drafted here. The top two Tackles in the draft, Trent Williams, and Russell Okung will be gone by the time this pick is made.

The Seahawks will need to invest in the QB of the future with the lack of durability that QB Matt Hasselbeck has shown the last two seasons. Also, a premier running back if one is available wouldn't disappoint me as well...someone like a Jahvid Best perhaps.

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1 October 2009

1-2 and Feeling Blue

After the 25-19 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday, I was getting ready to write a column completely devoid of any hope and about ready to look forward to next year. So I took a few deep breaths, and a couple days to collect my thought into something more positive.

The Seahawks got off to the fast start that I was looking for, scoring their first 1st quarter points of the season. Things were looking great to start the game, RB Julius Jones showed great burst running the ball, and scored on a nice screen pass for 39yds. The Bears brought a lot of pressure at QB Seneca Wallace, who was getting the start for the injured QB Matt Hasselbeck, and the depleted offensive line held up fairly well considering. With the success of the screen pass in the 1st quarter, I would have thought that the screen might have been something that was used a little more often as the game progressed.

The starting defense Sunday was just as depleted as the offense. The starting linebackers had a total of 6 NFL starts combined, with rookie LB Aaron Curry the elder statesman at 3 starts. For all of that inexperience, I thought the LB corps acquitted themselves very well, especially MLB David Hawthorne (15 tackles, 1 INT)

While 1st year Head Coach Jim Mora threw Olindo Mare under the bus after the game for missing 2 of his 6 field goals, I will come to his defense a little bit, and say that Mare did not LOSE the game for the Seahawks. Going 6/6 would only have made the ballgame an even contest, although the misses could have added to the then lead that the Seahawks enjoyed an d that could have changed the dynamic ofcourse. What lost the Seahawks the game was the inability to stop QB Jay Cutler from driving down the field and scoring with under 5 minutes to play.

Rushing Offense: C+

In the 1st Quarter the rushing offense was clicking, RB Julius Jones was hitting huge holes, and moving the ball fairly easily. After that however, the running game was practically nonexistent, and Jones seemed to be running slower and more hesitant in the holes.

Passing Offense: B-

QB Seneca Wallace wasn't very efficient, going 26-44 for 261yds 1 TD, 1 INT, but in the face of constant pressure let through by the depleted offensive line one could hardly expect him to be. Play calling as much as anything hampered the passing game, but the Bears do have a pretty darned good defense, so I will give them a lot of credit as well for shutting us down.

Offensive Line: B-

The 1st quarter showed me that this line, even missing folks with injuries still has a lot of talent. For as much pressure as the Bears brought, both with run blitzes and attacking QB Seneca Wallace, I thought the group of LT Brandon Frye, LG Rob Sims, C Chris Spencer, RG Max Unger, RT Ray Willis did a pretty good job.

Defense: B-

This banged up unit did a phenomenal job against the run, holding RB Matt Forte to 66yds on 21 carries. Against the pass you could tell just how many pieces they were missing, both in the secondary and in the linebacking corps. QB Jay Cutler was able to pick the secondary apart with surgical precision, going 21-27 247yds 3TD, 1 INT, and next weeks task against the great QB Peyton Manning just keeps these guys in the fire.

Special Teams: C+

K Olindo Mare was relied on a little too much for my comfort in this offense. While he should have been able to go 6/6 with his field goals, the offense needed to score touchdowns to beat a decent Bears team.

The 'Hawks should have a few pieces back this week for the Colts game. LB Lofa Tatupu, and CB Josh Wilson are expected to give it a go, and the Seahawk secondary will need all the help it can get against one of the greatest Quarterbacks in NFL history.

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21 September 2009

So Much For Running The Table

First of all...Go Huskies! I am a lifelong Washington Husky fan, and that win against #3 USC Saturday was such a thrill.

The Seahawks had a prime opportunity Sunday to take control of their division with a win at San Francisco. The result of the contest was a 23-10 loss however, and the game was not as close as the score would make it seem. The Seahawks were outplayed, out coached, and out hustled all day Sunday, unable to get anything going on offense, and unable to stop the 49ers at all.

