** Note: This is more of a roster preview. Stay tuned for UFR on Friday. **
The Seahawks won't be the same team in 2010. That doesn't mean they'll be any better than last year when they were a 5-11 afterthought. Seattle will be different as the franchise begins it's most severe overhaul in a decade with a new coach in Pete Carroll and new GM John Schneider. Starting over looks to be a good thing for Seattle and it's about time. They let their once-potent offense age, atrophy and erode to the point that the team finished with just 280 points last season--their fewest total since 1993. Meanwhile, the defense has not lived up to the investment the Seahawks have made in terms of draft picks and Free Agents. Enter Carroll, twice fired in the NFL but epically successful at USC. He was hired to remake the franchise around his philosophy.
Last years numbers:
OFFENSE: 17.5 PPG (25th), 316.8 TOT YDS/GM (21st), 33 Fumbles (1st), -8 in Turnovers (6th), 218.9 PASS YDS/GM (15th), gave up 41 Sacks (10th), RUSH YDS/GM 97.9 (26th), Tied for 6th with 11 Rushing Fumbles
DEFENSE: Gave up 24.4 PPG (7th), 356.4 TOT YDS/GM (9th), Caused 21 Fumbles (20th), PASS TDS/GM 245.4 (30th), Made 28 Sacks (26th), RUSH YDS/GM 111.0 (15th)
The Seahawks Off-season included changes in the Front Office and the Staff. After a disastrous 5–11 season in his first year with the Seahawks, Jim Mora was fired on January 9, 2010. Mora was apparently surprised and disappointed about the news, but Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke stated that the franchise was moving to a new direction to become successful. GM Tim Ruskell resigned from his position two weeks before the 2009 regular season ended. Interim GM Rubston Webster took over until the season ended, and was not retained. In January, the position was filled by former Green Bay Packers director of football operations John Schneider. Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke stated that Carroll and the GM will have a "collaborative relationship" over control of the team. Within days after Carroll was hired, the rest of the coaching staff was revamped. With the exceptions of Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn, none of the coaches from Mora's tenure remained. USC Football offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates joined as the Seahawks offensive coordinator, and Alex Gibbs came over from the Houston Texans to serve as offensive line coach and assistant head coach. Gibbs retired two weeks ago just before the season began, citing burnout. His position was initially filled by Pat Ruel, Carroll's offensive line coach at Southern Cal, who was coaching for the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League. However, assistant offensive line coach Art Valero has been promoted, with Ruel taking on a lesser role.
Defensive End Patrick Kerney, who led the team in sacks in 2007 and 2009, retired after a 3-year stint with the Seahawks.
Wide Receiver Nate Burleson, after a 4 year stint with the Seahawks, signed with the Detroit Lions on March 5, 2010, after 24 hours of free agency. Backup quarterback Seneca Wallace, known for his versatility as a wide receiver, was sent to the Cleveland Browns on March 8, 2010 in exchange for a conditional 2011 NFL Draft pick.
Guard Rob Sims, who started regularly for the Seahawks for the past 4 years, was traded to the Lions in exchange for defensive end Robert Henderson and a 5th round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Veteran defensive End Darryl Tapp was also traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for Chris Clemons and a 4th round pick.
On April 13, 2010, Defensive End Patrick Kerney announced his retirement after 11 NFL seasons. Kerney made the Pro Bowl in 2007 and led the team in sacks on two occasions (2007 and 2009). On April 29, 2010, Four-time All-Pro Left Tackle Walter Jones also announced his retirement after a 13-year career during which he became a cornerstone of the Seattle Seahawks organization.
OG Trevor Canfield (released).
S Deon Grant (released).
FB Justin Griffith: Not tendered as UFA/Texans; terms unknown.
*LB Lance Laury: Not tendered as RFA/Jets; 1 yr, terms unknown.
RB Xavier Omon (released).
TE John Owens (released).
DL Cory Redding: UFA Ravens; $6M/2 yrs.
