Gaining Super Bowls and Gaping Sinkholes

There seems to a growing trend in the National Football League, and that is if you want your city to host a Super Bowl, simply build a new stadium. On Tuesday the NFL announced that Minneapolis will be the host city for Super Bowl LII, that’s 52 if you’re not the Roman Numerals type.

Granted, the building of a new state of the art stadium does not always guarantee the worlds media descends into your city for a fortnight each year, but it does help. Just recently we have had the big game played in Dallas’ house that Jerry built, and of course the 50th anniversary Super Bowl will be held in Levi’s Stadium, the new home of the San Francisco 49ers.

One thing that maybe swayed the voting away from New Orleans and Indianapolis, who finished second and third respectively in the voting, was the fact that almost half of the $1 billion stadium has been funded by the public, something which the NFL smiles greatly upon and they like to give back to those that give out in the first place. Also the city has plans to upgrade many downtown areas of the city in advance of the season finale in 2018.

Minnesota’s only other occasion hosting the game was back in 1992 when the Washington Redskins defeated the Buffalo Bills 37-24 in the recently demolished Metrodome.

Away from the bright lights of the NFL and the glory of the Super Bowl comes a tale of small town woe. On the same day that Minnesota were celebrating landing the big one, another big one appeared in Tennessee.

Unfortunately for the good people of Clarksville, and in particular the Austin Peay University Stadium it was in the shape of a 40ft by 40ft sinkhole in the corner of one end zone.

At first construction workers on a $19 million facility facelift discovered a small 5ft by 5ft hole, but when they started digging deeper to find stable bedrock so they could fill it in, the problem escalated.

“As they began digging, it became bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Bill Persinger, spokesman for the 10,000-student university, located about 50 miles northwest of Nashville. Persinger is confident that the hole will be filled and the stadium will be fully operational come the start of the football season in September.

NFL Draft 2014 – Winners and Losers

Those of you that follow us regularly know that Mike White gazes into his crystal ball to bring us his game predictions each NFL week, he also dusts off the glass orb to give us a great Mock Draft. Well now he looks back and gives us an opinion as to who were the big winners and losers coming out of this years draft.

Now all the fanfare, speculation and bewilderment of the 2014 NFL Draft is finally over and done with for another year, and now we all recognise how bad our mocks were, it’s time to be ruthless and assess which teams deserve some praise and call out those who got it badly wrong on the nights.

WINNERS

San Francisco 49ers

You find out who the well run organisations are at this time of year, and no-one can debate that the Niners are one of the NFL’s best. They used their large haul of picks to mingle together players who can make instant impacts in positions of need, such as Jimmie Ward in the secondary, and players who will sit and learn for now, and be prepared to take over from veterans when their time is up. Running back Carlos Hyde is a great fit for this franchise with his power running, and with Frank Gore probably hitting a decline phase very soon, he could be one of the best picks of the draft. Linebacker Chris Borland is a classic Niners player, hard-nosed and relentless, while the offensive line has been stocked with talents again, all ready to contribute when needed.

Houston Texans

Normally, I wouldn’t judge a good haul by a top ten team as particularly worthy of mention, after all, that’s the whole point of the Drafting system. However, Houston’s 2014 draft was a bit of a work of art. Taking Clowney at one was a given, and he could well be one of the biggest talents of his generation: pairing him with JJ Watt when rushing the passer could be every QB’s nightmare. But with the additions of Xavier Su’a-Filo in round two and Louis Nix in round three, the Texans majorly strengthened the centre of both lines too. Nix could be the biggest steal of the draft at pick 83, a huge space eating nose tackle to suck attention from the edges. Adding CJ Fiedorowicz at TE with the first pick in round three should give the Texans a big bodied target and with Tom Savage drafted in round four, the Texans can develop their QB of the future: Savage has all the mechanics and guts to be a star.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Of all the sets of picks this year, I would be most excited to be a Steelers fan right now. The defense was the early focus, and by adding linebacker Ryan Shazier and defensive end/tackle Stephon Tuitt in rounds one and two, Pittsburgh have added a tackling machine and a pressure creating defensive linemen; both could well be ready to step in and start making a big difference in week one. The next two rounds focussed on the offensive side of the ball, and in RB/WR hybrid Dri Acher, Big Ben may have gotten himself a Darren Sproles type threat to play with. He also has 4th round pick Martavis Bryant to throw to. The Clemson WR has the highest ceiling possible if he can keep his head on football and work hard; his height/weight/speed combination is frightening: 6’4, 211lbs, 4.42 40. This guy could be the Randy Moss prototype. The Steelers also added a big corner from Arizona in the fifth round: Shaquille Richardson, who, if made more consistent, could be in the nickel rotation right away.

