Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks RB
Since 2008 the Seattle Seahawks have been a team struggling to find its identity. And with the growing competition in the NFC West, this team will have trouble matching up against their division foes in 2012.
In the last four years the Seahawks have posted a 13-11 record against teams in the NFC West. Seattle hasn't rolled over against their division rivals, but they also haven't been the dominant force that they once were. Despite coming from one of weakest divisions in the NFL, the Seahawks haven't been very impressive against these struggling teams lately.
It wasn't too long ago that this team dominated the NFC West. There was a span of seven years where the Seahawks were division leaders five times. The team even earned a trip to the Super Bowl back in 2005.
With the emergence of the San Francisco 49ers and the improving Arizona Cardinals, the chance for the Seahawks to take advantage of this weak division has come to an end. Seattle's defense is nothing to sneeze at, but Sam Bradford and Stephen Jackson can give this team headaches in the upcoming season as well.
Despite making the playoffs in 2010 (with a 7-9 record) the team hasn't rampaged through the NFC West like it did between 2004-2007.
The question mark at the quarterback position is the main reason why Seattle will falter against the teams in their division in 2012.
After the Seahawks signed former Green Bay Packer Matt Flynn to a three-year, $26 million contract, it was a foregone conclusion that he would be the starting quarterback in front of Tarvaris Jackson going into next season.
Who will be the starting quarterback in 2012?
However, the starting spot is still up in the air.
A recent article by The Sports Xchange on Yahoo! Sports stated,
"Coach Pete Carroll is standing by what he said in minicamp: Jackson will take snaps with the first unit while Flynn and [Russell] Wilson prove they're ready to run offense.
Carroll said Jackson earned those reps with the first unit by virtue of his role as the team's starter last year...there's no timeline on when he will name a starter for the 2012 season."
In the same article Jackson said,
"I'm not a (general manager), I'm not a head coach, so I can't go and pick exactly who they want, or say, 'Don't get a quarterback.'
'If I could I would, believe me,' he said with a laugh. 'But that's not how things work, so I'm just here to compete and may the best man win.'"
The old saying goes, if you have two starting quarterbacks, you don't have one.
It appears that Jackson knows the circumstance that he's in; and it's obvious that he didn't want the team to pursue another quarterback. With two quarterbacks on the roster that have starter potential, the Seahawks need to be cautious.
Swapping quarterbacks in camp is one thing, but once that happens in the regular season the team's rhythm can be heavily affected by a change under center.
The battle for the position will bring out the best in both Flynn and Jackson; and ultimately the player that shows the most promise will earn the job in 2012. On the other hand Jackson could easily be tossed aside like he has been through most of his career.
Jackson is almost 30 years old and still hasn't shown a vast improvement since coming into the league in 2006. And Flynn is still unproven. Even though he's familiar with the West Coast offense that Seattle runs, he'll still go through growing pains with this team.
Whoever is selected to start next season is going to have trouble in the NFC West. Marshawn Lynch will take some pressure off of his quarterback, but he can only do so much.
Surprisingly the Rams defense ranked seventh overall in passing yards allowed in 2011. Even with a horrendous run defense St. Louis will still cause problems for Seattle in 2012. With Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald catching anything around him he's always a big-time threat, even if it's Kevin Kolb or John Skelton throwing him the ball. Lastly, the 49ers proved to be a handful for the Seahawks to deal with last season, and with an improved cast on offense in 2012, they'll surely overpower Seattle.