So we, admittedly, underestimated the commitment required for us both to preview all 32 NFL teams together in a little more than a month. It's tedious, thankless work. So from now on we're splitting the rest of the teams among the two of us to get done twice as quick (and with half the work). It is with that that we're proud to bring to you the 29th of our 32 team previews for the upcoming NFL season, the Seattle Seahawks.
TOM'S TAKE: As I look out the window now and see nothing but gray skies and falling rain, I think about the typical climate in Seattle and understand why its residents so frequently kill themselves. It's the Seahawks.
OK, so maybe, at least in the last year, the rain in Seattle has caused more suicides than the team, who as I'm sure you're aware represented the NFC in the Super Bowl last year. And surprisingly, they look to be near the top of the pile again this year. Follicle-challenged quarterback Matt Hasselbeck still has MVP Shaun Alexander to hand off to, so things should be OK in that regard. Unless, of course, he was just giving his all in a contract year and will proceed to rest on his laurels. Or the Madden Curse strikes again. And no, I'm not typically a believer in this sort of thing, but the evidence is pretty damning. Good luck cracking 1,000 on that detached-in-an-awful-wood-chopping-incident right leg of yours, Shaun. Oh, there's also the loss of Steve Hutchinson to Minnesota, but people have made a big enough deal about that. Hutchinson got a big payday because he happened to be the best free agent at a position that is currently en vogue. Pork Chop Womack or Chris Spencer, whoever takes the spot, will fill in. Last I checked, there were five guys on an offensive line, and the other starting four from last year remain. What will hurt Hasselbeck is the loss of Joe Jurevicius, one of the NFL's true good guys and a player who gets little to no respect. After the debacle that was Koren Robinson, the Seahawks needed a stable, battle-tested receiver. Jurevicius supplied that, and there is no underestimating the effect his loss can have on the offense. In his stead is Nate Burleson, who has the potential to be a star but who was derailed in his first season as a go-to guy in Minnesota by injuries.
The defense is well above-average, and will feature emerging playmakers at all three levels. Rocky Bernard is all around the ball, as evidenced by his 52 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and 2 fumble recoveries last year. Lofa Tatupu was Shawne Merriman's only competition for DROY last year, and like Merriman, will join the NFL's elite group of defenders this year. He's aided on the weakside by Julian Peterson, who was signed from the rival (in a divisional/geographical sense, not competitive) 49ers. I feel like Peterson is overrated, but he's still a solid, dependable linebacker. And maybe he was just dogging it in San Francisco. I would have done the same thing. It's tough to consider Marcus Trufant "emerging," but this is his first offseason surgery-free and he's really wowed the coaching staff with his improvement. He's been a very good player throughout his career, but this could be the year he becomes a top-flight shutdown corner, as his draft selection would indicate.
The team also has Kelly Herndon and Kelly Jennings at corner. Drafting Jennings improves the 'Hawks secondary in the long term, but he was essentially drafted to take the spot of Andre Dyson, who fled to the Jets for reasons unbeknownst to me. Immediately, the Seahawks secondary downgrades with the loss of Dyson, but Jennings has talent and the Seahawks have been good recently at coaching up their secondary. The team will get a boost from the return of Ken Hamlin, who missed most of last year after getting the shit kicked out of him in a bar fight that he sort of instigated. Many have criticisized Hamlin's behavior in escalating the melee from a typical bar fight into something that left the safety clinging to his life, but the same fervor with which he throws fists allows him to be the player he is. He's rough, brash, and will knock you out if you spill his drink. Having him back, besides boosting the Seahawks secondary from a personnel standpoint, will raise morale.
I really think the NFC belongs to Carolina this year, but Seattle should be right in the thick of it with the Giants. If anything, I root for a Seattle/Giants NFC Championship Game for two reasons:
1) The Panthers are in the NFC South, and thus I wish them no success (Geaux Saints)
2) I'd love a repeat of Jay Feely's 3 missed field goal extravaganza. Totally the fault of Seattle's (or the Longhorn's, depending on who you ask) 12th man, by the way.