After the Seahawks finished a perfect 4-0 during the preseason, many are envisioning Seattle to have a breakthrough campaign.
Those predictions are not unheralded either, last year the Hawks finished at 7-9. That was disappointing, but considering that Tarvaris Jackson was still the starting quarterback, this year will be a whole lot different.
Enter Russell Wilson.
Although Wilson winning the starting job may have dominated the headlines surrounding the Seahawks this preseason, there are certainly other reasons that Seattle is heading in the right direction.
The defense is young, quick and relentless.
The coaching staff has made all the right decisions throughout the preseason and that bodes well moving forward.
The Hawks averaged the most points per game with 30.5 during the preseason. Regardless of if the high-powered offense continues, there are other things to be gathered from Seattle’s preseason campaign.
And none of that really matters anymore, because Wilson will be under center during Week 1.
He earned the spot and it’s exciting to see a young player take control of an offense like Wilson has been able to. Through the preseason, he has been a maestro in all forms of the game.
He completed 63.5 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and only one interception.
Wilson showed a lot of maturity throughout the preseason, considering he was adjusting to a new system while he was amidst a quarterback controversy.
That is inspiring considering the kid is only 23 years old. However, he will be under center this weekend as the Seahawks begin the regular season.
His preseason experience will go out with the window as soon as the regular season starts. But all signs have surely pointed to the fact that Wilson will be a successful and productive starter.
Wilson may be a rookie, but he will inherit a better supporting cast than all of his rookie cohorts. Wilson will have the luxury of handing off to Marshawn Lynch and relying on an opportunistic defense rather than being hailed as the offensive catalyst.
Regardless, Wilson is due for a fruitful campaign. He won the job in the preseason and his regular season statistics will help him maintain his spot.
Whether it’s an interception or a fumble, count on the Seahawks defense coming up with a lot of them.
The front seven is imposing, and the secondary is even better. With Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor patrolling the deep threats, quarterbacks will have a tough time moving the ball down the field against Seattle.
Brandon Browner was a Pro Bowl cornerback a season ago, and with another year of experience it will be exciting to see him continue growing as a player.
Both Browner and Thomas came up with interceptions during the preseason. Browner led the team last year with six, but I expect more and more teams to look towards the air, as the Seahawks rush defense is only improving.
The Seahawks forced six turnovers during the preseason including two from Jeron Johnson.
With Red Bryant and Chris Clemons along the defensive line, teams will have a tough time running the ball against Seattle this season.
Regardless of how the opposition plans to advance the ball, the Seahawks proved they can come up with takeaways from nearly any position on the field.
Even with the emergence of Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch will still be the impetus of the Seahawks’ offense.
He will get a lot of touches, considering that Wilson is still adjusting to the NFL. With Lynch in the backfield, he can bank on having a Pro Bowl running back.
The Seahawks led the NFL through the preseason by averaging 178.2 yards per game on the ground. That was with Lynch only getting five carries.
Another rookie, Robert Turbin, showed he could be a viable option to spell Lynch. He racked up 165 yards on the ground in the preseason. Turbin may not be a change-of-pace, but with his tough nose running he will wear down defenses, much like Beast Mode.
Perhaps the most interesting wrinkle that appeared this preseason was the inclusion of a dual-threat quarterback. Tarvaris Jackson was considered somewhat of a dual-threat, but he only nabbed 108 yards on the ground during last season.
Wilson, in four preseason games, rushed for 150 yards on only 10 carries.
He is a smart enough player that he can sense pressure and tuck the ball and run. That can only benefit the rest of the rushing game as the defense has another aspect to worry about while the Hawks are on offense.
With Lynch, Wilson and Turbin toting the rock for the Hawks, their offense will be gained on the ground.
More Russell Wilson hype?
Surprisingly no, there are more young players than just Wilson who will make an impact this season. Bobby Wagner for one, will be starting at the middle linebacker position.
Wagner, a speedy versatile linebacker, will surely make an impact while playing in the middle of the Seahawks 4-3 defense. Head coach Pete Carroll trusts him, and Wagner proved that he is a playmaker the Seahawks desperately need in the middle of the field.
One player who hasn’t received much credit through the preseason has been J.R. Sweezy.
If you haven’t heard the name, you should get familiar with it now.
Sweezy played defensive tackle during his career at North Carolina State. But, the Seahawks took a seventh round flier on him and selected him during the 2012 draft.
He went from an unheralded rookie to the Seahawks starting offensive guard. That’s right, Carroll and company saw Sweezy, converted him to offensive line and then promoted him to the starting lineup.
The coaching staff is not afraid to play inexperienced players, with the ultimate hope being their athleticism makes up for their shortcomings.
In that sense, most Seahawks fans should be waiting until Carroll unleashes Bruce Irvin off the bench.
Irvin, a 6’3” defensive end, is yet another rookie who will make an impact for the Hawks this season.
He may need to bulk up a little bit to withstand the constant beating in the trenches, but Irvin will maintain his speed and provide a serious pass rush this season.
He is built in the Aldon Smith mold, of a speedy pass rusher, but Carroll needs to find certain ways to use him in order to exploit the offense.
He came up with one and a half sacks in the preseason and that number will continue increasing as he keeps adjusting to the professional game.