I don't know which was worse, giving up two huge runs to RB Frank Gore or the fact that they did so with eight and nine men in the box both times. True, the 'Hawks were missing DT Brandon Mebane, LB Leroy Hill, and for most of the game LB Lofa Tatupu, but I thought that's why we signed Cory Redding, and Colin Cole...to stop the run.

When QB Matt Hasselbeck dove toward the end zone and left the game in a lot of pain, I could feel a sense of wins slipping from our grasp. I like QB Seneca Wallace as a back-up, but that is exactly what he is, and always will be. An offense that can't score points and a defense that can't stop the run is called the 2008 Seattle Seahawks...Deja Vu anyone?

Grades for the Game:

Rushing Offense: D

66yds on 23 rushes is pitiful, and that led to an abysmal 25:29 time of possession considering that 14 of the 49ers points came on long runs. Justin Forsett showed some burst with 35yds on 5 carries, but that wasn't nearly enough.

Passing Offense: C

Hard to really grade this one out, because QB Matt Hasselbeck looked like he was just starting to find a rhythm when he left with an injury just before halftime. My issue with the passing game is that this is the second game in a row that it took well into the 2nd quarter of the ballgame to get any sort of production. That is bad enough against a terrible team like the Rams, let alone against a seemingly decent team like the 49ers. While 25-41 for 217yds and 1 TD isn't terrible, it isn't good enough.

Offensive Line: C+

For as patchwork as this line is, allowing only 1 sack to a really good defense like the 49ers have is pretty darned amazing. However, only being able to produce 66yds in the running game leads me to point the fingers primarily at this group. LT Walter Jones should be able to return soon, and that should help out a lot.

Defense: D-

Allowing 256yds rushing should get this entire unit flogged for their efforts. They did manage 4 sacks, and that was the only positive at all for the entire defense. They did not allow a passing TD, but QB Shaun Hill for the 49ers managed the game well and only threw when he needed to. The linebacking corps for the 'Hawks has suddenly sprung a lot of leaks with the injuries to LB Leroy Hill, and LB Lofa Tatupu. Coming into the season this was going to be the strongest unit on the field with the addition of 1st round draft choice LB Aaron Curry. Hopefully these guys can get healthy in a hurry, because lack of production up front combined with an ineffective linebackers is a recipe for more failure against the run.

Special Teams: A-

P John Ryan averaged 52.1yds on 7 punts, and K Olindo Mare consistently put his kickoffs deep into the end zone..not that he got to kick off much with the lack of scoring by the offense. Punt/Kick coverage teams did pretty well also only allowing 7yds average on punt returns, and 1 kick off return for 20yds.

We have an opportunity next week to turn things around in a hurry with the Chicago Bears coming to town. I am running out of things to throw at my television as I watch these games so hopefully a solid performance will ensue.

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13 September 2009

We Are On Our Way! Week 1 in the books

The Seahawks start their 2009-10 season with the first ever shutout of the St. Louis Rams 28-0. In a game that started out sloppy on both sides, and the first points coming halfway into the 2nd quarter, the Seahawks were able to finally get things clicking to lock down the first win of the season. This game however did not give me warm and fuzzy feelings all over though...at least not at first. A better team than the St. Louis Rams would have capitalized on the Seahawks mistakes. And this game would have turned out much differently.

Offense:

QB Matt Hasselbeck finished with a decent day, 25-36 279yds 3TD:2INT. Pretty good numbers at the end of the day, but the two interceptions came fairly early and he was not making good decisions with his throws. St. Louis had some play makers in its secondary that took advantage of Hasselbeck locking in on 1 receiver without reading who was breaking on his throw.

TE John Carlson showed that he was not just a one year wonder, producing 6 catches for 96yds and 2 TD. St. Louis seemingly had no answer for Carlson, who was able to run all over their secondary uncovered.

