Coming off what almost felt like an awkward playoff appearance as a 7-9 division champion, the Seattle Seahawks would like to make history in more of a refined fashion in 2011. Listening to their rah-rah leader, it could become easy to believe that they’ll do so, that they have some sort of mystic or Hollywood destiny awaiting them.
But there’s only so much Pete Carroll can do with a team that was outscored by a touchdown per game last season, especially considering that the Matt Hasselbeck era is over.
With Hasselbeck gone, the offense is borrowing heavily from Oakland (Tom Cable, Zach Miller, Robert Gallery) and Minnesota (Darrell Bevell, Tarvaris Jackson, Sidney Rice). Seems like an odd approach to re-tooling, but we were so exhilarated by Seattle’s storybook upset of the New Orleans Saints in last year’s playoffs that we’re willing to give Carroll and the Seahawks the benefit of the doubt.
2010 in a nutshell: They register just one victory against an eventual playoff team and win the worst division in football with a sub.-500 record, but then upset the defending champion Saints on wild-card weekend.
Three predictions for 2011:
1. They’ll bounce back and forth between Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst: Jackson is the starter for now, but the chips are stacked against him and he’ll inevitably have some issues. He doesn’t have to learn a completely new offense because of his history with Bevell and he’ll have a familiar target in Rice, but Jackson shouldn’t expect to receive much support from one of the league’s worst running games and an offensive line that is filled with question marks (more on that in a moment). It’ll only be a matter of time before the fans starting calling for Whitehurst, who easily outplayed Jackson in the preseason, to start some games. And it wouldn’t be shocking to see the team toggle between starters in a tumultuous season.
2. The offensive line will continue to be a work in progress: Cable is a great line coach, but there’s only so much he can do. Jackson and Whitehurst have been getting accosted throughout the preseason while taking snaps behind a line that lacks experience. Russell Okung has star potential but can’t stay healthy. Veterans Sean Locklear and Chris Spencer are gone and rookies John Moffitt and James Carpenter will be forced to start from the get-go on the right side of the line. There’s hope for the future, especially if Max Unger can emerge at center, and new left guard Robert Gallery will help the unit save some face, but they’ll still experience some protection issues and struggle to make things easier on a running game that ranked 31st in the league last year.
3. The defense will surrender over 25 points per game again: Here’s another group that has lost veteran leadership with Lofa Tatupu gone and youngsters like Aaron Curry, Earl Thomas, Walter Thurmon, Kam Chancellor and David Hawthorne being counted on to carry a defense that is filled with holes. The line, led by Brandon MeBane and Chris Clemons, should get decent pressure, and Red Bryant can dominate against the run if he stays healthy, but there are far too many question marks beyond that.
The final word(s): They’re a very bad team in a bad division. I’m worried about the passing game, the running game, the pass defense and the run defense. If they didn’t hail from the NFC West I’d be pegging them for three or four wins, but they’ll hang in there and win six under these circumstances.