The Seahawks 2012 season was a reminder that the draft CAN change a team. The addition of Russell Wilson to the team was huge for leadership (even as a rookie), efficiency, and awareness. However, it wasn't just Wilson, it was the front office doing a heck of a job finding the players that belong on a Pete Carroll team. There were four main problems though that really hindered the Seahawks from being so much more of a team last year, problems that are guaranteed to be fixed in the 2013 season.
1. Struggling On the Road (especially at the beginning of the season)
The Seahawks started the year a little rusty on the road. I know that it was Wilson's first starts in the NFL, and as the year progressed the road games went a little better, but the Seahawks were still rusty whenever they played on the road, at least for the first 12 weeks. The Seahawks started the year losing on the road to the Cardinals, a team they later beat 58-0. I'm not saying it would've been that lopsided of a victory, but after week 8 I can guarantee Seattle would've won that game. It was just the beginning of Wilson finding his place in the league, and new players creating chemistry, a problem most teams have at the beginning of every season. The struggles continued with losses at the Rams and Dolphins. Those three road loses are what hurt the Seahawks the most. If they win even two of those three, they would've had home field advantage, and don't try to tell me that doesn't exist because Seattle was a perfect 8-0 at CenturyLink Field, and a tough 4-6 on the road. Championship teams go at least .500 on the road, and even that's pretty low. The Seahawks did start to find their form on the road eventually though, and I expect them to be much better on the road this season, however five 10:00AM start time games won't make it any easier for them.
2. Struggling Pass Rush
The Seattle Seahawks have struggled with offense in the last few years, but they have always been able to maintain at least a defense in the 50th percentile statistics wise. The rush defense last year was pretty incredible, and total points and yards allowed was very impressive. However, the pass rush for the Seahawks was, in my opinion, hopeless. The Seahawks finished the year with only 36 sacks, which isn't even three a game. Now I know that expecting three sacks in a game is expecting a lot, but with a defense as good as Seattle's that shouldn't be a problem and it was. Remember that a large majority of these sacks also came in the first half of the Packers game when Chris Clemons decided that he could knock over a cement truck with one hand, and destroyed the offensive line of Green Bay. The controversial draft pick Bruce Irvin was put on the defensive line specifically for pass rush, and the results were really quite disappointing. However, don't think that the front office doesn't realize that. The announcement today that Irvin was getting moved to linebacker made me very excited for his potential again. Giving Bruce the ability to run around the field wherever he wants to get to the quarterback will really help the pass rush for Seattle, but the addition of Cliff Avril will also be a huge help to the pass rush. The lack of pass rush should be solved for next year by the work the front office did in getting Avril, but don't forget that pass rush was one of the major components to Seattle losing last year. The nonexistent pass rush was a part of the 3rd reason Seattle struggled throughout the year.
3. Defense Unable to Get Stops After Forcing 3rd and Longs
A constant story to Seattle's year was playing sensational defense to force 3rd and forever, and then allowing 30+ yard completions for first downs. It wasn't just once or twice in the season either, it happened multiple times in just about every game. If the Seahawks would've been able to stop some of those plays, it would've given Wilson more time to try to bring his team back. The 3rd and longs were just a part of the 4th and final reason Seattle struggled last year.
4. Finishing Games
I think it's safe to say that everyone knew this was coming. Finishing games was something the Seahawks just couldn't seem to handle last year. Whether it was Wilson getting one or two chances to take the team down the field in the late 4th quarter for a win, or the defense holding off the opponent right after Wilson brought his team down the field, Seattle just had a hard time. The list of games Seattle had a chance to win is remarkable, because they had a chance in the late stages of every game. The most they lost by was seven points! The first game of the year with Arizona was just a struggling offense trying to find a rhythm. Wilson, Lynch, and company were just struggling to find offense in their first game with Arizona, but had the ball late at the end of the game. Wilson couldn't bring his team down the field for a touchdown and Seattle lost by four. A few weeks later the Seahawks lost at the Rams (mark my words, the Rams will be a tough opponent this year) by six points. Wilson had the ball late and tried to bring the team downfield, but the Rams defense was too good on that day. The Seahawks also lost at the 49ers (understandable at the time) by seven points, largest loss of the year, because the defense of San Francisco was just incredible. The young Seahawks had not faced that good of a defense up until that point, and they learned what it took to win in the NFL. The offense didn't always fail though, who will forget the week 3 win when the Seahawks drove the field against the Packers and won...sort of. That was just the start to Wilson's comebacks. Wilson drove the Seahawks down the field with under a minute left in Chicago to tie it, and then he helped them score another touchdown in overtime to beat the Bears. The best though was the one point win over the Patriots when Wilson threw a 46 yard bomb to Sidney Rice late in the game and brought the Seahawks back from being down double digits. But then there are three more games that really captured the true essence of the Seahawks year. The offense does a heck of a job coming back, and the defense couldn't do their part. Exhibit A-Seattle@Detroit. The Seahawks battled all game with the Lions and with under a minute to go, Seattle drove the length of the field and took a 24-21 lead with just under a minute left. The thoughts were that, at worst, it would go into overtime. But Stafford and Calvin Johnson scored the game winning touchdown (after driving 70+ yards) with under 15 seconds left, and Seattle suffered their first bitter defeat of coming from behind, only to lose. Exhibit B-Seattle@Miami. The game that Seattle never should've lost. First of all it was a disgrace that Seattle even let the Dolphins lead them the entire game, but the end was tragic. Seattle drove down the field to tie it at 21 with under 30 seconds left, and the defense left Miami make it to the 35 yard line. Huge pass plays plagued the secondary and a 50+ yard field goal ripped the souls out of the Seahawks, but the last example was the one that still leaves us all depressed. Exhibit C-Seattle@Atlanta. A game that couldn't have started any worst for Seattle somehow turned around and Seattle came back from a 20-0 deficit. That's right, with under a minute to go Wilson's offense drove down the field and scored a touchdown on a gut-wrenching drive to take a 28-27 lead. But no one felt confident based on the struggles to finish earlier in the year, and it was how the season had to end. After letting Atlanta get way too far down the field a field as time expired ripped the hearts out of Seahawk fans everywhere and Atlanta won 30-28, but it helped the Seahawks mature. I will guarantee the mistakes of letting games slip with under 10 seconds left will not happen this year. That is what offseason is for, and those problems will be resolved. Now Seattle will show the country how good they really are as they are in a larger spotlight this year. They aren't the underdogs anymore, and you better believe that is how Pete Carroll likes it. The Seahawks are ready to win a Super Bowl, and if these problems are fixed, there's no reason in the world they can't.