Ethan Hewett Aug 3rd, 2019
2018 was a better year than most Seahawks fans probably anticipated. The team set out to run the ball more, and that was exactly what they did by leading the NFL in rushing yards per game with an average of 160 yards. With a much-improved run game, the team didn’t have to rely on Russell Wilson trying to make a play every down behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league. The Seahawks finished the season 10-6, making it their seventh straight winning season and their sixth playoff appearance in that same time frame. While they lost a heart-breaker against the Dallas Cowboys 24-22 in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, it’s hard to be upset when your team overperforms during the regular season.
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The Seahawks had a rather quiet offseason this year. With the coaching staff remaining the same other than a few new positional coaches, not much changed within the team. The biggest story throughout the offseason was whether or not the Seahawks were going to be able to re-sign quarterback Russell Wilson. While they did, the extension made Wilson the highest-paid quarterback in the league after signing a four-year, $140 million contract. This not only showed the type of talent that Russell Wilson is, but also the trust the team has in Wilson to be their franchise quarterback of the future.
The only other big transaction we saw was when the Seahawks traded away their star defensive end, Frank Clark for a 2019 first-round and third-round pick, along with a 2020 second-round pick. With a new vacancy on their defensive line, the Seahawks then went out and drafted L.J. Collier out of TCU with their newly acquired first-round pick. To continue to build depth around the position, they also signed free agent defensive end, Ezekiel Ansah.
While Collier was the premier pick up through the draft, the Seahawks also added wide receiver D.K. Metcalf and linebacker Cody Barton. Both of whom should make an impact early on as Metcalf will most likely serve as the number two or three wideout this year for Seattle. Other notable draft picks were safeties Marquise Blair and Ugo Amadi, running back Travis Homer, and guard Phil Haynes. All four of these players should be either starters or versatile backups at their respective positions.
For the first time since the days of Marshawn Lynch, Seattle finally had a strong running game led by the three-headed monster of Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, and now Chicago Bear, Mike Davis. This allowed Russell Wilson to finally have some help behind an offensive line that still struggled last season. However, the offensive line isn’t looking too bad this year. With the additions of free agents Mike Iupati and fourth-round draft pick Phil Haynes, there is some talent behind the starting five. George Fant is also showing a lot of improvement this year as well and could serve as a useful backup tackle.
The biggest concern offensively right now has to be the inexperience at wide receiver. With Doug Baldwin no longer on the team, Tyler Lockett will most likely be stepping up into the number one role. Rookie D.K. Metcalf has been showing that he is more than just a big guy who can run downfield, but let’s also try to keep his expectations realistic here, as he will most likely also be behind veteran Jaron Brown. There is a lot of potential for this offense, but time will tell as to how reliable Wilson’s new offensive line will be and how quickly Metcalf can develop.
While this year’s defense may not look like the “Legion of Boom” that dominated the league from 2012 to 2015, there are a lot of young, unproven players who will look to make their mark this season. The newly-extended linebacker Bobby Wagner is the only player remaining of a once incredible defense, but he is surrounded by a young talented group of players. Especially at linebacker. Players like Shaquem Griffin and Cody Barton will look to make an impact early on, while the secondary is attempting to rebuild after losing safeties Earl Thomas to free agency and Kam Chancellor to retirement.
While losing Thomas and Chancellor is a big blow, it also gives the Seahawks a fresh start. With a veteran presence in Shaquill Griffin and Bradley McDougald, along with a lot of young players, such as Ugo Amadi, and Marquise Blair, the potential is there to become a great secondary once again. As long as Griffin can return to his rookie season form, along with the development of Amadi and Blair, this could be one of the better secondaries in the NFL. The six-game suspension of defensive tackle Jarran Reed will slow down the pass rush abilities of the defensive line, but an undrafted free agent from 2018 in Poona Ford has a chance to cement himself as one of the better run defenders in the league who can also sometimes get after the quarterback.
Predicting the 53 Man Roster
While Wilson is the long-term option for the Seahawks, the biggest question right now is who will come in if Wilson gets injured. While Wilson hasn’t dealt with that type of injury, the worst-case scenario still exists. The competition should be interesting between Geno Smith and newly acquired Paxton Lynch. I think Smith has the edge here, and I expect the Seahawks to hold on to him this year.
