In 2010, the Seattle Seahawks became the first team in NFL history to go to the playoffs as an under-.500 team. Critics pounded the team in the media and called for the NFL to do something about such a travesty. Then, they beat the defending world-champion New Orleans Saints and shut most of them up.
Part of the reason that Seattle made it to the playoffs was due to a week NFC West division. St. Louis had a rookie QB starting. Arizona didn't have a QB anyone could remember. San Francisco had the same QB it drafted in the first round out of Utah in 2005 who has yet to pan out.
This year, some things have changed in the division and on the Seahawks. Pete Carroll has made some bold changes in Year 2.
He might be wearing Red, but Kevin Kolb is still GREEN in Arizona
How did the teams in the division get better or good enough to beat Seattle? Let's take a look...
Arizona made the biggest splash in the offseason getting the franchise QB it desperately needed. Kevin Kolb has been under the tutelage of Andy Reid in Philadelphia for his entire career. Around the league, Reid is known for taking QBs and making them perform well beyond expectations in his system.
In this new system, will Kolb be good? Maybe, but with no offseason to get settled, it will take him the season to put it all together. Add to that the fact they lost a good receiver in Steve Breaston who kept teams honest against Larry Fitzgerald, and you have to wonder if they haven't become worse.
St. Louis didn't need to do much. They really just need to let their new star QB, Sam Bradford, grow. The problem they have is the age and window of their star running back, Stephen Jackson. Running backs are dropping like flies after 29 and Jackson is now 28.
San Francisco has a new coach in Jim Harbaugh. This is great for the 49ers. Bravo on a move that will make the franchise relevant again. Now, ask Andrew Luck about that system and the size of his playbook. Then stop and ask yourself if Alex Smith, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and new comer Braylon Edwards can all get on the same page, No. 462, from Game 1.
Finally, a Left Guard after the Steve Hutchinson era that can play the spot
In the 2005 season, the Seattle Seahawks had the best offensive line in the NFL. That was also the last time the team was relevant.
From 2005 through last season, the O-Line has had so many starters I stopped counting because it seemed the franchise was bound and determined to keep wasting money on either worn-out castaways or college kids.
This season they will hinge on the offensive line once again. On paper the line looks fantastic. Russell Okung will be at left tackle, Robert (Pro Bowl) Gallery will be at left guard, Max Unger will be at center, newly drafted John Moffitt will be at right guard and fellow rookie James Carpenter at right tackle. Nice! Well, kind of. Maybe.
Okung has been injury-prone and Carpenter has shown signs of fatigue too quickly in games. Still, I don't see either being an issue. Add to this the depth behind them and the team will have it together come Game 1. Expect the running game to be back in Seattle.
Remember Lynch's run against the Saints?
Marshawn Lynch had one of the best runs I've ever seen in that playoff game against the Saints! It was 67 yards of pure chaos that ended in a touchdown no one will ever forget.
With the O-Line solid for the first time since 2005, the running backs are going to have a heyday. Lynch will be joined by his Cal backfield buddy, Justin Forsett. Add another cut/burner in Leon Washington and they are set for success.
Expect the unexpected from the ground game this season in Seattle.
The addition of Sidney Rice will make everyone better
Adding Sidney Rice to Mike Williams, Deon Butler, Ben Obomanu and Golden Tate will make that receiving core very difficult to stop. To that core the Seahawks added Zach Miller as well. The injury to John Carlson was unfortunate because that would have really put them over the top. Imagine that set of receivers to throw to. Ouch!
The irony is the running back core is a good group of hands as well. Any QB would want to throw to all the weapons Seattle has.
That brings us to the biggest reason Seattle will make the playoffs again this year...
And there you have it. I know that Tarvaris Jackson is the proclaimed starter. Yes, I know he's been in offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell's system for most of his NFL career. That doesn't mean anything compared to talent.
All preseason Charlie Whitehurst has improve after each game. He is picking the system up quickly and his confidence. There is no doubt in my mind that Game 2 will mark the first start of the season for Whitehurst.
Jackson has no confidence, accuracy or ability to read NFL defenses. He was brought to Seattle because of the Bevell system, plain and simple. He was announced as the starter because he knew the system. He will become the backup because Whitehurst is the better QB no matter what system they are running.
With Whitehurst throwing to this receiving core, watching the O-line mow over D-linemen and running backs run wild, there is no way Seattle doesn't win the weak NFC West Division and go back to the playoffs. Are they the best team in the NFL? No. Are they the best team in the NFC West? By far!