Seahawks Report: Enjoy 2014, Because Things Will Never Be the Same

The Super Bowl champs remain a juggernaut, but the clock is ticking on their window to be truly dominant

By
Robert Klemko
· More from Robert·
Scenes from the Seahawks' sold-out training camp on Lake Washington. (AP :: 2)
Scenes from the Seahawks’ sold-out training camp on the shores of Lake Washington. (AP :: 2)

You haven’t seen a truly picturesque football field until you’ve visited Renton, Wash., home of the Seahawks. The field pops against a backdrop that includes rusted-over train tracks, a quaint bicycle trail and Lake Washington. Unfortunately, I watched two days of non-padded practice, so I didn’t read too much into the action. Then again, the weather was perfect for a passing exhibition, which didn’t disappoint the 3,000-plus fans on hand to see the defending champions prep their defense.

One vivid memory from watching practice

Percy Harvin pulling down a catch at Friday’s practice. (AP)
Percy Harvin pulling down a catch at Friday’s practice. (AP)

Seeing veteran wide receiver Percy Harvin go in motion out of trips left, take a handoff from Russell Wilson and then pivot, twirl and motor like Neymar Jr. He was the fastest man on the field during the first two days of training camp, with rookie wideout Paul Richardson pushing for a close second. If they’d been playing tackle, I doubt a single defender would’ve clutched so much as a handful of jersey as Harvin tore down the sideline. After watching him on Friday and Saturday, I believed Harvin when he said he was able to do things now that he hadn’t done since injuring his hip, which required surgery to repair a torn labrum last summer.

How this team can go 12–4

Balance. If Harvin can replace the departed Golden Tate (now with the Lions) as Russell Wilson’s top target, and if Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse can become consistently relevant receiving options, you’re probably looking at a better football team than the one that slammed Peyton Manning’s Broncos in a lopsided Super Bowl XLVIII. The best defense in a football generation hasn’t lost a step, and the offense is looking at the same kind of consistency, assuming that a reliable right tackle emerges and Marshawn Lynch returns from holding out with his head on his shoulders.

How this team can go 4–12

It would take a beyond-epic collapse. Two out of the four members of the Legion of Boom would have to suffer season-ending injuries, and even then, Wilson and Lynch are probably still worth seven wins behind that offensive line. Even if Lynch doesn’t come back strong (or perhaps at all?) the Seahawks love backup running back Christine Michael and his elite combination of strength and speed. The only thing Seattle doesn’t have on defense is elite linebacking, which isn’t necessary when you have Brandon Mebane plugging the middle and Earl Thomas patrolling centerfield. Only injuries could destroy this team—an unimaginable amount of injuries.

Now, from Fantasyland …

1. Let your Seahawks bandwagon buddy draft Marshawn Lynch. Holdout or not, he’s a very old 28. He has 7,400 yards on his knees, to say nothing of the heralded young backup nipping at his heels. Christine Michael has looked like a stud-in-the-making going on a year now, and he’s figuring to get more action considering that Seattle is already looking for options to move beyond Lynch given that Russell Wilson is in line for a big payday very soon.

2. Normally you’d avoid taking Seahawks receivers at all costs, considering that none of them have topped 64 catches in either of the past two seasons. But I’ll be taking a mid-round flyer on Percy Harvin. He’s an all-purpose player, assuming he wins the kick returner job and poses a ground threat by taking handoffs out of motion.

3. Make Seattle’s defense your defense. The most frustrating secondary Russell Wilson will face all season is the one he sees every day in practice, and defensive end Cliff Avril has another year in the system to jell with stud rushers Brandon Mebane and Michael Bennett.

