Despite the Seahawks being 17th overall in total offense and being 27th overall in pass yardage, I believe this offense is very good and still improving. The following is a breakdown of the Seahawks offense during Weeks 1-9 vs. Weeks 9-17:
129-210 (61.4%) for 1369 Yds with 7.0 YPA and 10 TD-8 INT. The Seahawks also had 504 YAC as a group and 67 Passing First Downs
Rice: 28 Rec for 367 Yds (13.1 AVG) and 3 TDs
Tate: 20 Rec for 255 Yds (12.8 AVG) and 3 TDs
Baldwin: 11 Rec for 149 Yds (13.5 AVG) and 1 TD
Miller: 16 Rec for 201 Yds (12.6 AVG) and 1 TD
McCoy: 10 Rec for 97 Yds (9.7 AVG) and 1 TD
130-195 (66.7) for 1662 Yds with 9.1 YPA and 17 TD-2 INT (!!!!). The Seahawks also had 704 YAC and 86 Passing First Downs
Rice: 22 Rec for 381 Yds (17.3 AVG) and 4 TDs
Tate: 25 Rec for 433 Yds (17.3 AVG) and 4 TDs
Baldwin: 18 Rec for 217 (12.1 AVG) and 2 TDs
Miller: 22 Rec for 195 Yds (8.9 AVG) and 2 TDs
McCoy: 8 Rec for 194 Yds (24.3 AVG) and 2 TDs
In addition, the Rushing Offense went from:
1055 Yds and 4.3 YD/A with 3 TDs and 2 Runs of 20+ Yds in Weeks 1-8 to
1524 Yds and 5.3 YD/A with 13 TDs and 12 Runs of 20+ Yds in Weeks 9-17
And if these stats weren't convincing enough, in the month of December alone, the Seahawks threw for 1067 Yds and rushed for 1059 Yds. Point being, the Seahawks offense is extremely underrated!! The Seahawks offense averaged almost 400 Yds/Game, which if compared to the over 2012 team offensive leaders, would have put them at 4th in total offense. As PC said throughout the season, they wanted to slowly open the playbook for Russell in order to give him time to feel comfortable with the playbook. And, as the numbers show, Russell and the Seahawks seem extremely comfortable with the playbook. As proof of Russell's comfort, here are his splits over the course of the season:
129-210 (61.4%) for 1466 Yds with a 6.98 YPA and 10 TDs- 8 INT. He also rushed for 128 YDs (3.6 YPC) and 0 TDs
123-183 (67.2) for 1652 Yds with a 9.03 YPA and 16 TDs- 2 INT. He also rushed for 361 Yds (6.2 YPC) and 4 TDs
Russell Wilson's second half of the season showed that not only is he one of the best QBs in the game but is one of the best players in the NFL. Now, many analysts will make the case, why not give him another toy with a 1st round receiver? If you look at the Seahawks receivers from Weeks 9-17, they almost all improved and showed that they're best football is yet to come. Although stats do not tell the whole story, they still are a good indicator of the direction an offense is going and I think this Seahawks offense, with a full offseason and Wilson able to get full reps in training camp, will be a top-10 offense next season. Maybe add a late round receiver to compete for the 4th WR spot and a RT to challenge Giacomini, but other than that, let this offense build chemistry.
Now onto the defense. The Seahawks have already given a big indicator that they will use this offseason to focus on their defense: they let Gus Bradley (who coached the best scoring defense and 4th best yards allowed defense) walk without much remorse and quickly hired Dan Quinn. Although Bradley did an excellent job as DC, I believe the Seahawks were not completely satisfied with him. Looking back at the Detroit, Miami, and Atlanta losses as well as the final regulation play of the Chicago game, although the Seahawks made mistakes throughout the game, the final drives of each game featured poor defensive play calling. All three teams had a trend on who they picked on during those final drives: Trufant, Wagner, and Wright. Gus Bradley put a lot of pressure on the 3 players who struggled the most with pass coverage this season by using blitzes and disguised looks in the final plays of these games. Although his play-calling was on the basis of poor pressure from his D-Line, he gambled many times and it cost the Seahawks.
