Yes, there is always plenty of chatter about our perennial Super Bowl hopefuls. But I also find that there is always some angle to Seahawks coverage that just doesn’t seem to get enough airplay. This column is dedicated to that “elephant in the locker room.”
How things change in a matter of months. Right after Frank Clark bolted for Kansas City, the outlook on the defensive side of the ball—the side that has always meant “Pete Carroll football”—was incredibly bleak. Kinda felt like the future was gonna have to be a 21st Century version of Air Coryell, with Russell Wilson leading a ground-supported air attack that would simply need to outscore opponents. And that seemed plausible, given the 2018 team’s proven ability to produce points. (Lost on many fans was the fact that last season’s 30+ ppg average represented a franchise record.)
But then… John Schneider parlayed 4 draft picks into, I don’t know, 224 of the suckers—and instead of Clark we have Ziggy Ansah and Jadeveon Clowney.
The D line is now both deep and fearsome. Wagner and Wright are both all-in with long-term contracts, and with Kendricks form probably the best 4-3 linebacking corps in the league, backed up by standout rookies Ben Burr-Kirven and Cody Barton. The secondary returns all its starters–who weren’t superstars last year, but were also in their first year of feeling each other out. It’s reasonable to expect some measure of improved play at corner and safety.
Most likely, after the rust gets brushed off (meaning, as with last year’s opener: expect some broken coverages and “missed fits” tomorrow at CenturyLink), the defensive weakness will be seams in the middle of the coverage, with opposing tight ends picking up the biggest chunks of yielded turf–as has usually been the case with Carroll’s D here in Seattle. Don’t expect the Seahawks to give up an excess of 4.5 yards per carry again.
On the offensive side of the ball… obviously, the biggest concern is the lack of proven production in the receiving corps. Doug Baldwin’s retirement is a major blow. Fortunately, with Wilson firmly established as the Most Highly Paid Voice and Face of the Franchise (MHP for short), I fully expect this to be the best statistical year of Wilson’s career. The run support will be there with improved line play and a healthy rotation of backs. Coupling great offensive production and efficiency with Wilson’s knack for finding ways to win even in the worst of circumstances, we will probably see another points-per-game record set by the offense, and better than 10 wins.
So who are the Hawks’ biggest stars this year? Wilson and Lockett? Wright and Wagner? Clowney and Ansah? Dickson and Myers, both likely Pro Bowlers again? Maybe even Flowers and Griffin? (I won’t bother suggesting Britt and Brown, cuz O linemen simply get no love.)
This year, we are truly seeing the John and Pete show. We had no reasonable expectation for as strong a 53-man roster as the team will field tomorrow afternoon. Yes, it’s possible that the Ansah and Clowney acquisitions might prove as useless or poisonous as the Harvin or Graham trades… but I don’t think so. This feels a lot more like Avril and Bennett time… and you know what happened next.
Too much to expect another Division Championship? Too much to start thinking about another trip to the NFC title game?
Perhaps. But in the name of all things Pete and John, not too much to expect a whale of a lot of fun this season. Gonna feel a lot like 2012, folks, if not 2013. A lot.