After missing the postseason for the first time since 2011 last season, will the Seahawks be able to rebound in 2018?
The Seattle Seahawks haven’t been the same team since their loss in the 2015 Super Bowl to the New England Patriots. To this day, Seahawks players and fans are still haunted by Malcolm Butler’s traumatic game saving interception at the goal line on a questionable play call by Pete Carroll and the Seattle coaching staff.
The ramifications of losing that game clearly still hang over the organization. Multiple players from that team including Richard Sherman, Luke Willson, and Marshawn Lynch have talked about the negative impact that game had on them moving into the seasons that followed.
Willson said that one of their teammates went as far as punching a locker, which shattered his hand after the loss. Lynch shared his perspective on the play call in his interview on UNINTERRUPTED.
At the end of the day, I’m not mad at him or who called the [play.] But I’m going to tell you like this, when that play was called, and I saw the expression on the other 10 guys’ faces in there … when they heard the call … they looked right at me. And I’m looking like *claps* break. What y’all want me to do?
The decision not to give Lynch the ball on the goal line has been one that has sent the Seahawks from being a potential back-to-back Super Bowl champion on their way to possibly being a dynasty to a team that has many new faces and a lot of what-ifs in their recent past.
With former defensive stars Sherman, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, and Kam Chancellor all having departed Seattle, and Earl Thomas holding out, the 2018 version of the Seattle Seahawks are going to look very different. But do they have enough talent on their current roster to remain in contention?
The short-term answer to that question is no. However, they do have one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Russell Wilson, who is in the heart of his prime, which leaves room for major optimism moving forward.
If Wilson is able to have another MVP type season like he had in 2017, in which he had 37 total touchdowns and only 11 interceptions, the Seahawks should be able to hang around in the Wild Card race.
Although Seattle lost a few weapons in free agency, including Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson, they still have an outstanding group of weapons surrounding Wilson, which could help create one of the top offensive units in the league.
Doug Baldwin was Pro Football Focus’s sixth-rated wide receiver last season and continues to be one of the best players at the position in the NFL. Tyler Lockett has been a consistent deep threat since entering the league, averaging over 13 yards per reception in his career, and will likely see an expanded role with Richardson’s departure.
Additionally, veteran receiver Brandon Marshall joined the team in free agency. Marshall struggled with drops last year, but his big body and ability to catch jump balls could serve as a replacement for the red zone targets vacated by Graham.
PFF SEA Seahawks (@PFF_Seahawks) August 9, 2018
Seattle has struggled to strike a balance offensively since Lynch left the team, but they hope that by drafting Rashaad Penny, an explosive running back who could make the offense less one-dimensional, could fix this issue. Last season, the Seahawks were dead last in rushing yards per game if you exclude Wilson’s 36 yards per game.
One of the main reasons for their lack of a running game is because their offensive line has been so bad. In hopes of resurrecting this group, Seattle hired a new offensive line coach, Mike Solari.
Solari has been coaching in the NFL for over 30 years and has coached multiple teams among the leaders in rushing yards per game, including his four-year run with the Jim Harbaugh led 49ers, who were top-five in rushing three straight years.
Obviously the talent isn’t as great in Seattle as he has had with other teams in the past, but with Duane Brown and a former first-round pick Germain Ifedi, the line can be much improved.
Additionally, with Penny and Chris Carson returning from injury, the Seahawks have put together a formidable backfield that could have much more statistical success than in the past couple years.
Frank Clark will be key to the Seahawks defensive success in 2018. pic.twitter.com/gqt82KMfn6— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) August 7, 2018
The Seahawks’ defense is obviously going to miss the defensive stars that they lost this offseason, but they still have a few key pieces that will allow them to be successful. Defensive End Frank Clark will have to build off of his nine-sack season in order to make up for the loss of fellow pass rushers Bennett and Avril.
Linebacker is now the Seahawks’ biggest strength on defense with K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner, who was PFF’s top rated linebacker. Wagner only had one missed tackle in 2017, which was the lowest of any player in the top ten among tacklers.
Behind these two players, Seattle will still have a defense that rates in the top half of the league. The problem for the Seahawks is that even with an above-average defense and elite quarterback, that still likely won’t be enough to contend in the loaded NFC.
That said, the Seahawks have a foundation in Wilson, Wagner, and Carroll that sets them up for success in the coming years — that is, if they are able to retool the defense and fill the voids left by players they lost in the offseason.
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