Previewing & Predicting The 2013 Seattle Seahawks

Last year, I got to my predictions column late.  Past week 1 late.  It was kind of a sorry development, but what are you gonna do?  The season was already started by this time last year.  Anyway, I didn’t think very highly of the Seahawks heading into the 2012 season.  I didn’t think very lowly of them either, which is how you get to an 8-8 record.  Honestly, I would’ve predicted 9-7, but since I got to my post a week late – and the Seahawks crapped the bed in Arizona that first week – I downgraded to 8-8.

The Seahawks, as everyone knows, finished 11-5, going 7-1 over the second half of the season, and 1-1 in the post-season, ending up in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.  Those last 10 games were as epic of a run as you can get without actually making it to the Super Bowl.

But, enough about last year.  That was damn near a year ago, for Christ’s sake!

This year, the sky is the limit.  At worst, the Seahawks will be 11-5.  At best, I’m sorry, but at best you’ve gotta say 16-0.

Before we get into official predictions, let’s take a look at the make-up of this team:

Part 1 – Roster

How do the Seahawks differ from this time last year?  Well, for starters, our backup quarterback is new (or old, I can never tell).  Tarvar takes over for Matt Flynn, and to be honest with you, it’s probably a downgrade.  Obviously, we don’t know how good Flynn can really be (and, reports indicate that he can’t even win the fucking starting job on the RAIDERS of all teams), but I guess that’s the point.  We know what Tarvar is – he’s a near-.500 quarterback – and we don’t know what Flynn is.  Flynn could be great in small doses, Flynn could be great in large doses, or he could be terrible no matter the serving size.  If you’re a salary cap-head, then you like Tarvar because he saves you money.  So, maybe in the long run this is an upgrade?  Whatever, who cares, moving on.

At running back, Lynch and Turbin return, ostensibly in the same roles they occupied as last year.  Christine Michael replaces Leon Washington, which is an improvement at our #3 running back spot, but hurts us in the return game, as Michael is not a returner.  Derrick Coleman takes over for Michael Robinson, which is a soul-crushing blow.  But, on the flipside, he’s younger, cheaper, and under team control for longer.  Considering Robinson only played somewhere around 30% of our offensive snaps in 2012, I can’t imagine this one little move at fullback is going to make that much of a difference.  Finally, Spencer Ware is either going to be a special teams replacement for Robinson, or he’s going to spend the bulk of the season on the Inactive List on gameday.  We’ll see.

Rice, Tate, Baldwin, and Kearse are all hold-overs from last year.  Kearse, of course, spent most of 2012 on the Practice Squad, but came on late in a special teams capacity.  I wouldn’t expect a TON out of him, but then again he is going to be our starting kick returner, so buttons.  He did, after all, return that one kick in the pre-season for a touchdown.  If he turns out to be a monster in that aspect of the game, I might cream in my pants.  Harvin starts out the season on the PUP list and will hopefully return sometime in November.  Stephen Williams – the pre-season phenom – is holding his seat for the time being.  It’s hard to see this team keep five active receivers going every game (remember, you can only play 45 of your 53 guys every gameday), but then again, can you really keep this guy off the field?  I’d like to see the Seahawks throw one long bomb jump ball to him every half; I bet he comes down with half of them, and in so doing earns his weekly paycheck.

This year, we’re only keeping the two tight ends, instead of last year’s three.  The lone holdover is the uber-talented Zach Miller.  He’s our starter and our muse (our flame).  Anthony McCoy, as you’ll recall, is lost for the season on IR.  Evan Moore, thankfully, is no more.  In his place, we actually have a guy worth a damn in Luke Willson.  Even though Willson is a rookie, he looks like the real deal and the future at the position we’ve been trying so hard for so long to draft.

Our starting O-Line remains intact, which is probably the most important thing outside of quarterback you want to remain intact.  Okung, McQuistan, Unger, Sweezy, and Giacomini are the guys, with James Carpenter getting worked in (over time, to be the full-time replacement at left guard).  Lemuel Jean-Pierre returns as our backup center, Mike Person returns as our backup … something.  Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey are a couple of rookie projects who came on strong this pre-season.  Gone is John Moffitt, traded to Denver for being not worth the time or effort.

