Seattle Seahawks ’09 Quick Hits

July 31, 2009 by

Why the Seattle Seahawks will bounce back to capture the NFC West in 2009.

Seattle Seahawks

Predicted: 1st

2008: 4-12 (3rd NFC West)

Head Coach: Jim Mora Jr. (1st year)

Roster Quick View (*new veteran, **rookie)

Offense (coordinator: Greg Knapp)

QB: Matt Hasselbeck

The soon-to-be 34-year-old appears healthy after a bulging disc sidelined him for nine games last year. Good thing, too––this team can’t win with Seneca Wallace under center.

RB: Julius Jones

Looks good on the occasional draw play, but has a disturbing way of drawing critics from within his own club.

RB: T.J. Duckett

Eager to prove that he’s more than just a short-yardage back. Of course, we hear this every year with the former first-rounder.

FB: Justin Griffith

Has played for Greg Knapp in Atlanta and Oakland. Offers decent strength and nimble footwork, but must rebound from poor ’08 season.

WR: T.J. Houshmandzadeh*

Prolific possession receiver who has ideal tools for this short-passing system.

WR: Nate Burleson

Looking to bounce back from last season’s torn ACL. Has big-play ability when healthy.

WR: Deion Branch

Also looking to stay healthy after injury-plagued ’08. Superb quickness and change-of-direction, plus he has outstanding focus in confined areas.

TE: John Carlson

Sure-handed second-year pro who could prosper into one of the league’ elite tight ends. Only true flaw is that he can’t block out of a standstill position.

TE: John Owens

Will see meaningful action as this offense is expected to employ more two-tight end formations in 2009.

LT: Walter Jones

The 35-year-old future Hall of Famer was showing hints of decline even before his December microfracture surgery.

LG: Mike Wahle

The game might not be as easy for him as it once was, especially now that he’s coming off shoulder surgery. But if he’s right, he’s still a gritty, fairly mobile run-blocker.

C: Chris Spencer

A tad more finesse than Seattle would prefer, but when healthy (which isn’t often enough) he’s a Top-10 quality center.

RG: Rob Sims

Missed virtually all of 2008 with a torn pectoral muscle. Has enough talent, but must prove he can recognize defenses and maintain his footwork when shifting directions.

RT: Sean Locklear

Too often performance doesn’t live up to raw ability.

6 OL: Ray Willis

Just because a guy starts in place of injured players doesn’t mean he’s an NFL starter. Doesn’t play with enough power.

Defense (coordinator: Gus Bradley)

LDE: Patrick Kerney

Has had two surgeries in less than a year to repair torn labrum injuries in his left shoulder. Brings great energy, speed and strength….when healthy, of course.

DT: Colin Cole*

Getting paid like a semi-star but is really pretty average. Lack of explosiveness makes him a rotation player.

DT: Brandon Mebane

Should make more plays now that he’s left the ill-fitting one-technique role and gets to focus more on attacking the gaps.

RDE: Cory Redding*

The key piece in the Julian Peterson trade had better show the high-motored playmaking prowess that he did a few years ago. Must first bounce back from October’s fractured kneecap.

3 DE: Lawrence Jackson

Played too slow as a mentally overwhelmed first-round rookie last season. The hope is that a more specific pass-rushing role will boost him.

3 DT: Craig Terrill

Underrated try-hard veteran who, with good leverage, can occasionally get penetration.

SLB: Aaron Curry**

Drafted No. 4 overall because he is supposedly this year’s Can’t Miss Prospect.

MLB: Lofa Tatupu

Terrific speed, lateral quickness and fundamentals more than compensate for mediocre awareness.

WLB: Leroy Hill

Signed a long-term contract that includes $15.5 million in guarantees. Is a quiet force but probably a better fit for the strong side (where he resided most of his first four seasons).

4 LB: D.D. Lewis

Solid all-around backup who can defend the pass and help keep a linebacking unit above water when a starter misses a few games.

CB: Marcus Trufant

Elite cover artist when his technique is sharp and his focus directed toward the receiver (as opposed to all the little things going on around him).