LOSERS

Buffalo Bills

What? But they got Sammy Watkins!? Yes they did, and he will be productive, but when you look at the cost of a productive receiver (albeit with an unproven QB) you have to be worried for the Bills. I really hate what they did. To give away next year’s 1st round pick and compromise the rest of your draft and rebuilding process when you have no idea whether you can trust your QB is madness. Cyrus Kouandjo is a bust waiting to happen, an average RT at best, Preston Brown is a plugger in the middle of the field, but didn’t they just get Brandon Spikes for that? Russ Cockrell at CB isn’t an awful pick, but Cyril Richardson could so easily just get fat again and be the slowest, laziest guard in the NFL. And if you thought that wasn’t enough of an issue to bring into the locker room, you then go and take Seantrel Henderson in the 7th round at OT. Suspect commitment, maturity and easily lead astray. Good luck with this lot Buffalo, because if they don’t work out, you can’t fix it next year: this class is way too much risk for a team that is ‘rebuilding’. Oh and by the way, it’s come out that the Bills were willing to trade up to #1 for Watkins. How much would that have cost? Is someone trying to destroy this franchise?

Miami Dolphins

Honestly, I’m not sure exactly what happened in the Miami war room on Draft night. Ja’Wuan James is one of the more crazy 1st rounders I’ve seen in a while. Personally I had a round 2/3 grade on him, and even if Miami loved him, they still could have traded back 20 spots and landed him plus another pick or two. In WR Landry, OT Turner and CB Aikens, the Dolphins landed prospects that fill needs and have potential but need work: none should start this year. Then they blow a 5th rounder on a blocking TE. Facepalm. Their draft was full of reaching, panic, desperation and (still to be proved) poor scouting.

Washington Redskins

Without a first round pick, it would take a lot for the Skins to make their way into this kind of list on the wrong side, but somehow it seems they’ve managed it. Trent Murphy, their first pick in round two is a massive reach, and seems to be an obvious panic insurance pick in case Brian Orakpo leaves at the end of this year, and while Morgan Moses and Spencer long may upgrade the offensive line, that’s not saying much for them. If you’re trying to make the case that Moses is the Skins’ best value pick, then you can’t say that they had a great draft overall. The Skins didn’t address their defensive line needs and the 5th round pick from Tulane, Ryan Grant, could be no better than a no.3 receiver for Robert Griffin.

Is there a problem with Michael Sam?

Michael Sam doubled up as Defensive End and Offensive Tackle when playing in High School, and while he attended Hitchcock in Texas he was All-District four years running for his play on defence. He went on to receive several scholarship offers, but yearned to play for Texas A&M.

In the end he accepted an offer from the University of Missouri. Playing in the Big 12 Conference he steadily made a name for himself with big play capability and tough tackling. In 2012 Mizzou was transferred into the Southeastern Conference and it was here where he truly made his mark.

His senior year in 2013 was stellar. Named Defensive player of the Week in consecutive weeks, he led the conference in tackles for a loss, and sacks. This ultimately led him to be named SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

A unanimous selection for All-American, he graduated and played in the 2014 Senior Bowl at Outside Linebacker, a position that he struggled to adapt to. The position move was after many said that he was undersized to play Defensive End in the National Football League.

