2011 NFL Offseason: What I Think the Seahawks Should Do
The Cinderella story is over and the offseason has immediately started for the Seahawks, firing the on and off offense that Jeremy Bates provided and hiring Snohomish county local, Tom Cable, to be an assistant head coach and to finally get our offensive line moving in the right direction.
I was wishing for the longest time that we could get Josh McDaniels to the Pacific Northwest but it appears that he has headed over to rival St. Louis, where he will develop Sam Bradford.. This doesn't bode well for us and there really aren't plenty of good options that we could pursue this year. But that doesn't mean that this offseason has to be a bad one for us.
Here's what I think a successful Seahawk offseason would consist of.
Coordinators, Coordinators, Coordinators
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This is a picture of Gus Bradley.
Gus Bradley was with the Tampa Bay Bucs as an assistant coach prior to coming over to the Seahawks and is another young coordinator like Jeremy Bates and he is a protege of Monte Kiffin, the great mastermind of the Tampa 2.
That's all well and good if it wasn't for the fact that the Tampa 2 is now an exploited scheme along with the fact that Gus really doesn't pull it off all that well. The corner routes of opposing offenses are always open.
He coordinates in an extremely passive manner which is one reason why we allowed so many yards and forced so few turnovers.
On every play, I watch our corners play 10-15 yards back on first and second down, only to not close ground after the play begins, it's easy for a team to just dink and dump on his schemes like the Rams did in our first meeting. What's worse yet is that his zones aren't positioned in a way to cover deep either.
An opponent not named Derek Anderson can basically slaughter us all day long. Bradley is not coordinator material and should be fired to make way for someone better. The problem is that there really isn't a position coach that I'd prefer anywhere in the league to take over and we can't really promote anyone either because there just isn't anyone worth taking on to risk compromising quality coaches like Ken Norton Jr (who I really like).
So we may be stuck with Gus for one more year if he can't pick up the slack and get his defense to cause commotion.
As for offensive coordinator, that job is vacant and now that all of the head coaches are hired elsewhere, there is really not a lot of options. My solution would be to hire (away from Baltimore) Jim Zorn and bring him back into the mix as our OC.
As a local icon he knows the Seahawks and most of their personnel and he knows how to develop QBs as he has done with Matt Hasselbeck (along with Mike Holmgren), Jason Campbell, and Joe Flacco.
I believe that he didn't get a fair shake in Washington and, returning to a lower pressure situation at home where he is still loved could do him some good, especially considering that he could have the opportunity to help develop a young QB like Jake Locker (we hope) or Andy Dalton.
If anyone remembers, the year he was hired away from us was the year that everything started spiraling downward.
Re-Signings: Who to Keep, Who to Drop
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Below I will list only my primary targets to keep and drop. Everyone else just sort of falls in the middle.
Matt Hasselbeck: He is still the leader of this team and has earned at least a part of another year to do so, his presence is uplifting to the whole roster and he can mentor a young QB. While his glory days are behind him, parts of this season have shown that he isn't running completely empty just yet. I suggest we try and sign him to a two-year contract with a third year team option for around $6-8 million a year.
Brandon Mebane: He is our defensive leader and most dependable DT. He isn't widely regarded as a top of the line 3-technique or nose tackle, but I view him as being among the 3-5 best in the NFC, a high priority re-sign.
Leon Washington: The explosive running back may want to get more involved with the offensive game plan, but with Justin Forsett and Marshawn Lynch both on the roster it may be hard for him to achieve double-digit carries and maybe the occasional pass catch. Jeremy Bates horribly underused Leon, and while he did enjoy a great season as our primary kick and punt returner, I feel like it may be hard to secure his services again.. However the Hawks were ready to give him a second shot when many other teams weren't. Hopefully he is more valuable here than he will become elsewhere.
Tyler Polumbus: The guard/tackle finally came on towards the end of the season as an athletic run and pass blocker. And while his ceiling may be fairly low, the Seahawks have suffered immensely along the offensive line over the last few seasons, and as a value player, I don't see a good reason to get rid of a potential yearly starter still progressing with every snap.
Ray Willis: Conversely, the big strong animal of an offensive lineman, Ray Willis, came on last year as our second best offensive lineman (behind Rob Sims). His aggression in the trenches earned him a contract under Pete Carroll to see what he could do. Sadly he was put on the IR before the season began and didn't get to show his stuff. Whether it be as a potential starter or to keep him as depth, Willis will be a value signing with sky high potential going into future years.
