Roster Roundouts ’10: A Seattle Seahawks Season Preview
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Seattle Seahawks (Projected Record: 7-9)
Team synopsis: Pete Carroll will re-energize the players and the fanbase in Seattle, leading to a couple of additional wins in 2010, but what Seattle really needs to be more than just a minor threat in the division is a quarterback. They are unlikely to have that player in either Charlie Whitehurst or Matt Hasselbeck. The questionable state of the offensive skill positions will waste the offseason gains made by the offensive line and potential gains made by the defense. Luckily for Carroll, the schedule abides.
- TE John Carlson (drafted — Notre Dame/2008 2nd round pick)
- DT Brandon Mebane (drafted — Cal/2007 3rd round pick)
- LB Lofa Tatupu (drafted — USC/2005 2nd round pick)
- LB David Hawthorne (signed — TCU/2008 undrafted free agent)
- RB Justin Forsett (drafted — Cal/2008 7th round pick)
- WR Golden Tate (drafted — Notre Dame/2010 2nd round pick)
- LT Russell Okung (drafted — Oklahoma State/2010 1st round pick)
- LB/DE Aaron Curry (drafted — Wake Forest/2009 1st round pick)
- FS Earl Thomas (drafted — Texas/2010 1st round pick)
Starting with a widely accepted strong 2010 draft, the Seahawks have started to restock a very, very talentless roster. The passing duo of Matt Hasselbeck to TJ Houshmandzadeh just never materialized in 2009, with both players regressing badly from their 2007 pro-bowl seasons. The team signed Edgerrin James to provide depth at the running back position. That ended predictably, with James’ midseason release. Then the OL got banged up. Unlike last year, the team was able to have at least two offensive lineman take every snap: RG Max Unger, and RT Ray Willis. But LT Walter Jones never played a single snap and retired in March, and that was just the beginning. LG Rob Sims and C Chris Spencer handled a majority of the work at that position. LT was a revolving door with Sean Locklear bumping over and giving way to Brandon Frye, Damion McIntosh, and Kyle Williams. Frye, McIntosh, Williams, and Rob Sims are ALL off of the roster; at least Sims returned a 5th round pick. Ray Willis has been moved off of tackle for lack of athleticism.
And that was just the offense. As bad as that unit was, the defense may have been worse. The Seahawks saw some strides made in the secondary by Josh Wilson and Kelly Jennings, two highly drafted corners from the 2006 and 2007 drafts, but their contributions were wiped out by some truly dreadful play by Marcus Trufant, who still has four years left on his contract at more than $10 million per, and by Ken Lucas, who has nothing left (both contract- and talent-wise). Lawyer Milloy is still alive: he signed with Seattle last season, and played well enough to get re-signed in April. There are a few players who have played for Pete Carroll at USC scattered throughout the roster, but we can safely say that Milloy is the only player who played for Carroll in New England. Milloy was a two time pro bowler and once an all-pro in that defense. He was also just 26 when Carroll was fired eleven years ago.
The other issue was the pass rush. Patrick Kerney and Daryl Tapp were the best players of the weak Seattle pass rush last year, and both are gone. Aaron Curry was the next most valuable member of the pass rush, and he will have the opportunity to be a primary pass rusher off the strong side this year. It will be former USC DE Lawrence Jackson coming off the weak side. Improvement in the Seattle defense will be very reliant on these two, and also on offseason acquisition Chris Clemons from Philadelphia. There’s not much on the roster by way of a “true” college pass rusher, so the Seahawks are going have to generate a pass rush with defensive creativity.
Clearly, the potential for a strong defense is there — a better defense is almost a formality — but it’s not certain the Seahawks offense is going to be any better this year. Pass protection was a reasonable strength for the OL last year, and though we can expect an improvement in the running game with Alex Gibbs coaching up the Seahawks OL, the days where OL coaches like Gibbs could hide their teams passing games are over. The Seahawks know not who they will be throwing the ball to, nor who will be throwing the ball. Reports out of OTA’s have Matt Hasselbeck leading Charlie Whitehurst in the battle of the two QBs, but even if Hasselbeck holds off Whitehurst for Week 1, how long until the Seahawks need to make a change for the sake of making a change?
T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s contract demands that he gets the ball first, but he’s a no. 2 receiver at age 33. Deion Branch still has a roster spot, in case you were wondering. The team’s most explosive target is also it’s least polished: 21 year old Golden Tate. The best receiving option on the team is the other golden domer, TE John Carlson. They also brought in TE Chris Baker from New England, which gives two nice interior receiving options for someone to throw to. Justin Forsett is also a pretty nice receiving option out of backfield, and so is trade pickup Leon Washington, so these Seahawks do have people who can catch the football. The downfield passing game will produce results that are likely to be on the disappointing side.
Fighting for a spot on the roster
After two mediocre seasons on a team that has strangely never made an effort to replace him, RB Julius Jones could find himself on the chopping block this August. He lost his starting job to Justin Forsett last year, and with the acquisitions of LenDale White, Leon Washington, and Quinton Ganther this offseason, its unlikely that using Jones was in the cards. The release of White gives Jones a new shot to win a roster spot, but even Ganther is far more explosive and well versed in zone running.
The Seahawks brought in veterans Ruvell Martin, Sean Morey, Isaiah Stanback, and Mike Williams (USC/Lions/Titans/Raiders version) this offseason, so no one is safe. It’s looking like Golden Tate will join an all-veteran cast, with Deon Butler giving up his roster spot to a better special teamer like Morey or Stanback. Martin will be the fourth receiver. Deion Branch could get cut, but he’s made it this far on reputation, so what’s another season?
The Seahawks picked up Joe Toledo from Miami, and he’ll be the third tackle. Ray Willis should make the team as the RG behind Max Unger, and could get first crack at the job is Unger wins the C job over Chris Spencer. Vet Steve Vallos and rookie Jeff Byers (USC) have the same skill set, and will be in direct competition for the backup C job. Mansfield Wrotto and Mike Gibson are in competition to backup FA pickup Ben Hamilton at LG.
Draft pick E.J. Wilson should win Patrick Kerney’s spot on the roster without much competition. Linebacker Matt McCoy needs to hold off rookie UDFA Joe Pawelek and FA pickup Anthony Heygood to make the team as Leroy Hill’s backup.
The team drafted Cam Chancellor out of Va. Tech for his special teams ability, but they need to decide to keep 5 safeties, or jettison a veteran like Milloy or Kevin Ellison (USC). The top three CBs last year will be the top three this year (Wilson, Jennings, Trufant), and fourth rounder Walter Thurman from Oregon should be the fourth corner. Then the fifth corner could be UDFA Josh Pinkard (USC), or Kennard Cox.