State of the Franchise: Seattle Seahawks

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State of the Franchise: Seattle Seahawks
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

RENTON—The 2005 Super Bowl runner-up Seattle Seahawks. The 2009 4-12 and fourth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft Seattle Seahawks.

It’s been a long, hard fall from the great season of 2005, when the Seahawks went 13-3 under former head coach Mike Holmgren. In that season, the Seahawks started 2-2 in their first four games and 5-2 going into their bye week (week eight).

Since their Super Bowl run in 2005, the Seahawks have had only one 10-plus win season. In 2006, the Seahawks finished 9-7. The 2007 Seahawks finished 10-6, and in 2008 the Seahawks finished a measly 4-12.

Looking at the Super Bowl team of 2005 and the last three Seahawks teams, there is one fact that sticks out among others.

In 2005, the Seahawks had all their starters healthy and playing (with the exception of Ken Hamlin with an off-the-field injury at the end of the season). Thus, the Seahawks offense put up the most points in the NFL in 2005, with 452.

Each year since 2005, there have been at least two key players injured for a substantial portion of the season. It's easy to see why the Seahawks haven’t been the same type of team since 2005.

Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander (former), Deion Branch and Walter Jones lead the injury parade. All three players—except WR Deion Branch, who was not on the team—played a key role in not only getting the Seahawks to the Super Bowl, but playing well in it (despite a few other discrepancies).

Now, every fan, player, and coach knows that injuries are a part of the game, but the Seattle Seahawks have had the most unlucky stretch of injuries since 2005.

Some teams have maybe one or two key players go down for a week or two, but the Seahawks have consistently lost four to five key players each year for long stretches of time.

So let’s look at a few notes on the Seattle Seahawks state of the franchise.

 

Injuries:

Currently, QB Matt Hasselbeck, OLB Leroy Hill, LT Walter Jones, LG Rob Sims, RT Sean Locklear, DE Patrick Kerney, and FB Justin Griffith are all out with injuries.

Matt Hasselbeck has missed at least four games in two out of the last three seasons. Hasselbeck missed four games in '06 and nine games in '08.

Matt is the tale of two quarterbacks (healthy and not healthy). When Matt is healthy and plays all 16 games, he’s an elite quarterback in the NFL. When he’s ineffective and hurt, he’s a backup college quarterback.

Here is Matt’s stats each of the last four years.

Year

Games:started

Attempts

Completions

Yards

Completion%

TD

INT

QB rating

                 

2005

16:16

449

294

3,459

65.5

24

9

98.2

2006

12:12

371

210

2,442

56.6

18

15

76

2007

16:16

562

352

3,966

62.6

28

12

91.4

2008

                                       7:7

209

109

1,216

52.2

5

10

57.8

 

The numbers speak for themselves. When he plays all 16 games he’s electric, as is the entire Seahawks offense. When he’s on the sideline and Seneca Wallace/Mike Teel/Charlie Frye are starting, the Seahawks' offense is extremely diminished.

Now, Hasselbeck is not the entire problem nor the sole victim of the injury plague that hit the Seattle Seahawks.

All-Pro left tackle Walter Jones, who’s been protecting Matt’s blind side, is now showing his age (35). Jones has had two major surgeries (shoulder and knee) in the last two years. The knee injury/surgery recovery that took place about two months ago is still holding Walter Jones out of the Seahawks starting lineup.

Normally this wouldn’t be a big of problem, but Jones’ backup—RT Sean Locklear—is also out with an injury, as well as Locklear’s backup, Ray Willis. The Seahawks have had to count on fourth-string tackle Brandon Frye, who they signed off waivers from Miami one week before the season started.

It reminds a lot of Seahawks' personnel last season, when all five starting WRs missed four or more games. It looks like the same exact situation, but with the offensive line.

So far, LT Walter Jones, LG Rob Sims, C Chris Spencer, RT Sean Locklear, and RT Ray Willis have all missed time due to injuries. The only player that hasn't missed any games is rookie RG Max Unger.

