Yesterday, I got into the broad strokes of what the future of the Seahawks looks like: good, potentially great, for many years to come. So, what’s in store for 2015 specifically?
Well, for starters, let’s take a look at the schedule. While the 2015 schedule hasn’t officially been released, we still know which teams we’ll be playing by virtue of it’s always the same rotation. We get the teams in our division twice apiece, the NFC North, the AFC North, Dallas, and Carolina. And, for reasons unknown, we also know who we’ll end up playing at home and who we’ll end up playing on the road. To wit:
- San Francisco
- St. Louis
- San Francisco
- St. Louis
- Green Bay
For starters, I’m kind of fucking annoyed by the difficulty of our road schedule. I’d MUCH rather go to Carolina than Dallas. I’d also MUCH rather go to Cleveland and Pittsburgh than Cincy & Baltimore. And, I’ll tell you this much, I’m not so foolish as to expect every time we play Green Bay, we get to play them in Seattle, but I’m not looking forward to playing them on the road either. That’s a TOUGH road slate, with the only dud I see being Minnesota (and who knows if they’ll be better in year two under Teddy Bridgewater). Meanwhile, I’ll give you three home duds right now with Cleveland, Chicago, and Carolina.
I think it’s pretty safe to assume another 7-1 home record in 2015, with our lone defeat probably being the Lions. The question here is: can we get to 5-3 on the road? Not knowing what our division will look like, I definitely think it’s possible. I’d REALLY like to believe we won’t be fooled by the bullshit the Rams try to pull every time we go there. I don’t have much faith in the 49ers being a serious threat now that Jim Harbaugh is gone. And, I still have the same reservations about Carson Palmer that I had going into last year, only this time he’s a year older and coming off of yet ANOTHER knee injury. There are three winnable games right there, and we haven’t even gotten into how not-scary it is to play in Cincinnati, and how games in Dallas tend to draw a large road contingent.
It’s a potentially tough schedule, no doubt about it, but these teams on paper right now will look a lot different on the field when we play them. What I will say is, there appears to be a large number of potential 10am starts in our future. Unless we’re graced with a full slate of road primetime games like we were in 2014, I’m looking at the games against St. Louis, GB, Min, Cin, Bal, and possibly Dallas being early starts. Fortunately for us, you gotta figure those contests against GB and Dallas are pretty tantalizing for primetime schedulers. And, it wouldn’t shock me to see either Cincy or Baltimore being a Monday Night game, as both of them figure to be safe bets to be good this season.
On the field, you gotta think the Seahawks will be pretty great, but obviously a lot of it depends on what happens with the draft and in free agency. In 2014, the offense was a true liability – whereas in 2013, the offense was pretty underrated and solid throughout. The passing game struggled, our red zone offense failed too many times to convert long drives into touchdowns, and in general we could stand to improve on third downs. That’s tough, because overall our third down conversion percentage looks pretty solid, but that’s taking into account the games where we absolutely dominated on third down. But, there were games where we just disappeared, and lost accordingly because of too many 3 & Outs and too many stalled drives at midfield. We’re a conservative offense in our play-calling and we’re a conservative offense in our decisions to go for it on 4th down. When you put those two together, you have to be damn near perfect in the opportunities you have to pass the ball. Drops, and otherwise poor performances out of our receivers held this team back too many times. An infusion of talent is a must.
Defensively, it’s going to be a struggle to lead the league in fewest points allowed for a fourth straight year. Losing Byron Maxwell is going to have a crippling effect, and if we can’t cover that up by improving our pass rush back to its 2013 peak, we’re GOING to give up more points and more yards than we’re used to. Going into 2014, I thought our defense was going to slide a bit, but I thought our offense was ready to take a step forward and start compensating a little more. It turned out the defense was on point for the most part and still carried this team like it has since 2012. Going into 2015, I KNOW our defense is going to slide a bit, and I’m concerned our offense won’t improve enough to match and keep us at a championship level. This Percy Harvin fiasco is the gift that keeps on giving, isn’t it?
I just have a tough time envisioning a scenario where we bring in a defensive back who’s able to match Maxwell’s level of play. I honestly don’t think Tharold Simon is up to the task of improving himself. I don’t think Jeremy Lane is going to be healthy enough to step into the lineup on Day 1. And, I don’t think there will be a rookie available to us who’s able to step in and play on Day 1. The hope is, whatever rookie we do end up with, is able to survive some growing pains and turn into a Maxwell-type by the end of the season. Good luck with that.
Same deal with improving the pass rush. Even if we draft someone, I don’t think this person will be able to step in and be a force immediately. Not where we’re drafting. And, I don’t think there’s a free agent out there for us who will make the huge impact we need right away, as Ndamukong Suh is simply out of our price range. That likely means we’ll be picking from the scraps of the free agent wasteland, and hoping for the best. I’m less than encouraged by this scenario.
While I have faith that this team can maintain its level of dominance to get to 12 wins, take the division, and contend for a first round BYE, part of me realizes that the writing is on the wall. Injuries happen to everyone. Guys not panning out happen to everyone. Our depth is seriously strained at this point, and now I’m reading about how Earl Thomas and Jeremy Lane might not be available in the pre-season, which says nothing about Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, and Marshawn Lynch’s availability.
This can all fall apart in a hurry. While I don’t THINK that’ll happen (or, at least, I keep telling myself I don’t think that’ll happen), you never know. Here’s hoping Russell Wilson has some more magic in that old silk hat he found.