Olindo Mare: As the old saying goes...if it ain't broke..
LeRoy Hill: He sort of shed his "clubhouse cancer" appearance by taking a very cheap one-year deal to stay with the team, but Hill is constantly in trouble with the fuzz over his addiction to a certain potted plant. He isn't exactly what I'd call a great leader and he has been injured ever since leading the team in tackles in the absence of Lofa Tatupu. I honestly wouldn't mind re-signing him to another cheap deal as he could be a very impressive Leo end for us with his furosity.. But if he asks for $$$ after taking a cheap deal only to sit out the season, I think it would be time to part ways.
Kelly Jennings: You had your chances, and while you shined at times, you just got burned too many times to allow your presence to remain on the roster. Dropping Jennings should free the way for Walter Thurmond to rise in the depth chart or allow a signing for one Nnamdi Asomugha.
Lawyer Milloy: Provided the ageless wonder doesn't retire after this season, I believe he has served his purpose to this team as an active player. I'd be all for bringing him back in as a coach but his playing days should be over considering the fact that he was only an average cover guy when he was young.. and now that he's old he just can't cover ground like he used to.
Offensive Free Agency: A Focus on Recievers
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When I look at the Seahawk roster and I see our receivers, I see a bunch of big physical guys starting for us. We have a capable set with the revived Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu along with the veteran leadership of Brandon Stokley and the potential of Golden Tate.
But what I don't see is a real guy who can step up and steal the show. I think there are plenty of value free agents, both confirmed and possible, that could really help the Hawks, but I'll just narrow it down to my favorite two.
Lee Evans is the ultimate under-the-radar pick up who could come at a vastly cheaper price than any other free agent receiver on the market.
When I went to look for a picture of him for my article, all I saw was a bunch of pictures of golfers until I typed in "Lee Evans Buffalo." Yes, he's so under appreciated that there are less pictures of him than there are of some golfer not named Tiger.
"Oh but Lee Evans is bad." I'm sure that will pop up somewhere down below. I'd like to ask you where you think he plays and it shouldn't be hard considering that he is the one pictured above.
Evans, like current Seahawk Marshawn Lynch, is/was rotting on the Buffalo roster, he has never had a real QB throwing the ball his way and the only reason that Steve Johnson was allowed to emerge was because Evans was always, always, double covered in a deep vertical passing assault.
When you picture Lee Evans, what I want you to see is a faster, better-handed, smarter Bobby Engram who can run even better routes than the former Seahawk and Bear. He would be the perfect compliment as a crisp speedster to Mike Williams massive "get out of my way" style of play. Evans could really steal the show wearing the Green and Blue, and he would come at a bargain price, essentially taking Deon Butler's (who may never play again) spot on the roster.
Steve Smith is a more widely accepted option, and truth be told, he is the real deal over in New York. He is just unfortunately surrounded by great receiving talent in Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks, while being thrown to by an erratic QB on a run-first team. He is a little bigger than Lee Evans and while he can't touch Lee's speed, he is much more physical and has a great vertical leap. He also happens to be younger.
Just to be clear: He's not slow and he has great physical tools. He would probably come at a much higher price than the previously mentioned Evans but I would rather have a player like him over a player like Larry Fitzgerald who could ask for $12-plus million and you can't build a winning team around players who suck up your cap space. Besides, we already have Mike Williams West (as opposed to the Bucs Mike Williams). Why don't we just grab the other NFC South copycat to pair with him?
Defensive Free Agency: Two Raiders, But Only One Can Win
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The Raiders are a literal example of what not to do as a team. Sign a few superstars to huge contracts and surround them with garbage and hope that you win. In fact the Raiders have a couple of those superstars possibly entering the free agency this year. The first-and-confirmed one being No. 21, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, the other being No. 92, big, athletic defensive tackle Richard Seymour. Both would easily be the top defensive talents at their positions in the free agency, and considering how badly the Seahawks are deprived of star talent on the defensive side of the ball (minus Lofa Tatupu and Marcus Trufant, who are both severely hobbled by previous injury) I think they should chase one of these Raiders down if given the chance. And considering how aggressively Paul Allen and Co. can be at getting their man, I think it would be worth getting proven talent that is actually worth paying for over opening the wallet for over-the-hill players like Mike Wahle, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Shaun Alexander. One of these two men, if added to the roster, could work wonders for our boys in blue.
