RotoWire Partners

Team Previews: 2010 Seahawks Preview

Jason Thornbury

Jason Thornbury

Thornbury is a senior editor at RotoWire. A former newspaper reporter and editor, he has also worked in sports television and radio, including co-hosting RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS


Jim Mora Jr. might be the first coach in NFL history whose introduction to his dream job lasted longer than the actual job. Designated heir apparent to Mike Holmgren 12 months before becoming head coach, Mora lasted only 11 months in the official capacity, getting fired after a 5-11 season. The Mora year (can't quite call it an era) was the fatal intersection of a team in decline, questionable personnel decisions and mediocre coaching.

Former USC coach Pete Carroll will get more than one year to revive the Seahawks (and his NFL coaching reputation). He'll need it, because revival road will be filled with plenty of potholes this season.

The Seahawks' most basic problem the last couple years was simply a lack of playmakers. Although he's made numerous roster moves, Carroll has done seemingly little to improve that situation.

Instead of drafting a franchise running back, Carroll made draft-day trades that netted former Trojan LenDale White and Leon Washington. White lasted 35 days before he was released for being lazy, and while Washington has upside, he has a steel rod in his leg after a compound fracture last season and might not be ready for training camp. That leaves last year's lackluster duo of Julius Jones and Justin Forsett. The Seahawks will keep searching for another backfield option, but little is available at this point absent a major trade. Forsett at least can return kicks.

Seattle did even less at receiver, unless reclamation projects Mike Williams (another Trojan) and Reggie Williams make perhaps the greatest comebacks in NFL history. Otherwise, it's T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Deion Branch back for more mediocrity. Nate Burleson left via free agency, so if the Williams' don't pan out, the third WR spot apparently will fall to second-round pick Golden Tate or 2009 third-round pick Deon Butler. Tate likely will do more watching than playing, though perhaps if Carroll considers him the future he'll just toss him into the fire. Butler is the only receiver who can stretch the defense.

If Matt Hasselbeck's Tweets are to be believed, John Carlson is your tight-end sleeper this year. According to Hasselbeck, Carlson will be featured more prominently in the passing game.

Hasselbeck's going to need the help. The Seahawks traded for career backup Charlie Whitehurst, who has never thrown an NFL pass. But few clipboard holders get two-year, $10 million contracts. Hasselbeck is safe for the time being, but if the Seahawks are in the NFC West basement come Thanksgiving, why wouldn't the Seahawks see what Whitehurst has to offer?

The Seahawks made a bevy of moves with the intent of creating training-camp competition at every position. Fine. But what if those left standing still aren't any good?


OFFSEASON MOVES

2010 Draft

Round, Overall, Player

1. (6) Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma St.-Huge shoes to fill taking over for Walter Jones.

1. (14) Earl Thomas, S, Texas-Will start at free safety as a rookie.

2. (60) Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame-Great after-the-catch runner.

4. (111) Walter Thurmond, CB, Oregon-Knee injury dropped draft stock and turned him into a good value.

4 . (127) E.J. Wilson, DE, North Carolina- Adds size to the D-Line; not a pass rusher.

5. (133) Kam Chancellor, S, Virginia Tech- Big hitter, likely future starter.

6 . (185) Anthony McCoy, TE, USC- Positive marijuana test dropped draft stock.

7 . (236) Dexter Davis, DE, Arizona St.- Too small for DE, if he makes the team.

7 . (245) Jameson Konz, WR, Kent St.- Exceptional athlete has been moved to TE.


Key Acquisitions

Leon Washington, RB (Jets) Hopes to be ready for camp after a compound leg fracture.

Charlie Whitehurst, QB (Chargers) When is the future?

Chris Clemons, DE (Eagles) Pass-rush specialist leads revamped D-Line.

Ben Hamilton, G (Broncos) Will tutor rookie tackle on left side

Key Losses

Walter Jones, OT (retired) Next stop, Canton.

Patrick Kerney, DE (retired) Next stop, convalescent home.

Nate Burleson, WR (Lions) Seattle homecoming didn't end well.


TEAM NOTES


MORA TO HASSELBECK: TWEET YOU

Matt Hasselbeck's somewhat terse Twitter exchange this offseason with fired coach Jim Mora made local headlines, but more interesting than a former NFL coach attempting to defend his record in 140 characters was the news that tight end John Carlson will figure more prominently in the passing game. Hasselbeck first Tweeted happy birthday to "this year's fantasy sleeper, TE John Carlson," later adding,"I expect he'll be running routes instead of pass blocking this year." That apparently got under the skin of Mora, who Tweeted, "He ran routes last year, 51 catches/7 TD's. Only blocked 2 keep the QB from getting killed." Hasselbeck responded, "Just meant he is our new slot guy now that we signed Chris Baker as our new 'Daniel Graham' TE." Two things to note: First, while Carlson's numbers were comparable to his promising rookie season, his impact was much less because he was virtually ignored weeks at a time - half of his production came in four games. Second, the Seahawks receiving corps is weak, which gives Carlson an opening to create his own role as perhaps a hybrid tight end/wideout out of the slot.

SO LONG, Walter Jones, NOW WHAT?

Walter Jones retired this offseason. Perhaps the league's most dominant left tackle the last decade, Jones gave up 23 sacks and was penalized for holding nine times in 180 career starts. Replacing Jones is first-round pick Russell Okung. How quickly he develops is anyone's guess, but the Seahawks desperately need improved line play. Seattle gained just 4.0 yards per carry last year (27th) and allowed 41 sacks, 10th most. The new regime hired Alex Gibbs to install a zone-blocking scheme and signed Ben Hamilton to replace the traded Rob Sims at LG. Former first-round pick Chris Spencer, who was benched late last season, goes back to center, while 2009 second-round pick Max Unger flips from center back to right guard, joining usually steady right tackle Sean Locklear. It all sounds fine, except that the Seahawks ran a zone-blocking scheme last season, and it didn't get them anywhere. And Gibbs' version in Houston last year averaged just 3.5 YPC, 31st in the league.

MEET THE NEW DEFENSE - AGAIN

Seattle's defense seems as if it is in perpetual rebuilding mode. A yet-again revamped D-Line will see 2008 first-round pick Lawrence Jackson and newcomer Chris Clemons start at the end spots. Jackson, a former Trojan, has mostly been a disappointment, while Clemons had only three sacks last year in 16 games. The starting safeties are new with first-round pick Earl Thomas at free safety and veteran Lawyer Milloy at strong safety. Cornerback Marcus Trufant is back healthy, as is Lofa Tatupu (another Trojan). Fellow linebacker Leroy Hill is in limbo because of legal problems. And last year's first-round pick Aaron Curry needs to develop now.


VALUE METER

Rising: Charlie Whitehurst has never thrown a regular-season NFL pass, but acquiring him from the Chargers wasn't cheap, so the team obviously has plans for him.

Declining: T.J. Houshmandzadeh is on a three-year yards per target decline, plays in a bad offense, has little speed, had offseason hernia surgery and scored only three TDs last year on 21 red-zone targets.

Sleeper: John Carlson. We'll take Matt Hasselbeck's Twitter word for it that Carlson will be used as a receiver first this season.

Supersleeper: Golden Tate, a second-round pick out of Notre Dame, has a shot to earn playing time thanks to a weak WR corps.


IDP WATCH

Lofa Tatupu, LB Injury killed his season last year. Needs to stay healthy for 16 games.

Earl Thomas, FS First-round pick has INT potential, though tackling is suspect.

Aaron Curry, LB 2009 first-round pick needs to live up to his billing.

Team Defense:

RotoWire Rank: 29