At the annual NFL Combine he was measured at 6ft 2in, and 261lbs., running the 40 yard dash in 4.92 seconds, a 25.5in vertical leap, and a broad jump of 9ft 6in. This was a somewhat disappointing display and led to his early projection of going in the third or fourth rounds, slipping down to the later rounds if selected at all.

On Saturday May 10th the St.Louis Rams were on the clock with the 249th overall pick in the seventh round. With that pick they selected Michael Sam and another young promising football player had his prayers answered.

Michael Sam is gay.

Is this a problem? No of course not.

His selection was the profit of a well rounded football player whose professional career has only just started. The mere fact he has been selected is just the beginning of his journey. If he feels hard done by with the lowness of his selection he will have to battle it out in training camp to prove his doubters wrong.

He may of course feel that the lateness of his pick was due to his “coming out” in August 2013, and that teams avoided him due to the uncommonness of having an openly gay man in their locker room. The flip side of this is that some would say he made his announcement to benefit him in some way, and maybe a team would pick him for the warm handshake they would receive for making such a bold choice.

Let’s get real here for a moment. Football is a business first and foremost. There is nothing to be gained by making a good public relations selection in the draft if it then goes on to become a bust. Draft picks are like an untouched gold mine. You don’t get many gems, so why risk wasting one just because it puts you in a good light for a few months.

In the weeks building up to the draft Baltimore, Atlanta, New England and Indianapolis were all said to be keen on Sam depending on how the boards looked in the latter rounds. Those teams always manage to excavate a diamond from the rough so Sam wasn’t just going to be someone’s PR exercise in those buildings.

It is a newsworthy story of course, and you may well berate me for writing this about what i feel is a non-issue and contradicting myself in adding to the circus. I’m not denying that a significant breakthrough has been made and Sam’s announcement may well help others in the future, that is if he becomes a success for his play on the field and not by the media scrum it has so far provided.

The cameras were there when he received the call from the Rams, and he reacted like all other picks have by hugging their closest to them and thanking them for their support and help through their college careers. The subsequent repeat of his moment in the spotlight for the days after is not the correct way of promoting Michael Sam the football player. Judge him by his game film like the Rams have, dissect the tape of how he bullrushed his way to nearly a dozen sacks in his excellent senior year.

I congratulate all the 256 selections in this year’s draft as much as I do Michael Sam. Their hard work for the past three or four years has paid off. We will of course see more headlines about Sam in the near future, let’s just hope it’s for football reasons.

Sam’s replica jersey is the second highest selling of all players coming out of the draft, behind only a certain quarterback whose stock also dramatically slipped in the draft, but that’s an entirely different story…

Mike Whites NFL Mock Draft V3

It’s been a looooong process, but finally we’re here: the night of the 2014 NFL Draft.

College prospects have worked out, interviewed and put their PR machines into overdrive, but for now, they just have to sit back and hope their efforts can get them the high pick that they’ve worked so hard for.

I have to say that this has been one of the most difficult draft classes ever to evaluate and place with teams up and down the draft board; teams will be trading up and down all night and I expect the record for trades to be in jeopardy.

It is probably going to be yet another crazy night in Radio City Music Hall, just the way we all love it. So while you’re waiting in expectation and hope, here’s how I could see the first round taking shape in the final mock of the spring…

(1st Round only, No unconfirmed trades.)

