Seattle Seahawks: Pondering Next Year

Buddy SmithSenior Writer INovember 24, 2008

When a team is playing so poorly that you stop yelling at the television screen, it's time to start thinking about next year.

The Seahawks might play better for the last few games of the season, and they may not. Whatever happens, the Seahawks nation will have to regroup in the offseason and make the right moves for the team to return to the playoffs.

Who are we going to take in the draft? Will we choose a different defensive coordinatior? These are the questions that I was asking myself while I was half-heartedly watching the Seahawks lose on Sunday.

At this point in the season, only the Lions, Chiefs, Bengals, and Rams are doing worse than Seattle. The bad news is on the field every week, the good news is that we should get a high draft pick in June. There are also some fantastic free agents coming available in 2009.

Should we spend it on an offensive lineman? Walter Jones can't play forever. I've seen interviews where Mike Holmgren says he calls him during every offseason begging him to come back. That call isn't going to take place this year. If we lose our lone offensive Pro-Bowler, we could be in a world of hurt.

Tra Thomas is a free agent after this year. The 6'7", 335 pound 34-year-old has done one heck of a job protecting Donovan McNabb's blind side. He could fill Walter Jones' shoes well.

Our pass rush has been lacking all season (when we're not playing the 49ers). Maybe spending a high pick on a defensive lineman or linebacker is the right thing to do. Patrick Kearney isn't getting any younger, and when he was healthy this year, he didn't look the same as he has in prior seasons.

He's not drawing the double teams, and that can been confirmed in Julian Peterson's lack of performance. Peterson has only five sacks this year. In the last two seasons, he had 9.5 and 10.

Maybe the Seahawks need a strong pass rusher who can draw double teams. Either that, or there's been a major difference in the scheming from last year to this year.

We could make a run at Julius Peppers from the Carolina Panthers. He's got nine sacks so far this season and has recorded over 10 sacks in all but two years of his career.

John Marshall has been calling the defensive schemes for the Seahawks. He hasn't figured out a way to get pressure on the quarterback. We should find somebody who's familiar with how to zone blitz out of a 4-3. We could even consider changing to a 3-4.

How much fresher would Rocky Bernard and Brandon Mebane be if they each only had to play half the game?

There would be some growing pains as the team learns the new strategies, but when you're looking at 2-9, it's time for change.

The defensive backs have struggled. Maybe we should find that "lock down" corner.  Marcus Trufant has shown this year that he isn't it. He's a very good second corner, but building our defensive backfield around this guy has proved to be an error.

Nnamdi Asomugha might not like playing for the Oakland Raiders anymore. The Bay Area is a fantastic place to live and all, but getting away from Al Davis has value also.

Maybe we can convince the 6'2", 210 pounder to make the drive up I-5 and start shutting down receivers up here. If the Seahawks had Asomugha on one side, and Trufant on the other, we could turn a negative into a positive on this squad.

The special thing about Asomugha is his size. He can physically compete with the biggest and fastest receivers in the league.

We should seriously consider bringing in Sean McDermott to be our Defensive Coordinator next year. In Philadelphia, he has been coaching under Jim Johnson since 1999. He's served both as Defensive Backs Assistant and Linebacker Assistant on one of the most consistent defenses in the NFL. We've seen how John Spagnuolo has invigorated the New York Giants defense.

Eagles free safety Brian Dawkins is also a free agent. He's the type of player who can bring "swagger" back to a defense all by himself. Wide receivers know where No. 20 is when they go across the middle. Having the 35-year-old veteran as a coach on the field could really help McDermott implement his new system.

With McDermott and Dawkins, we'll get more pressure on the quarterback and better defensive back's play. Two things we desperately need.

Jim Mora bears a lot of the blame for the current defensive backfield play. If it weren't already a done deal, would a guy ever get promoted to head coach while his unit is playing so dreadfully?

The Seahawks lead the league in plays allowed over 40 yards, are ranked 31st against the pass, and we're about to promote the defensive backfield assistant to head coach.

I love what Mora did while he was in Atlanta: developing an offense around his talent rather than the other way around. Lots of head coaches would have beaten their head against the wall trying to turn Michael Vick into a pocket passer instead of exploiting his strengths.

This offseason, I expect Mora to bring in new talent and new strategies. The Seahawks have a multitude of problems.

Wide receiver is obviously an issue. Bobby Engram isn't getting any younger. He himself has admitted that his production has suffered without another (read better) wide out to take the double teams away from him.

Who knows if Nate Burrelson will be a step slower coming back from his injury. Deion Branch hasn't proved that he can play a 16-game schedule anymore. To expect Deion to be our big threat next year is to ignore history.

T. J. Houshmandzadeh's contract expires after this season, and he CAN'T be happy in Cincinnati. T.J went to Oregon State, so he's not afraid of the rain. If he enjoyed his time with the Beavers, there's no reason he shouldn't want to return to the Pacific Northwest.

There are some impact rookies available to us in the first round as well. Michael Oher is a 6'6", 320 pound tackle from Ole Miss. His large and well proportioned frame could be the answer for when Walter Jones tells us it's time to say goodbye.

Michael Crabtree is a 6'3", 215 pound wide receiver at Texas Tech. His size and speed could cause matchup problems. He could draw the double teams that Bobby Engram needs to get open.

At corner, there is 6'1" 200 pound Malcolm Jenkins. He could be a solution for the types of problems that players like Crabtree create.

The only good thing about the Seahawks having so many problems, is that there are so many possible solutions. If we go out into the marketplace and turn our weaknesses into strengths, we should be able to find our way back to the playoffs next season.