Seahawks: Sleepers in Seattle?

Andrew KneelandSenior Writer ISeptember 6, 2008

The Seattle Seahawks are entering the 2008 season with a perfect opportunity to ride into the proverbial sunset. Head Coach Mike Holmgren is entering his final year, and the Seahawks have a great chance to be great.

They also have a very real chance to fail miserably and face mediocrity for years to come.

Which will this year hold? Incredible success or utter failure? Will this team be the king of the sleepers or the sleepiest team in the league?

I believe the Seahawks are in for a ride deep into the playoffs. They have plenty of offensive tools at their wingtips (no pun intended) and a very solid defense.

At quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck has plenty of options to choose from, should he get into a jam. Needless to say, that should be a rare occurrence, given his great effectiveness.

Hasselbeck isn't as flamboyant under center as Peyton Manning, nor is he as flashy as Tom Brady. He is an expert at getting the job done, and doing it without proper recognition.

He certainly got the job done last year. In 2007, he led Seattle to 10 wins and the NFL West division crown. He threw 28 touchdowns over the course of the season; the same amount as Brett Favre and only three less than Peyton Manning.

Manning, of course, had Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, and Anthony Gonzalez to chuck the ball to. Hasselbeck had Bobby Engram, Nate Burleson, and Deion Branch. There are no other key additions for 2008 at the receiver position, but Branch will miss the first half of the season due to a surgically reconstructed knee.

There is no question mark at the gunslinger position for the 2008 Seahawks. No, the potential problems arise when you gaze a few feet behind and to the left or right of him.

Shaun Alexander, the anchor of this Seahawk team for eight years, turned 30 and was released this year. In his stead, Maurice Morris and Leonard Weaver remain.

Weaver is one of the best fullbacks in the league. He will have no problem forcing holes in the opposing line big enough for 5'11'', 202 lb. Morris to squeeze through. The X-factor of this running attack, though, is the newly acquired Julius Jones.

Jones was a great second head in the two-back rushing approach Dallas took last year. He fit in perfectly in that role, nearing 800 yards of total offense. The only question that remains is whether or not he will be able to repeat that success 2,106 miles to the northwest in Seattle.

The offensive line is looking very young, but solid. 24-year old right guard Rob Sims struggles maneuvering his 312-pound body, but will be just fine in the zone-blocking scheme Seattle uses. Center Chris Spencer may be the weakest link of this bunch, but he too will find a way to get things done.

Left guard Mike Wahle was brought in this year and fills a great need on the line. He is an injury risk, but is an above-average guard.

Tackles Sean Locklear and Walter Jones are extremely solid and have excellent finesse in all that they do. Walter especially will be crucial to protecting Hasselbeck this year.

On the other side of the ball, things are looking about the same. Obviously, the home crowd in Seattle helps things out a lot. The defensive line isn't very deep, but they will certainly prove to be effective.

Behind them, the Seahawks linebackers and defensive backs are also among the leagues' best. Cornerback Marcus Trufant will be excellent in 2008, and linebacker Lofa Tatupu will continue to dominate opposing teams.

From top to bottom, this Seattle team is loaded with potential. They can either turn it into a deep playoff run, or under-perform. In the NFC West, a division title will be difficult not to win.

I see the Seahawks as poised for a Super Bowl run, yet they are not guaranteed one. To alter a famous quote, talent beats hard work when talent works hard. The Seahawks definitely have talent, and seem ready to work hard.

Despite that, nobody seems to give Seattle their due this year.

Will you?