Mike White’s NFL 2014 Mock Draft V3

1. Houston Texans DE Jadeveon Clowney South Carolina (Previous Pick: No Change)
It’s always been Clowney, right from the start, and I would be pretty shocked if Houston handed in a card with anyone else’s name on it. But there is still a trade option on the table with the Falcons most likely to be the interested party. But for now, Clowney’s a Texan and joins JJ Watt in a frightening pass rush.
2. St Louis Rams

(from Washington)

OT Greg Robinson Auburn (Previous Pick: No Change)
Jeff Fisher normally likes to wait on offensive linemen and although he is probably looking to trade down here, I think he could take the opportunity to draft a guy who has big time talent. Sam Bradford needs protecting to realise his potential, and Greg Robinson is a player with pro-bowl potential, technique and athleticism on that offensive line.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars WR Sammy Watkins Clemson (Previous Pick: Blake Bortles – QB)
I’ve been saying that the Jags need a QB all along, but the recent words of their GM David Caldwell seem to suggest that they’re not too bothered about Justin Blackmon’s return right now. That may be because they believe that Watkins will be their pick at 3: the Clemson man can change his team’s field position quickly and helps whoever gets picked in Rd 2 to be Jacksonville’s QB.
4. Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel Texas A&M (Previous Pick: No Change)
You can spend all the time you like trying to convince me otherwise, but the way the Browns have gone about this offseason and draft process makes me convinced they will pick their QB here at 4. Which one it will be is another matter. I’ve heard they’re ‘smitten’ with Bortles and the front office ‘loves’ Manziel’s ability and leadership, but choosing between them is difficult. I’ll go with the hype, Johnny Football’s is rising, all is quiet on Bortles.
5. Oakland Raiders DE/OLB Khalil Mack Buffalo (Previous Pick: Sammy Watkins – WR)
Oakland only have 6 picks in this draft and I’m sure they’ll be looking to trade out of this spot on the night. But in this scenario, theyre presented with a no-brainer. Mack is definitely the best player on the board and the Raiders would be sprinting to the podium.
6. Atlanta Falcons OT Jake Matthews Texas A&M (Previous Pick: Greg Robinson – OT)
I have a feeling Atlanta REALLY want Robinson, but won’t be too disappointed if Matthews is sat here instead. They desperately need to upgrade Matt Ryan’s protection, and the man from Texas A&M is the plug and play starter teams dream of drafting.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans Texas A&M (Previous Pick: No Change)
Vincent Jackson Mk.2? Lovie Smith and Josh McCown say thank you very much, you’re going to have to come to Tampa with some fairly large DB’s next year.
8. Minnesota Vikings QB Blake Bortles FSU (Previous Pick: Khalil Mack – OLB/DE)
It sounds like the brass at Minnesota are set on drafting a QB, but letting him sit and learn for a while rather than chucking him in at the deep end. However, this doesn’t mean that if, as in this scenario, Blake Bortles is sat at 8, they won’t use their 1st rounder on a QB. If Bortles and Manziel are gone, look for a trade down here, prime position to grab a top WR or DT.
9. Buffalo Bills OT Taylor Lewan Michigan (Previous Pick: Jake Matthews – OT)
The Bills have a couple of gaping holes on their roster, one is at WR and the other at RT. Taylor Lewan’s skillset is great to shore up one side of the line, and if he turns out to be better than Cordy Glenn, the Bills could swap their bookends around. This would sort their QB protection out for the next 4 years at the very least. Solid pick.
10. Detroit Lions WR Odell Beckham LSU (Previous Pick: Anthony Barr – OLB/DE)