RB Julius Jones proved that he deserved the spot as the Seahawks featured back this year with a very impressive first game, contributing 117yds on 19 carries and 1TD. His 62yd blast into the end zone in the 3rd quarter was a thing of beauty, and it seemed like maybe the Seahawks actually knew what they were doing when they pulled him out of the Cowboys discard bin.

Defense:

The crowd was its normal deafening self Sunday, causing numerous false starts for the Rams offense. Since the new stadium opened that has been an invaluable tool that gives life to the Seahawks defense.

The Seahawks produced 3 sacks, which was actually impressive considering that the Rams had QB Marc Bulger in a 3 or 5 step drop almost the entire game.

LB Aaron Curry showed flashes of why he deserved to be the #4 pick in the draft. One thing is for certain...if Curry tackles you, you stay tackled.

While the defense threw a shutout Sunday, there is definitely room for improvement. With CB Marcus Trufant out for the first 6 weeks, the corners are going to get tested like never before. The defensive line really needs to step up and put consistent pressure on the opposing QB to give them a break.

Special Teams:

Olindo Mare's blocked kick turned out to be a blessing in disguise in the 2nd quarter. The Rams had 12 men on the field, and gave the offense a 1st down. Turns out that the offense that came back out on the field knew what to do with the ball, because they came out with 4 TD's after that.

P John Ryan averaged 53.2 yds per punt on 5 kicks. The field position advantage that the Seahawks will have with this guy is huge....thats assuming that their coverage teams don't blow it of course.

Overall this was a very good way to start the season for the Seahawks. While there is definitely room for improvement in all aspects of the game, its always nice to start with a W. If they can win next week in San Francisco, the Seahawks can take sole possession of the division that is rightfully theirs.

(In my April column Shamelessly Early Predictions for the 2009 Season, I had the Seahawks winning this game 27-13....going to pencil that one in as one I got right.)

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1 September 2009

Unimpressive, but still a Win

The third preseason game was supposed to be the breakout game for the offense, with all of the starters playing a good majority of the time. However, the 14-10 win at the hapless Chiefs failed to impress on many levels.

The offensive line seems to have regressed to the end of the season as far as its health and continuity, and the running game, and pass security have suffered for it. The running backs did show bursts of success, as did QB Matt Hasselbeck later in the game. Hopefully practice time with the projected starters on the line will give them a little more confidence going into the season. I can't argue that they don't have the potential talent to be a good front five, but they just don't have the experience.

There is a big connection between Hasselbeck and WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh already this off season. They read each other very well, and its safe to say that barring injuries that hookup will play a major part in the success of the team this year.

The defense continues to miss a lot of tackles, giving up bigger gains by the opposing offense than they should. OLB Aaron Curry played a good chunk of the game this week and showed that he is starting to get a handle on things. DE Nick Reed also produced another sack late in the game when the Chiefs were trying to drive down for the go ahead score. I would almost suggest that he move up the depth chart to play ahead of the more experienced DE's in passing situations as he is the only one that has shown he can consistently get to the QB.

I was about to anoint K Brandon Coutu the winner of the battle against incumbent K Olindo Mare based on the woeful placekicking exibited Saturday, but reports from both teams suggested that the field was incredibly slick, and the holds were almost impossible to get down properly. I wouldn't be completely surprised if the job did go to Coutu seeing as how the 'Hawks drafted him and all.

P John Ryan has shown that he may be the biggest bright spot of the entire special teams unit this year. His booming punts have given the team an explicit advantage as far as field position so far in the preseason. He seems to be able to kick to the situation really well...belting a huge kick when the team really needs it, but not so much as to out-kick his coverage.

While the Seahawks are 3-0 this preseason, a lot of concerns still remain. This team is definitely a better squad this year, but it is really tough to get a handle on just how successful they will actually be. It's quite possible that they could turn into a playoff team, but only time will tell.

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23 August 2009

The 'Hawks have a Preseason Winning Streak Going!

A change of head coaches didn't alter the spate of injuries that the Seahawks offensive line has suffered over the last year. While there were many positives coming out of the Seahawks 27-13 victory over the Denver Broncos, the loss of another starting lineman C Chris Spencer, may have been the biggest negative. Before the preseason even started, I thought that OG/C Max Unger would crack the starting lineup simply because of talent, but now its looking like it will be of necessity if nothing else.