The starters

How I project the lineup, with competitive spots in bold:

  OFFENSE
WR Percy Harvin
LT Russell Okung
LG James Carpenter
C Max Unger
RG J.R. Sweezy
RT Michael Bowie / Justin Britt
TE Zach Miller / Luke Wilson
WR Doug Baldwin
3rd WR Jermaine Kearse / Paul Richardson / Kevin Norwood        
QB Russell Wilson
RB Marshawn Lynch
FB Derrick Coleman
K Steven Hauschka
   
  DEFENSE
LDE Michael Bennett
LDT Tony McDaniel
RDT Brandon Mebane
RDE Cliff Avril
OLB Malcolm Smith
MLB Bobby Wagner
OLB K.J. Wright
Hybrid
Bruce Irvin
LCB Richard Sherman
RCB Byron Maxwell
SS Kam Chancellor
FS Earl Thomas
3rd CB
Jeremy Lane / Tharold Simon
P Jon Ryan
 

Right tackle Breno Giacomini was a free-agent departure, so the battle rages between Michael Bowie and Justin Britt, a rookie second-rounder out of Missouri. Bowie knows the system, which is about the most positive thing you can say about him. Ideally for the organization, Britt takes the job at some point during the season. Elsewhere on the depth chart, running backs Robert Turbin and Christine Michael vie to backup Lynch with an eye on becoming the back of the future. On defense, watch the nickel corner position, which has been home to both Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell in recent seasons. Lane is the favorite at the moment, but 2013 fifth-round pick Tharold Simon has been impressive so far in camp.

Best new player in camp

Wide receiver Paul Richardson, with a caveat: He’s close to 170 pounds and nobody is hitting yet.

Strong opinion that I may regret by November

More Seahawks

Check out The MMQB’s complete covearge of the defending Super Bowl champs throughout training camp.

Christine Michael will rush for 500 yards, and Russell Wilson will throw for 3,500. The latter prediction isn’t too bold. With Percy Harvin at full strength, the Seahawks have the weapons to throw the ball this season and improve upon Wilson’s 3,357 yards in 2013. Michael is 220 pounds of menacing muscle and his running style matches Lynch’s. Thing is, the Seahawks must balance figuring out what they have left in Lynch and what they have coming up behind him. Now is as good a time as any to start spreading the ball around, but they can’t mess too much with offensive chemistry.

Something I’ve never seen before

On the first day of training camp—sold out, of course—Seahawks fans were cheering louder for incompletions than touchdowns. They love their DBs, and they know who butters the bread around here. Richard Sherman treated the crowd to a couple of punch-aways, one on a short fade and another on a deep Russell Wilson throw. The defense seemed to be working extensively on Cover 1, leaving Sherman, Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane on islands that they had no trouble managing (save for matching up against Percy Harvin).

What I thought when I walked out of camp

That this could be the last year the Seahawks enjoy their current level of success for some time. You have to figure that this is Dan Quinn’s last year as defensive coordinator; it was a coup for Pete Carroll to land him a year ago—to say nothing of not losing him to a head coaching job this season. Marshawn Lynch is on the way out, and the offensive line is best suited for a run-first approach, which means Russell Wilson could take some lumps without a dominant running game. Seattle will soon have to pay Wilson big-time money, which translates to one less stud free agent on defense or one less experienced veteran re-upping every year for perhaps the next decade. This feels like a last hurrah of sorts, and the team appears to appreciate that urgency.

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55 comments
Darius Deshields
Darius Deshields

No elite linebackers?  I can't think of any other linebackers on other teams that stick out as being waaaaaay better than Wagner, Wright, Smith or Irving.  I think that our LBs are as close to elite as you can get!

Darius Deshields
Darius Deshields

No elite linebackers?  I can't think of any other linebackers on other teams that stick out as being waaaaaay better than Wagner, Wright, Smith or Irving.  I think that our LBs are as close to elite as you can get!

dbum
dbum

you could make the case that bobby wagner was close to an elite linebacker. def top 10 in the league.

Gs1
Gs1

PLLLEEAASSEE. The Seahawk's playoff runs have been alot of luck not dominance. In 2012 it was the Fail Mary that gave them enough wins to go to the playoffs.  Last year the 49ers almost beat them in their house them despite playing 11 on 18 with the refs blowing  blatant calls, Michael Crabtree playing with one leg. The game shouldn't even have been there save for a blown BS call on Ahmad Brooks in New Orleans. That is far from dominant. One loud stadium doesn't dominant make. They are a very good team but the 49ers are better. Good luck losing for the 6th year in a row in San Francisco.

modsuperstar
modsuperstar

I know if I'm running a team I certainly wouldn't want all my eggs in Percy Harvin's basket. Dude has shown no durability and is one bell ringing away from being out of the league.