On the D-Line, Clemons, Bryant, and Mebane all return.  Clemons avoided the PUP list, as he is a specimen of the gods and will hopefully start practicing within the next couple weeks.  Everyone else is brand new.  Avril & Bennett are our two big free agent splashes.  Both are kinda hurt, but both should be okay to play out of the gate (if not, then expect one or both to be Inactive right along with Clemons for Week 1).  Tony McDaniel is a less-heralded signing, but his impact will be just as important as he will be our starting 3-technique defensive tackle.  Jordan Hill is a rookie who survived pre-season mostly healthy.  He’ll get regular playing time in the defensive tackle rotation.  Jesse Williams, unfortunately yet predictably, landed on IR with his bum knee.  O’Brien Schofield and D’Anthony Smith are cast-offs from other teams who we know little about.  Schofield spent most of the pre-season in Seattle and was fine, I guess.  Smith came over after the cut-downs to 53 and has been injured most of his career.  Questionable move to say the least, but obviously John Schneider and Pete Carroll know something we do not.  Rounding out the group, we have Benson Mayowa, an undrafted rookie out of Idaho who led the team in sacks in the pre-season.  He looks like he’s got some real moves, but unless injuries deplete this team early, it’s hard to see him getting a lot of playing time.

At Linebacker, K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner return, ready to kick some more ass.  Malcolm Smith also returns and figures to get some playing time at the strong-side spot.  Bruce Irvin has converted to the strong side, but of course he’s suspended for the first four games.  It’ll be interesting to see – A. whose spot he takes upon returning in week 5, and B. how he fares as a pass-rushing linebacker.  The team found room for special teams lord & savior Heath Farwell, so look for that unit to continue demolishing other teams.  Allen Bradford was around last year, but never played.  Now, he’s our backup middle linebacker and might find a way to work himself into a rotation if he keeps up the good work.  Rounding it out, we have John Lotulelei, who will probably never play unless he stands out on special teams.

In the secondary, Marcus Trufant has been replaced by Walter Thurmond, who was injured for most of his career.  Antoine Winfield was let go because our younger guys were just plain better.  Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell could be starters for other teams, which is what makes this unit the best in football.  At safety, Winston Guy was let go.  He was kinda flashy, and he blitzed a lot last year, but he didn’t really do a whole lot and shouldn’t be missed.  Chris Maragos is super fast, so he shouldn’t be too much of a step back if Earl Thomas can’t play.  Kam Chancellor and Jeron Johnson round out the group of safeties; Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman complete the set.

Kicker, punter, and long snapper all return.

Part 2 – Analyzing The Roster

Working our way backward, the Special Teams looks as good as it ever has.  Steven Hauschka, as I’ve mentioned before, has been a man possessed this pre-season.  Jon Ryan is Jon Ryan, putting in consistent MVP-quality work.  Clint Gresham hasn’t botched any snaps that I can recall, so bully for him.

In the secondary, you can’t help but be excited for Walter Thurmond.  He’s finally healthy and finally able to show what he can do for this team.  He’s a HUGE upgrade over an aging Marcus Trufant, and that’s important because nickel corner was one of our main areas of concern going into 2013.  To be fair, this team could play a Dime package all day every day and I wouldn’t lose sleep.  Maxwell looks like he could make the Pro Bowl THIS year if he was given a chance to start.

At linebacker, you have to believe this team also improved.  Leroy Hill is gone and they’ve done some shuffling.  K.J. Wright moves to his old spot at the weak-side, so that’s great.  You always want more speed, especially at the linebacker position.  Wagner, with a year under his belt and a chip on his shoulder to prove he doesn’t belong in Luke Kuechly’s shadow, also looked like a man possessed this pre-season.  I expect a huge jump in his play in 2013, rivalling the jump Richard Sherman made from his rookie to his second year.  On the strong side, replacing Wright, we’ve got the combo of Malcolm Smith and eventually Bruce Irvin.  It looks like the team wants the strong side ‘backer to be more of a pass-rush threat, hence the Irvin move.  I love the idea.  Any way this team can get more pressure on the QB that isn’t just sending a safety on a blitz that takes forever to materialize, I’m all for it.  The depth at this position is infinitely better than it was last year too.  Bradford could start on almost any other team, and Lotulelei looks like he could develop into a force if given the chance.

Along the D-Line, you have to have concern, I’m not gonna lie.  Can McDaniel and Hill make up for the loss of Alan Branch and Jason Jones?  When he was healthy, Jones was fairly effective.  And Branch was a starter for the past couple years.  If they can just maintain and not take a step back, I’d be happy.  Also, how long will Mebane be able to stay healthy?  He’s no spring chicken.  Depth at tackle is also a concern.  The Seahawks gave away a couple of decent depth guys in Jaye Howard and Clinton McDonald.  In their place, we have newcomer D’Anthony Smith, and Michael Bennett on passing downs.  Bennett should be solid, but I just don’t know.