Many of you may be shocked at how high I’m putting Beckham, but the Lions have been waxing lyrical about going and getting themselves a top receiver opposite Calvin Johnson. Golden Tate is a solid veteran, but you’re mad if you think he’s an unquestioned starter. If Detroit can’t trade up for Sammy Watkins, Odell Beckham is a polished, intelligent player with real burner speed. He’ll make CJ and Matt Stafford even more dangerous.
11. Tennessee Titans OLB/DE Anthony Barr UCLA (Previous Pick: Justin Gilbert – CB)
The Titans’ switch to the 3-4 means that Tennessee have to add pieces on defense who can play that system and are better suited to it. Barr is a bit of a project, but as a pass rushing OLB, his ceiling is right up there.
12. New York Giants DT Aaron Donald Pittsburgh (Previous Pick: Timmy Jernigan – DT)
Another team that I think will be looking to trade back down the board and accumulate some picks, the Giants will probably be in BPA mode, picking the man who remains highest on their board. In this case, it could well be the disruptive, fast rising talent of Aaron Donald. He’d also fill a need after Linval Joseph’s departure.
13. St Louis Rams FS HaHa Clinton Dix Alabama (Previous Pick: Calvin Pryor – FS)
There’s a huge hole at safety in St Louis, and if they can add Clinton-Dix to Khalil Mack, this defense could be right up there with the best in the league.
14. Chicago Bears FS Calvin Pryor Louisville (Previous Pick: Aaron Donald – DT)
The Bears are gutted that Donald’s gone here, but their situation is such that most of the players available on the defensive side of the ball would improve their team. After watching Clinton-Dix go before them, they might just panic into taking the other top drawer safety here. But Pryor is a beast so it’s all good for Chicago.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers CB Justin Gilbert Oklahoma State (Previous Pick: Darqueze Dennard – CB)
As the top corner in the class and with significant scope to get even better, the Steelers wouldn’t pass up a chance to add some talented youth and athleticism to their secondary.
16. Dallas Cowboys DE Kony Ealy Missouri (Previous Pick: Calvin Pryor – S)
The defensive line needs to be addressed in Dallas, and while they may be preparing to trade up to get their man, someone who can rush the passer is so vital, they could reach a bit here too. Ealy is capable of rushing from the edges or playing 5-technique on the line. Monte Kiffin will love his versatility.
17. Baltimore Ravens TE Eric Ebron North Carolina (Previous Pick: Taylor Lewan – OT)
Joe Flacco needs an intermediate target and while Owen Daniels has been signed, his injury history doesn’t make him the most reliable guy. Ebron would add athleticism and a hightower of a target for Joe to launch the ball at.
18. New York Jets WR Brandin Cooks Oregon State (Previous Pick: Eric Ebron – TE)
Cooks recently came out and proclaimed to the media that he was the best receiver in the draft. The Jets need some explosive weapons. He sounds like the kind of guy Rex Ryan would love.
19. Miami Dolphins OT Zack Martin Notre Dame (Previous Pick: No Change)
I have a feeling Martin may jump a bit higher than this, but the Dolphins would be absolutely delighted if he was still here. He would solidify any position across the line that the Dolphins would want him to – a versatile, solid character guy for a dodgy locker room.
20. Arizona Cardinals LB Ryan Shazier Ohio State (Previous Pick: Kony Ealy – DE)
After losing Karlos Dansby in Free Agency, the Cards will be keen to shore up the centre of their defense. With the pick of the linebackers, they could go for the athletic tackling machine that is Ryan Shazier, he could end up being the Luke Kuechly of this year’s draft.