Former San Diego Chargers Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst was acquired by Seattle on March 18, 2010. Whitehurst is slated to compete for the starting job with Matt Hasselbeck. Also, the Seahawks acquired Defensive Ends Chris Clemons and Robert Henderson respectively from the Eagles and Lions. Wide Receiver Reggie Williams, a former first round pick with the Jacksonville Jaguars and a former Washington Huskies standout, signed with the Seahawks on April 16, 2010.
On the last day of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Seahawks acquired Running Back LenDale White and Defensive Tackle Kevin Vickerson from the Tennessee Titans. With the trade, White would have been reunited with his college coach Pete Carroll from USC, however, he was cut on May 28, 2010. Eerily, both White and Vickerson ended up on the Broncos roster. Seattle also acquired former Pro Bowl RB Leon Washington in a trade with the New York Jets.
TE Chris Baker: FA Patriots; $4.75M/2 yrs, $2.75M guaranteed.
DE/LB Ricky Foley: CFL FA; terms unknown.
G Ben Hamilton: UFA Broncos; terms unknown.
LS Patrick MacDonald: CFL FA; terms unknown.
*WR Ruvell Martin: Not tendered as RFA by Rams; 1 yr, terms unknown.
WR Mike Williams: FA; terms unknown.
K Olindo Mare: FFA; $2.814M/1 yr.
S Lawyer Milloy: UFA; terms unknown.
WR Ben Obomanu: RFA; (tendered at $1.101M with seventh-round pick as compensation); $1.101M/1 yr.
P Jon Ryan: Potential RFA; $9.1M/6 yrs, SB unknown.
*OG Chris Spencer: RFA; (tendered at $2.621M with first-round pick as compensation); $2.621M/1 yr.
After finishing the 2009 season with a record of 5–11, the Seahawks held the 6th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. They also held the 14th overall pick as a result of a trade in the 2009 NFL Draft that gave their second round pick 2009 to the Denver Broncos for their first round pick in 2010. The Seahawks traded their third round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles as part of a trade from the 2009 draft and gave up their 2nd round pick in the Charlie Whitehurst deal but also received another 2nd round pick from the San Diego Chargers.
The Seahawks went into the draft needing an Offensive Lineman, a Running Back, a Defensive Lineman, Cornerback and Safety. They arguably got the best Left Tackle and Free Safety in the draft in first-rounders Russell Okung and Earl Thomas. Then they selected Golden Tate in the second round, and you just know that Pete Carroll will be experimenting with using the small receiver in the Wildcat. Trading for Leon Washington and LenDale White answered the running back situation and allowed them to address strong safety and corner, even though Carroll gave up on White. The best late-round pick was TE Anthony McCoy, who has stiff competition from veterans John Carlson and Chris White.
1st Round (6th) Russell Okung, LT, 6' 5", 307 lbs., Oklahoma St.
1st (14th) Earl Thomas, Safety, 5' 10" 208 lbs., Texas. In Thomas, the Seahawks add a talented playmaker to the back end of their defense. As an instinctive safety with exceptional range and awareness, Thomas will prevent some of the big plays that ravaged the defense in 2009. Also, his exceptional cover skills will allow the Seahawks to be creative with him in their nickel packages as a sub-defender in the slot. Given his versatile skills, Thomas was a sensible pick for a team in desperate need of playmakers on both sides of the ball.
2nd (60th) Golden Tate, WR, 5' 10" 199 lbs., Notre Dame. The Seahawks find a talented playmaker for their receiving corps with Golden Tate. Although he has been deemed too short to fit the somatype of a No.1 receiver, Tate's outstanding running skills make him a special talent worthy of a key role in Seattle's offense. In addition, he gives the Seahawks another capable returner.
4th (111th) Walter Thurmond, CB 5' 11", 189 lbs., Oregon. The Seahawks picked up a talented cover man when they chose Walter Thurmond. The former Duck missed part of the season recovering from a knee injury, but could develop into a starting caliber corner when he returns to health. Pete Carroll's familiarity with the Pac-10 might have been the deciding factor in selecting the young Corner.