On the ends of the line, it’s just as concerning.  Red Bryant returns, and he looks as healthy as ever, so that’s good.  But, he’s still a mountain of a man, and those guys don’t tend to stay healthy for very long.  Clemons we’ve talked about, but it’s still encouraging that he’ll be back soon.  Avril is a little less encouraging, as he hasn’t played at all in pre-season.  The Seahawks robbed Peter to pay Paul a little bit by moving Irvin out of the LEO end spot.  Unless Clemons and/or Avril return soon, this could be a real weakness for the team.  Remember, Greg Scruggs could play both inside and outside, and he’s gone for the year too.  Unless Schofield or Mike Morgan (who I failed to mention above in the roster section) step up in a big way, I think this team is going to be hurting for sacks.  Then again, the first two games are against Carolina and San Francisco, so we should probably worry less about sacks and more about contain.  Either way, it could be rocky for this unit early.

I’m not worried about the O-Line.  If there’s anything I’m rock solid on this year, it’s that.  Even the injury bug doesn’t concern me, because the depth looks good, and Tom Cable is a wizard.

Seeing Luke Willson perform the way he did in the pre-season makes me a LOT more comfortable about the tight end position.  Let’s see if Zach Miller has what it takes to stay on the field for the full go.  If not, then I’m probably going to spend the rest of the season hyperventilating.

I absolutely LOVE what we’ve done with the wide receivers on this team.  Braylon Edwards was never going to be a player worth having.  I’d take Stephen Williams over him any day.  Ben Obomanu was solid on special teams, but he’s worse than Jermaine Kearse.  And when Harvin returns, he’s like a million billion times better than Charly Martin.  Most improved lineup on the team by FAR.

I just kinda like what they did with the running backs.  In a perfect world, football teams would keep 54 players and Michael Robinson would still be on this one.  But, you know, you’ve gotta move on.  Hopefully Derrick Coleman is the next Michael Robinson.  If that’s the case, then we truly are the king of kings.  Also, look for Christine Michael to supplant Turbin before season’s end.  And in a couple years, when Michael is our starting back and Ware is our big tough guy backup, we’ll continue to suck the dicks of John Schneider and Pete Carroll for their foresight and vision.

Russell Wilson.  All you gotta say about the quarterback position.  Stud.  Winner.  Champion.

Part 3 – The Schedule

Week 1 – @ Carolina, 10am:  This is where it pays off having played Russell Wilson the full season last year.  He (along with some shaky late-game defense) cost us that first game in Arizona.  This year, with that in mind, count on Wilson not letting us lose in week 1.  Honestly, I don’t think this will even be close.  Maybe the offense starts out sluggish early, but I think the defense comes to play and we lean on them all game long.

Week 2 – vs. San Francisco, 5:30pm:  Home opener, Sunday Night Football on NBC, the crowd absolutely fucking INSANE … this is where the Seahawks show the 49ers what power football is all about.  Another one I don’t think is all that close.

Week 3 – vs. Jacksonville, 1pm:  Can you say 3-0?  Anyone who has the Seahawks defense in fantasy football can bank on scoring anywhere from 30-60 points, depending on how you score it in your league.  This is the reason why we all drafted them at least three rounds too early.

Week 4 – @ Houston, 10am
Week 5 – @ Indianapolis, 10am:  I’m lumping these together because I’m a coward.  The Seahawks will go 1-1 in these two games, but I just can’t figure out which they’ll win and which they’ll lose.  If you look at it objectively, Houston has a great running game and an okay passing game.  When you figure that our defense is great against the pass, but only so-so against the run, you have to look at that game and figure it’s the loss, right?  Meanwhile, Indy can’t run for shit and they pass 50 times a game.  Nevertheless, my gut is telling me we beat the Texans and lose to the Colts.  Luck is a gamer, he gets better as the game goes on, and I could see this being one of those games like we had against the Lions last season.  High scoring, little defense, and Indy pulls it out at the end with a late TD.  Meanwhile, the Seahawks win ugly in Houston, something like 14-10.

Week 6 – vs. Tennessee, 1pm:  Another easy win.  This will be the game I attend this year, because tickets were reasonably easy to get, weren’t prohibitively expensive, and honestly I don’t care if I go to any games, so what does the opponent matter?  No reason to expect Russell Wilson to play beyond the 3rd quarter in this one.