Nnamdi Asomugha is quite easily the best cornerback in the game of football today, and I say that despite how everyone raves over Darrelle Revis and Charles Woodson. Revis Island is very good at getting opposing WRs lost on it's sands, but that's about all it does—take one player out of the game.
Charles Woodson is old and is starting to lose steam, outside of his amazing campaign last year he has just been servicable at mostly locking down possession receivers.
Nnamdi Asomugha is special in the fact that he isn't old, he has elite physical ability, and he can literally shut down one-third of the field on his own, and that's saying something. He can cover two opposing receivers, provided they are close, and even shut down short passes and run plays. He is that quick to react on the ball. Picking him up would allow him to form a formidable tandem with former Pro Bowler Marcus Trufant, or open up the possibility of trading Marcus in the draft to a team looking for a corner. He would bring an instant lift to our pass defense as teams would just refuse to throw the ball his way. I think a player who commands that much respect is worth $10-15 million, which is probably what he will be asking for. I just hope that he doesn't land with the Jets, because that would be scary.
Richard Seymour is a big man who really has been fairly under the radar since he left New England. The truth is that he has created all the pressure for the Raiders on a line that is lacking much talent outside of the recently-drafted Lamarr Houston.
What we learned this last year is that the Seahawks are fairly thin on the defensive line and that Junior Siavii has the strength of a baby when playing either tackle position and that Craig Terrill really doesn't belong on an NFL roster.
A Seymour/Mebane combination at the tackle spots should scare opposing tail and quarterbacks greatly as both are very strong and can generate impressive penetration when they have more than just skeletons on either side of them.
Colin Cole could still serve as a rotational DT to allow both to rest for spells and it would also allow him to play time at the Elephant tackle end position to spell Red Bryant. Cole and Siavii would be very servicable backups and all of a sudden, our defensive line would be a force to be reckoned with. As any great football mind would say, a team's success begins and ends in the trenches, and boy would many plays end with Seymour, Mebane, and Clemmons/Brock up in a QB's face.
If we could bring one of these two in it would do wonders for us, and I say one because both would just take too much away from our salary cap. Like I said, you can't build winners out of teams crammed to the brim with a few highly-paid superstars and garbage. It didn't work for the Raiders and it wouldn't work here. I like the way New England (the anti-Raiders) run things. They keep talent, but when that talent wants too much money to remain with the team, the talent is sent packing elsewhere to ruin other teams...like the Raiders.
2011 NFL Draft: We Would Like an Encore!!
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Who here enjoyed the 2010 NFL Draft? I see all of you Hawks fans raising your hands Well of course I enjoyed it too. But I think that even with our deteriorated draft positioning, we could still bring in quite a haul considering some of the depth in this draft.
I believe that quarterback should be a prime area of focus for us, and I believe that if Jake Locker does miraculously fall to us, we will still be OK as my dark horse of the draft, Andy Dalton, will still be available for 1-2 more rounds.
People have knocked Dalton for a little while on various things but the truth is that he is a winner and has a prototypical NFL build. He is very natural in the pocket and throws some very impressively-accurate timed passes, which is important to note when looking for a player who can transition to the pro game. And he did what he did on a TCU team that isn't even a power conference team. I like him very much over other tier two options like Pat Devlin (who is all arm and no brains) and Kellen Moore (who is all brains and no arm... very Chad Pennington-esque, only shorter).
Andy Dalton has what it takes to start in the NFL and whatever arm strength concerns there may be shouldn't really be an issue. The kid is dedicated to what he does and arm strength problems are correctable—ask Kyle Orton.
Other good draft picks in the later rounds of the draft..
Chris Matthews, WR, Kentucky: 6'5" - 220 lbs - (Hello BMW2 only faster.)
Cortez Allen, CB, The Citadel: 6'2" - 190 lbs - (It's not often you can get a big physical CB prospect like this around the fifth round)
Zach Hurd, G, Connecticut:6'7" - 325 lbs - (An impressive, brutish build for a late round lineman pick)
Thanks to Josh Hileman and his article focused on the Hawks NFL draft possibilities for the Seahawks as far as those three value picks are concerned.