As a wrap for the injury portion of the Seahawks' state of the franchise, the 'Hawks have been suffering the injury plague since their run at the Super Bowl in 2005. It’s hard to think of one player that has started but not missed a game due to injury for the Seahawks, and that is never a good sign.

 

Confusion:

Confusion plays right into the first note for the state of the franchise of the Seahawks, because when the Seahawks—or any team for that matter—lose starters, the backups are never as good or know the rest of the players as well as the starters do.

This issue has primarily risen this season on defense with Jordan Babineaux, Travis Fisher, and the entire Seahawks secondary.

It also didn’t help that the Seahawks were without Pro Bowl middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who is the captain of the defense.

The Seahawks have had Lawyer Milloy, Jordan Babineaux, and many others fill in on defense for various reasons. Babineaux who is in his first season at safety, even converted from cornerback.

Babs has been looking very shaky and very confused on defense, and for a safety that is never a good sign. Babineaux has been starting more recently, but Milloy winds up taking over because of Babineaux's performance.

However, he is in the top three for tackles on the Seahawks' defense. He is a hit-and-miss type of player, and that is not what the Seahawks need to be a great defense.

Babineaux will most likely finish the season out at FS, but don’t except him to be the starting FS or SS come 2010. The Seahawks will most likely draft Eric Berry or Taylor Mays in the 2010 NFL Draft. Or they'll sign one of the many talented safeties in free agency.

 

Inconsistency:

This also plays into the second note for the state of the franchise, which is confusion. With all the backups having to play this season. outside of LB David Hawthorne, Will Heller and Brandon Frye, not many of the other backups can really step in and hold down the fort untill the original starter can comeback.

Seneca Wallace is good, and some people have said he should be the team’s starting QB a la my last article. I don’t endorse that idea for many reasons, but that’s not the point.

When the Seahawks have their starters go down with an injury, not only is that a huge loss but it is compounded by the fact that many of the backups can’t perform.

This is something the Seahawks will really have to fix for the future in order for this team to be a playoff and Super Bowl-caliber team. Of course, not having key injuries in the first place might help, too.

 

Rebuilding:

Depending on how the Seahawks finish out the season, this will become a very hot topic for the front office to contemplate.

The Seahawks have a lot of injury-riddled players at key positions, and the question will be, "Do we stick with the old and try to squeak more out, or do you move into the future with a one-to-three-year rebuilding process?"

Those players would be QB Matt Hasselbeck, LT Walter Jones, DE Patrick Kerney, and a few others. Then there are some players who just aren’t cutting it we could replacements for who would be an upgrade.

The good thing for the Seahawks is they have a lot of young talented pieces already on the team they can build around ,as well as bringing in the key players to complete the rebuild and move the Seahawks into a new era.

Those pieces would be WR TJ Houshmandzadeh, WR Nate Burleson, WR Deon Butler, TE John Carlson, C/G Max Unger, LG Rob Sims, DE Lawrence Jackson, DT Brandon Mebane, LB’s Lofa Tatupu, Aaron Curry and Leroy Hill, CB Marcus Trufant, and S Deon Grant.

It’s almost like USC. They have the skill positions already down, but they need a QB for the long haul as well as a new running back (not what USC needs) and a few new pieces on the offensive line and at safety.

Currently the Seahawks are on pace for another 4-12 season and most likely the fourth, fifth, or sixth overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft—in addition to the Denver Broncos pick.

The Seahawks could look at QBs Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy, RBs C.J Spiller and Jahvid Best, OTs Bryan Bulaga and Sam Young, or safeties Taylor Mays and Myron Rolle.

Most likely they'll be able to look at some defensive ends in free agency, but we’ll have to wait on that for a few months.

Right now, it’s still in the Seahawks' control whether they want to pull what they did in 2005 and win 11 straight games. Or they can look to do what they did in 2008 and be in position to draft their future starting quarterback in the 2010 NFL draft.

One thing is for certain: Jim Mora, Jr., and GM Tim Ruskell shore have their work cut out for them in the immediate future.

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