Week 7 – @ Arizona, 5pm:  Thursday night game, the bane of my existence.  But, I promise to not bitch about them as much this year (unless the games are so ugly and boring, the NFL forces my hand).  Normally, I’d be concerned, but not this year.  Carson Palmer will spend more time on his back than he will on his feet (if he’s even still healthy at this point in the year).  The Seahawks win ugly, but they win, and the defense scores another touchdown.

Week 8 – @ St. Louis, 5:30pm:  Monday Night Football!  Why does the league even schedule the Seahawks to play on the road on nationally televised games?  It’s like they’re tired of showing the rest of the world what real fans look like.  I guess St. Louis could pose a challenge, but I just don’t see it.  Look for something like 24-19, with the Rams scoring late (missing the 2-point conversion) to make it semi-close.

Week 9 – vs. Tampa Bay, 1pm:  I think Tampa looks good this year, but I think they look bad in this game.  Think of it as something like the game vs. Minnesota last year and you’ll be on the right track.  The Bucs are going somewhere, but they’re not contenders.

Week 10 – @ Atlanta, 10am:  Revenge Game!  Still, at this point the Seahawks will be 8-1 coming in.  And Atlanta (and Matt Ryan) just don’t lose at home.  I could honestly see something of a carbon copy of last year’s game, with Atlanta pulling it out at the end.

Week 11 – vs. Minnesota, 1pm:  Total destruction.  No contest.  YOU think YOU can get soup?  Please!  You’re wasting everyone’s time!

Week 12 – BYE:  finally.

Week 13 – vs. New Orleans, 5:30pm:  Monday Night Football #2!  This one is a little scary.  You can’t shut down Drew Brees forever.  Then again, he does take a lot of unnecessary risks, and his receivers really don’t scare anybody.  I think we all get a little nervous for this one, but I think the Seahawks handle them pretty easily.  33-13.

Week 14 – @ San Francisco, 1pm:  Man, what a showdown THIS game will be.  Last year, the Seahawks caught the 49ers at home late.  This year, the tables are turned.  Everyone and their grandmothers are giving this game away to the 49ers, forgetting that the Seahawks last year – in San Francisco – nearly came away victorious.  There were mistakes in the first half that I just don’t think this team makes again.  I think it’s a slug-fest, but I think the Seahawks take the season series and effectively clinch the division right here.  At this point, the 49ers won’t be mathematically eliminated, but they’ll be a couple games back and they’ll have lost the tie-breaker.  Week 14 is where the Super Bowl berth is earned, because week 14 is where the Seahawks make their statement that the #1 seed won’t be denied.

Week 15 – @ New York Giants, 10am:  Another east-coast trip, another 10am start.  Coming after the insane high that was the victory in San Francisco, I see this as a total let-down game.  The Seahawks get off to a slow start and the Giants pull too far ahead.  Russell Wilson tries to engineer a comeback, but too many turnovers seal our fate.

Week 16 – vs. Arizona, 1pm:  At this point, the Seahawks will be 11-3 going into this game.  The #1 seed won’t yet be won, but we’ll have the inside track, at least a game up and also with tie-breaker advantages.  This is a TCB type of game.  It won’t be a massive 58-0 obliteration like last year, but it’ll be comfortable.  We won’t worry for one second about losing this game.

Week 17 – vs. St. Louis, 1pm:  I’d like to say that this has a chance to be flexed, but at this point, with nothing to play for, I just don’t see it.  Russell Wilson will play for a quarter, maybe a half, but then Tarvar will come in and finish it off.  He’s no Charlie Whitehurst, but he’ll do.

Part 4 – Conclusion

13-3.  Number 1 seed in the NFC, with home field all the way to the Super Bowl.  It’s not the easiest schedule in the world, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you don’t necessarily WANT an easy path to the Super Bowl.  The 2005 Seahawks had one of the easier paths to Super Bowl XL and look at what happened when a team finally posed a challenge.  You want a little trial by fire in this league.  If a schedule is too difficult, that means your team wasn’t good enough.  Bottom line.  Don’t fear this schedule.  A famous writer said that the strongest steel is forged by the fires of Hell.  That’s what we’ll be come playoff time, and that’s what we’ll be in the Super Bowl.

#27 – Tony McDaniel

To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2013, click here.

