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.


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