After losing to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, the Seattle Seahawks have been stuck in playoff purgatory. Unable to get through the divisional round of the playoffs in the past two years, it is clear that this team has had its issues since that historical Malcolm Butler interception. Even so, the Seattle Seahawks haven’t missed the playoffs since 2010, and they are still talented enough to make their mark in the postseason in 2017.
The Worst Offensive Line in the NFL
Last year, the Seattle Seahawks’ offensive line was beyond an embarrassment. In fact, many can make the argument that four of their five starters on this unit were battling for being the worst in the league at their respective positions. Center Justin Britt was the only solid contributor on this front line, and even he isn’t overly impressive. Perhaps Germain Ifedi can improve moving from right guard to right tackle. Perhaps the former Texans’ backup guard Oday Aboushi can come in and be a solid starter. Or perhaps Luke Joeckel can start off fresh in Seattle after an entirely disappointing career as the second overall pick in 2013. Although possible, these outcomes are definitely not probable. To me, this is still the worst offensive line in professional football.
The Heart and Soul
After his unfortunate interception in Super Bowl XLIX and the departure of Marshawn Lynch, it is clear that the leader of this offense is now their talented quarterback, Russell Wilson. Like the rest of the offense, the undersized signal caller had a down year in 2016. Behind an awful O-Line and with a constantly injured running back cast, it was obvious Russell Wilson had some trouble putting the offense on his back. Russ was also banged up all season, and is hopefully finally overcoming those injuries.
Although I am a big fan of Russell Wilson, he is not the type of quarterback you want to carry your offense. He’s not a Drew Brees, Tom Brady, or Aaron Rodgers type of quarterback. His best skill-set appears when he has a good offensive line, a good running game, and of course that great defense around him. Even so, we should fully expect a resurgence from Wilson.
The Running Backs
Health is the big issue with this unit. Thomas Rawls may be great when he is healthy, but the guy can’t stay on the field. The Seahawks signed Eddie Lacy from the Green Bay Packers, but he’s had his healthy and donut-eating issues as of late. If these guys can stay healthy though, they may be able to overcome the five garbage cans they’ll be running behind.
My favorite talent in this unit is easily C.J. Prosise. Rawls and Lacy are loathing the day that the Notre Dame product is fully healthy. If you owned Prosise in fantasy for his two starts in 2016, you know what I am talking about. He is the quintessential prototype of the modern running back. The second year running back glides like Arian Foster, has receiver experience like Ty Montgomery, and has the speed to go the distance. He is Ezekiel Elliot’s off-brand copycat (minus the pass protection).
The Receivers and Tight Ends
If you don’t know Doug Baldwin by now, you better start getting familiar with his name. He has nonchalantly slipped into the top 15 wide receivers in the NFL, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he establishes himself as a top 10 receiver this coming season. Behind him though, their is a lot of mediocre talent with marginal upside. Jermaine Kearse isn’t even a solid option at WR2, and those of us that didn’t fall for the fantasy hype for Tyler Lockett didn’t have to deal with his disappointing mediocrity in 2016. Paul Richardson still has upside, but he has been largely disappointing and has had his issues staying healthy so far in his career. I want to like Amara Darboh (the talented rookie out of Michigan), but he seems destined to fall into the mediocrity of the rest behind Doug Baldwin.
If he can stay healthy, Jimmy Graham is one of the most talented receiving tight ends in the league. His New Orleans days are long behind him, but his presence over the middle of the field and in the redzone is undeniable. I’d like to see him more utilized in the redzone similar to how he was with Drew Brees. Luke Willson is a decent number two tight end in his own right, but he also has trouble staying on the field.
A quick shoutout to my man Tyrone Swoopes who is fighting for the number three tight end spot in Seattle. Although he is a long shot to make the roster, the former quarterback from the University of Texas at Austin has been making his splashes in camp as a tight end. HOOK ‘EM SWOOOOOOPES.
The Front Seven
This is without-a-doubt an elite front seven in the NFL. Defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril can get pressure from the outside and seal off the edge. The two 31 year olds can still pack a wallop. Frank Clark proved himself as one of the best young pass rushers in the league in 2016, and he looks to continue this year. The defensive tackles are the weakness of this front seven. As a rookie defensive tackle in 2106, Jarran Reed had a terrible first season. Next to him, Ahtyba Rubin was just as awful. The Seattle front office tried to address this defensive hole by drafting Malik McDowell at the top of the second round in 2017, but like our own MJ loves to say: he’s a clown. McDowell injured himself in a vehicular accident involving an ATV.
Seattle is home to the most dynamic linebacker duo in the NFL. Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright are fantastic, and no one should expect anything less this coming season. Cassius Marsh is slated to start at left outside linebacker, and he hasn’t been very impressive in his three year career. The depth behind these linebackers is also not impressive, so injury could really hinder this unit.
If Earl Thomas comes back fully healthy, this will still be one of the most dominant safety combinations we have seen in the history of the NFL. Thomas is the best true center fielder in the NFL, while Kam Chancellor is still bringing the boom for The Legion as their strong safety. Seattle also added depth by drafting Delano Hill in the third round and by signing Brad McDougald from the Buccaneers.
I don’t know why people think Richard Sherman isn’t an elite corner in the NFL anymore. To me, he’s still one of the premier corners in the league. Jeremy Lane was awful from the outside in 2016, but he showed flashes in the slot. We should expect him to have more coverage snaps from the slot this coming season.
The Seahawks drafted Shaquill Griffin in the third round to hopefully start at CB2. He fits this defensive scheme perfectly. He is utilized best in coverage in a zone scheme, especially cover 2, but he flashes most against the run. This secondary is known for its physicality after all four of their starters last year were elite at their respective positions against the run. Griffin should fit in nicely, and he may end the reign of garbage at the Seahawks’ CB2 position. The Seahawks also signed former 49ers’ cornerback Tramaine Brock. He will be in the battle for the CB2 spot after a good year in coverage in 2016. He’s also an elite corner against the run, so he should also fit well with Seattle.
Best Case Scenario: If the Seahawks can stay healthy in 2017 and find some kind of talent within the offensive line, this team has the potential to be (12-4)
Worst Case Scenario: Injuries and the offensive line should scare Seahawks’ fans. If push comes to shove and these two factors are at their worst similar to 2016, this team is still a (9-7) squad. They are just too talented to be .500 or less.
My Prediction: (11-5) The NFC East is always competitive, but it may be becoming the NFC Easy for the Seattle Seahawks. The Rams and 49ers are clearly rebuilding, and I’m not so confident in the resurgence of Carson Palmer in Arizona. Even though I’m sure injuries are immanent and the offensive line will be horrible, this Seattle team still has that gritty talent that they are known for. Seahawks return to the NFC Championship in the easier National Football Conference.
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