SpencerForHire
SpencerForHire

Easy, 12s. Nothing this guy is saying is way out of line. Anything is possible, and this will be a different looking team after 2014. I've been rocking Seahawks blue most of my life (31 years), but he touches on some key points. Although I do take issue with his line about our LBs. Only reason B-Wags has never been to a Pro Bowl is because he plays in the same division/conference as Willis/Bowman (who are the best LBs in the league, for all you Keuchly clingers-on). 

unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11

"The only thing Seattle doesn’t have on defense is elite linebacking"

Bobby Wagner. "Elite" is a BS term, like "legacy".  Wagner is excellent.

The key for the Seahawks is the offensive line.  It has to get better.  The O line was LAST in the NFL in pass protection last year.  Dead friggin last.

Hello1813
Hello1813

Weird article to suggest that the window will close on a young team. Yeah, they will have to start paying guys as they come off their rookie deals (they already have with Sherman & Thomas).   But they got good by good drafting in the mid to low rounds and that just doesn't disappear if you have the GM/Scouting to pick guys that fit your system.   Also, a guy like Wilson will continue to get better so he can carry the offense more on his shoulders as needed.  The core of the team is pretty young and they will always be in the mix of championship contenders for several years to come.

Buck2185
Buck2185

The Seahawks will be just fine as long as Pete keeps them hopped up on Adderall......

Jason1988
Jason1988

"The best defense in a football generation hasn’t lost a step..."

2008 Steelers were better in nearly every category. 

Belgaron
Belgaron

It's an easy prediction to say a team will downslide from a big Super Bowl win, as a lot of things need to go right to have that shot year after year. So I don't blame you for going with the majority on that prediction, it would have been much more bold to predict dynasty.


But I do have counterarguments to your reasons for the slide.


First, the Seahawks were a dominant defense in 2012 the year before Quinn came back. They were so good, they earned Gus Bradley his Jaguars head coaching gig. Were they better because they added Quinn? It certainly didn't hurt, but the primary reason they improved is that all of the young guys were a year older, had seen more, had done more game plans, and started to really grow into their potential. The scary thing is they can still get better, even if they have to lose another DC to a head coach opportunity.


Second, there never could be a better time to have to start paying players. The salary cap took a big jump for 2014 and will do so again in 2015 and even again in 2016. They may not be able to go big free agent next year, but they are extremely competitive in contract offers around the same level. They are successful, have the richest owner in the league who pays for lots of little amenities, a coach players love to play for, a beautiful stadium and practice facility, and the loudest fans in the league. This will attract more 1-year prove it players like Bennett to opt for the Seahawks.


Finally, thanks to attrition, Seahawks will be awarded the maximum 4 compensatory picks in the 2015 draft and this front office excels at finding talent, especially in later rounds. They won't waste them.

Michael206
Michael206

The Seahawks are no different from any other team that wishes to remain upper-echelon competive for years.  If you continue to renew with cheap draft talent, you'll be successful.  If you don't, you won't.  It's not magic.

The notion of a "window," closing or otherwise, is fundamentally and irredeemably flawed.

torpeydo
torpeydo

I don't think the clock is ticking on one of the youngest teams in the NFL. Plug n play is Pete's mantra. Hawks will be solid for the next few years.

bigtrix36
bigtrix36

This is possibly the worst article I've read on this site since it's inception.

BigSchtick
BigSchtick

Clock is Ticking for the youngest Super Bowl winning team ever. Isn't that reserved for an aging group? So having so much young talent all of a sudden is bad thing?

Dana.Brooke
Dana.Brooke

I'm not suggesting that the Seahawks are elite in every position group, but the comment about their linebacking corps strikes me as lazy writing. Have we already forgotten that the Super Bowl MVP was Malcolm Smith, a linebacker? Or that KJ Wright effectively neutered Jimmy Graham on Monday Night Football? I suppose you can debate the meaning if the word elite, but I have come to expect more thoughtful writing from the authors on this site and found this piece lacking.

The12thCouple
The12thCouple

And what...the Seahawks are going to carry 4 receivers, and no Percy Harvin on your list. Even with that edit, their is still FIVE WR's on this list. Did someone just hand you a paper that said, "Do a Seahawk Roster Story", and you did as little research as possible?


