NFL’s Future is counting down the 2012 season opener with its preseason Power Rankings. We provide in-depth team previews and schedule analysis as the NFL season draws near.
24. Seattle Seahawks
Let me preface this ranking by saying that I like what Seattle is doing. While I haven’t agreed with some of their draft choices as of late, the rebuild in Seattle is impressive. They are an above-average defense with an offense that is building from within the trenches, smart move considering the power running attack of Marshawn Lynch. Pete Carroll needs a positive outcome this season to avoid being placed on the hot seat for 2013. Carroll’s 2012 team will be headed by a rookie quarterback in Russell Wilson. Wilson has earned the starting gig despite competition from free agent pick up Matt Flynn and now ex-Seahawk Tarvaris Jackson. As much as I like Wilson, I’m not sure the team will be able to win the division with Wilson at the helm in year one. This is a team going in the right direction in a top heavy division.
Russell Wilson’s development at the NFL level will be make or break for the Seahawks. Wilson is a superb athlete that was knocked for his lack of height. Some people just have ‘it’ and Wilson is one of those guys. While I don’t see a Pro Bowl year from Wilson, I think he makes strides in the right direction and provides Seattle with a long-term answer at the quarterback position. If Wilson struggles in the least look for Carroll to waste no time in inserting Matt Flynn into the starting lineup.
The development of Wilson will be aided by the fact that he can turn and handoff to Marshawn Lynch. Lynch fell out of favor in Buffalo and turned into Seattle’s gain. The hard charging runner finished seventh in the league in rushing in a one-dimensional offense that was decimated by injuries. If the offensive line can stay healthy, Lynch could be headed towards another big season in Seattle.
Wilson will likely have to rely on his tight ends in the passing attack. The Seahawks boast two quality TE’s in Zach Miller and Kellen Winslow, who was acquired via trade from Tampa Bay. The receivers leave a bit to be desired. Doug Baldwin was the team’s top receiving threat in 2011, which doesn’t inspire much confidence for Wilson’s development. Sidney Rice will have to stay healthy this season and revert back to his Viking form to be a factor for a team in much needed help at the position.
The offensive line is solid on paper as the team has loaded up in recent drafts along the offensive line. Russell Okung is more than capable but hasn’t stayed healthy long enough to realize his potential. The 2011 NFL Draft saw the Seahawks take two OL in the first two rounds in James Carpenter and John Moffitt. Unfortunately, the Seahawks lost both of them last season to knee injuries. Moffitt’s injuries (shoulder this offseason) have opened the door for 7th rounder JR Sweezy at RG. They have a solid center in Max Unger who was the lone bright spot on last season’s line. If this line can stay healthy, they should provide Wilson and Lynch with the necessary blocking to have a successful 2012 season.
Seattle’s defense is looking to take the next step forward this season. Last year they relied on a lights out secondary to carry them. This season they drafted with an eye at improving the front seven.
The defensive line should be solid with Brandon Mebane leading the charge. Seattle was able to coax Mebane into staying in Seattle, a solid move as he’s the best of this bunch. Mebane will be joined by Alan Branch, Red Bryant, and Chris Clemons on the defensive line. The Seahawks used their pick of the 2012 NFL Draft on pass rushing specialist Bruce Irvin. Irvin was over-drafted in most people’s mind but he clearly fills a need area for the Seahawks. Clemons was the only threat off the edge last season and his time in Seattle may be winding down. Adding Irvin’s versatility to the defense will be welcomed from a depth perspective and a talent upgrade.
The linebacking corps should get a boost from rookie inside backer Bobby Wagner. Wagner will be joined by 2011 standout KJ Wright and Leroy Hill. Clearly, Wagner doesn’t represent an upgrade over the departed David Hawthorne but has the goods to become a very good MLB in the near future.
This team will again rely on a fantastic, young secondary. Two very good corners in Richard Sherman (6’3”, 195) and Brandon Browner (6’4”, 221) lead the charge for the Seahawks. They also rely on one of the best safety tandems in the league with Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. The Seahawks ranked 4th in the NFL in interceptions and I would look for them to be right back up there this season.
The schedule for the Seahawks doesn’t lend itself to inspiring confidence on paper. This team will go as far as Russell Wilson will take them in year one. Two games apiece against St. Louis and Arizona should help Wilson out.
Sept. 9 – at Arizona Cardinals
Sept. 16 – Dallas Cowboys
Sept. 24 – Green Bay Packers
Sept. 30 – at St. Louis Rams
Oct. 7 – at Carolina Panthers
Oct. 14 – New England Patriots
Oct. 18 – at San Francisco 49ers
Oct. 28 – at Detroit Lions
Nov. 4 – Minnesota Vikings
Nov. 11 – NY Jets
Nov. 18 – BYE
Nov. 25 – at Miami Dolphins
Dec. 2 – at Chicago Bears
Dec. 9 – Arizona Cardinals
Dec. 16 – Buffalo Bills
Dec. 23 – San Francisco 49ers
Dec. 30 – St. Louis Rams
If Russell Wilson can deliver in year one, this Seattle team could take a step forward from last season’s seven win total. A lot will rest on the health and production of the offensive line and the growth of this emerging defense. For now, I will stick to a conservative seven wins for the Seahawks but an eight or nine win season wouldn’t surprise me.