4th (127th) E.J. Wilson, DE, 6' 4", 286 lbs., North Carolina. The Seahawks add a talented edge player for their Defensive Line in E.J. Wilson with their second pick in the 4th round. The former North Carolina standout has good overall skills, and gives the Seahawks another pass rusher to insert into their rotation. Wilson didn't garner a lot of attention throughout his career, but scouts were buzzing about his potential throughout the pre-draft process.
5th (133rd) Kam Chancellor, FS, 6' 3", 231 lbs., Virginia Tech. The Seahawks selected a big, athletic safety in Kam Chancellor. The Virginia Tech standout is adept at playing in the box, and his combination of size and speed make him a strong candidate to emerge as a key contributor on special teams.
6th (185th) Anthony McCoy, TE, 6' 4", 259 lbs., USC. Pete Carroll just selected someone he is very familiar with in Anthony McCoy. The big Tight End had a third-round grade from most NFL teams prior to some off-field issues. The sixth round is excellent value for an athletic tight end, who can stretch the defense. Carroll will need to keep him in a structured environment to maximize his potential.
7th (236th) Dexter Davis, DE, 6' 1", 244 lbs., Arizona St. Given the losses of Corey Redding and Patrick Kerney in the off-season, the Seahawks took Dexter Davis late. He has good speed and is explosive off the line, but is pretty small to be anything but a third-down specialist off the edge at this point.
7th (245th) Jameson Konz, WR, 6' 4" 234 lbs., Kent St. With their Compensatory selection near the end of the draft, the Seahawks take a chance on Jameson Konz, a big Receiver from a small college program. After a rather undistinguished career at Kent State, Konz jumped into the draft conversation with one of the best pro day workouts of any prospect in the 2010 class. A tremendous athlete, Konz will have to work hard at refining his skills to stick in Seattle.
Offensive Coordinator Jeremy Bates' NFL indoctrination came under John Gruden in Tampa Bay, but Seattle's offense will look more like what Mike Shanahan ran in Denver in everything from terminology to the ground game. The passing game will contain the quick roll-outs and quarter bootlegs that used to be a Broncos trademark while the running game will feature the one-cut discipline that once allowed Denver to swap out 1,000 yard rushers on a yearly basis.
Seattle has spent millions on veteran receivers, signing Nate Burleson, Deion Branch and TJ Houshmandzadeh to large contracts over the past 4 years. And for all that money, Seattle still has yet to find a true No. 1 wide-out. Now, Seattle's top receiver in yards per catch last year is gone after Burleson left for Detroit in Free Agency. Mike Williams, a former 1st-round pick of the Lions who ate his way out of the league, has looked good in workouts and is in the picture for playing time. The performance of Matt Hasselbeck and the passing game will depend alot on the development of rookie left tackle Russel Okung. The Seahawks need him to have an immediate impact so that Hasselbeck can recapture his passing rhythm after absorbing too many hits over the last 2-3 years. The team hopes FA pickup Leon Washington can provide some big plays to complement the running of Julius Jones and Justin Forsett.
The Seahawks kept two Quarterbacks, starter Matt Hasselbeck and backup Charlie Whitehurst. Hasselbeck turns 35 next week and has just begun his 10th season. He already has become the most prolific passer in franchise history. He is coming off his sixth 3,000-yard passing season, but threw a career-high 17 interceptions in 2009. However, he does own nearly all the career marks for a Seahawk quarterback. That in itself is remarkable, since he has spent most of that time injured in one manner or another. he has missed 11 starts in the last two seasons because of back and rib injuries and threw more interceptions (27) than touchdown passes (22). He is healthy once more, but is also running his third offense in as many years, for his third coordinator (Jeremy Bates), third position coach (Jedd Fisch) and third head coach (Pete Carroll). Despite the moves the team made to bring in quarterback Charlie Whitehurst to push for the starting job, Hasselbeck has been the clear leader during off-season workouts, and Whitehurst won competition for the No. 2 spot from J.P. Losman. Whitehurst looked pretty good during the pre-season and could have a definite future with the team.
