Every offseason there are winners and losers. To the optimists among us, this past offseason set the Hawks up for a good (if not great) shot at making a run and possible playoff berth.
For those of you like myself, you have your doubts...
the offense is contingent on a zone-blocking scheme that (although productive in the past) is headed off by a group that seriously needs to prove itself.
The passing defense... ranked 32nd out of 32 teams. Not good. With the addition of K Lucas (aka Ken "toast" Lucas) to bolster the group they should see some improvement, but with the receiving cores of Arizona and San Fransisco a little improvement will probably NOT go a long way.
With the addition of C Cole and C Reading (how they could trade all-pro J Peterson for all-no C Reading is ridiculous... oh right, they got a 5th rounder out of it also.) the group remains untested (as most of the Seahawks roster is looking these days)
If these question marks can come together (and by that I mean if this renewed coaching staff can light a fire under some asses) than I'll be far more likely to turn on sports center this year after a Seahawks game, hoping I won't have to see another mark in the L column.
Do not despair, there have been some good moves to accompany the questionable ones, like the signing of Housh-somethin-somethin, C Cole, and a couple of backup / role players, of drafting A Curry, M Unger, and D Butler, and of picking up the Broncos 2010 first rounder.
Some would call this a success, but with an aging O Line and a Secondary that (minus M Trufant) has been toast there is still some work to be done. So, here is my best case scenario for the Seattle Seahawks 2010 offseason.
Ok, so now that we have the Denver 1st rounder to go with our own it looks like now is the best time to capitalize. And it is.
My prediction is that we will be sitting somewhere between pick 5 - 10. This is based mainly on Denver's inability to stop the run and their complete lack of D Linemen in the 3 -4 they're running these days.
Also with Jay Cutler in pro-bowl form they were unable to make the playoffs, because the QB is the most important position in the NFL, I can only foresee them taking one step forward and 10 steps back.
The need for a playmaker in the secondary has been there for a while, and especially with the recievers just in division it will be an uphill battle from 32nd in the league.
If E Berry is available at this spot we would be on dope not to take him, especially for his ability to play the pass and the run (a skill that T Mays has yet to acquire).
If he is not there the decision gets difficult, but can still be remedied by drafting for the O and D Lines. Namely N Suh, B Bulaga, or one of the other top prospects available... Ideally though, we'd get Berry.
The O Line has been a question mark since the departure of S Hutchinson, and although an addition was made in '08 to pick up M Wahle he is (along with W Jones and R Sims) getting up there in age.
This year there was a move to pick up M Unger and we already have C Spencer (the underpreforming wonder) but these two O Lineman will not play LT, LG, C, RG, and RT... so we may have a problem.
At this stage in his career W Jones is still an elite LT, but S Locklear is never going to be able to solidify the left side (Hasselbeck's blind spot) the way Walter could.
This need can be addressed one of two ways.
Most likely the Seahawks (NOT THE BRONCOS) first or second rounder and a player(s) some of whom might include W Jones (old), B Russell (toast), D Branch(injury prone), R Willis (overpaid), and/or D Grant (replaced with E Berry). Each of these players is expendable or not preforming up to their paycheck.
The possible pickups would include R Clady from the Broncos, M Roos from the titans, C Clifton from the Packers, V Carey (might be a stretch to move him back to LT again from RT), and a J Thomas / J Long would really be a stretch just to pick up. Ideally though, we'd get Clady.
2. The Draft
I do not foresee a LT at the caliber of what this team needs to break even with a W Jones in next years draft class at the hawks pick in the first or second round. This might be a second option, but I am not recommending it.
There has been a significant dropoff since S Alexander was league MVP and the hawks were in the Super Bowl. The need for another RB to come in and step up is crucial to the hawks returning to Super Bowl form, and especially with a new focus on the running game from O Coordinator G Knapp a playmaking addition to this team is a high priority.
The 2010 draft class (pending who announces) should be full of prospects, namely J McKnight, C J Spiller, J Best, D Murray, and L Blount. Most of these should be available towards the end of the first round, if not the second.
Although there is also a need to get younger at wr to get a compliment to D Butler and the rest of the receiving corps (A Benn would be a great pickup). However this need is not nearly as pressing as a rb to play the zone blocking scheme that will take over the offense this year.
I'm not currently picking favorites yet, but by the end of the season I expect to see some of these prospects separating themselves. My best guess would be D Murray (if he can stay healthy and bounce back once more from injury).
The defense has made some significant strides, but with a defensive minded coach at the helm, some more changes ought to be made.
The front four is a rotating door position, in which a multitude capable players are going to be switched in and out to keep the line fresh. Its a good method, but after this season we will see who is and who is not worth keeping... my only hope is that the coaching staff will make the necessary cuts and acquisitions.
Possible acquisitions... A Ogunleye, A Brown, W Smith, B Coefield, F Robbins, and others out there for the taking.
The linebacking corps is arguably the best in football, and backups like D D Lewis are more than capable of spelling our superstars for a while.
The secondary still has some ?? but a whole lot of promise. With all-pro M Trufant at the #1 corner, a revolving door at the #2 (Possible long term solutions... E Hobbs, D Townsend, and a few others), the pickup of Berry at the FS, and I would really like to see a veteran player like D Grant (if he's still on the team, if not the free agent pool should be decent enough to find someone and there are some talented 2nd stringers already on the roster) to play the other safety.
The contingency plan.
If the trade is not made to get a LT (R Clady) or the ability to draft our FS (E Berry) than the best option going forward would be to draft an OT with the broncos 1st rounder and take a saftey (like R Jones / M Wright) with our second rounder.
Although this seems like a legitimate backup plan, with the secondary as terrible as it has been over the past few sesaons, E Berry fills a legitimate need and upgrades the hawks over a struggling B Russell.
Point being... this is only a just in case.
Some of you are thinking that I had forgotten to address the qb position with M Hasselbeck getting older, this is not the case. Although the heir apparent is not in place yet, I believe that the next qb will come in the 2011 or 2012 draft class.
Hasselbeck is still a top 10 qb when he's healthy, but the important part at this point is that he starts taking his predesessor under his wing now so that the rookie will have a good 2 - 3yrs under his tutelage.
With the additions to our secondary, the unit should be much improved. Considering the strength of our linebacking corps and our front four (a very good, but not quite living up to all the potential there). The defensive unit should be very solid and a turnover machine, with the ability to play at a high level on all three levels of the defense.
Defense grade A-
The offense should be much improved with the line changes, and in this new system where I really think that C Spencer can flourish. With the addition of a star LT to replace the aging W Jones as well the O should be able to run the ball well. The passing game was put on temporary hold, but D Butler looks to be a breakout player and Housh / Burleson are getting older but still have a few years left in the tank.
Offense Grade B
If the "perfect offseason" can happen... and we get our players... it would not be out of the question to see a Super Bowl run.
Prediction for 2010 win total: 12-4 (deep playoff run)