CB: Ken Lucas*

Returns after a decent four-year hiatus in Carolina. Consistency has been an issue, though he’s capable of garnering one more big contract after this season.

NB: Josh Wilson

Not happy about being demoted, but that’s what happens when you lack premium catch-up speed and acceleration.

SS: Deon Grant

Was he on the field last season? Huh. Didn’t notice.

FS: Brian Russell

What about him? He played last year, too? Really?

6 DB: Jordan Babineaux

Excellent strength and versatility. Should keep first-class liability Kelly Jennings on the bench.

Special Teams

K: Olindo Mare

Must once again compete with last year’s seventh-round pick Brandon Coutu. Power on kickoffs is his best advantage.

P: Jon Ryan

Posted good numbers last season in cleaning up messes of what was a pathetic offense.

RS: Justin Forsett

Electrifying elusiveness should earn him a spot on the 53-man roster.

Offseason Quick Glance

Draft

RD PK (OVR) NAME POS SCHOOL

1 4 (4) Aaron Curry OLB W Forest

2 17 (49) Max Unger C Oregon

3 27 (91) Deon Butler WR Penn State

6 5 (178) Mike Teel QB Rutgers

7 36 (245) Courtney Greene S Rutgers

7 38 (247) Nick Reed DE Oregon

7 39 (248) Cameron Morrah TE California

KEY PLAYERS ACQUIRED

DT Colin Cole: UFA Packers; $21.4M/5 yrs, $6M guaranteed.

FB Justin Griffith: FA Raiders; 1 yr, terms unknown.

WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh: UFA Bengals; $40M/5 yrs, $15M guaranteed.

FB David Kirtman: FA; terms unknown.

CB Ken Lucas; FA Panthers; $2.3M/1 yr.

TE John Owens: UFA Lions; terms unknown.

DT Cory Redding (trade Lions).

KEY PLAYERS LOST

DT Rocky Bernard: UFA Giants; $16M/4 yrs, guarantee unknown.

WR Bobby Engram: UFA Chiefs; terms unknown.

DT Howard Green: UFA Jets; $625,000/1 yr, guarantees unknown.

TE Will Heller: UFA Lions; 1 yr, terms unknown.

RB Maurice Morris: UFA Lions; $7M/3 yrs, SB unknown.

LB Julian Peterson (traded Lions).

FB Leonard Weaver: UFA Eagles; $1.75M/1 yr.

OT Floyd Womack: UFA Browns; terms unknown.

Analysis

Some of Seattle’s biggest changes won’t actually move the team’s overall talent dial. They traded Pro Bowl OLB Julian Peterson but drafted supposedly the ’09 rookie class’s most NFL-ready stud, OLB Aaron Curry. They let punishing one-gap DT Rocky Bernard get away in free agency, but acquired Detroit’s high-motor Cory Redding in the Peterson deal (which also yielded them a fifth-round pick). Backup DT Howard Green was allowed to leave as well, thanks to the addition of Green Bay’s Colin Cole. Of course, at $21.4 million over five years, Cole is expected to beat out Craig Terrill and Brandon Mebane for a starting job. Finally, Matt Hasselbeck’s favorite target, Bobby Engram, went to Kansas City. But pardon Seattle if they don’t seem to notice. After all, they’re admiring newcomer T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the top receiver of this year’s free agent crop.

Houshmandzadeh offers perfect skills for this offense. His presence, plus the newfound health of Nate Burleson and Deion Branch, means that third-round rookie Deon Butler could spend a year riding the bench before becoming Engram’s long-term replacement in the slot. Second-round center Max Unger could also begin on the second string––likely behind former first-round pick Chris Spencer. The Unger pick seems to suggest that Seattle doesn’t believe the injury-prone Spencer can ever stay healthy. (Of course, Unger may move to guard.)

After receiver, there were two other glaring weaknesses to address: cornerback and offensive tackle. Seattle took care of the former by bringing back Ken Lucas in a one-year deal. He’ll start immediately ahead of unreliable youngsters Kelly Jennings and Josh Wilson. As for tackle, it’s doubtful that Walter Jones will fully rebound from microfracture surgery. Look for the Seahawks to scramble to find veteran depth at this spot later in the summer.


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