The starting offense looked phenomenal to start the game, and the starting defense looked equally as bad when the Broncos got the ball. The tackling by the starters was absolutely abysmal, mainly by the linebacking corps, with defensive linemen making many tackles way past the line of scrimmage. OLB Aaron Curry didn't play in this game, sidelined with the consistent holdout injuries that seem to plague young players that don't show up to camp on time.

I was extremely impressed with both WR Deon Butler and WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the way that they worked with QB Matt Hasselbeck. Barring last seasons catastrophic injury plague to the wide outs, and the offensive line giving Hasselbeck time to throw, the passing game should be huge for the 'Hawks even though they are switching to more of a run first offense under Jim Mora.

That man did it again! DE Nick Reed once again thrust himself to the forefront of this preseason game. With 1.5 sacks, and a blocked punt against the Broncos, the “undersized” 7th round pick for the 'Hawks is quickly making himself indispensable. If he doesn't make the team there will be something completely wrong and another team will snatch him up fast.

So, other than the Denver Broncos not looking as pitiful as I had hoped (fingers crossed for a #1 draft pick), and some work needed to correct timing issues in a new system on offense the team looked pretty good. Two wins in the preseason does not a Super Bowl make however.

Preseason game 3 prediction:

Seahawks 40, Chiefs 10

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17 August 2009

The Pre-Season is Finally Underway.

Within the Seahawks 20-14 win at San Diego on Saturday were many interesting observations. Most of the action happened in the 2nd half of the game, along with the majority of the surprises and disappointments. The first thing that was obvious to me was that 1st round pick Aaron Curry suffered for missing training camp time with his contract dispute. Curry showed very little in the way of outstanding play, and needs to catch up in a hurry.

Positives:

DE/OLB Nick Reed, one of the 7th round picks this year showed that being a little undersized is quite alright, racking up a couple sacks and an interception. Reed, along with DE/DT Michael Bennett an undrafted rookie free agent out of Texas A&M, provided a lot of pressure to the San Diego QB, and really changed the tone of the whole game. The biggest positive that I saw throughout the game was the new depth of the 'Hawks defensive line.

RB Devin Moore, an undrafted rookie out of Wyoming, showed really good burst and was a pleasant surprise in the running game. The word that came to mind watching him run was slippery...it seemed like the San Diego defense had a tough time getting a solid hit on Moore.

QB Mike Teel showed promise as the 3rd string QB for the 'Hawks. Displaying a decent grasp of the offense and a pretty good arm, it was easy to see why Teel was seen as a steal late in the draft. While playing time this season should be nonexistent, a couple years seasoning could turn Teel into a player that will excel as a starter.

Concerns:

Health of the Offensive line is going to be a huge concern for the Seahawks again this year. Without healthy starters, both the running and passing games will not be completely effective. The problem also are the little injuries to key backups that hamper their development as well. The depth, and talent is there to succeed, but the health of the unit will be the key to a successful season.

Special Teams left me a little uneasy, aside from the kicker and punter themselves. I saw a lot of assignments blown, and tackles missed, seemingly no improvement from last year. The return game was also a little chaotic, but I chalked that up to the team trying new personnel out at the positions.

Defensive Secondary depth is also a major concern to me. If one of the starters go down, I don't know that there is enough talent behind them to compensate for that loss from what I saw this week. Hopefully some more practice, and film study will change my opinion of the unit in the weeks to come.

Now this was just the first preseason game of the year, and in no way indicative of how the season will turn out ( The Detroit Lions went 4-0 in last years preseason) but is it sure good to see the team out there again. I cannot wait for game 2 against the Denver Broncos this coming Saturday, both to see how the Seahawks improve this week, and to see what kind of pick the Broncos are going to relinquish us in next years draft.