After contributing to one of the best run games last season, Carson and Penny should be locked in for this year’s roster. The rookie Homer has looked good and impressed the coaching staff, so expect him to stick around this year as well. The name that would be missing here is C.J. Prosise, who was a serviceable third-down back, however with the presence of McKissic, I don’t think he makes the roster. Bellore will serve as the fullback and also for special teams.
Lockett should be the undisputed number one this year. After that, the competition for targets should be fun to watch. With the inexperience of this group, I would expect they only keep six guys. Rookies Metcalf, Jennings, Ursua and veterans Moore and Brown, all have potential, and it’s time they show that they can be reliable targets this year.
Dissly probably has the most potential and also provides the most versatility with good size and decent hands. With the team trading for Hollister this offseason I don’t expect them to get rid of him this early on and he will most likely find a spot on this year’s roster. I think that Ed Dickson meets the end of his time in Seattle, as he is a little expensive and dealt with injuries in 2018.
The starting five should be set with Brown and Ifedi holding down the tackle spots with Iupati, Britt, and Fluker starting in the interior. Fant should serve as a valuable sixth man who can hold down the tackle spot if Brown needs a few snaps off. After Haynes and Fant, it is questionable as to who stays but I think young veterans in Hunt and Pocic will stick around.
The six-game suspension for Jarran Reed will give the Seahawks a reason to keep four other guys on the roster. It will also give 2018 undrafted free agent Ford a chance to get starting snaps for the first six games alongside Woods. The lack of an interior pass rush likely result in fewer sacks all around but when Reed returns, this could be a very good defensive line to close out the year with a trio of Reed, Woods, and Ford.
This year’s linebacker group has impressed so far. The combination of Wanger, Kendricks, and Wright should be one of the more well-rounded groups in the National Football League. Griffin has already continued to develop and impressed, and the Utah product, rookie Cody Barton, has also impressed the Seahawks staff throughout Organized Team Activities and training camp. Also, expect rookie Burr-Kiven to sneak his way onto the roster this year.
Ansah was a solid grab for the Seahawks this offseason and should see the bulk of the snaps at the edge position. Collier is dealing with an ankle sprain but I expect him to return by the regular season. Green and Martin, who is listed at linebacker but will probably make the transition back to defensive end this year, should serve as good depth for the edge position along with Jefferson and Marsh.
This year’s secondary is pretty thin depth-wise. With Flowers and Griffin being the primary starters, expect King to probably play in the slot a lot this year. Rookie Amadi, who is listed as a safety but has experience at corner, could possibly even steal away King’s starting spot come the regular season. Thorpe has been a good backup but he’s also been a big part of special teams, so I expect him to stick around as well.
This is another group that has a lot of unproven players, but talented. McDougald is the only player that the Seahawks know what to expect from him, and if Blair develops as expected, he could possibly jump into the starting role over Thompson early on in the regular season. Hill is recovering from a hip injury but expect him to be back by the regular season as a backup.
Myers, Dickson, and Ott should feel comfortable heading into the season. I don’t expect much competition, especially since Dickson was selected in the fifth round of the 2018 Draft. The loss of Sebastian Janikowski has left Myers with some big shoes to fill in 2019.
I think the Seahawks are in for another competitive season in 2019. A lot is riding this year on young defensive players developing pretty quickly. Defensively, keep an eye on guys like Marquise Blair, Cody Barton, Shaquem Griffin, and Ugo Amadi. While they are all young, they show a lot of potential and could form into a talented defense by seasons end.
I would expect a slow start this season, as young players start to adjust and start to really form chemistry with the veteran players. The connection between Lockett and Wilson will be the best it has ever been and if the offensive line can protect Wilson, and help out the run game a little more, this could also be a very good offense. Some people might be sleeping on the Seahawks again this year but I think they have a realistic chance of making the playoffs and maybe even challenging the Los Angeles Rams for the NFC West division title.
Season Prediction: 10-6 and a Wild Card berth. Could be competing for their division, but could also easily see another first-round exit in the playoffs.
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