Ahh lists. Is there any more pointless way to pass the time? If there is, I haven’t found one more enjoyable!
We’re just about to hit up what’s known as the Dog Days of Summer. I don’t know where that phrase originates from, but when it comes to sports, the Dog Days are those days/weeks where baseball has sort of gotten stale and where we’re still a ways away from the start of football season and the MLB playoffs. Not a lot going on. We’re a couple weeks off from Training Camp, so I guess that’ll be something.
In the meantime, I need something to write about. Not a lot, mind you; the Mariners are reasonably good this year, so I won’t completely abandon ship like I’ve done in the past. What used to be a bloated, and frequently incorrect list of “most important Seahawks” has since been streamlined into a tough, gritty list of only the most crucial! And, surely, ten players who will actually be on the ROSTER when the season starts, thereby making me look like less of a fool than I have in seasons past.
Bookmark this page, because I’m going to reveal the Top 10 over the next few weeks. Or, you know, just keep coming back to this site every day and you’re bound to run into the next installments on the front page.
As always, my criteria for determining the “most important” Seahawks comes down to this: how much would it hurt the team if this person was injured, or otherwise unavailable to play for an extended period of time? It’s all subjective, so feel free to give me your top 10s in the comments. I think we all know who number 1 is going to be, but 2-10 should be pretty interesting to debate.
- Russell Wilson
- Michael Bennett
- Richard Sherman
- Percy Harvin
- Earl Thomas
- Cliff Avril
- Bobby Wagner
- Doug Baldwin
- Russell Okung
- Kam Chancellor
Down here, we’ll get into the Honorable Mentions. Guys who didn’t make the list, but are still rather important. Guys like: Marshawn Lynch. You know, the guy who doesn’t like talking to reporters, but will gladly run and frolic around butt-ass-naked for the ESPN Body Issue. You probably think I’m insane for not having him in my top 10. Granted, if I was doing a Top 30, he’d probably be number 11, but this isn’t that.
The fact of the matter is, we’ve got a couple backs behind him who could carry the mail in a pinch. Granted, they’re not as elite as Lynch, but if given a chance, I think Christine Michael could eventually be BETTER. And, if we’re dealing with a worst-case scenario, I wouldn’t be too freaked out if Turbin had to start some games. It’s all about the system. And, while Turbin isn’t able to break the tackles and get the extra yards that Lynch can, he should still be solid enough to get us where we need to go.
The honorable mentions roll on with Brandon Mebane. He’s the only true nose tackle on this roster, so losing him could be a BIG hit to our run defense and our pass rush. This guy clogs the middle like a beast, frequently taking on two men at a time. We’ve got other wide-bodies, but the majority of them are 3-technique tackles; we have no idea how productive they’d be lining up over center.
Our outside linebackers are some pretty good players, but unless we run into a serious epidemic, I think we’d be okay if we lost one or two to injury. K.J. Wright is obviously the most important of the group, as he’s able to play all three linebacker positions. You want him around in the event any of the other linebackers go down. It’s unclear at the moment where he’ll be starting (the Seahawks have Irvin as the SAM that they’ll want to get into the games during passing downs; Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith is a natural WILL whose big play ability is something you just can’t leave on the bench for too long), but I can foresee no scenario outside of injury where Wright isn’t starting SOMEWHERE. Keeping him healthy will be crucial, because injuries always happen, and he’s the most versatile guy on the defense.
It would be ideal to squeeze another mostly-healthy year out of Zach Miller. I can’t imagine he’s got too many more miles left on that body, considering the pounding he has taken in his Seahawks career, frequently being our sixth lineman. Luke Willson was by far our most productive player in the 2013 rookie class, and I think he has what it takes to be a #1 tight end for this team, but letting him play another year behind Miller certainly couldn’t hurt. Willson will still get his playing time, he’ll have another year’s experience, and by 2015 he should be ready to take over for good. Also, considering the question marks surrounding our third tight end, depth at the position will be of utmost importance. Not relying completely on that depth – by keeping Miller healthy for the full slate – will be to our advantage.
An under-the-radar important player for the Seahawks is Greg Scruggs. I may be opening myself up for ridicule, as who knows if Scruggs will make the team or not, but he showed great promise as a rookie. Scruggs could be the young, cost-efficient pass-rushing defensive tackle we’ve been waiting for. It would be nice to not have to keep reloading on 3-tech defensive tackles among the ranks of the 10-year veterans. I think Scruggs – upon recovery from his 2013 season-ending injury – is poised to take a big step forward a la Clinton McDonald last year.
Finally, because I couldn’t put the entire L.O.B. and the entire offensive line in the Top 10, here I will acknowledge the depth in both areas. Byron Maxwell will be important, as he’s starting opposite Richard Sherman. He’s proven to be quite adept at locking down that side of the field, and he’s playing for a new contract, so it’s safe to expect a pretty big season out of him in 2014. He’ll continue to get “picked on”, as quarterbacks opt to stay away from Sherman’s side of the ball, so let’s hope Maxwell comes back in peak physical condition. Behind him, it appears the Seahawks have no shortage of depth options in Jeremy Lane, Tharold Simon, and whoever else emerges from the pile in Training Camp. You don’t ever want to see a rash of injuries or suspensions in the secondary, but if it happens (like it did, sort of, in 2013), it’s nice to know we can overcome thanks to our outstanding depth. Lose Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner? So what?
As for the offensive line, I’m usually of the opinion that this is the single most important part of any football team. You need a solid offensive line to give the quarterback enough time to throw, to keep your quarterback upright and healthy, and to provide a rushing attack that will take pressure off of your quarterback, so he doesn’t have to be perfect all the time. Then, the 2013 Seahawks went out and won the Super Bowl while losing their three best linemen to injury for huge chunks of season, and while playing with some of the lowest-rated guards in the league (James Carpenter, J.R. Sweezy, and Paul McQuistan). Yeah, the offensive line is important, but if it’s so important, how did the Seahawks go 16-3 with a bunch of scrubs and reserves?
Tom Cable and a whole lotta talent at the skill positions. It always helps having Lynch turn no-gains into positive rushes. It always helps having Russell Wilson being as mobile as he is, and as accurate throwing the ball on the run. It always helps having receivers who are able to get open in a hurry and improvise when things break down.
What 2013 showed us is that the depth at our offensive line position is better than we thought. With Giacomini and McQuistan playing elsewhere, it’s believed there is a number of holes in 2014. But, J.R. Sweezy isn’t going anywhere, and appears to have made a lot of strides in his first couple seasons as a starter. Max Unger, when healthy, is a top-notch leader. And, apparently James Carpenter is in “the best shape of his life” and also going into a contract season, so you know he’s got incentive to be his best. The only real competition is Right Tackle, and we’ve got a two-way battle (at least) between Michael Bowie and Justin Britt. Bowie had quite a bit of playing time in his rookie season last year, so he’s got a bit of a head start; but Britt was our 2nd round draft pick, so he’s got the higher pedigree over 7th rounder Bowie. They appear to be neck-and-neck at the moment, so that battle will be decided in Training Camp and in the pre-season games. Regardless, whoever loses that battle will still provide this team with excellent depth options in the event of injuries or ineffectiveness throughout the season.
There are lots more guys who deserve recognition – and I’m sure they’ll get it as the weeks and months go by – but for now, let’s move on to the top 10. Number ten will be posted in the coming day(s).