Tony McDaniel is an 8-year veteran free agent signee, playing in the Jason Jones role.  6’7, 305 pound 3-technique defensive tackle brought in to try to provide some more pass rush in the interior line.  McDaniel played his first three years in Jacksonville and his last four in Miami.  In that time, he has amassed a grand total of 8.5 sacks.  His two best-ever seasons only saw him net 2.5 sacks apiece.  He’s only played a full 16-game slate once.

In other words, let’s not get our hopes up too high.

What he is is a stop-gap.  The Seahawks let both Jones & Alan Branch go, and they drafted a couple guys in Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams to hopefully be the future of our interior line.  While those two get their seasoning in part-time duty, the Seahawks saw a need for a veteran starter to bridge the gap.  Tony McDaniel was available, they liked his size, and here we are.

This revamped defensive line, with McDaniel, Cliff Avril, and Michael Bennett joining the likes of Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane, should prove to be an imposing force.  What I like best about the group of guys we’ve got (provided, of course, that they stay healthy) is that it’s not any one guy who’s going to be the focal point.  All of them (or, I guess, a combination of 4) bring a different thing to the table that – when put together – will hopefully make the lives of opposing linemen a living Hell.

Tony McDaniel has the potential to be a big piece of that.  I’m hearing a lot of good things in various Training Camp reports about McDaniel being a monster to deal with.  He’s disrupting the offense, forcing double teams, and generally being a terror.  With that kind of production, sandwiched between Mebane and a healthy Bryant, we’re looking at the potential for some serious damage done out of that Leo spot on the line.  Avril and Bennett are somewhat unknown entities in this particular defensive set-up, but Chris Clemons isn’t.  If/when he comes back, he should be licking his chops.

McDaniel isn’t any long-term solution.  McDaniel (or guys of his ilk) are available on the free agent market seemingly every year.  If he can stay healthy, we could be looking at a real nice piece on this defense.  But, either way it’s going to be short lived.  So, you know, don’t get too attached or anything.  Let’s just hope he can bring this city a championship and wish him safe travels on his future endeavors.

Seahawks Sign Tony McDaniel

Because who among us can REALLY get enough of Seahawks news this offseason?

Tony McDaniel is 6’7 and plays defensive tackle.  Essentially, he’s Jason Jones, right on down to being injury prone.

I don’t have a lot to say about this because I don’t know much about the guy.  If the Dolphins are willing to let him go, you gotta wonder how good he really is.  Or maybe it’s just they got tired of dealing with him being injured all the time.  I guess I can see that.  Anyway, he’s depth.  He’s another guy we can throw on the line, with Avril, with Bennett, with Irvin, to create some kind of super-speedy, kill-the-quarterback type of line-up.  In all likelihood, this is a guy who’s going to play well under 50% of the snaps.  But, if we can keep him walking upright, maybe we can squeeze a lot of success out of those snaps.

I dunno.  John Clayton on the radio yesterday said he’s good.  So, I guess he’s good.  Either way, he’s only here for one year.  And maybe not even that.  There’s nothing that says he HAS to make this team coming out of Training Camp.  When you’re a Seahawks fan under the Pete Carroll/John Schneider regime, you tend to not get too attached to fringe guys like Tony McDaniel.

Also, people are saying this spells the end of Alan Branch.  I dunno about that either.  Seems to me we’re still going to need some more wide-bodies to plug in there and stop the run between Mebane & Red Bryant.  Unless THAT’S where we’re opting to go young and cheap.  Because literally every other spot on the line is being eaten up via free agency and/or the extremely wealthy.  And really, you gotta wonder how much more money they’re willing to spend this offseason on free agents.

In unrelated news – unworthy of its own post, if you ask me – Matt Flynn rumors are heating back up.  Is that the plan?  Trade him for a draft pick or two, save some money … and then what?  If our goal is to sign a free agent quarterback as a backup, it’s likely going to cost us at least half of what we’re saving in that Matt Flynn money.  I still don’t see the point in trading away a really good backup quarterback when he’s always in the top 20-25 players on any given team!

How many teams in any given year play every meaningful offensive snap with one quarterback?  Not very many!  You’ve got to have a Plan B that isn’t Brady Quinn, Colt McCoy, or Matt Leinart!  Look, Seahawks, I’ve got quite a bit of money riding on you guys this year.  A casino in Tahoe bumped their Seahawks Win The Super Bowl odds from 5-1 to 7-1 and I jumped in for $100.  That’s a good amount of scratch if we win, but for us to get there, I’m going to need you to be the best team you can be!  Right now!  In 2013!  For you to be the best team you can be, I’m afraid I’m going to need quality depth across all positions.  That means KEEPING Matt Flynn, because in a pinch I believe he can win us some ballgames.

