There’s never really a GOOD time to get news about a player being injured. No matter who it is, no matter when it happens, it’s cutting into your team’s depth, and that’s always going to be bad. I suppose if I HAD to pick a “good” time, it would be sometime before the season starts. With the hopes that they’ll either recover in time for the games that count, or that they can be put on IR-Designated To Return, with the idea that they’ll show up for a good second half of the season stretch run.
But, even then, I can’t help but simmer at a low boil right now, in constant fear of the first major injury to befall my favorite team.
So far, it’s just been a couple of reserves with Achilles injuries, as far as MAJOR injuries are concerned. I guess you could lump Rawls and Graham in there, but those guys were hurt last year, and they’re reportedly on the mend and set to come back for the regular season. But, there really aren’t any significant NEW injuries to speak of (knock on all the wood you’ve got), so my low boil remains.
As there have been the usual reports of a lot of minor strains and such, with the start of Training Camp – pretty normal, as guys get back into football playing shape – I started thinking about the unthinkable. So, let’s dig in! I love nothing more than to be wildly inappropriate, so let’s put it all on the table. Let’s talk about the guys the Seahawks can ill afford to lose. The illest, as it were.
- Russell Wilson – It’s so obvious it’s hardly even worth mentioning. Russell Wilson makes this offense go. Without Russell Wilson, we’re toast; you might as well call us the Denver Broncos. That’s on an ordinary year. But THIS year, where Tarvaris Jackson remains unsigned, and we’re looking at a couple of undrafted rookies as potential #2’s, it’s even more obvious. This list is “Russell Wilson” in the first 550 spots, and then we get to someone different.
- Doug Baldwin – Threw you a curveball! I bet you thought I was going to say any number of elite defenders! But, this isn’t a list of “Best Seahawks”, this is a list of Most Important Seahawks To Keep Healthy. Or, in other words, it’s a ranking of where I feel this team is strongest and weakest. And I’ll tell you right now, I like our depth along the D-Line, and I LOVE our depth in the secondary. But, the drop-off from Doug Baldwin to Jermaine Kearse, or Doug Baldwin to Tyler Lockett, is pretty significant. I still like Kearse to make the tough catches, and I still like Lockett to make the big plays, but Baldwin does it all. He’s a security blanket on third down, he’s a big-play machine in the open field, and most importantly of all, he scores them TDs. With the running game to be a big fat question mark until either Rawls returns from injury, or someone else proves himself fit to carry the load, this team is going to need to rely on the passing game. And Baldwin is the biggest non-QB component of that passing game, hands down.
- Michael Bennett – I like the D-Line, but I don’t love it. A lot of what makes this unit passable is the fact that Michael Bennett is so versatile. We need him wreaking havoc on the outside, containing the run game; but we need him even more on the inside, slashing through the line and making the opposing quarterback’s life a living hell. He allows you to play less versatile guys on the outside in obvious passing downs, which gives this team three viable pass rushing options to get the job done. Without Bennett, the Seahawks have absolutely zero interior push (unless they blitz up the middle, which they rarely do), so losing him would completely change the defense.
- Cliff Avril – This more or less speaks to the lack of depth we have in our pass rush. I’ve narrowed it down to three guys: Bennett, Avril, and Frank Clark. The drop-off, from a defensive end standpoint, is pretty stark. Cassius Marsh? He’s never proven to be anything more than a solid special teams guy, and someone surprisingly good against the run. But, Marsh has never really been a pass rush specialist. With Bruce Irvin now on the Raiders, and Chris Clemons having retired, this team REALLY needs someone to shock the world in the pre-season.
- Earl Thomas – I tried to fend it off as long as I could. Kelcie McCray appears to be the backup, though, and I thought he looked pretty good last year! Nevertheless, there’s only one Earl Thomas, and after making it through last year, able to prepare for this season from a standpoint of health, I would expect him to be a scud missile this season. He allows this defense to get away with so much, because he can cover so much ground. Combined with Sherm, and a solid triad of Lane, Shead, and Simon on the other side/in the nickel, it allows Kam and/or Browner to play closer to the box and be the enforcer this defense thrives off of.
- Bobby Wagner – Because no one wants to see Brock Coyle in there.
- Richard Sherman – Because while I like the depth of our secondary as it stands now, we all know it’s only a matter of time before Tharold Simon is lost for the year, and at THAT point, we’d be proper fucked.
- Frank Clark – Because I really want to see this nickel defense at full strength, to see how well we do in replacing Bruce Irvin.
- Thomas Rawls – Because I don’t know if I trust Christine Michael, and I don’t want to go into this season with nothing but rookies at running back.
- Germain Ifedi – Because I hate losing highly-rated draft picks in their rookie seasons. I want him to get all the experience he can, then go into the offseason completely healthy, so instead of rehabbing, he can focus on getting stronger and working on technique (in hopes of being our starting right tackle of the future).
That’s all I got. I could probably drag this out some more, but the whole 12 thing is played out.