Seahawks Players Who Will Play Crucial Roles Down the Season's Home Stretch
With a record of 6-4, the 'Hawks look to be in good shape to make the playoffs, but for the moment find themselves on the outside looking in nestled in 7th place behind the Vikings according to the latest standings posted by ESPN.
Of course with six weeks of football left to play a lot can change, but, in order to make the postseason, several 'Hawks will need to play crucial roles down the season's home stretch.
While we would all like to think that each and every player is important, some will likely be more important than others. So while it's great to see cornerback Richard Sherman continue to grow before our eyes, let's face it, he has a solid supporting cast working alongside him as a member of the "Legion of Boom."
So while some choices here will be obvious, others may surprise you.
Marshawn Lynch: Running Back
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Like I said, some choices are a bit obvious, such as Marshawn Lynch through 10 games this season has already eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark.
Through good times and bad, "Beast Mode" has been as advertised in keeping the chains moving for the Seahawks' running game.
While it's true that rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has steadily improved, it would be foolish to think the 'Hawks will lighten the load for Lynch over this final stretch of the schedule regardless of how well Wilson plays.
Here's hoping he can continue to stay healthy and productive given the 1-2 punch of Lynch and rookie Robert Turbin has yet to materialize.
Bobby Wagner: Linebacker
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Unfortunately since then, the 'Hawks have tried to make due with backup Mike Morgan taking over for Wright as he recovers, meanwhile Bobby Wagner continued his solid rookie season at middle linebacker by stepping up his game with 19 tackles and a sack in the two games after Wright's injury.
Wagner has taken hold of the middle linebacker position seamlessly since day one and looks like a keeper long-term as he currently leads the team in tackles.
Nevertheless here's hoping Wright gets back in the lineup at full strength soon, but until then Wagner will need to continue being the 'Hawks man for the defense.
Brandon Mebane: Defensive Line
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On the defensive front line the 'Hawks have quite a few solid contributors, each with a crucial role in the coming weeks, but of that group Brandon Mebane has arguably been the most consistent in just about any task assigned to him at defensive tackle.
While it's certainly tempting to single out Chris Clemons recent dry spell at defensive end given he hasn't recorded a sack or more than two tackles a game since the Week 6 win against New England, I wanted to take the opportunity to applaud Mebane.
Overall the line has experienced quite a few highs and lows this season, but, similar to Marshawn Lynch on offense, Mebane has maintained a high level of performance even during losses with the possible exception of the San Francisco game where everyone simply looked gassed after halftime.
Down the stretch the 'Hawks could certainly use more Chris Clemons, not to mention Bruce Irvin, Jason Jones, Alan Branch, and Red Bryant just to name a few, but consistent play from Mebane will hopefully bridge the gap regardless of whatever opponents choose to do.
Russell Okung: Left Tackle
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Depending on who you talk to, Russell Okung is either coming into his own or a bust.
Funny thing is I feel like we've been having this conversation for years now, but let's remember that Okung is only in his third season.
Perhaps the biggest problem for Okung was having the unenviable task of taking over for the legendary Walter Jones. Understand I'm not here to make excuses, just simply point out that the bar was set pretty high when you consider that Jones will probably end up enshrined in Canton sooner rather than later.
The sooner we can all accept Okung is not Walter 2.0, the better.
This year much like the last two we were promised a healthier and more focused Okung, but through the first quarter of the season it was hard to see that happening especially with all of the penalties.
Okung’s solid play—and good health—has helped create stability along the offensive line. The Seahawks have allowed just three sacks in the last three games.
“Russell Okung is off to a really good year,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s really playing solid, and he’s getting better and improving and he’s more confident. You can see that there are more plays where he is demonstrating his power and overwhelming at times by making some big time blocks.
“We can scheme all we want, but it really comes down to Russell having to block the guy that’s on that left side. And he’s been doing a fine job of it so far. We’re pleased with the progress we’re making protection wise. We’re pretty solid right now.”
In short, what Pete Carroll described is true and moving forward Okung will need to keep up the good work if the 'Hawks hope to see Russell Wilson improve as well.
Zach Miller: Tight End
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Speaking of players who can help Russell Wilson, I'm going to go out on a limb here and nominate tight end Zach Miller as the team's most crucial pass catcher.
Right now Sidney Rice has (knock on wood) managed to stay healthy and productive and Golden Tate has certainly made a name for himself this season, but beyond those two what options would you consider steady for Wilson?
Sadly, I feel like Doug Baldwin is on his way to locking up the "Mike Williams Memorial One Year Wonder Award" given his seemingly lost season and Braylon Edwards has done little to earn anyone's trust as well.
To me, it comes down to Miller.
Granted you could make the argument that his stats are far from impressive, but week after week he keeps making two to three catches to help the 'Hawks move the chains.
So while he's not going to put up the numbers he did in Oakland or either Rice or Tate for that matter, he's probably Russell Wilson's best fail-safe option.
Deep down I still don't think we've seen Miller at his best and will be curious to see if he can show fans in Seattle how he managed to become a Pro Bowler.
Russell Wilson: Quarterback
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Last but not least, the man under center.
Like it or not, this is Russell Wilson's rodeo from here on out.
If he rises to the occasion, odds are in the 'Hawks favor of winning. If he falls short, it only means that everyone else needs to step up.
To his credit, Wilson has held up his end of the bargain this season while steadily improving each week. While we may never see him let loose for a 400+ yard, five touchdown performance, I'm not sure it's necessary in order for the 'Hawks to win.
Deep down I believe that Wilson can do great things, yet, moving forward this season ,Wilson simply needs to play his game. If he can do that, while everyone else contributes as necessary, the 'Hawks should regain control of the final wildcard spot.
Of course that would also mean the 'Hawks win a game or two on the road.
Until they can do that, the playoffs will remain more a possibility rather than a probability.
Time will tell, but these six players will certainly play a crucial role down the stretch.