Buying Pete Carroll's Approach with the Seahawks Wide Receivers
Late last week when I posted my thoughts on the Terrell Owens signing, I figured there was a small chance of upsetting a few people.
Given the nature of training camp and the preseason, optimism, at least in regards to football, is running rampant across much of the United States right now. In the spirit of the season, a friend suggested to "stop worrying so much" and focus on the positive, especially with Pete Carroll's approach at wide receiver.
"Haven't Pete and John (Schneider) generally figured out what they're doing at some point?"
So for today, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and offer some positive thoughts as to why everyone should stop worrying and buy into Pete Carroll's approach with the Seahawks' wide receivers.
Sidney Rice: Handle with Care
If we're going to talk about the 'Hawks at wide receiver, we need to start with Sidney Rice.
When he's healthy he's money, but when he's not?
It's a big question mark right now and probably one of many reasons for the recent influx of "experience."
Months ago I felt confident that Rice would be healthy enough to piece together a Pro Bowl season.
Today I've scaled back those expectations with the hopes that, if Rice can play in more than 12 games this season with a clean bill of health, the 'Hawks passing attack should benefit greatly from his presence.
If not, a lot of chess pieces may need to be moved around to accommodate his absence, and this is where faith in Pete Carroll comes in handy.
If Pete can find the right pieces and keep them well motivated and properly positioned, you never know what could happen.
Doug Baldwin: Our Man in the Slot
On Saturday night it was great to see the 'Hawks get the win, but it's a shame that so many receivers were unavailable, including Rice, Terrell Owens, Ricardo Lockette and everyone's sentimental favorite: Doug Baldwin.
It's funny to think that this time last year Baldwin was an undrafted free agent from Stanford fighting for a roster spot, given his current status as a strong fixture in the Seattle passing attack.
The question this year isn't whether Baldwin belongs; it's where he belongs.
My vote is in the slot position.
Ages ago when I pieced together my thoughts on how the 'Hawks could win the NFC West in 2012, I envisioned Baldwin becoming the team's very own Wes Welker to wreak havoc against opponents.
Assuming that Matt Flynn gets the nod at starter, I can see the two making a very potent combination, given Flynn's ability to pick his spots and Baldwin's ability to work his way underneath to create opportunities.
Golden Tate: Most Improved Player
Now entering his third season, Golden Tate has looked like someone capable of doing great things and a player who, along with Doug Baldwin, can help redefine the 'Hawks receiving game as a long-term homegrown fixture.
He already has my vote for most improved player in 2012, so it should only depend on how the 'Hawks go about utilizing him.
Is he capable of being the No. 2 option opposite Sidney Rice?
I hope so, but I also know that it might be a challenge for him to get the kind of separation from physical corners that is needed to excel in the NFL consistently.
Braylon Edwards: Comes Alive?
Speaking of someone who might be able to get the kind of separation needed.
While I'm still in the camp that bringing TO on board is risky, I may have prematurely lumped Braylon Edwards in the same boat with him along the way.
If Saturday night against the Titans was any indication of what Edwards can bring to the table, then perhaps the 'Hawks do have someone to either pair opposite or even spell Sidney Rice if need be.
The catch on Russell Wilson's 39-yard touchdown pass to me showed that Edwards looks like a guy who not only wants a job, but wants the job.
I will be curious to see if he can continue to impress.
Ricardo Lockette: The Hidden Gem?
Can one precious gem be found amidst the spare parts and loose bolts?
The list for the moment seems endless, and it makes me wonder if the 'Hawks can find another Doug Baldwin in the mix.
Going into camp, my best guess was the team's fourth-round pick from last year, Kris Durham. However, depending on who you ask, Durham seems to be struggling and might not make the final cut.
So then, who?
Veterans Deon Butler or Ben Obomanu?
Undrafted free agents Phil Bates, Lavasier Tuinei or Jermaine Kearse?
Journeyman Charly Martin?
For today, my best guess is second-year man Ricardo Lockette.
Lockette went undrafted in 2011 and came to the 'Hawks as a free agent. After starting the season on the practice squad, he grabbed a roster spot with the 'Hawks towards the end of last season and made a pair of nifty catches in the season's final two games, including one for a touchdown against the Cardinals.
He's the kind of guy who has so much raw speed that it's hard to ignore. At the same time, he still looks like a work in progress and someone capable of getting separation in coverage only to have the pass bounce off his hands.
Making matters even more difficult for him is the fact that he, along with several other key receivers, missed playing on Saturday night against Tennessee, missing a possible chance to distinguish himself.
Here's hoping he can get involved in a game or two during the preseason before too much time passes.
Terrell Owens: Reclamation Project?
And last but not least, Terrell Owens.
Can Pete Carroll make him his latest reclamation project?
A lot of fans believe he can, but even if he becomes a model citizen at 38, is he still capable of earning a roster spot and a meaningful role?
Owens brings experience and a wealth of knowledge from what should amount to a Hall of Fame career. If that can rub off on the youngsters in some positive way, perhaps there is some value in his addition to the team.
Beyond that, I suppose everything is gravy if he can actually catch a few passes and score a touchdown or two along the way.
Overall, though, a lot of what is outlined here are "if"s and "but"s glued together by the power of positive thinking. However, since it's the preseason, hearsay and conjecture are often allowed to serve as evidence in making such cases.
To be blunt, I can't wait until the regular season starts—a time when there are no more excuses or qualifiers. A time when the first unit is the only unit, when the refs are hopefully real and when the majority of the rust has been shaken off.
Until then, I suppose it's best just to enjoy the ride and wait for Pete Carroll to sort out all of the details.