After 2013, go nuts, I don’t care.  But, WE GOTTA DO THIS!  PAPA NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF EVERYTHING!

Going All In: Seahawks Sign Michael Bennett

OK, now this is just getting downright STUPID.

If these Seahawks were a hippie jam band, I would seriously consider quitting my job, cashing out my 401K, getting some hair plugs, growing some huge white-guy dreadlocks, trading in all my clothes for wool ponchos and Birkenstocks, growing a crop of peyote cacti, shacking up with a smelly, hairy-armpitted woman named Rainbow, and follow this team around the country, living off of whatever I can make from donating sperm and selling our homemade dreamcatchers.

If John Schneider walked up to me, unzipped his fly, pulled out his junk, and silently pointed to it while giving me a look that said, “Well, how about it?” … I’d probably get on my knees and start going to town.

If the 2013 Seattle Seahawks came up to me and told me they murdered all of my family and friends, I would immediately take them to my compound deep in the heart of the Cascades, arm them to the teeth with my collection of machine guns, rocket launchers, hand granades, and sniper rifles, and stand with them shoulder to shoulder as the FBI and ATF – hot on our tails – engages us in the bloodiest battle in United States history.

Just yesterday, I was talking about how I wouldn’t be surprised if this team was finished in free agency as far as high-impact players are concerned.  And then later in the day, the Seahawks signed Michael Bennett.  Another young guy, another guy perceived to be someone who was going to get a reasonably big contract, and yet he came here for less money ($5 million) and less years (one).  Why?  BECAUSE WE’RE THE BEST FUCKING TEAM IN FOOTBALL, THAT’S WHY!

Four year vet, coming from Tampa Bay, had 9 sacks a year ago.  The year before that he had 4 sacks.  The two years before that, he did pretty much nothing.  Is this Julius Peppers in his prime?  Of course not.  This single move, in a vacuum, isn’t all that great.  If Michael Bennett was the only thing the Seahawks did in free agency this offseason, we wouldn’t be looking at this being a hugely successful team upgrade.

But, take a step back.  Remember that we’re talking about a defense that was tops in points allowed in 2012.  Remember that we’re talking about a defense that is only losing one linebacker (Leroy Hill) and one nickel cornerback (Marcus Trufant).  Remember that you could argue this team already had upgrades for those two players on their roster in guys like Malcolm Smith, Walter Thurmond, Byron Maxwell, and Jeremy Lane.  This defense is also losing Jason Jones, but to be fair, he only played in 12 games and was out for our entire playoff run (and I would argue he didn’t really have a huge impact when he was healthy anyway).  And granted, Chris Clemons’ injury situation leaves his defensive end position as a huge question mark, but even if he was fully healthy we would still be talking about needing an upgrade along the defensive line as far as a pass rush is concerned.

Ultimately, we’re talking about a very good defense with all of its core players returning.  All this team NEEDED to do this offseason was add to its depth.  Specifically, depth along the defensive line.  Now, step out of that vacuum and look at what we’ve done to an already very good defense:  Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett.  Not the best defensive ends in the NFL, but still good defensive ends in the NFL with a proven (recent) track record of some success.  They add to the line depth we already have, and they are arguably better than the guys we have on our roster (again, depending on whether Chris Clemons is able to return to full strength and doesn’t immediately re-injure his knee once he steps on the field).  Even if the Seahawks don’t sign a veteran nickel corner (which, at this point, I am not ruling out by any means), even if the Seahawks draft a couple stiffs at linebacker (which, I would argue, is unlikely given Schneider’s skill and eye for talent), this defense is going to – again – be one of the best in all of football.

And, most likely, they will be BETTER than the team that, in 2012, led the league in fewest points allowed.

I am absolutely quivering with anticipation right now, as I know most other Seahawks fans are as well.  This is what it’s like to be the New York Yankees!  Not in the sense that we’re out-spending everyone in the league, but very much in the sense that this is a place people want to come to play.  We may not have the history or the mystique of putting on the pinstripes and playing in the shadows of legends, but we are the hot new shit of this league, and just about EVERYONE wants to be a Seahawk.

This season can’t start soon enough.  Can someone cryogenically freeze my body right now and start thawing me out in late August?

