In another thread - this one, to be exact - I had stated that I believed the Seahawks to be worse as a team than they were a year ago. I was asked by another Field Gullian who was interested in my honest response that in terms of position, talent, personnel, scheme, coaching – how the team was worse off (than they were a year ago)?
I think I satisfied addressing three of the criteria in my response. That is, positon, personnel, and talent. The rest, scheme and coaching, I either hardly touched upon or didn't address at all.
My response was quite lengthy, so forgive me. (I cleaned up some errors, and edited a small number of sentences to make them more concise and readable).
I’m going to first examine how things stand by first taking a look at some of the players that the Seahawks have departed with:
- Deon Grant. Solid free safety type of player who was playing out of position the majority of the years due to the personnel (Brian Russell and Jordan Babineaux). Currently, the Seahawks have replaced him with Earl Thomas. The consensus is that Earl Thomas is more talented than Deon Grant. I agree with this. However, Earl Thomas is a rookie. He has shown this preseason that he is a dynamic player but that he also still has a way to go and will experience the usual learning curve that most rookies experience. Lawyer Milloy, despite having the better frame for SS duties, sat the bench last year. Deon Grant, while not having Milloy’s frame, would likely have been a better pairing with Thomas than with Milloy, due to his range, even if he was out of his normal position. Of course, that’s hypothetical and subjective, but it still holds that Grant was more valuable to the Seahawks than Milloy was last year. However, let’s say that the Seahawks decided to go with Milloy over Grant this year, keeping Grant means that they have one more starting-caliber player on the roster. This is valuable. Very, very valuable.
The Seahawks are now starting an aged back up and a rookie. This is not often a recipe for success, despite the talent level of the aforementioned rookie, simply due to the growing pains typically associated with the player’s rookie year. Their depth is now gone. Kevin Ellison, Jamar Adams, and Babineaux are gone. Behind the starters are now Kam Chancellor and … fuck, I don’t know who else is behind them now.
- Josh Wilson. Getting rid of him made the team worse. Remember Thomas’ interception this preseason? Wilson was responsible for that. Remember Wilson’s interception? Wilson, again. Here is a nickelback with an aptitude for the big play.
The secondary looked improved, and Wilson was part of the improved play this preseason, despite any pass rush. Trufant’s health and strong play and the addition of Thomas’ talent coupled with Wilson’s heady play and Milloy’s run support has added up to what has looked like an improved secondary. Getting rid of Wilson in favor of Jennings and Thurmond took out a component that was integral to the secondary’s improvement. That’s a subtraction, and one that could make this year’s unit on par with last year’s, negating what seems to be an improved unit from last year.
Say Trufant gets hurt again. Who else can the Seahawks rely on? Earl Thomas, perhaps? Ok, but then who plays safety in his place? Then, do you really feel comfortable with Jennings and Thurmond still manning the other two spots in nickel packages? But if Thomas is kept at safety, then it’s back down to Jennings and Thurmond as being the other CB's, a very uncomfortable proposition. See, if Trufant were to get hurt again, the Seahawks don’t have the luxury of having Ken Lucas or Josh Wilson to pick up the slack, which he did admirably last year.
- T.J. Houshmandzadeh. I’ve raised a stink about the Seahawks cutting him without getting anything in return, and that if they couldn’t find any trade suitors, to keep him. I will not revisit that. However, cutting him does not make the Seahawks better this year. It makes this team worse. In Houshmandzadeh, the Seahawks had a player who was a dynamic route runner who could catch the ball in traffic as well as anyone in the NFL. One might go with the idea that the Seahawks are replacing him with Mike Williams, a talented player who has flamed out. Mike Williams, to his credit, has shown that he also a reliable receiver whose route-running is superb, and one could call that an even trade off. However, therein lies a problem: Williams has flamed out. He is still an unproven commodity. He has proven that he has talent, but he has not proven that he can produce, and produce consistently. Houshmandzadeh has. Moreover, Houshmandzadeh has proven to be a reliable 3rd down option. Who else can we say that about on the current WR corps?
The WR corps is better with Houshmandzadeh in it, not without him. The Seahawks could still have Williams, Tate, Butler, Branch, and Obomanu with Houshmandzadeh in the picture. Now, the Seahawks are relying on unproven regular season commodities, with the exception of perhaps Branch, who was healthy for the majority of last year. This is a gamble. One that is being done without the clear demonstration that any of these WR’s will improve the WR corps for the upcoming season. Burleson and Houshmandzadeh were at least known. commodities.
- Mansfield Wrotto. Insignificant of its own accord, but a transaction that negatively impacts the level of play and playcalling for the Seahawks, and that makes the team worse, not better. As we’ve seen in the game against the Vikings, the Seahawks have had to put John Carlson and other tight ends to protect Wrotto (and Matt Hasselbeck, to an extent) while facing off against the likes of Jared Allen. Jeremy Bates is an OC who likes to include the tight end in the passing game considerably, and this impacts the passing game and his play-calling options signifcantly.
Wrotto is no special talent, but he was at least capable of playing a few solid games against mid-level pass rush teams. He was a valuable back up.
I know that the Seahawks have acquired Ruskell Okung in the draft, and he’s a considerable talent upgrade than whoever was at LT last year, but 1, he’s a rookie, and 2, he’s not invulnerable. He can still get hurt again this year. Let’s say he does, who is who is going to back him up now? Stacy Andrews? Tyler Polumbus? Locklear? Not with his performance thus far. There’s a reason they put Wrotto at LT when Okung got hurt in the preseason and kept Locklear on the right side.
What’s more is that Locklear is not expected to be on the roster on opening day.
Neither Polumbus or Andrews have had the advantage of spending all offseason getting acclimated with Gibbs system. Wrotto had.
- Rob Sims. I’ve been waiting to get to this. Rob Sims last year, under Mike Solari and Solari's ZBS system had shown the most significant improvement of all of the O-linemen last year. He allowed Spencer to help out Unger. Had he not been able to hold his own, the interior O-line would have been a disaster. To this day, getting rid of him still makes no sense to me. There was no clear evidence that he did not fit the ZBS. He was a young, capable, if not promising guard whose size fit the Gibbs mold and was athletic. Sims proved capable of anchoring the LG spot at a respectable level.
The Seahawks replaced him with Ben Hamilton, who is 33 and was only brought in to help Okung with the adjustment of playing in the NFL. There is no clear evidence to suggest that he is better than or that he's an upgrade over Sims. Moreover, Hamilton may not be on the roster come next Sunday.
They’ve also added Chester Pitts, who is recovering from a microfracture surgery.
Locklear’s play this preseason indicates a decline in performance. The running game still continues to struggle.
Overall, even though the Seahawks have added a premiere talent at the most important position on the line, the O-line is worse.
This team isn’t getting better. They aren’t making additions by subtractions. No, they are getting worse. Worse and worse by subtraction.
Some people have said that these moves have been to make the team younger, but that’s not true. In fact, many of the young players that the Seahawks have gotten rid of this year have been replaced with a player who is older than them.
There are more of these examples I could think of, but given the length that I have already written, I won't. All in all, I am inclined to believe that this year’s Seahawks is worse than last year’s Seahawks, and that’s saying something because last year’s team played more like a two-win team, at least according to their DVOA.