Rubbish, filth, slime, muck. Boo. Boo! BOOOOOO!!!

Beachhawkfan
Beachhawkfan

"This could be the last year the Seahawks enjoy their current level of success for some time." Wow, do I disagree with this statement. Pete and John are successfully running a college type program with the Hawks. They simply reload. Just consider this year. From a SB team that lost Golden, Breno and ..., they look, to me, to have better personnel on this team. Yes, they will have to pay RW a ton next year, but I have faith that Pete and John's master plan is for real and they have already planned for this. I think the Hawks are positioned for the long run and not just this year. Go Hawks!

Beachhawkfan
Beachhawkfan

"This could be the last year the Seahawks enjoy their current level of success for some time." Wow, do I disagree with this statement. Pete and John are successfully running a college type program with the Hawks. They simply reload. Just consider this year. From a SB team that lost Golden, Breno and ..., they look, to me, to have better personnel on this team. Yes, they will have to pay RW a ton next year, but I have faith that Pete and John's master plan is for real and they have already planned for this. I think the Hawks are positioned for the long run and not just this year. Go Hawks!

DavidKappenman
DavidKappenman

The comment on the linebackers is just flat wrong. It is the exact same on our offense with our recievers. They do exqctly what Pete asks of them at an extremely high level.Because Pete does not ask them to blitz( we have that covered with the front four, see superbowl) they do not have the opportunity to make those highlight sacks. Just look at the production of argueably the two best TE in the league against us. In five games they had less than 15 catches. And if you know football, you know that off. coordinators love to create the TE linebacker matchup with them. Our defense uses the linebackers on more than 65% of the plays on underneath zone coverage. Another 30+% on run gap coverage. Does not leave a lot of fhances to make huge fan loving highlights. And on those less than 5% of plays, they must compete with a very very very good 10 other players on their team to make that play. No one heard of Eric Decker until he got on an offense that passed the ball 40+ times a game. Now he is thought to be a really good reciever.

scooter2005
scooter2005

The problem with replacing Lynch is his incredible durability.  Yes, he is an "old" 28, but his ability to stay healthy through the year is underrated.  Although Michael has incredible talent, he lacks that skill (or experience) to not take a hit on his planted leg, etc., which Hawk fans take for granted with Lynch.  Already NFL backs are getting hurt, and the season hasn't even started yet.  What we are going to find out is how much Lynch's durability (or any running back's) is worth which is more money than many think and what it buys a team.

rongrummer
rongrummer

You do realize that Wilson's rookie contract isn't technically over until after 2015,...don't you?

GasolineSnuggie
GasolineSnuggie

Maybe brush up on the linebackers before you try predicting their future?

logue.justinf
logue.justinf

@Gs1 SF hasn't faced Harvin so to hear you whine about crabtree's one leg or the refs is hilarious.  Harbaugh is going to bolt soon and while your organization can't seem to figure out how to schedule events or get their grass right they still know more than their fans.  Remember when they had to send out a memo telling the fans how and when to cheer?  

Darius Deshields
Darius Deshields

@Gs1  This is professional football, not horseshoes dude!  Almost doesn't get you squat.

EdgarMartinez
EdgarMartinez

Yeah, this defense should get better as key guys mature. The Legion is only getting better at this point. And the offense will evolve as Wilson matures and gets better. I suspect more passes as the receiving core is improved and much faster. And the article doesn't mention how they draft so well and continually replenish talent. The window won't close as long as they keep drafting like they have been.

pirate
pirate

@Buck2185 Let's see, by my count the 2,185 in your screen name is the number of times you've mentioned Adderall, supposedly thinking it funny. 

JasonRobertson
JasonRobertson

@Buck2185  Wow! That gets funnier every time I hear it.  If you've got nothing to say, keep your mouth shut.


unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11

@Jason1988  No they weren't.  The Seahawks are the only defense to lead in points allowed and turnovers since the 85 Bears.

davidhd
davidhd

@Jason1988 and then required a last second TD pass to beat the friggin Cardinals. They were good, but did they stomp on the greatest offense in history 43-8?

el80ne
el80ne

@Belgaron Actually the reality was quite the opposite of your narrative. The reason they got Bennett on the "one year prove it deal" was because the salary cap hadn't gone up, but had instead stayed flatlined for years. Teams didn't have the cap space to pony up for his services so he was willing to roll the dice on a cheap one year gamble with the Seahawks. That's not going to happen with a fast rising cap and this off season proved it when they tried and failed to lure Jared Allen and Henry Melton on the cheap. All the 'little amenities' really don't mean squat if there are other teams willing and able to pay them millions more.