21. Green Bay Packers ILB CJ Mosley Alabama (Previous Pick: No Change)
The Pack react quickly to seeing Shazier go by snapping up the other top LB. He may have injury concerns, but Mosley is a leader with speed and power, a true 4-down player.
22. Philadelphia Eagles CB Darqueze Dennard Michigan State (Previous Pick: Marquise Lee- WR)
The Eagles’ secondary was a bit of a mess last year, and in a division with Tony Romo, Eli Manning and RG3, you need all the corners you can get. The big, fast WR they want can wait until rd 2.
23. Kansas City Chiefs WR Marquise Lee USC (Previous Pick: Odell Beckham – WR)
I’m 90% certain that the Chiefs will try to trade out of round 1 and recoup a second round pick, but staying here could mean that they give Alex Smith a reliable, explosive weapon. Lee just needs to stay healthy and he’ll be a very good player in the NFL.
24. Cincinnati Bengals CB Kyle Fuller Virginia Tech. (Previous Pick: Bradley Roby – CB)
The Bengals have an ageing secondary with durability concerns, so taking a big rangey corner who can also play some safety if needed would be a smart plan. Fuller’s stock is rising and he could go even higher.
25. San Diego Chargers CB Jason Verrett TCU (Previous Pick: No Change)
San Diego are desperate for some secondary help, and a hard hitting competitor like Jason Verrett would add to the defense very nicely indeed. Concerns over his size need only reference Tyrann Mathieu.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis) WR Kelvin Benjamin Florida State (Previous Pick: Brandin Cooks – WR)
Pick a QB with your first pick, give him a new weapon with your next. It’s a tried and tested formula, and by pairing Kelvin Benjamin with Johnny Football, it gives the rookie QB a 6’5’ tower of a man with bucket hands to throw the ball to.
27. New Orleans Saints CB Bradley Roby Ohio State (Previous Pick: Stephon Tuitt – DE)
The Saints and Rob Ryan will be crying out for a corner here, and will be delighted to add to their stable with the talent of Roby. He has a few red flags but is a player that Ryan will believe he can mould into a winner.
28. Carolina Panthers OT Morgan Moses Virginia (Previous Pick: Kelvin Benjamin – WR)
After all of the top class receiving talent seems to have gone, the Panthers will turn their attention to protecting their prized asset after the retirement of Jordan Gross. Moses is a big man on the offensive line and one with plug and play ability in the NFL.
29. New England Patriots DT Ra’Shede Hanegan Minnesota (Previous Pick: No Change)
Although Hageman has the size and explosiveness coveted by the Patriots, I’m still not sure they’d be willing to risk their 1st rounder on a prospect like the on and off Minnesota DT. A classic Trader Bill move is definitely possible, getting out of round 1, stocking a couple more picks up for later rounds. If they did take Hageman, the Pats would be getting a player who, when on his game, is as disruptive at the point of attack as any in the draft.
30. San Francisco 49’ers DE Demarcus Lawrence Boise State (Previous Pick: Kyle Fuller – CB)
I think the Niners will package some ammo to move up in this draft, they’ve got more than enough picks to add a dynamic receiving threat in the middle of the round. Staying here would cut their options down a bit, but if a player with the pass rush ability of Lawrence is sat here, San Francisco would definitely think about it. Aldon Smith could lose it at any time and Justin Smith is 35.
31. Denver Broncos OG Xavier Su’a-Filo UCLA (Previous Pick: Ryan Shazier – LB)
Peyton Manning needs to continue being protected in his pocket, he’s not getting any more mobile or healthy. Su’a-Filo is a nasty, intelligent, versatile offensive lineman who would fit in really well at any spot on Denver’s line.
32. Seattle Seahawks OT/

