I kinda stole this idea from Mike Sando with ESPN HERE, but obviously every fan has his own spin on things.
You know it’s a bad season when the best part of your team is your Field Goal Kicker, and even then he still cost us that Chicago game (I don’t care what anyone says, I won’t be swayed in that opinion). We were 5-11 last year, which is one louder than 2008’s 4-12, but regardless we weren’t all that much improved.
This year, expectations are a little more tempered. A little more sane. I think a lot of fans last year thought ’08 was an anomaly and that, should things fall into place, we could easily return to our West-winning ways. I think a lot of fans believe we’ll be an even better team in 2010; venturing such predictions as 7-9 or even 8-8. Some of the more outlandish posit, should we catch some breaks, 9-7 and a division title isn’t off the table.
Personally, I don’t think the NFC West is as weak as people think. I don’t think Alex Smith is the hack he’s been in the past. The 49ers just might win 11 games and knock some socks off some national pundits.
If I went by my gut (or my gunt for that matter), I’d say the Seahawks are destined to finish 3rd once again. I think Arizona’s fringe talent outside of quarterback will win them just enough to beat us by a game or two in the standings. Best case scenario, yeah, I’ll buy 9-7, but I don’t think that’s good enough to win the division. Worst case scenario: 3-13, with more questions than answers at the big positions going into 2011.
We had Matt Hasselbeck and a couple of nobodies in 2009. In 2010, we have Matt Hasselbeck and a couple of different nobodies. The main difference being: we know what Seneca Wallace is and was, a semi-competent backup with scrambling ability. We don’t know at ALL what Charlie Whitehurst is or will be. He’s got a similar build as Hasselbeck, but apparently with better mobility (not Seneca-mobility, but better than giraffe-on-ice mobility) and a cannon arm. In my Worst Case Scenario, Hasselbeck gets injured early, Whitehurst comes in and struggles, J.P. Losman gets some playing time to spare the young gun, then Whitehurst returns for the last couple games and does poorly against poor teams. In the end, this is the exact situation we were presented last year: the “If Hasselbeck Stays Healthy” Plan. It’s getting really old.
At Running Back:
We had Julius Jones & Justin Forsett in 2009. In 2010, they’re back. Forsett might be better than he was last year with more touches; Jones might be worse than last year with age. It’s the supporting cast that intrigues in ‘010. Lunchpale was going to be our T.J. Duckett on the goalline; instead he manifested into T.J. Duckett on the Unemployment Line (HI-yo!), so that’s kind of a wash. Barring another panic pick-up of a washed-up hall of famer (Edgerrin James), I’m legitimately excited by Leon Washington. All signs point to him being back to his old self once Training Camp starts. That could be a little 3rd Down ace in the hole for us. But, so help me God, if Julius Jones touches the ball more than Forsett, I’m going to burn Qwest Field to the ground.
At Wide Receiver:
We lost Nate Burleson. He was our most productive receiver and he pegged the Lions to be a better situation. I don’t blame him. In his wake, we still have Housh and Branch. Housh may be on the down-slide of his career, or last season might have simply been circumstance. With a crappy O-Line, and oft-injured passers, there just wasn’t enough time to find receivers. I don’t really remember Housh dropping all that many balls. That being said, another year older, another step slower. But, he’s not our problem. Branch IS our problem, a big problem, as we’re counting on that fucker to stay healthy. And when healthy, produce. That won’t happen. My hope is, Ben Obomanu can lock down a spot, and fill in for Branch once he goes down/never returns. Obomanu has good hands, average speed, and he’s inexpensive. He’s a guy you can root for; Branch is a guy you can loathe. Failing that, there’s always The Mike Williams Experiment. This has shades of Koren Robinson 2.0 all over again. Consider me unconvinced. For this position to not be a complete black hole (with defenses double-covering Housh and taking their chances everywhere else), we’re going to have to count on the rookie-esque likes of Deon Butler (actually in his 2nd year) or Golden Tate. In other words, protect your nuts and hope for the best.
At Tight End:
John Carlson is back and better than ever! He’s even got his picture on the side of Qwest! When the shit hits the fan with Branch, look for Carlson to get some playing time out of the slot. He just might be the best receiver on our team. If he grabs enough touchdowns, he might even make a Pro Bowl; words cannot describe how much I adore this player. Behind him, we’ve got Not-John Owens. We’ll be playing a lot of 2-TE formations according to everyone I read, which should again free Carlson to run down the middle of the field against slower linebackers. Finally, it’s okay to feel good about the Seahawks tight end position for the first time since Itula Mili EVER!