Before any talk of the D "getting better" there are quite a few unproven redshirts that need to step up and at least be as good as the savvy vets that moved on along the defensive line. That's not exactly a cakewalk for players just getting their feet wet for the first time, and as well as the team has drafted they've been lousy at drafting defensive linemen. The offense has a legit chance to improve on the strength of the wide receiving reinforcements and an offensive line that stays healthy. But the depth on the D is not what it was last year. And after this season the contracts on D will be up for Avril, Maxwell, KJ Wright, and Smith and it will be doubtful they'll be able to be retained especially if they continue to improve their play.  

jshawaii22
jshawaii22

@Dana.Brooke


when you compare our LB's as a group to our DB's or DLinemen... maybe they are not 'elite'... but the fact that Wagner and KJ would start on any team except maybe SF would lead me to not believe the author.   


We have only 'depth' as a weakness this year, and only on the line.  I think losing Big Red, Clem and the others will hurt us in games against teams with good running games.  The Red Shirts need to step it up in the middle of the line. 



js

Nathan_12thMan
Nathan_12thMan

@The12thCouple  Couldn't agree more about the level of research done in this article. Not an elite Linebacking corp? I have heard multiple commentators and analysts mention how underrated the Seahawks linebacking corp is, and how they are almost right up there with the 9ers LB'ers, but they get very little attention because the articles and eyes and attention goes to the backfield of the Seahawks Defense, the secondary.


Also, just more proof of your lack of research, Paul Richardson 170 lbs? ....lol hes 190lbs right now. He was 170lbs in college, and pre-draft he said he has worked up to 180lbs, and by OTA's and such he said hes up to 190lbs. Its one thing to be off by 5 lbs, but off by 20lbs when your specifically bringing up his weight as a point to mean something? Come on bro.

jshawaii22
jshawaii22

@Beachhawkfan

it really depends when that "plan" was drawn up.   Russell was a pipe dream when Pete and JS got here.  The first big move was to sign Clipboard Jesus as a QB along with TJack.    We dumped Hass and the vets to try to improve draft position and damn it if Beastmode didn't screw it up with the BeastQuake and we ended up with Carpenter and that other clown, Moffat as our first two picks.


I doubt the  "plan" had 20m a year in cap space devoted to a QB until about December of last year.   But that's what makes this so much fun. 


js

Nathan_12thMan
Nathan_12thMan

@Beachhawkfan  I completely agree. We could fall from super elite to just elite, but that's still freakin awesome. Yes we can continue to lose a great player here and there as Wilson gets signed and the last few others we can afford, but as BeachHawkFan says, that doesn't take into account at ALL how the Seahawks got the talent they have! They get it with unique scouting/research, and drafting and signing UDFA's that end up blowing up into great talents. We might lose a Bobby Wagner but its my faith in PC/JS that I know odds are they have drafted/signed in UDFA some LB to the team that is ready to be the next man up, and their top tier training program has trained him up, and that he is ready to step in, take the spot, and perform solidly, and then from there grow year over year into he potentially is great.


But please, continue to doubt PC/JS and just assume with every pick and signing they got lucky, and that once the talent leaves and signs else where, the team will crumble, PLEASE continue to think that and write articles about it, so in 2017 I can find those articles and tweet them to you forcing you to eat your words when we at the minimum continually get to the NFC Divisional Championship. We can do it without Beastmode, we can do it without Bobby Wagner....next man up, our depth is unrivaled and the talent in said depth is unrivaled.


I would bet you $100 that if all of our backup players formed a team, they would do better than 50% of the NFL's regular normal teams. Would they beat the Cards and 9ers and Saints? Probably not, but would they beat the Cowboys? The Dolphins? The Jags? The Bucs? The Browns? Ya, and more.

Rumrunner11
Rumrunner11

@rongrummer While technically true, they're going to have to renew it after this season.....