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9 August 2009

Things are Falling in Place for the Hawks

With Aaron Curry's signing of the richest non-quarterback rookie contract in NFL history yesterday, the Seattle Seahawks locked down a huge piece of their 2009 puzzle. On one hand, I am excited to get this guy on the field, because I know he is going to be special...but on the other, it's a lock that if he isn't a pro-bowl linebacker within the next couple of years he will be labeled a bust.

I considered G/C Max Unger to be one of the best picks for the 'Hawks in the Draft due to his versatility in playing multiple positions, and already in camp he has had a chance to prove his worth. With the retirement of LG Mike Wahle due to failing his physical, and the ankle sprain of C Chris Spencer, Unger has made himself even more important to a team that has had an unbelievable amount of injuries to their O-Line the last few years.

WR T.J Houshmandzadeh not only replaced the veteran leadership of the departed WR Bobby Engram, but added a lot more talent to the unit, as well as appearing to make everyone around him better. Everything that I am seeing from camp indicates that the receiving corps for this years season will be an amazing unit to watch.

With DL Cory Redding getting pushed more to the outside to help with the run defense look for DT Brandon Mebane, and DT Red Bryant (whom I was very high on 2 years ago out of Texas A&M) to really lick down the middle of the line. Mebane has excelled from day one as a good all around DT, but look for his sack production to go way up this year with the addition of the new talent on the line.

With the first preseason game now just a week away the excitement is just building and building. I don't know that I have looked forward to a season more since the Seahawks got robbed my the black and gold striped officials in the Super Bowl. I just know that the Mora era will bring many happy returns to us 'Hawks fans, but dang the wait is killing me!

Preseason Game 1 prediction:

Seahawks 27, Chargers 17

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29 July 2009

Getting Ready for Training Camp

One thing we know for certain going into Seahawks training camp is that Brett Favre will not be their quarter back...or apparently any other teams either.

That being said it is great to be able to shake off the NFL off-season blues, and get excited with training camps opening up. It was a very lackluster couple of months for the Seattle Seahawks, aside from FB Owen Schmidt getting arrested for a DUI. The regions sports teams that had dismal seasons a year ago have sparked a lot of enthusiasm, and hopefully the 'Hawks can continue that trend...from the Portland Trailblazers making the NBA playoffs, to the Seattle Mariners being much better than the 100 loss club from a year ago, things are really looking up....giving fans a reason to be interested again.

There are going to be a couple of key things to watch in the coming weeks, first and foremost is the health of QB Matt Hassock. As he goes, so go the fortunes of the Seahawks and this will be a crucial season for the 'Hawks. New head coach Jim Mora Jr. needs to get things headed in the right direction from day one, as the aberration that was the 2008 season needs to be just that, a one time thing that will never happen again.

Aside from the QB play, getting the defense back to its top form is a priority as well. The addition of LB Aaron Curry from the draft has really excited the coaching staff. He seems to be even better than they thought, and will be really exciting to watch as a fan this year.

And of course there is one thing that Seahawks fans will definitely be rooting for this year...and that is a really bad season from the Denver Broncos since they own the conditional #1 draft pick from them. Getting two top 5 picks in a row without having to “earn” it like they did last year would be awesome.

I look forward to reporting positive happenings here in the next couple weeks, and hopefully will be touting a phenomenal season from our beloved Seattle Seahawks.

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27 April 2009

Final Seahawk 2009 NFL Draft Analysis

2nd Round- Pick #49
OL Max Unger- I love this pick because of his versatility. I don't think that Unger will ever be an All Pro type of player, but I do think that he will be in the league for a very long time and have a phenomenal career. The Seahawks need a guy that can play all of the positions on the line just in case (knock on wood) that the same injury plague hits the team again this year.

3rd Round- Pick #91
WR Deon Butler- Brings good college experience with him into the NFL. A small speedy receiver with good hands, lots of people compare him with the departed WR Bobby Engram. Time will tell what type of NFL receiver Butler becomes, whether it takes him a few years to hit his stride, or can make an immediate impact on the team.

