Football is a sport with a lot of moving parts. It is not always the big stars that ensure a win. Rather, it can be the second-string linebacker that makes a key tackle or the third-down running back that rumbles for a crucial first down.
Basketball is also a team sport, but in certain situations one player can almost single-handedly take over a game. Baseball is certainly a team sport, but at a key part of the game, it is going to be an isolated matchup between a pitcher and a hitter.
When you think about key players on the Seattle Seahawks that fans hope will perform, the list includes Marshawn Lynch, new quarterback Russell Wilson, Chris Clemons and Sidney Rice. However, there are a handful of other players who may play crucial roles this season and could be worth watching a bit closer.
Terrell Owens did not last. Neither did Antonio Bryant. For a couple of weeks there, the Seahawks seemed to have a revolving door of veteran wide receivers who were looking for one last opportunity to catch on with a team.
Braylon is obviously younger than the other two, and it was not too long ago that he was an effective receiver with the New York Jets. If Seattle is going to take the next step in the NFC West, Edwards may be a key contributor on offense. Seattle is just hoping for the 53 catches of 2010 rather than the 15 catches of 2011.
Of course, the worry with Braylon is that he brings with him a bit of historical baggage. Has he left his difficulties behind? Will Seattle be a place where Edwards can repair his image and leave his legal troubles in the past? Russell Wilson could certainly use a healthy and productive playmaker on the outside.
The Seahawks took care of business in the offseason by locking up Marshawn Lynch. Fans are hoping that Beast Mode can continue to be the bruising back that punished defenses in the second half of 2011. Of course, there are a few questions with Marshawn. Namely, he has some nagging back problems and some occasional legal issues.
Enter Robert Turbin, whose powerful running style may make him an ideal replacement if Lynch can’t go. Even if Marshawn is the feature back, Turbin certainly looked good in the preseason. It wouldn’t be a shock if Pete Carroll tried to keep Turbin in the rotation. Fans just hope that Turbin does not have to shoulder the entire load due to problems with Lynch.
Turbin did run for 93 yards against Kansas City in the preseason. If the offensive line continues to improve, the Seahawks may find themselves with two effective running backs that can pound their way through defenses.
If the Seahawks wanted to inspire draft conversation after their first-round pick, they certainly accomplished their goal. Of course, the selection of Bruce Irvin was not necessarily met with rave reviews. Many analysts used the word “reach,” as they saw a very raw athlete who was not necessarily ready for the NFL.
For now, Irvin remains a guy that is high risk or high reward. It is quite possible that veteran offensive linemen will neutralize his speed and athleticism. However, the team is hoping that Irvin will explode onto the scene like Jevon Kearse did in 1999. To do that, the rest of the defense will need to cover their assignments and free up Irvin to chase quarterbacks.
Peter King thinks that Bruce Irvin could be the defensive rookie of the year. Wouldn’t that be something after all the draft experts critiqued this pick?
Matt Flynn was arguably the flashiest free-agent acquisition of the offseason, but Jason Jones may be a player that makes a bigger impact in the short term. Jones may not pick up the sacks of a Chris Clemons, but he may provide a key defensive role for the Seahawks.
Jones will hopefully fill a spot that has been a problem in the past. The defensive line has to collapse the pocket and prevent the quarterback from escaping through a gap. Ideally, Jones will be a disruptive player who can be a run-stopper and a big body in the middle. His statistics may not be glamorous, but some defensive tackles are facilitators that get stats for other players.
A player like Jones is key, because when he is effective, it allows the rest of the defense to do their jobs. If the line does not contain the running backs or get to the quarterback often enough, the linebackers and secondary are forced to plug holes. This is when veteran quarterbacks pick apart a defense.
If the Seahawks are going to win the NFC West, they will need a lot of people to step up and play the roles that they are capable of filling. These four may be players to watch in 2012.