Tom Feeney
Tom Feeney

Nope. They're above average but not that great.

Darius Deshields
Darius Deshields

@SpencerForHire @modsuperstar  Isn't it amazing how everyone is putting the Seahawks season on the one person who they won it all WITHOUT?  They DIDN'T need Harvin to win it all last year, so why would anyone think that we absolutely have to have him to win again?  Having him only makes our chances better, but not worse without him!

Belgaron
Belgaron

@el80ne @Belgaron While it was a contributing factor that the cap didn't jump up in 2013, the word was Bennett had a bad back so teams were leery to invest heavily. Some wondered if Avril benefited from the Detroit line he played with and his market was also not great for him. It worked out very well for the Seahawks as both chose Seattle over other offers.


But the cap increase in 2014 helped Allen, Melton, and others get paid. Seattle doesn't overpay for players in that situation as they manage their cap very well. It would be great if those guys maintain their playing level for their new teams but odds are against them. Seattle is better off not taking the risk and investing in their young guys.


Seattle's back 7 are still young and learning, Byron Maxwell could have a huge season for example. LBs Wagner and Smith could both put up better numbers this year. Irvin could also improve. Sherman, Chancellor, and Thomas are just beginning their prime. Reports from camps are very high on Toomer and Simon and if those guys step up, their depth will be great.


As for the D line. This front office has now had 5 drafts, they missed on 2 4th rounders and 2 7th rounders, but the jury is still out on Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams and they found a solid starter in Irvin. Those 3 could make a big contribution this year. Their overall drafts have yielded so many good players, plus Mebane, Red, and Clemons kept them pretty well covered until this year.


They've accomplished all their off season goals year after year. I'm not worried at all about next years free agents. Rumor is they may resign KJ after training camp, which won't hurt at all. If Maxwell gets 10 picks, they won't be able to afford him but they'll get another nice compensatory pick.


I expect they'll have a shot at home field advantage throughout the playoffs for the next 2-3 years barring major injury issues. The only real reason for concern would be if they lost one of their big 4: Allen, Schneider, Carroll, or Wilson. Hopefully those guys are going no where but back for more success.



DavidKappenman
DavidKappenman

Yes we do have someone writing a story that listened to the nfl network and nfl insider to get the some total of his information.

rongrummer
rongrummer

@Rumrunner11 Why do you feel that Russell should not honor the full extent of his contract before a new contract is renegotiated? You do realize that this is what is begin argued against with regard to marshawn, don't you? Why do you feel the situation is different in both of these cases?

Belgaron
Belgaron

@Rumrunner11 @rongrummer  But they renewed Sherman's deal to start after the last year of his previous deal. So most likely really true in addition to technically true, but those negotiations are pending.

Michael206
Michael206

@rongrummer

Wilson is monumentally underpaid, Lynch is not.  Wilson will get a new deal after three years of a four-year contract.  Lynch wants a new deal after two years.

Further, the last thing the Seahawks want to precipitate is a situation where Wilson just decides that if he's playing for $1M in 2015 he may as well become a free agent.

Tom Feeney
Tom Feeney

Agreed. But they could be better as a unit.

MadDoser
MadDoser

@Michael206 @rongrummer Exactly.. If they dont take care of him he will remember that.  Why on EARTH would he not become a free agent if they wait that long to resign him?!?  They would have to enter a bidding war for him which they do NOT want. There are plenty of teams who would fork over a kings ransom for Russel Wilson who I believe had 100+ QB rating both the last 2 years.

DavidKappenman
DavidKappenman

They could be better as a unit if they plqyed for a defense like the 9ers who ask more of them. Your facts get lost in reality when we place them to an apples to apples comparison. The Seahawk TE's did just as good against them as Davis(multiple pro bowls) did. And most of those games he was covered by the linebackers of Cam who plays linebacker on passing downs. 1 deep safety.

Belgaron
Belgaron

@MadDoser @Michael206 @rongrummer They won't wait that long to sign him, they'll try to lock him up as soon as they are allowed to do so, which will be after this season, you can take that to the bank.

DavidKappenman
DavidKappenman

Typo Cam plays like a linebacker for us in passing down because we use a one deep safety and Cam plays at or near the line to cover backs or TE's or zone like most teams use thier linebackers.

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