Aside from New England, there are no teams that have been as good as the Seahawks this decade. Two Super Bowl appearances and what should have been two Super Bowl victories. But there have been rumors about trouble in paradise, claiming riffs between the offense and the defense, particularly Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson. Still, Seattle has made the playoffs for five straight years and seems to have a stranglehold on the NFC West, so is there a chance that their run could be at an end?
The Seahawks were impressive again in 2016; their 10-5-1 record included wins against both the Falcons and the Patriots and secured another NFC West title for Seattle. They followed that with a wild card victory over the Lions before falling to the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round, 36-20. The Seahawks defense was great again, allowing only 318.7 yards per game and surrendering just 18.3 points to their opponents, both of which were top five in the league.
But despite their success, it never felt like the Seahawks found their rhythm last year. Worry over lingering injuries to Russell Wilson held the narrative every week, as well as stories of tension in the locker room between offensive and defensive players, namely Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson.
The team took a big hit on and off the field after safety Earl Thomas went down with a broken leg in Week 13 in a victory over the Panthers, which can be seen as a season-altering injury for Seattle. The very next week they lost 38-10 to the Green Bay Packers, the biggest loss the team has suffered since Russell Wilson joined the team. Although the Seahawks won their final three games following that loss, it was apparent they were not the same team, only beating the 49ers by two in the regular season finale.
After the loss to the Falcons in the playoffs, there was talk of trading CB Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas retiring, and perhaps the end of the Legion of Boom. Although neither of those things ended up happening, it does make it feel like Seattle is on the edge of losing their grasp on the NFC West and frankly the NFL.
|Perrish Cox, CB||Steven Hauschka, K|
|Eddie Lacy, RB||John Jenkins, DT|
|Blair Walsh, K||Bradley Sowell, OT|
|Luke Joeckel, OG||Damontre Moore, DE|
|Oday Aboushi, OG||Brandon Williams, TE|
|Arthur Brown, LB||Jeron Johnson, S|
|Michael Wilhoite, LB||Tony McDaniel, DT|
|Malik McDowell, DT||Tavaris Barnes, DE|
|Ethan Pocic, C||Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB|
|Shaquill Griffin, CB|
|Delano Hill, S|
|Nazair Jones, DT|
|Amara Darboh, WR|
|Tedric Thompson, S|
The core of Seattle’s success remained the same through this offseason. The biggest change heading into the new year will be the absence of Steven Hauschka as Seattle’s place kicker. Hauschka has manned that post the last six years for the Seahawks, making 88.8% of his field goal attempts during that time. The Seahawks also did not add a first round pick from the draft this year. There highest selection was Malik McDowell in the 2nd (35th overall).
|1||@ Green Bay Packers|
|2||vs San Francisco 49ers|
|3||@ Tennessee Titans|
|4||vs Indianapolis Colts|
|5||@ Los Angeles Rams|
|7||@ New York Giants|
|8||vs Houston Texans|
|9||vs Washington Redskins|
|10||@ Arizona Cardinals|
|11||vs Atlanta Falcons|
|12||@ San Francisco 49ers|
|13||vs Philadelphia Eagles|
|14||@ Jacksonville Jaguars|
|15||vs Los Angeles Rams|
|16||@ Dallas Cowboys|
|17||vs Arizona Cardinals|
The Seahawks open this year with one of the most exciting games to watch in Week 1. The Packers destroyed Seattle in their last meeting 38-10, and you know Seattle has this game circled on their calendar.
The rest of the NFC West once again doesn’t seem to pose much of a threat to the Seahawks, with a possible exception if the Cardinals can put the pieces back together this year. The toughest stretch of the season will no doubt come in Week 7 through 11, beginning with a road matchup against the Giants and finishing with the defending NFC champs, the Falcons. Fortunately for Seattle, the bye week lies just ahead of this stretch, hopefully giving the team enough time to prepare for this gauntlet.
Three players to watch
Seattle have a lot of household names and mainstays. But they also have a lot of jobs up for grabs this year. Which players should you be keeping an eye on as the season progresses?
Eddie Lacy, running back
Eddie Lacy’s career in Green Bay ended amidst a lot of scrutiny. Fans questioned his effort after he failed to trim down before the start of the season, and the pack ultimately decided his running style was no longer what they wanted in Green Bay. But Eddie Lacy has shown he can ball, and let’s not forget, he will only be 26 this year. In his fours years in Green Bay, Lacy rushed for 1,000+ yards twice, and just this year still averaged 5.1 yards per attempt. For a Seattle team still searching for a running back to replace Marshawn Lynch, this seems like it could be a perfect fit for Beast Mode 2.0.
Earl Thomas, safety
Earl Thomas’ broken leg was the turning point of Seattle’s season. The leader of the Legion of Boom was well on his way to going to his 6th straight Pro Bowl, impressive for the 28-year-old. Although thankful he decided against retirement, the Seahawks cannot know if Earl Thomas can be the same guy after such an injury.
It takes instinct to be the great player that Thomas is, and if there’s any doubt in his mind about his leg, it can affect his performance on the field. Recovering from an injury like this involves both and physical and a mental rehab and Thomas didn’t give a real confidence boost about his mental state by talking retirement. If he can’t return to the same form as before, look for the legion of boom to show signs of weakness in this year’s secondary.
Russell Wilson, quarterback
I know this one is obvious, but here me out. Last year Russell Wilson posted career lows in quarterback rating (92.6) and QBR (63.2), while also throwing the most picks in his career (11). It was apparent the absence of Marshawn Lynch affected him, and so the question is can he bounce back.
Wilson has been seen as an MVP caliber player basically since he entered the league but has never really garnered much talk as award time comes around. If Seattle is going to get back to the Super Bowl again anytime soon, it’s going to take the MVP Wilson to come to play.
Seattle didn’t need to do much this offseason to prepare for a championship run this year; their healing needed to come from within. That being said the addition of Eddie Lacy could help relieve some of the pressure Russell Wilson no doubt felt last year.
If Seattle has solved their internal problems, and there is no reason to think they haven’t, another NFC West title is all but theirs for the taking. I see a 12-4 season in the works for Seattle, led by strong seasons from the leaders Russell Wilson and the returning Earl Thomas. I also see them returning to the NFC championship this year, where they will battle it out with most likely the New York Giants for another Super Bowl berth.
Oh, and if Eddie Lacy rushes for over 1,000 yards this season, mark down Russell Wilson as your MVP.
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