Wednesday, August 4, 2010

2010 Preview: Seattle Seahawks

2009 Record: 5-11

2009 Rankings:
Total Offense - 21
Run Offense - 26
Pass Offense - 15
Scoring Offense - 25
Total Defense - 24
Run Defense - 15
Pass Defense - 30
Scoring Defense - 25

What was the most disturbing fact about the Seahawks 2009 season? Not their horrendous pass defense, their -8 turnover differential, or their -110 point differential. No, it was the fact that the Seahawks, the Seattle Seahawks, led the league in passing attempts last season. That's correct. Let that sink in for a moment. The Seattle Seahawks put up 609 pass attempts, the only team besides the Colts to put up more than 600. Even with that many attempts, they only ranked 15th in Passing Offense and were mired at 25th in scoring offense.

Many people have blamed Seattle's offensive woes on the departure of Shaun Alexander, but we're of the belief that LT Walter Jones' retirement hurt the team more than Alexander's departure. Seattle may have finally found an anchor on the line in #6 overall pick Russell Okung (T-Oklahoma St). The Seahawks also landed a ball-hawking centerfielder of a safety in Earl Thomas (Texas). They also added WR Golden Tate (Notre Dame), who should be able to step in almost immediately at the #2 spot.

The biggest question for Seahawks fans this season is how well Pete Carroll can adjust his coaching style to the NFL level. Carroll saw the writing on the wall at USC and jumped on the opportunity for an NFL job in the great northwest. Carroll has become a popular figure on Twitter, including posting musical hints to their draft picks the day before the draft.

On offense, the Seahawks should be better this year. They added RB Leon Washington from the Jets as a compliment to Julius Jones in the backfield. They still don't have a go-to back, but Washington provides an ideal "change-of-pace" back to the rotation. On the outside, TJ Houshmandzadeh is the clear #1, with the #2 position a toss-up between former Penn State WR Deon Butler, rookie Golden Tate, and Deion Branch. The intangible in this unit is former USC star Mike Williams who played a year for Carroll before trying to skip out on his eligibility requirement and enter the draft a year early. This caused Williams to miss a year of football and eventually become the butt end of jokes in Detroit. Tight End Jon Carlson might be the best receiver of the bunch, but gets more blocking assignments than receiving routes.

If Matt Hasselbeck can stay healthy, and that's a big if, Seattle's passing game should be able to push the top 10. Behind him, the Seahawks lost long-time backup Seneca Wallace and will have to rely on unproven Charlie Whitehurst who they acquired from San Diego in the offseason. If anyone in the northwest thinks Whitehurst is the savior of their offense, they're delusional. He might be a serviceable starter for this year, but he is not a long-term solution at the position.

On defense, Seattle's front 4 needs help. No player posted more than 5 sacks last year, and leading sackman Patrick Kearney retired this spring. The defense's best unit is the linebacking corps with MLB Lofa Tatupu and last year's first round pick OLB Aaron Curry. The secondary received a needed upgrade with Earl Thomas, but the lack of pressure from the front 4 will still present a huge problem for a unit ranked 30th in pass defense last season. The unit was 22nd in the league with 13 interceptions, which should be improved with the addition of Thomas.

So what to expect out of Seattle this year? It's hard to say. They're playing in the worst division in football and get to beat up on the Rams twice a year. They scored over 21 points 5 times last season and were 5-0 in those games. The problem was that when the offense didn't produce, they didn't have the defense to stop anyone (0-11 when scoring less than 21 points). We really wouldn't be shocked if 9-7 won this division, and with some luck, there's no reason to think that Seattle couldn't push 8-8 (which might put them in the running for a playoff spot). That being said, this team has all the makings of another 10+ loss team, and thinking they can push .500 is a very optimistic guess.

If you're looking for some good insight on what's going on in the great northwest, and how much they still dwell on Super Bowl XL, check out Seahawk Addicts.

Ian's Prediction: 6-10

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