6th Round- Pick #178
QB Mike Teel- The 2009 NFL Draft was a little shy of QB talent to draft from. Going into the draft one of the picks the Seahawks needed to make was a back-up QB. Many pundits had been thinking that they would take Mark Sanchez at the #4 pick and anoint him the QB of the Future. When the 'Hawks picked Aaron Curry in the first round, that made the selection of a QB something akin to kissing your sister....there would be players available, but the options weren't that exciting. I project Teel to be a career back up in the NFL until I can see his performance at mini camps, and in game situations.

7th Round- Pick #245
S Courtney Greene- Good value pick up for the 7th Round. Will probably be a special teams player for awhile, but may turn in to a productive role-player in the secondary down the line. Video I saw of Greene looked good, and over all I think that he will find a role to excel on the team.

7th Round- Pick #247
DE Nick Reed- Productive college DE that will more than likely see limited time in the rotation at the next level until he can put on a little weight. Again, this is a guy that will see more time on special teams until he can round into NFL shape.

7th Round- Pick #248
TE Cameron Morah- Good back-up TE for the 'Hawks to draft. Came out a year early from college, so a 7th Round pick up this year is a great value, as he probably would have gone earlier next year if he had stayed in school. Will need to work on his blocking skills if he wants to excel in the NFL.

Overall Draft Grade: B+ The lack of mid-round picks hurt a little, but trading for the Denver Broncos 1st Round pick in the 2010 Draft may net huge results (root for a 3-13 season for them Broncs!).

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26 April 2009

Seahawks Draft Day

Day 1

Pick #4 OLB Aaron Curry- Wake Forest

The planets aligned for the 'Hawks at the beginning of the round. I had said all along that if Curry was available, the Seahawks would take him to replace the departed Julian Peterson. With the meteoric rise of DE Tyson Jackson up the boards, and being selected #3 by Kansas City that opened the door for Seattle to get their guy.

I am excited about this pick for multiple reasons. The Seahawks got a complete linebacker that can start from day one, and he has a phenomenal character. There is no guessing as to what role Curry will play for the Seahawks as there would with some of the other combo-backers in the draft.

Grade: A+

Pick #37 Traded to Denver for 1st Round pick in 2010

The Denver Broncos had two picks in the first round for 2010, and traded one of them to the Seahawks to select CB Alphonso Smith- Wake Forest.

Grade: Incomplete

Pick #49 (From Chicago) C Max Unger

I love this pick (see 2/22/08 Column) because Unger is as versatile as it gets being able to play all of the positions on the offensive line. Constantly injured Center Chris Spencer makes it possible for Unger to be a rookie starter if he takes leadership during training camp.

Grade: A-

NFC West Draft Grades

Arizona Cardinals- Grade B+

Pick #31 Chris (Beenie) Wells/RB Good replacement for the aging Edgerrin James. Will be interesting to see how Wells is used in the pass happy Cardinals offense.

Pick # 63 Cody Brown/DE/OLB Good pick to add some depth because of his versatility.

San Francisco Cardinals- Grade A

Pick #10 Michael Crabtree/WR Excellent value at the #10 pick. From a Seahawks perspective I am now scared of the 49ers passing attack. I think Crabtree has the type of ego that will make his on the field performance punish all of the teams that did not draft him.

Seattle Seahawks- Grade A

Pick #4 Aaron Curry/OLB Complete Linebacker that will start from day one. Makes a great unit even better.

Pick # 49 Max Unger/C Versatile offensive lineman that can play all positions. With the injuries that they had last year this is an outstanding pick. I had him targeted from my first mock draft after the Combine.

St. Louis Rams- Grade A-

Pick #2 Jason Smith/OT Excellent athlete at the Left Tackle position. The Seahawks defensive ends will have to be on top of their games to get past this guy.

Pick #35 James Laurinaitis/ILB The Rams got a leader for their defense in Laurinaitis. His stock had dropped during his senior season at Ohio State, but instincts and savvy will overcome his lack of foot speed and quickness.

With the talent that the NFC West was able to draft on Day One, I can guarantee a better quality of play by all of the teams for this coming year.

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