2008 Summary:How bad did injuries hit the Pacific Northwest last year?
The Seahawks were at one point so desperate for a WR with a semblance of familiarity of the Mike Holmgren offense that they were ready to start second string quarterback Seneca Wallace at one of the positions.
And fittingly, Wallace never made it into the starting lineup because he injured his calf in warm-ups.
All in all, no team in the NFL last season sustained more costly injuries than the Seahawks. As a team, the Seahawks lost more starters to injury than any other. The most notable starters on the Seahawks to miss significant time were Pro Bowlers Matt Hasselbeck, Walter Jones, and Patrick Kerney. Not to be outdone, the Seahawks lost Nate Burleson for the season, Bobby Engram for the first four weeks of the season, and Deion Branch for half the season.
Oh and Lofa Tatupu, the teams franchise player on the other side of the ball, played the entire season hurt and actually missed the Eagles game with what the team described as a "slew of injuries they could not fit on the injury report."
Ladies and gentlemen—your 2008 Seattle Seahawks!
But while it's easy to pin all the Seahawks woes on injuries, good teams do overcome them and the Seahawks were simply not a very good team last season. Defensively, they were putrid—particularly their secondary which had shined only a season prior. Marcus Trufant did have another solid season as teams would rarely throw the ball his direction, but Kelly Jennings presence on the other side could also have had a lot to do with Trufant not seeing many passes thrown his way.
Brandon Mebane and Josh Wilson were both very pleasant surprises for the Seahawks, and were far and away the two best players on that side of the ball a year ago.
Offensively, the Seahawks could never establish any continuity, and they looked nothing like the Mike Holmgren teams the league had grown to know. In 2007—the Seahawks made no question about what type of team they were as they threw the ball more than any team in the league aside from the New Orleans Saints. By doing so they earned the 8th overall passing offense that season.
But 2008 was an entirely different story with all the different starting lineups that Holmgren had to piece together. The Seahawks were only able to muster a passing offense better than three other teams in football, and their rushing attack was slightly better, registering 19th overall in the league. However, two games against the Rams inflated those numbers big time as the Seahawks were able to rush for nearly 200 yards a game against their division foes.
There were a couple of bright spots for the Hawks however, the biggest being rookie tight end John Carlson, who set franchise records at that position and was consistently the best receiving threat the Seahawks had in 2008.
Offensive lineman Ray Willis was also a pleasant surprise filling in for injured components of the Seahawks offensive line, and he was rewarded for his play with a contract extension after the season.
2009 Free Agency Additions:
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Cincinnati)
CB Ken Lucas (Carolina)
DT Colin Cole (Green Bay)
FB David Kirtman (San Francisco)
FB Justin Griffith (Oakland)
TE John Owens (Detroit)
2009 Trade Acquisitions:
DT/DE Cory Redding (Detroit)
2009 Offseason Departures:
LB Julian Peterson (Traded to Detroit)
WR Bobby Engram (Kansas City)
FB Leonard Weaver (Philadelphia)
RB Maurice Morris (Detroit)
DT Rocky Bernard (NY Giants)
T Pork Chop Womack (Cleveland)
TE Will Heller (Detroit)
QB Charlie Frye (Oakland)
DT Howard Green (NY Jets)
WR Koren Robinson (Unsigned)
2009 NFL Draft:
1-4. Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest
2-49. Max Unger, C/G, Oregon
3-91. Deon Butler, WR, Penn State
6-178. Mike Teel, QB, Rutgers
7-245. Courtney Greene, S, Rutgers
7-247. Nick Reed, DE, Oregon
7-248. Cameron Morrah, TE, California
2009 will begin the Jim Mora era, and it all hinges on the Seahawks being able to avoid costly injuries yet again to their pivotal veteran players. Specifically, Matt Hasselbeck and Walter Jones.
But assuming they are healthy, this is a team that can easily turn things around in a hurry, given the talent that's in place on the roster.
Offensively, the Seahawks added T.J. Houshmandzadeh to their wide receiving corps and Housh immediately figures to be the teams number one receiver heading into 2009. He will be joined by Nate Burleson, who is coming off of an ACL injury, Deion Branch, and 3rd round pick Deon Butler. All three of these guys have blazing speed, but limited size, so Housh is a very key component to not only the wide receiving corps but the offense as a whole. John Carlson will also be a major part of the offense yet again, and the Seahawks hope he can build on a fantastic rookie season.
New offensive coordinator Greg Knapp will bring his patented zone-blocking scheme to Seattle and with it the Seahawks hope their rushing game can produce in much the same manner that Oakland and Atlanta enjoyed. They will look to Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett to be the 1-2 combination, with second year man Justin Forsett being the change of pace back. However, the rushing game still appears to be the achilles heel for the Seahawks offense.
Defensively, the Seahawks overhauled their staff from a year ago by letting go of every assistant on the staff. Gus Bradley comes over to Seattle from Tampa Bay to be the new defensive coordinator, but he will likely split those duties with Mora. Still both Mora and Bradley have a wealth of weapons at their disposal, particularly at linebacker as the Seahawks will field what figures to be one of the better linebacking corps in football. Lofa Tatupu will be healthy and return to man the middle of the Hawks D and will be flanked by Leroy Hill and first round draft pick Aaron Curry. The team is especially excited about Curry, and they compare him to a younger Derrick Brooks.
The secondary mostly remains the same in 2009, the only difference being Ken Lucas returning to Seattle after being waived by Carolina. Lucas should compete with Kelly Jennings and Josh Wilson for the second cornerback slot behind Marcus Trufant. At safety, Brian Russell and Deon Grant are the incumbent starters, but do not be surprised to see young Jamar Adams supplant Russell in training camp.
|Sun, Sep 13||St. Louis|
|Sun, Sep 20||@ San Francisco|
|Sun, Sep 27||Chicago|
|Sun, Oct 4||@ Indianapolis|
|Sun, Oct 11||Jacksonville|
|Sun, Oct 18||Arizona|
|Sun, Nov 1||@ Dallas|
|Sun, Nov 8||Detroit|
|Sun, Nov 15||@ Arizona|
|Sun, Nov 22||@ Minnesota|
|Sun, Nov 29||@ St. Louis|
|Sun, Dec 6||San Francisco|
|Sun, Dec 13||@ Houston|
|Sun, Dec 20||Tampa Bay|
|Sun, Dec 27||@ Green Bay|
|Sun, Jan 3||Tennessee|
Unlike many of the teams at the bottom of the leagues standings, the Seahawks were not the team respected by their win/loss total. Despite the onslaught of injuries, the Seahawks were still very competitive in games down the stretch and just as easily could have sniffed the .500 mark had they been able to finish games.
A new coaching staff and a rejuvenated veteran roster may be just what the Seahawks needed to kickstart into gear. And judging by the division they play in, this is a team that can get hot in a hurry and host a playoff game or two come January.
However, questions to remain to circle over this Seahawks team. How healthy is Matt Hasselbeck? How will Walter Jones be able to rebound from microfracture knee surgery? Can the Seahawks get any semblance of a running game? Will the defense improve?
In the end—the season will very likely come down to these questions. And in the end, the Seahawks could find themselves in another familiar spot as division champions.
Predicted Finish: 10-6, 1st NFC West
Hassellbeck - VSN Writer