There is a lot of excitement and anticipation going into this season in 12th Man Land. Cortez Kennedy is the second Seahawk in the Hall of Fame, following Steve Largent. Walter Jones will be in there soon too.
Despite back-to-back 7-9 seasons, the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era has included a playoff win and the never quit, never die spirit that permeates the team and fans. There are a lot of good omens. The defense has improved, getting into the top ten in 2011. The young secondary sets a definite swagger tone and on offense, Marshawn Lynch continues to taste the rainbow.
So now that I’ve visited the training camp and went to the first preseason game, the big questions are: “Terrell Owens? Really?” and “Braylon Edwards? Really?” So let me list out the seven areas I think the Seattle Seahawks need to address in the 2012 season.
1. Quarterbacks: Quarterback was the weakest point in the Seahawks last season, by far. Tarvaris Jackson was brought in to replace Matt Hasselbeck and ended up being just average, at best. Charlie Whitehurst was worse than bad but is gone, thankfully.
Jackson finished the season with a 60.2 completion percentage for 3,091 yards and 14 touchdowns, most of them with a torn pectoral muscle suffered against the Giants in game five.
No one can question his toughness and grit. No, Jackson was a liability because he sucked in the last two minutes of the half, completing less than 50% with zero touchdowns and six interceptions. Jackson also took 42 sacks, ranking second behind Alex Smith. Seventeen of those sacks took at least 3.3 seconds to happen, considered long sacks, which was down to holding the ball and a lack of decision-making that drove me into a sputtering, profanity-spewing and non-coherent Daffy Duck.
Seattle tried to get Peyton Manning to visit, but he spurned the Seahawks in favor of the Broncos, so Carroll went after and signed Matt Flynn, the two-game wonder from Green Bay. Flynn is in, no matter what Compete Pete claims.
Russell Wilson was a surprise pick but looks to have more upside than last year’s surprise, Josh Portis, who should end up somewhere.
2. O-Line: The Seahawks struggled early in the season with this unit. The reasons include injuries, lack of training camp with two rookies, and Russell Okung coming back from injury again.
This season, a full training camp will go miles to improved play from the former starting rookies and second string linemen that have lots of experience now.
Right tackle James Carpenter is still a question mark from knee surgery and may begin the season on the PUP (physically unable to play) list, but a move to left guard may be in his future. Before his injury, Carpenter was not progressing well at all. The team was impressed with the replacements, journeymen Paul McQuinstan and Breno Giacomini, and resigned both of them.
Despite the injuries to the youngsters, the line improved every week. Twenty-nine of the 50 total sacks came in the first seven weeks.
Okung is the unlucky injury guy so far. In 2011, he tore his pectoral muscle after getting hip-tossed by Philadelphia defensive end Trent Cole after the whistle blew. He’s back to full health now and has been excellent when he can stay that way.
3. Wide Receivers: Seattle has turned into a halfway house for aged receivers now that T.O. is in town.
He looked good in his workout and first practice but only time will tell if he can handle a full season. He’s 38 years old and although physically he looks good, as Indiana Jones said, it’s not the years, it’s the mileage.