The Running Back corps are led by Justin Forsett and include FB Quinton Ganther, Julius Jones, Michael Robinson and Leon Washington. At 5'-8", 198 pounds, Justin Forsett is one of the smallest players on the Seahawks roster. But despite his stature, Forsett has worked his way up from a twice-released, fringe NFL player to the Seahawks’ opening day starter at running back. Forsett beat out Julius Jones and newly acquired Leon Washington for the starting running back job after averaging 5.4 yards a carry with a pair of 100-yard games and four touchdowns in limited action behind Julius Jones in 2009. He was also the team’s best receiving threat out of the backfield with 41 catches for 350 yards and a touchdown. He has a knack for hiding behind his offensive line and has a burst that enables him to explode through the line and into the secondary in the blink of an eye. A draft-day trade with the New York Jets brought Leon Washington's services in exchange for a fifth-round choice. Washington suffered a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula in his right leg during a game at Oakland in October and some wondered whether he would return to the Pro Bowl level he displayed in 2008. He has looked quick in limited action running routes and taking hand off in individual drills. He played the second quarter of the pre-season against Green Bay, carrying four times for 19 yards, including an 11-yard scamper for a score.
The Wide Receivers for Seattle are starters Deion Branch and Mike Williams. Golden Tate, Deon Butler and Benjamin Obomanu make up the rest of the unit. Gone is T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the team’s disgruntled leading receiver who was released before signing with Baltimore this week. After sitting out the last two seasons, former first-round pick Mike Williams hopes to revive his career as the team’s No. 1 receiver under his former college coach. Deion Branch was a limited participant at the end of off-season workouts, returning to the field recently after having his third knee surgery in two years. But Branch is ready for the start of the season. He doesn't expect to have any lingering issues this year. Branch has yet to play a full, 16-game season in his four-year tenure with Seattle.
The Tight Ends for the Seahawks are starter John Carlson, Chris Baker, Anthony McCoy and Cameron Morrah. Carlson caught 51 balls for 574 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2009. Those are pretty good numbers from the Tight End spot and Carlson is a valuable asset for the 'Hawks. Backup Chris Baker comes over from the New England Patriots, where he played in all 16 games making 14 receptions for 142 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Seattle's Offensive Line is made up of starters LT Chester Pitts, LG Mike Gibson, C Chris Spencer, RG Max Unger and RT Sean Locklear. Russell Okung, Stacy Andrews, Evan Dietrich-Smith and former Broncos Ben Hamilton and Tyler Polumbus complete the Unit. Okung will be the starter at Left Tackle when he regains his health. He injured his right ankle on the first series of the pre-season game against Green Bay. It is said to be a high ankle sprain and is considered day-to-day. One area of focus for Seattle is improving the talent on the O-Line. The Seahawks released offensive tackle Mansfield Wrotto and guard Steve Vallos, and picked up guard Even Dietrich-Smith off waivers (Packers) and traded for tackle Stacy Andrews.
Defensive Coordinator is one of the only positions that didn't change in Seattle's coaching staff. Casey Bradley is a Monte Kiffin disciple and was retained by Carroll, who is showing flexibility in his approach. The Seahawks will use what looks like a 3-4 scheme at times, employing the "elephant pass rusher. That's essentially a hybrid DE/LB who lines up in a two-point stance and comes from different angles and gaps along the line. They will use DL Chris Clemons in the hybrid position initially. He's a pass-rushing specialist acquired from Philadelphia who totaled seven sacks over the last two seasons. The question is whether he'll be enough to stimulate a pass rush that was dormant at the end of the 2009 campaign. Pete Carroll is a coach known for the play of his Safeties. In Seattle, he's starting nearly from scratch, and Earl Thomas--the 14th overall pick--has a chance to be the starting free safety. FA pickup Lawyer Milloy and Jordan Babineaux are competing for the strong safety job.