Guessing the Seahawks’ 2012 53-Man Roster

Really quick, because we will all know for sure at 6pm tonight, here’s my stab at this year’s Week 1 roster:

Quarterback
Russell Wilson
Matt Flynn
Josh Portis – **CUT**

Running Back
Marshawn Lynch
Guns Turbin
Leon Washington
**Kregg Lumpkin** (??)
Michael Robsinson (FB)

Wide Receiver
Sidney Rice
Braylon Edwards
Doug Baldwin
Golden Tate
Charly Martin
**Ben Obomanu**

Offensive Line
Breno Giacomini
J.R. Sweezy
Max Unger
Paul McQuistan
Russell Okung
Lemuel Jeanpierre
John Moffitt
Frank Omiyale
Allen Barbre – **Suspended List**
**James Carpenter**

Tight End
Zach Miller
Kellen Winslow
Anthony McCoy
Sean McGrath – **CUT**

Defensive End
Chris Clemons
Bruce Irvin
Red Bryant
Greg Scruggs

Defensive Tackle
Alan Branch
Brandon Mebane
Jason Jones
Clinton McDonald
Jaye Howard

Linebacker
Leroy Hill
Bobby Wagner
K.J. Wright
Heath Farwell
Mike Morgan
Korey Toomer – **CUT**
**Malcolm Smith**

Safety
Kam Chancellor
Earl Thomas
Winston Guy
Jeron Johnson

Cornerback
Brandon Browner
Richard Sherman
Jeremy Lane
Byron Maxwell
Chris Maragos
Phillip Adams – **CUT**
**Marcus Trufant**

Special Teams
Jon “MVP” Ryan – P
Steven Hauschka – K
Clint Gresham – Long Snapper

I’m guessing they try to hide that fifth tight end on the practice squad.  I’m guessing if the team goes with Trufant, they’ll get rid of Maxwell.  I’m guessing if they don’t keep the bottom one or two offensive linemen I listed, that means they’re going outside of the organization and picking up some other team’s castaway(s).  I’m guessing those other running backs and fullbacks were nice, but there won’t be room and some other team will snap them up.

We’ll find out in a few hours.

#14 – Jason Jones

To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2012, click here.

I’ll admit, I let this signing go by without much commentary.  After all, the guy plays defensive tackle.  There are literally … other more interesting positions to discuss.  And, not for nothing, but Jason Jones to date has been seen as kind of a disappointment.  2nd round draft pick back in 2008 by the Titans, Jones has a career high of only 5 sacks.  For a defensive tackle, you’d think, “Not bad.”  But, he’s a defensive tackle whose specialty is SUPPOSED to be getting sacks.  What does 5 sacks out of your defensive tackle get you?  Not bloody much.

Jones is on a one-year contract thanks to his sub-par career to date (where he has regressed each and every season:  5 sacks in 2008, 4 sacks in 2009, 3.5 sacks in 2010, 3 sacks in 2011).  The Seahawks are hoping to turn his career around, much like they turned around the career of one Chris Clemons.  Save a player from an organization using him improperly, give him the chance to succeed and let him prove his worth.  If Jones turns out to be the next Chris Clemons, we could be on to something.

There’s a lot to like about his size.  6’5, 276 pounds.  That, plus speed, at the DT position will give us something we haven’t seen around here since Rocky Bernard.  And before that, for a brief period, John Randle.

It’s no question this team needed to improve its pass rush.  For too long, this defense has been eaten alive by opposing quarterbacks able to roast marshmallows in the pocket while waiting for receivers to get open.  Chris Clemons can’t do it all!  And you’re obviously not going to get a whole lot out of Red Bryant except for what is expected (which is to keep the edge, stop the run, and take up a whole lotta space on one end).  This defense needs to be able to get off the field on 3rd down.  Beefing up our nickel package is a good start.  Guys like Jones, like Irvin, will hopefully be the lynchpins for our success this season.

I’ve been hearing a lot of good things in camp about Jones.  So, make #90 a priority to watch this weekend (and the next three weeks thereafter).  Could this be another Pete & John Diamond In The Rough?  Could we be looking at the next Seahawk who is due for a big payday next offseason?  Bet on it.

#19 – Brandon Mebane

To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2012, click here.

This is essentially the post where I talk about the Seahawks’ run defense.  Brandon Mebane, sure, because I like Brandon Mebane and because he’s a Seahawks draft pick from 2007.  And I’ll also lump in Alan Branch because he came on like wildfire last year as a free agent out of Arizona. 

