The Seahawks are a tough team to gauge.
In their first season under Pete Carroll in 2010, they went 7-9, and became the first team to win a division with a losing record. After being completely overlooked entering the playoffs, they came out and took care of business against the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. A win that absolutely no one saw coming.
Then last season, when many expected the team to improve on their 7-9 record, the team stayed in neutral, putting up the exact same record as the year before. The only difference being that they didn’t make the playoffs this time around. By that facet, 2011 can and should be looked at as a failure by the team which makes 2012 even more important for the team.
Seattle is entering the third year of the Carroll administration which means that it’s the time when the organization will have to sit down and decide whether Carroll is truly the right guy to coach this team, or do they have to begin the search all over again. For Seahawks fans’ sake, let’s hope it’s the former.
They brought in Matt Flynn in free agency, and are hoping that he becomes the second coming of Matt Hasselbeck. It would prove that you can catch lightning in a bottle twice as, if it pans out, Flynn would become the second former Green Bay back up to go Seattle and become a very good starting quarterback.
Of course, Flynn has to beat out last year’s starter, Tavaris Jackson, and rookie Russell Wilson for the starting job first.
They even gave the QBs a couple new toys, Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow, and Terrell Owens to work with along with incumbent receivers Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, and Golden Tate.
Seattle also has a secondary that showed flashes of superior talent last season, combining for 17 interceptions. Their total 22 interceptions was good enough for third in the NFC.
The team had, what most would call, a mediocre to sub-par draft this past April. However, they may very well have found a future star in first round pick Bruce Irvin from West Virginia who we’ll get to later on.
Although he is expected to be suspended for a period of time due to his third arrest, Marshawn Lynch is one of the most physically intimidating running backs in the NFL, and if suspended, he will no doubt provided a spark to the offense when he returns.
2011 Record: 7-9
Key Additions: QB – Matt Flynn – Green Bay
DT – Jason Jones – Tennessee
LB – Barrett Ruud – Tennessee
TE – Kellen Winslow
WR – Braylon Edwards
WR – Terrell Owens
Key Losses: S – Atari Bigby – San Diego
TE – John Carlson – Minnesota
G – Robert Gallery – New England
DE – Anthony Hargrove – Green Bay
Offense: Marshawn Lynch – When available to play, Lynch is the catalyst that makes this Seattle offense tick. If he can stay healthy and avoid a long suspension, Lynch will open up the offense for whoever becomes the starting quarterback.
Doug Baldwin – The second year WR flew, pun intended, onto the scene in his rookie season in 2011. The former Stanford wide-out caught 51 passes for 788 yards; far and away the best statistics for any Seahawks receiver last season. He is solidly entrenched in the team’s slot position.
Sidney Rice – The star free agent signing from 2011 didn’t live up to expectations in his first season in Seattle, giving fans another excuse to worry about their team. However, that doesn’t mean Rice can’t and won’t become a success in the pacific northwest. If given a QB who can get him the ball, Rice should pan out nicely for the team this season, even if he is coming off double shoulder surgery.
Defense: Brandon Browner – Browner was another play who came from nowhere last season to perform well for the Seahawks. Intercepting six passes last season, scoring on two of them, Browner provided Seattle with a corner that was capable of going toe-to-toe with the opponent’s top receivers.
Kam Chancellor – After a not-so-stellar rookie season in 2010, Chancellor proved his worth to the Seahawks in 2011. He started in 15 games last season at strong safety, and recorded 73 tackles. He also picked off four passes. After earning All-Pro honors in 2011, Chancellor is expected to see his statistics increase this season while playing for a new contract.
Earl Thomas – The 14th overall pick in 2010, Thomas has been a very good, and very reliable free safety for Seattle. In his second NFL season, he earned 2nd-team All-Pro honors after combining to tally 96 tackles. It’s not inconceivable to think that he can hit 100 solo tackles this season after having 67 last year.
Coaching: The number one thing on Pete Carroll’s mind right now should be to prove to the team that is the right man for the job. The best way to do that? It’s simple – just win, baby! It’s year three, and if Carroll can’t put together a gameplan that will allow Seattle to field the best possible team they can every game, then it may be time to find a new coach.
Breakout Player: Bruce Irvin – The number one pick for the Seahawks in this year’s draft, Irvin has been looked at as a player not worthy of an early first round selection. However, don’t be surprised to see Irvin have a breakout year for the Seattle. He’s in a good situation to come in right away and earn a starting roster spot. If he puts the work in, which he looks to be doing in camp this year, there is no reason for him to not have a good rookie season. In fact, I’ll go on record saying that he is my dark horse candidate for defensive rookie of the year.
2012 Prediction: While I think the team will be better than last season, it’s hard for me to predict a lot of success due to the schedule they’ve been handed. With games against New England, Green Bay, Detroit, and Dallas on their non-divisional portion of the schedule, it’ll be difficult for Seattle to put together any type of substantial winning streak. With that said, I still have them as a sleeper pick to come out of the NFC as a playoff team, if they can pull off some upsets. At the very least, I think they finish 9-7.
Overview: From top to bottom, the Seattle Seahawks have a lot to prove in 2012. It’s year three of a rebuilding process, and pieces should be falling into place and plans coming to fruition. If they fail at proving they’re on the right track, then another press of the restart button could be on the horizon.
How do you think the Seahawks will fare in 2012? Leave a comment or let me know on twitter, @MikeStrawQCS