The big men that the Seahawks employ on the Defensive Line are starters LDE Chris Clemons, LDT Brandon Mebane, RDT Colin Cole and RDE Red Bryant. Kentwan Balmer, Raheem Brock, Dexter Davis, Junior Siavii and E. J. Wilson fill out the Defensive front. Chris Clemons had 11 tackles and 3 sacks in 2009. Brandon Mebane was a little more effective. He made 49 tackles and had 1.5 sacks. Colin Cole made 48 tackles and deflected 2 pass attempts. Red Bryant played only 6 games last season, making 6 tackles. This unit will be counted on to improve on the 15th place rush defense of 2009.
Seattle's Linebackers are led by MLB Lofa Tatupu. David Hawthorne and Aaron Curry are the starting OLB's. Will Herring, Leroy Hill and Matt McCoy back them up. Hill will miss the opener to serve a one-game league suspension for his arrest on a marijuana-possession charge in Georgia. On the positive side, former Pro Bowler Lofa Tatupu is expected to return to form. He was limited to five games last year because of a torn pectoral muscle.
The 4th pick in the 2009 draft, OLB Aaron Curry is expected to have a breakout campaign in 2010. At 6'-2", 254 Curry is too big, fast and destructive to be the non factor he was when he went without a sack in his final nine games before missing the last two (hip) as a rookie. Expect that to change a Carroll assigns Curry a healthy dose of pass-rushing responsibilities.
The Defensive Backs for the Seahawks include starters LCB Marcus Trufant, SS Lawyer Milloy, FS Earl Thomas and RCB Kelly Jennings. The backups Cornerback are Roy Lewis, Walter Thurmond and Nate Ness. The Safety backups are Jordan Babineaux, Kam Chancellor and Kennard Cox. Rookie Earl Thomas earned a starting safety spot for a unit that ranked 22nd in the league with 13 interceptions. Lawyer Milloy was re-signed for depth and rookie Kam Chancellor is probably at least a year away from contending for a starting job. Rookie cornerback Walter Thurmond got his first action during team drills in Seattle's final minicamp and seemed to be moving OK. The University of Oregon product was drafted in the fourth round by Seattle, but likely would have went higher if not for an ACL knee injury that forced him to miss most of the 2009 season. Thurmond is expected to add depth at cornerback and possibly compete for time in the team's nickel package this season.
The Special Teams specialists for the Seahawks are Long Snapper Clint Gresham, Kicker Olindo Mare and Punter/Holder Jon Ryan. Mare was a steady 92% on Field Goals last year, but didn't have any attempts from longer than 49 yards. He nailed all 28 Extra points though. John Ryan punted 88 times last year with a 46.2 yard avg. A long of 70 yards. He landed 28 punts inside the 20 yard line and 9 inside the ten. 17 of his punts were fair caught and 9 were Touchbacks. Golden Tate and Walter Thurmond will punts and the Kick Returners will be Justin Forsett and Tate.
The Seahawks are younger and in a rebuilding mode. For a team that has won nine games in the last two seasons, it has to be about retooling instead of contending. The team released T.J. Houshmandzadeh despite the fact that they still owe him over $6 million for 2010 after he signed with the Ravens, because they wanted to give their younger players more of a chance. A new regime change was overdue. Now that the purging of the faulty roster constructed by former team president Tim Ruskell from 2005 through 2009 is complete, a newer, younger, faster, and more physically talented team is the goal -- in the short and long term. The decision to forgo quick fixes through Free Agency may pay dividends down the road, but right now the Seahawks have too much work on both lines to imagine the team will bounce back this season. With Carroll though, Seattle has a coach who's intimately familiar with college players, which should give the Seahawks an edge in restocking what is a fairly barren roster. He will have a personal edge over his coaching peers in that regard for a season. Plus, he is used to being around players who are paid to play.
Of course there's always the 12th man.