Now, back to Seahawks' D-Line. The Seahawks went from having the 4th lowest YPC in 2011 at 3.8 to the 23rd lowest YPC in 2012 at 4.5. I think this drop was due to the Seahawks D-Line constantly being shuffled due to guys being banged and could not find a combination that worked (that's why it also comes as no surprise that Todd Wash was also let go). At times, Red Bryant would be lined up on the left, right or middle. Alan Branch sometimes played on the outside. I think the Seahawks began to do this because of their struggles against the run as well as their lack of interior pass rush. And as a result, the LBs were asked to do more in the run and I believe this LB corp was just too inexperienced to read plays and were out of place many times. Although the LBs will get better with more experience, the D Line still needs to be revamped.
Enter: the 2013 draft. The Seahawks picked the perfect year to want to revamp this D-Line in that this draft class is deep at both the DE and DT positions with many players who are both versatile and athletic. I would not be surprised to see the Seahawks draft 3-4 D-lineman in order to get a lot of competition on the D-Line. Despite Red Bryant and Mebane both recently receiving contract extensions, I do not believe that any 2012 starters spot on the D-line is guaranteed and I believe PC will have an open competition for all of the starting spots on the D-Line. With Bryant and Mebane having down years and Clem's health being uncertain, the Seahawks D-Line should be the organization's top priority and I believe the hiring Dan Quinn and Travis Jones reaffirmed my belief. The teams that both coaches coached (Gators and Saints) featured big, athletic D-Lineman so look for the Seahawks to add multiple guys who fit that description in the draft.
In terms of free agency, I realistically could see the Seahawks adding Umeniyora or Freeney if the price is right. Remeber, the Seahawks were clamoring about Osi last offseason and he does fit the typical DE that Travis Jones has dealt with in New Orleans. In regards to DT, I think the Seahawks should give Jason Jones another 1-year "prove-it" deal because I think he did show flashes of talent when healthy. Both Starks and Melton seem like they will either be franchised or command big money so I think signing both seems unlikely. I believe keeping Jones makes sense in order to see if he can compete with the DTs they draft and hopefully allow him to showcase his talent.
Another major competition that will be happening in this offseason for the Hawks will be for the WILL linebacker. With Hill's recent arrest, it can be safely assumed that he will not be returning to the team. Malcolm Smith showed flashes of talent during the season yet the fact that PC gave the nod to Leroy to start in the playoffs indicates their concern with Malcolm Smith as a starter. However, the nice part about the Seahawks 1st selection being at 25 is that they will be able to draft the best available person and it could very well be a OLB that slides. In addition, the Seahawks may look to add a versatile, veteran LB via free agency who could also give them depth at MIKE and SAM because they are still very thin behind their starters.
The most interesting competition to me will be the competition for the nickel corner as well as the 2nd string safeties. Walter Thurmond has shown that he can not only be a viable nickel corner but also can play outside as well. I believe this will be a make-or-break year for Thurmond in that if he cannot stay healthy or he does not play at the high level he did play before his injuries, he will be cut from this team in order to give a younger guy a chance to step up. Unless Trufant shows up to camp in the best shape of his life, I do not believe he will be on this team any longer. It will be interesting to see how the Seahawks will act once free agency begins, as a guy like Charles Woodson could essentially eliminate any competition for the nickel corner and 2nd string safety. However, I still do see the Seahawks adding a late round player who could play both nickel corner and safety and would create some competition between Winston Guy and Thurmond.
In conclusion, this offseason for the Seahawks should be focused on this defense and the D-Line in particular. Despite the first-half Seahawk losses being attributed to anemic offense, I believe the second-half of the season losses as well as the playoff losses to Atlanta can be attributed to poor defensive play. The Seahawks have the best secondary in the league and a LB corp on the rise yet this D-line needs to find some playmakers. This team is extremely, extremely close to being legit Super Bowl contenders and I like the direction PC/JS are taking to get there by giving this defense a makeover, in particular the D-Line, by hiring Dan Quinn and Travis Jones. Seeing that PC is already himself a defensive guru and this defense has a ton of talent, I believe he realized he can almost hire any person for DC and the team would be successful yet he chose a guy who has extensive experience with good D-Lines. If PC's faith in Quinn and Jones translates to noticeable improvement in the pass pressure and the run defense, the Seahawks could reclaim their throne as NFC West Champs and make serious noise in the postseason.