DE

Cyrus Kouandjo Alabama (Previous Pick: Xavier Su’a-Filo – OG)
Disappointed to see Su’a-Filo get stolen a spot ahead of them, the O-line needy Super Bowl Champs decide to pull the trigger on their right tackle of the future. The huge, strong mauler from Alabama can be moulded into a good right sided protector with his physical tools.

NFL32: On The Clock – Seattle Seahawks

For Seattle, the 2013 campaign ended with the glory of a Super Bowl triumph. With an effective and efficient offence and a defence that is being compared to some of the best of all time, the Seahawks showed a great deal of toughness in the regular season to finish with a 13-3 record. Narrow defeats came at the hands of the Colts, 49ers and Cardinals with many opponents dispatched with ease, especially at ‘The Link’ in Seattle. Winning the NFL West and picking up the first seed was important in that respect, as it ensured that any team wanting to go to the Super Bowl would almost certainly need to find a way to beat the Twelfth Man of the Seattle crowd and win on the road. The Super Bowl triumph was a magnificent culmination to a fantastic season as the Broncos were subjected to one of the heaviest Super Bowl defeats of all time. It is early to talk about legacy and dynasties, but the Seahawks will once again be among the favourites to lift the crown in 2014.

OFFENCE

Seattle employed effective offence that was primarily based around the skills of their two standout performers; Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. Lynch was the focal point of the running game, amassing 1257 yards at 4.2 per carry and 12 scores. Wilson added 539 of his own on the ground, whilst racking up an impressive passer rating of 101.2 thanks to 3357 yards and 26 touchdown passes compared to just nine picks. This was achieved despite being deprived the services of big Free Agent acquisition Percy Harvin for all but one game of the regular season due to injury. Golden Tate hauled in 64 passes for 898 yards and Doug Baldwin recorded 50 receptions for 778 yards. Both caught 5 touchdown passes; the same number tight end Zach Miller managed from his 33 catches. The need to add more weapons to the passing game is stark in order to take the emphasis of opposing defences away from stopping the run. With Tate now plying his trade in Detroit and Baldwin still a Free Agent, there is a big reliance on the ex-Viking duo of Harvin and Sidney Rice to avoid injury and be the main men for the Seahawks.

DEFENCE

There is not much that can be added to the platitudes that have already been given to the ‘Legion of Boom’. One of the most dominant defences of the century and mentioned in conversations regarding the best of all time, the Seahawks had a remarkable season as the league’s best in almost every meaningful category. This included giving up a mere 14.4 points and 273.6 yards per game on average throughout the season and just 8 points to a previously all conquering Denver offence in the Super Bowl. Everywhere you look on the team there are hugely talented players, but it is the secondary that is much vaunted. Richard Sherman (8 picks), Earl Thomas (5), Byron Maxwell (4) and Kam Chancellor (2) bring a level of skill and physicality to the position that other teams are now desperately trying to match. Michael Bennett (8.5) and Cliff Avril (8) lead the teams’ pursuit of opposing quarterback sacks and at linebacker Bobby Wagner (120 tackles) and Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith set the tone for a defence that is tough to run through and pass against. The Seahawks are providing the blueprint for how defence should be played in today’s NFL; how quickly others can adapt their plans will have a big say in how well Seattle are able to stay ahead of the game.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Jermain Kearse (kick-offs) and Golden Tate (punts) handled returning duties, although it was Harvin’s limited opportunities that provided the standout moments for the return team; his impressive return in the Super Bowl itself came off the back of his one 58 yard return against the Vikings being the team’s longest of the year. Seattle will need him to avoid injury to improve this area in 2014. Steven Hauschka was reliable as always, hitting 94.3% of all his Field Goal attempts.

COACHING

Pete Carroll and GM John Scneider have done a fantastic job in recruiting the type of player and talent needed to fir the game plan that the Seahawks have decided to use. By looking at the qualities they needed they have picked up talent that others have overlooked; the decision to select Russell Wilson in the third round and give him the starting role over the expensively acquired Matt Flynn at the start of last season looks more inspired as time goes by. Carroll now has the opportunity to build on 2013 and create a team capable of winning multiple Championships. Much will depend on how they are able to manage the salary cap when Wilson’s small rookie contract ends in a couple of years…

DRAFT/FREE AGENCY NEEDS

With cap room available thanks to Wilson’s contract situation, the Seahawks were able to retain Bennett as a primary pass rusher and Tony McDaniel on the interior of the line.
Percy Harvin will be like a new addition to the roster upon his return from injury and can add a new dimension to the Seahawks offence and stretch opposition defences if he is able to remain fit. Given his past record that is a big if, but the Seahawks have taken a risk for the potential reward. But despite his addition into the offence, the team is crying out for major additions to the passing game thanks to Tate’s departure for Detroit. Expect the draft haul to include at least one wide receiver and a tight end, if not more than that. With plenty of talent in the secondary and rushing the passer, another focus in the draft could be to try and add an interior defensive lineman to replace the departed Red Bryant (who has left to join Jacksonville).
If a strong offensive lineman is available then that may be another area that they look to upgrade as the team try to build from a position of strength.