With only nine wins combined over the last two seasons the Seattle Seahawks went to work in the offseason, overhauling both the roster and the coaching staff. With the NFC West wide open this year the Seahawks are hoping the changes have an immediate impact.
Pete Carroll returns to coach in the NFL for the first time since 1999 and while he put together one of the great college programs of the 2000′s he has his work cut out for him in Seattle. A big first step toward getting back to the playoffs will be protecting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. The veteran missed nine games in 2008 was healthier in ’09 but he still missed two games. Hasselbeck was pressured way too much in ’09 and certainly the protection couldn’t be any worse than the final four games of 2009 when Hasselbeck was sacked 10 times and threw 10 interceptions. To strengthen the line Seattle drafted tackle Russell Okung and signed guards Chester Pitts and Ben Hamilton. Certainly the Seahawks don’t lack the weaponry with TJ Houshmandzadeh and tight end John Carlson. The Seahawks also drafted flashy Golden Tate and are hoping to revive the career of Mike Williams. Seattle’s once proud running game nearly washed out last year as the Seahawks ranked 26th in rushing and scored just seven touchdowns on the ground. Looking to add a spark to the Julius Jones-Justin Forsett backfield tandem Seattle acquired Leon Washington in the offseason.
The next step in Seattle’s rebuilding project is to put more playmakers on the field. Patrick Kerney led the team in sacks with a mere five however he retired in the offseason. Deon Grant led the secondary with just three interceptions but in the offseason Grant signed with the Giants. To help fix the secondary the Seahawks used one of two first round picks on safety Earl Thomas. Seattle will need Thomas after routinely getting picked apart by opposing quarterbacks. Much of the focus should be on Seattle’s linebackers. MLB David Hawthorne led the team in tackles, registered four sacks and picked off three passes. The Seahawks are also looking for more from 2009 first round pick Aaron Curry. Not surprising, Seattle was much better defending the run.
Hasselbeck is now the dean of NFC West quarterbacks and the Seahawks need a full season from him. The revamped offensive line should help keep Hasselbeck upright. On defense the Seahawks need Thomas and Curry to jell quickly. After two tours of duty in the NFL Carroll needs to prove he can be as successful in the pros as he was at USC. It’s not far fetched to think the Seahawks can compete in the division if they stay healthy.This could be an eight or a nine win team which just might be enough to win the watered-down West.