Worrying about the state of the Seattle Seahawks roster was a lot easier at the start of the offseason. The big stars needed extensions, the pass rush situation was uninspiring and unsettled, Doug Baldwin was hanging it up. It wasn’t obvious the team would be better in 2019.
It’s harder to have those same misgivings now. Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner got PAID, the defensive ends are already inconveniencing other defensive coordinators on a mental level, and John Schneider drafted nine or ten new receivers, approximately. Is there even anything left to lose sleep over, on the eve (of the eve of the eve of the eve) of the season?
Please. We’re Seahawks fans. We worry with the best of them. It’s only a matter of time before another non-touchdown on a quarterback sneak ruins a season. I thought of five things that merit concern, despite the addition of JADEVEON F. CLOWNEY, WE GOT CLOWNEY FOR A MID-ROUND PICK AND A BUCKET OF GATORADE, that happened.
1. The o-line
At this point, anguishing over the state of the offensive line is muscle memory. It is, as they say, what we do.
Maybe Mike Solari has taken the crew as far as they can go. Maybe they’re trending down. Maybe all they can do is run-block, which they do well.
From weeks 1-9 last season, the #Seahawks' offensive line ranked 7th in pass-blocking efficiency, allowing just 53 total pressures on 252 passing snaps.— PFF SEA Seahawks (@PFF_Seahawks) June 4, 2019
From weeks 10-17, they ranked 28th in PBE, with 79 total pressures allowed on 250 passing snaps.
Could be that Justin Britt peaked in 2016. Could be the year Duane Brown gets old; he turned 34 last week. Could be that for all his adeptness in the run game, Germain Ifedi never really figures out how to pass block. Could be that the line can’t ever diagnose a stunt (they were 5th worst in pass protection vs. stunts last season). And then there’s lingering injury concerns with D.J. Fluker and Mike Iupati, as there always will be.
See? Doesn’t it feel warm and familiar to doubt the offensive line?
2. The second line of pass rush
In the Clowney deal, Jacob Martin went to Houston; after roster cuts, Cassius Marsh landed in Arizona. So he could take his turn sacking Russell Wilson, we get it, Cash, everyone’s doing it. Literally everyone. It’s not like magic or anything.
Who’s the third sack-maker, and who’s ready to step up and start if Ansah or Clowney miss time? L.J. Collier? Sure, but you’d like to see him play a pro snap first. Rasheem Green? Still living off potential. Branden Jackson? Possible. Marsh and Martin did not exactly wreck worlds last year, but they did combine for 8.5 sacks, or 6.5 more than the Collier-Green-Jackson trio put together.
3. Replacing Doug Baldwin
Gary Jennings, D.K. Metcalf, David Moore, Malik Turner, John Ursua — the Seahawks’ quintet of young WR is definitely full of promise and just as definitely empty of experience. One of them will pop (Ursua first, you know it) but it’s beyond unlikely any one of them will begin to match Baldwin’s presence anytime soon. At least the Seahawks have numbers in their favor?
The decision to go with five inexperienced ball-catchers at once, and not retain Jaron Brown, who may not be special but at least has a track record, mystifies. (Edit: Brown was re-signed since this post was written. Undercuts the argument, which, why do you hate me so, JS?) With Tyler Lockett moving outside more and more, one of the youngsters has to spend significant time in the slot. Who? The learning curve is steep at receiver.
There’s reason to believe the WR corps’ babyfacedness will cause the Seahawks to once again...
4. Run too much
... and maybe even more than last year, when they split plays 52-48 in favor of rushing. You know this because it was mentioned every day since the playoff loss in Dallas, but Seattle runs more frequently than every other NFL team.
If you’re the type to critizice the coaching staff for establishing the run at the expense of letting Wilson create explosive plays, for sacrificing efficiency for the sake of ball security, then boy, do I have a season set up for you.
The Seahawks’ offensive line is good at run-blocking, their RB stable is stocked and talented, their pass-catchers are green with the exception of Lockett and Ed Dickson, who might not play for a while.
It’s possible Seattle runs even more frequently in 2019 than before. Yes, it’s possible. Even probable. And in the modern NFL, where you’re going to get 6-7 yards per pass attempt and 4-5 per rush, with a precise quarterback who doesn’t throw interceptions, rushing the ball that much is tying a hand behind your offense. You can still win with a 50-50 split. The 2018 Seahawks did it, even! But you’ve made it harder on yourself.
E) The secondary
For the first time in this list, I admit I’m stretching, for one obvious reason — the coach of the Seahawks is still named Pete Carroll. He’s still the main impetus behind whatever goes on in the secondary, at practices, in the draft room, in the film room, in the coaches’ meetings. He’s still one of the top five defensive minds coaching football in the NFL today (Bill Belichick, Wade Phillips, Vic Fangio all immediately come to mind as peers in that regard, and please add to the list below, because I’m forgetting people and that’s why we have intelligent commenters).
There’s little reason to doubt Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers. Neither may blossom into a true shutdown corner, but if both of them are just a little better than last year, as you could expect from young players, then your secondary’s biggest questions are elsewhere. Specifically, at nickel corner and non-McDougald safety.
The emergence of Marquise Blair and Ugo Amadi in the preseason hints at high playing time for both. But again, rookies, learning curves, we’ve been over this ground before.
Of course, by the time this article posts, Schneider will probably have used the Seahawks’ cap space to acquire another veteran nickel corner who’ll soon remind everyone of Justin Coleman, and then we can scratch another item off the concern list. Damn you, John, and your annoying excellence.