For those bird people of the Northwest: Catch a early glance of your boys. An outlook by S and G Sports
The 2008 campaign was a story of unfortunate headlines for the Men of the Emerald City. Coach Mike Holmgren announced his intention to retire at the end of the season. Former league MVP Shaun Alexander was released in favor of journeymen RBs Julius Jones and TJ Duckett.
By the fifth week of the season, the four starting WRs had a total of two games playing experience. As injuries started to increase, coined by Pro Bowl QB Matt Hasselbeck and LB Lofa Tatupu, the defeats in the W/L column began to amount.
Instead of a season capped by an expected playoff appearance for their beloved HC, the Seahawks plunged headfirst into the cellar of the league.
Unlike previous seasons of dominance in the NFC West and consistent playoff bids, Seattle won only four games. While the newbies filling roles for talented starters played aggressively and showed glimpses of brilliance, the Hawks were unable to compete with their conference foes.
Although much of the past season was utter gloom for this rainy city, there are indeed glimmers of hope for 2009. Jim Mora Jr., successor to Holmgren, is the energetic, optimistic force the organization needs. Many of those previously injured players return healthy and hungry.
The fanbase remains consistent, excited, and LOUD. And, the Seahawks get a Top-Five pick in this year’s Draft to aid their aging needs. Hope is what the Seahawks, four years out from a Super Bowl appearance, are clinging to.
Will hope be enough?
The biggest stories in free agency for Seattle have been highlighted around the d-line and wide receiver positions. Seattle signed the top free agent WR this off season in T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who many expected would be in a Vikings uniform.
Perhaps this will be the No. 1 wideout that QB Matt Hasselbeck has been looking for since the departure of Darrell Jackson.
Housh will fit nicely opposite Deion Branch (if he’s ever healthy) in Seattle’s West Coast offense.
The Seahawks have shown a strong commitment this offseason to their defensive line by signing former Packer DT Colin Cole to a multi-year contract. Additionally, LB Julian Peterson was traded to Detroit for DT Cory Redding and a fifth-round pick. The signing of these players should help solidify the Seahawks’ run defense, which ranked 19th this past year.
However, another big question remains: What will Seattle do about long-time OT Walter Jones? It is clear that he is not the perennial Pro Bowl force he once was. Re-signing Ray Willis will help, but he is not the future. Utility man Floyd “Pork Chop” Womack is now a Cleveland Brown. Is there a future heir to Jones’ throne in this year’s draft?
This free-agency period for Seattle has been a ‘this-for-that’ story. They sign Houshamandzadeh, but lose WR Bobby Engram to Kansas City. LBs D.D. Lewis and Lance Laury are re-signed, but Julian Peterson is now a Detroit Lion.
Same case for RB Maurice Morris, as Motown has signed him away from Seattle. Adding several new d-linemen has been noted, but they have lost Rocky Bernard and Howard Green in the process.
HC Jim Mora Jr. has been somewhat under the radar during this offseason, and we do not expect that to change. Could he possibly be gearing up to make a big play in the draft? Some major concerns have been answered certainly, but more remain to be addressed.
A great question now arises in the Evergreen State. Will the Seahawks have intrinsically done enough in the offseason through the Draft and Free Agency to resurrect Seattle to the forefront of the NFC West Title hunt?
First Round, Pick No. 4
The Seahawks will spend this Top-Five selection on the best defensive player available. Seattle got busy stockpiling on defensive tackles this off season, but have discovered losing Julian Peterson is going to be costly. This pick, the Seahawks feel, will be his replacement.
S and G Sports Recommends: DE/OLB Brian Orakpo, Texas
Second Round, Pick No. 37
After much speculation, HC Jim Mora Jr. pulls the trigger on the heir apparent to OT Walter Jones. We believe that in this tackle studded Draft this year, there will be plenty of quality hogs available in the early to mid second round.
S and G Sports Recommends: OT Jamon Meredith, South Carolina
Third Round, Pick No. 68
Seattle would be wise to add an immediate starting safety at this point in the draft. Getting a rangy player who can drop into deep coverage and smack cocky receivers down is a must in the pass happy NFC West.
This is clearly an indictment against incumbent FS Brian Russell, who is an average safety at best.
S and G Sports Recommends: S Rashad Johnson, Alabama
Fourth Round, Pick No. 101
Seattle really whiffed when letting Maurice Morris sign with the Detroit Lions. Although he was purely a complementary back, his return skills and hands out of the backfield were far too valuable to lose.
That being said, expect the Hawks to add another physical back who can take carries off from Julius Jones and eventually anchor the running game. Take a hike TJ, just like you’ve done your entire career...
S and G Sports Recommends: RB James Davis, Clemson
Sixth Round, Pick No. 165
Good news: The Seahawks added a true No. 1 WR in T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Not so good news: Housh is 31 and may have just a few productive years left. Expect Seattle to add another big threat here.
The receiving corps is not in shambles as Nate Burleson and Deion Branch are back from injuries and solid complimentary pieces, but do not count on them for much more than that. Hasselbeck will salivate at the prospect of having a tall, beefy possession man down in the red zone.
S and G Sports Recommends: WR Patrick Turner, USC
Seventh Round, Pick No. 196
It is clear that Hasselbeck’s clock is ticking a little more loudly now. On the other hand, he still has enough talent to make another three-or-four-year run with Seattle before grave doubts arise.
Seneca Wallace and David Greene have not proven themselves as suitable heirs, even after four years of opportunity. Expect the Seahawks to draft a QB here that can learn from Hasselbeck and jockey for the backup position this season.
S and G Sports Recommends: QB Curtis Painter, Purdue
An Early Look at the 2009 Campaign
Hope will not be enough for a playoff appearance, but we project improvement. A 7-9 or 8-8 season (Translation: A second place finish in the worst division of the league) can be expected from Seattle.
This will be a much needed jump in the right direction for this organization to stabilize themselves the next few seasons. Forward progress or bust for Mora and Co.
S and G Sports Prediction: 7-9, Tied for Second in NFC West with San Francisco