Mebane – 6’1, 311 pounds
Branch – 6’6, 325 pounds

That’s your starting interior line.  When you tack on Red Bryant at one end and Chris Clemons at the other, you’ve got one of the better run-stuffing units in the NFL.

I’ve talked about it a lot, but it bears repeating:  as a defense, if you’re able to shut down the other team’s run to make them completely one-dimensional, you’re going to be good.  Now, when you factor in our big, mean-mugging cornerbacks and safeties, THEN you’ve got something truly dominant.  The only facet preventing this defense from being the very best in the entire league is the fact that they can’t generate pass rush with the starting four I referenced above.  Clemons, Mebane, Branch, and Bryant.  Those guys will stop your run, but they’ll generally give your quarterback all the time in the world.

Which is why we’ve had to go to such great lengths this past offseason to shore up the pass rush.  Drafting Bruce Irvin.  Signing Jason Jones.  Going quicker and younger in our linebacking unit.  The Seahawks are going to have to play mix & match.  They’re going to have to pick their spots to rush the quarterback.

But, the one constant will always be Brandon Mebane.  I don’t see him coming out of the game too much, except for the regular rotational breaks.  But, this guy, he could be something special.  I think, when we have our pass rush unit out there – Clemons, Mebane, Jones, Irvin – everyone will be so focused on the other guys, that it could very well free Mebane up for some sacks.

Mebane has a good burst on his own, no question about it.  But, in the last three seasons, he has a total of 2.5 sacks.  That shows me that other teams are doing a number on him.  Lots of double teams, lots of cut blocks.  If you can get offenses to focus on noted pass rushers (like Clemons, like Jones), I bet we’ll see a nice uptick in Mebane’s numbers.  I’m not saying he’s going to be a Cortez Kennedy or anything; but I’d like to see him around the 5.5 sacks he got in 2008.

I’ve been saying all along that I think Mebane will be a Pro Bowler someday.  I think that day is getting closer and closer by the season.

The 30 Most Important Seahawks In 2012

Are you ready for some football?  Because I know I am!

So, here’s the deal, we’re going to be passing the time this preseason by counting down the 30 most important Seahawks in 2012.  These are the players who will need to have great seasons for the Seahawks to do well in 2012.  And, because I don’t want to keep coming back and updating this post, I’m just going to give you all 30, in order of importance, right now.  But, to make it interesting (or, just because), I’m going to write a post about each of these, starting with 30 and counting down to 1.

Isn’t that clever?  No, no it’s not.

I can’t guarantee this is going to be a daily event, but it’s going to be a MOSTLY daily event.  Here you go:

  1. Matt Flynn QB Eagles  Starting Quarterback (QB)
  2. Sidney Rice (WR)
  3. Marshawn Lynch (RB)
  4. Russell Okung (OT)
  5. Earl Thomas (FS)
  6. Red Bryant (DE)
  7. Doug Baldwin (WR)
  8. Bobby Wagner (MLB)
  9. Bruce Irvin (DE)
  10. Richard Sherman (CB)
  11. Zach Miller (TE)
  12. Chris Clemons (DE)
  13. Brandon Browner (CB)
  14. Jason Jones (DT)
  15. Michael Robinson (FB)
  16. Kam Chancellor (SS)
  17. Leon Washington (RB/KR)
  18. Guns Turbin (RB)
  19. Brandon Mebane (DT)
  20. Walter Thurmond (CB)
  21. Tarvaris Jackson (QB) — **Traded**
  22. Ricardo Lockette (WR) — **Practice Squad**
  23. K.J. Wright (OLB)
  24. Marcus Trufant (CB)
  25. Leroy Hill (OLB)
  26. Steven Hauschka (K)
  27. Jon Ryan (P)
  28. Kellen Winslow (TE) — **Waived**
  29. Golden Tate (WR)
  30. Russell Wilson (QB) — **Number 1**

**Updated** – I somewhat realize that this list is really only 29 28 players long, but I’m a lazy, lazy man and I refuse to amend it.  Just figure Matt Flynn lands at 21 where Tarvar used to be.  And, I dunno, stick Braylon Edwards down there at #30 #22.  Speaking of which, whenever Braylon Edwards catches a crazy touchdown over a defender, will you join me in saying, “That shit Bray …”?

We’ll make Pancakes Carpenter #30 because I’m hungry.  Thank God this is over with …