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2008 NFL Season Preview: #7 Seattle Seahawks

August 24, 2008

Division: NFC West
Last year's record: 10-6
Head Coach: Mike Holmgren

Key Losses:
Shaun Alexander RB
Marcus Pollard TE

Key Additions:
Julius Jones RB
Jon Carlson TE
Lawrence Jackson DE (rookie)

Breakdown of the Offense:
Go grab an old high school yearbook and look through it. I guarantee you there were more cute girls in your grade than you remember and for whatever reason you never noticed them when you were in school. The Seattle Seahawks are one of those girls. They were always quiet, sitting in the back of the room, tucked away in the northwest corner. They never participated in any of the activities that were noticed by a majority of the students, like sports, SCA, or weekend partying, but the activities they did participate in they excelled in, like the school lit mag and newspaper, which occassionally got them on the morning announcements: "Could Shaun Alexander please come down to the office? There's an MVP trophy here for you and a ticket to the 2005 Super Bowl."

While Shaun Alexander got the majority of what little recognition has made its way to Seattle, the player that has truly engineered a consistent level of success for the Seahawks has been quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, giving hope to balding men everywhere that women can find a barehead attractive. Alexander is currently a free agent, his best years behind him, making Hasselbeck the lone star of the offense. He's a three-time Pro Bowler, coming off a year in which he threw for 28 touchdowns, 3966 yards, and only 12 interceptions, that's a better year than he had when he took Seattle to the Super Bowl and was named the NFC starter in the Pro Bowl. He is clearly a quarterback at the top of his game, accomplishing much without ever having had a credible All-Pro receiver.

The major reason for Hasselbeck's continued success, even as Alexander's performances declined, is the Seattle offensive line, which is still a strong unit, despite the loss of Stan Hutchinson a few years ago. Walter Jones is a stellar left tackle; he's an eight-time Pro Bowl selection. Mike Wahle is solid at left guard with eleven years of experience in Green Bay and Seattle. Center Chris Spencer, right guard Rob Sims, and right tackle Sean Locklear add youth. This group gave up 33 sacks last season, playing in an offense that relied mostly on the pass.

Mike Holmgren was forced to rely more heavily on the pass last season because Shaun Alexander managed only 3.5 yards per carry last season and often looked timid as he hit the hole. The team hopes that former Cowboy Julius Jones can get the ground game back on track, but it's worth mentioning he averaged just 3.6 yards per carry last season, in a limited role. The Seahawks hope that Julius Jones can show more of the form that he displayed as a rookie in 2004. Since then, he's been highly susceptible to injuries. Maurice Morris is a decent backup at runningback, having averaged 4.5 yards per carry last season.

The Seattle receiving core is filled with guys who are supposedly going to have breakout years every year and for most of them it hasn't happened. There are a couple of reasons as to why this hasn't happened. First, Matt Hasselbeck spreads the ball around, a skill Mike Holmgren encourages in his quarterback, just look at Brett Favre as an example. The other reason is that 35-year-old Bobby Engram stole all the young guys' thunder last year by catching 1147 yards and 6 touchdowns. Engram, however, is listed at the team's third receiver. The starters are Nate Burleson and Deion Branch. Each finished last season with over 600 yards and they combined for 13 touchdowns. At tight end, Will Heller will be starting. Now, I'm not picking on Heller because he's a Georgia Tech alum, but the guy has six years in the league and only seven touchdowns. Three of which came last season.

Breakdown of the Defense:

Seattle is extremely underrated on this side of the ball. In fantasy football, there are always those guys who jump on the big name defenses, the Chicago Bears and the Baltimore Raves, but I feel like the Seattle defense is consistently a top ten defense and they're always availible after the draft as a free agent. Also, weren't they the number one defense in the NFL at some point in the last few years? Someone should look these things up, which makes me realize how luck Wilbon and Kornheiser have it; they have a stat boy. I wonder who stat boy's stat boy is. Anyway, I digress. This defense is likeable because it's filled with a bunch of guys who don't quit. Call them high-enerygy or good-motor guys, either way they compete.

The Seattle linebackers feature Julian Peterson and Lofa Totupa. Totupa led the team with 109 tackles last season. Peterson had 9.5 sacks, which made a lot of San Francisco fans bitter because yes, he does have something left in the tank.

UVA alum Patrick Kerney stands out on the defensive line. He finished last season with 14.5 sacks. Darryl Tapp, Kerney's bookend, had 7 sacks on his own. This team gets to the quarterback.

The secondary features a group of strong tacklers. Marcus Trufant is the corner with name recognition, who just signed a contract extension. The other corner is Kelly Jennings. The safeties are Deon Grant and Brian Russell. Jordan Babineaux adds depth.

Season Outlook:
There she is on page 229 of the yearbook, the cute girl in class that no one ever dated. Maybe, you and all your friends thought she was cute, but no one said anything because she wasn't an obvious dating candidate. Perhaps, because you felt you had to create an argument for why she's cute, you decided to never bring the topic up in conversation. Now, you're kicking yourself because beside her picture it reads, "2004-2007 NFC West Champions," not only was she cute, but she was talented also. Then, just to make yourself feel better, you look at the group photo of the NFC West and realize you never dated her because you couldn't stand the sight of her ugly friends: San Francisco, Arizona, and St. Louis. Yes, you are that shallow.

The Seahawks will win 11 or 12 games and the division for the fifth straight year. Matt Hasselbeck will make do with a mediocre group of receivers once again, and the Seahawks will be one of the few teams in the NFC, not in the NFC East, that matters. Their playoff success probably depends on whether the games are home or away and the status of Julius Jones. Hasselbeck's arm can only go so far.

Wk 1 @ Buffalo
Wk 2 San Francisco
Wk 3 St. Louis
Wk 4 BYE
Wk 5 @ NY Giants
Wk 6 Green Bay
Wk 7 @ Tampa Bay
Wk 8 @ San Francisco
Wk 9 Philadelphia
Wk 10 @ Miami
Wk 11 Arizona
Wk 12 Washington
Wk 13 @ Dallas
Wk 14 New England
Wk 15 @ St. Louis
Wk 16 NY Jets
Wk 17 @ Arizona

Langston's Thoughts:
"This will be Holmgren's last season as head coach. With upgrades at RB and on the O-line, expect a playoff run for the Seahawks and another division title."


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