At Offensive Line:
We’re better, but by default really. Instead of the Pu-Pu Platter at Left Tackle in ’09, we’ve got a rookie in ‘010. Granted, a highly touted rookie, and one that could go on to greatness in the next few years … but THIS year, Russell Okung is a rookie. And rookies make mistakes. Rookies miss assignments. Rookies are not perfect and look for this rookie to be like every other rookie ever. Next to him is a veteran, which beats the hell out of Rob Sims in a heartbeat. Hell, a blocking dummy beats the hell out of Rob Sims! Chris Spencer should be hitting his prime, Max Unger is no longer a rookie (and actually was pretty decent last year), and Heather Locklear is back at his natural Right Tackle position. We’ve even got depth a little bit thanks to all the reserves getting game action last year; and Ray Willis is back in the fold for Right Tackle should things go awry. I like the potential, but we’re not out of the woods by a long shot.
Overall on offense, we’re probably no better than we were last year. While the O-Line will be better, it’s not the Hogs of the 80s Redskins. We’re breaking in yet another new system, as well as breaking in the real zone blocking scheme by the guy who founded it. That shit doesn’t all come together in the pre season. We’ll look pretty bad starting out the year. And, if we’re so bad that it injures some of our key stars, we’ll be all the worse going forward. The offense is certainly cause for concern.
At Defensive Line:
A pitiful weakness in ’09 is a pitiful weakness in ‘010. Some dead weight was trimmed (Kerney retired, Tapp traded, other guy gone), but in their stead is no room full of tigers. Red Bryant – big fat defensive tackle – is going to get time on one End with Lawrence Jackson (first round super-bust). At the other, we’ll throw some skinny, undersized, “fast” guys like 7th rounder Nick Reed and Chris Clemons (Tapp part II). Also coming off the edge will be (as promised last year) Aaron Curry. Will he ACTUALLY rush the passer more? Or will he be mis-used once again? At tackle, we’re exactly the same except we picked up someone named Kevin Vickerson from Tennessee, an underachiever there who’ll likely underachieve here.
A “strength of the team” in ’09 is a “strength of the team” in ‘010. I’m with Sando, “It gets old hearing about how great Seattle is at the position. Time to produce.” It’s impossible to not like Tatupu (when he’s not driving drunk), but he’s GOT to play a full 16. It’s impossible TO like Hill (when he’s not falling asleep stoned in his car at an intersection), because that man’s supposed to be the wild card. The guy who makes our linebacking corps great, our biggest hitter, etc. Most of the time in games, however, he’s invisible. Aaron Curry, I think, caught a lot of flack last year, but he really was forced to do too much. Besides, as I noted above, a rookie is a rookie. A number 4 pick isn’t all that much different from a number 255 pick; they all have the same amount of NFL experience going into the draft. David Hawthorne REALLY opened up some eyes and had a lot of us this offseason hoping the Seahawks adopt a 3-4 defense. While I’ve read rumblings that there will be some 3-4 lineups, we’re still essentially a base 4-3. I’d look for Hawthorne to get some time nonetheless, as I feel our terrible D-Line will eventually adopt Aaron Curry full-time.
Again, I think we’re much the same. Potentially the real strength of the team, though, with Trufant healthy. Got him, got Josh Wilson and his speed (and no longer with the responsibility of single-handedly running all the kickoffs and punts back), got Big Play Babs probably returning to his natural cornerback position, and got Kelly Jennings who I think made some strides last year even though he’s still criminally undersized. We’ve also got highly-touted rookie Earl Thomas playing a position where I feel a rookie can make some of the biggest impact out of all the positions (aside from Running Back, I suppose) and Lawyer Milloy who’s a veteran’s veteran and who brings a real tough-guy presence. Not only that, but our secondary has versatility, with Big Play Babs knowing the ins and outs of safety as well as Thomas being a very good college cover corner. Tack on Kam Chancellor – another rugged safety to fill in when Milloy inevitably gets injured – and I tell you here and now, we’ll get some big plays out of this group.
Overall on defense, it’s going to be a struggle yet again. Even if things stay relatively healthy in the linebackers and secondary, it’s going to be no cakewalk with that terrible D-Line combined with a potentially crippling offense handicapping our team from the start.
Even in our winning seasons in the past decade, our defense was only as good as our offense allowed it to be, by running the ball well, running up the score, and dominating the time of possession. With a 2-touchdown lead, I think our defense can be aggressive and force teams into turnovers. In a tie game or from behind, I think most teams will be able to chew right through us, no matter how talented our ‘backers or secondary are.
If I had to give a guess right here and now, I’d say we’re destined for 6-10. Baby steps. If we keep improving by 1 game every year, we’ll be 16-0 in no time!