It’s the time of the year where everyone feels like their team can be a legitimate contender. Unless you’re a Jaguars fan. This couldn’t be more true with the absence of pre-season football due to the extra precautions the NFL is taking to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus.
The Seattle Seahawks headed into the off-season last January (which feels like three years ago) and had a lot of work ahead of them to become Super Bowl contenders. Coming off the heels of a disappointing 28-23 loss at Lambeau Field in the Divisional Round of the playoffs left a sour taste in the mouths of many Seahawks fans, yours truly included.
In fact, every season since their heartbreaking loss on the goal line in Super Bowl 49 has left much to be desired. Promises of a dynasty were shattered and the Seattle Seahawks have yet to complete a roster that is capable of contending.
2015 brought many ups and downs starting 4-5 on the year before Russell Wilson went on a run of MVP proportions, dragging the Seahawks to a 10-6 record before the 15-1 Carolina Panthers stifled any chances of a third straight Super Bowl appearance. 2016 was an odd year with the absence of Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson battling severe sprains to his knee and ankle on separate legs.
They too would reach the divisional round before the Atlanta Falcons buried their Super Bowl aspirations at the Georgia Dome. 2017 is when it came all unravelled as Cliff Avril, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor all suffered career-ending injuries as the Seahawks would miss the playoffs for the first time in the Russell Wilson era.
Now, since the Seattle Seahawks have re-tooled their roster, it is Russell Wilson who has been the face of the franchise over the last number of seasons as the Legion of Boom has all departed. Other notable names that have left from that era are Doug Baldwin, Jon Ryan, Earl Thomas, Michael Bennett and Justin Britt among many others.
Many are left wondering when this team will return to being Super Bowl contenders. To the Seahawks credit, they’ve put themselves in a great position to do just that, however, this team is not without its weaknesses. Here are the reasons why the Seahawks will win the Super Bowl, as well as what could prevent them.
Why They Will
Wilson is coming off of three straight seasons where he has played at an MVP level. Despite his strongest efforts, he has yet to receive an MVP vote in his ENTIRE CAREER. Mind-blowing, I know.
Wilson put up tremendous numbers and was in the MVP conversation for a majority of the 2019 season before a cool finish to the season brought his campaign to a screeching halt.
31 touchdowns to 5 interceptions and a 106.3 rating made him one of the most efficient quarterbacks in 2019. As Wilson remains in his prime, look for this to continue.
The emergence of DK Metcalf as a star wide receiver was certainly a welcoming sight for Seahawks fans. With Tyler Lockett entering his sixth season, he’s become one of Wilson’s most consistent targets boasting the second-best catch rate in the NFL last season, only behind Michael Thomas. The Seattle Seahawks also added speedster Phillip Dorsett.
And though his status is still in limbo, the Seahawks can expect Josh Gordon back at some point this season. Wilson can also look forward to a rejuvenated group of tight ends that consists of Greg Olsen, a healthy Will Dissly and a 6’7 Colby Parkinson.
The running game gets a lot of attention in Seattle with many fans clamouring for them to do it less. However, with Chris Carson healthy, Seattle has also added veteran 1,000-yard rusher, Carlos Hyde and drafted DeeJay Dallas who also doubles as quite the receiving threat and has received rave reviews all summer in camp.
Jamal Adams and Improved Secondary
Last season the Seahawks starting secondary consisted of Tedric Thompson (released), Bradley McDougald (traded), Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin. After a disappointing Divisional Round performance where Aaron Rodgers picked on Tre Flowers, he’s come back with a vengeance but he has some competition.
General Manager John Schneider went to work and traded a fifth-round pick for the second-highest PFF graded corner Quinton Dunbar.
Then, a blockbuster trade ensued. Seattle sent two first-round picks and Bradley McDougald for All-Pro Safety Jamal Adams who can play anywhere on the field as a box safety, man-up on tight-ends and even rush the passer.
Griffin will also look to build on a great 2019 campaign after struggling in 2018 to locate the football on long routes. This will easily be the best secondary Seattle has boasted since the Legion of Boom Days.
Why They Won’t
Questions Surrounding Pass Rush
One of the most disappointing aspects of the Seattle Seahawks 2019 defence was the lack of pass rush despite investing heavily in that area. Jadeveon Clowney was brought over in a blockbuster trade and the Seahawks rolled the dice on Ziggy Ansah.
While Clowney was dominant in disrupting plays, he only added three sacks to his overall tally. Ansah struggled to stay on the field and thus resulted in a near league-low 28 team sacks.
What many thought would be an emphasis on the off-season, Seattle did not end up re-signing Clowney after an off-season long stalemate that resulted in him signing with the Tennesse Titans right after training camp had concluded.
Instead, Schneider chose to supplement this by bringing back former first-round pick Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa who combined for 15.5 sacks last season.
Not that this should be used as the main metric for defensive line success but there’s a lot to be desired in this group. Darrell Taylor, a highly heralded second-round pick won’t see the field early on as he battles a leg injury. Alton Robinson impressed in camp but he’ll have a lot to prove.
Former first-round pick LJ Collier will have a lot to prove after a disappointing rookie campaign that had many label him a bust. If this Seahawks team is going to make a Super Bowl push, these underdogs will have to surpass expectations.
Offensive Line Chemistry
Another area of turnover for the Seattle Seahawks was the offensive line that saw three of the five starting spots be replaced. Starting center Justin Britt has been replaced by Ethan Pocic who has played multiple positions across the line since joining the team in 2017. The most highly anticipated addition is third-round pick, Damien Lewis who is replacing journeyman guard, DJ Fluker.
After a disappointing four seasons at right tackle in Seattle that resulted in many penalties and sacks given up, Seattle has moved on from Germaine Ifedi and signed Brandon Shell from the New York Jets to anchor the right-hand side of the line.
While these may be upgrades, takes time for offensive lines to mesh, read out blitzes and communicate effectively. This may result in a slower start to the season and in turn cost Seattle the number one seed, something they haven’t made the Super Bowl without due to the heavy competition in the conference. Which brings me to my final point.
Pete Carroll has never shied away from competition, it’s literally ingrained in his core philosophy. However, the competition that Seattle will be working against is as difficult as it’s been in years.
Within their division alone they will be facing off against the defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers, the upstart Arizona Cardinals who just added DeAndre Hopkins and a LA Rams team that still boasts big names on both sides of the ball in Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.
12 wins will absolutely be needed to secure first place in the division.
Beyond that, Tom Brady has now entered the conference to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers which is already apart of a division that has Drew Brees and company.
Elsewhere, the Dallas Cowboys boast one of the top rosters in the NFL with new coach Mike McCarthy. And while the NFC North isn’t as strong as in years past. The Vikings, Packers and Bears all have the talent to surprise many people this year.
The Seahawks haven’t made the Super Bowl without having home-field advantage, in fact, Pete Carroll is 0-5 in Divisional Round road games. Though there isn’t likely to be a large fan presence in the stand this season, home-field appears to be the only way the Seahawks can secure their best chance at the big dance.
It’s been a crazy ride on and off the field for many over 2020. It’s nice to have football back to bring a sense of “normalcy” within our lives.
And while we will all be holding our collective breath as to teams staying healthy as they travel across the country, it will be fun to be yelling at our TVs again (or is that just me?) Regardless of who you root for, enjoy the 2020 season.
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