2008 was the first year the Seattle Seahawks did not win the NFC West in four years and missed the playoffs in five years, finishing with a 4-12 record and in third place behind the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers.
I believe last season was an aberration. Seattle should be back on top of the NFC West in January, battling for the playoffs and the Super Bowl again. For that to happen, a few things need to happen. Here’s my list.
1. Defense: Seattle’s defense was overhauled in the offseason. Gone are linebacker Julian Peterson and safety Brian Russell for defensive linemen Colin Cole, Cory Redding, and safety Lawyer Malloy. The thinking is to make Seattle stouter in the middle and against the run, areas that have killed the team in the past. A bigger defensive line should allow the Seahawk linebackers, arguably the best in the league with Lofa Tatupu, Leroy Hill and Aaron Curry, to fill the gaps and do what they do best; create havoc on opponents’ running backs and quarterbacks. At safety, Lawyer Malloy, even if he is a quarter of his old self, is an upgrade over Russell because Milloy will allow free safety Deon Grant to play the deep ball, his strength, and not move up in the box to help with the run which is where he spent last season because the team knew Russell didn’t have the speed or the tackling ability to do either well.
2. Injuries: Every team has injuries but 2008 for the Seahawks was unprecedented in NFL history according to Doug Farrar of Football Outsiders. No Seahawks offensive player played in all 16 games. Only three players managed even 12 games, wide receiver Koren Robinson and offensive linemen Floyd Womack and Walter Jones. Robinson was not even with the team before the season and only Jones is still with the team now. The team was auditioning wide receivers off the street by week three, not a good thing in an offense designed around timing like Mike Holmgren’s. The offensive line, the most important part of the team, didn’t field the same lineup once all season and all five starters ended the season on the disabled list. The injury bug has not completely left the team in the offseason. Left guard Mike Wahle is already gone due to injury. All Universe left tackle Walter Jones and center Chris Spencer have spent time on the sideline. On defense, cornerback Marcus Trufant has been out all preseason with back problems. All are key parts of Seattle’s plans and need to get healthy quickly. If there is a silver lining, they have all been gone for most of the preseason, allowing Sean Locklear, Max Unger, Rob Sims, and Ken Lucas the opportunity to get quality reps.