Seattle Seahawks 2010 Season Preview: Can't Tell the Players Without a Program
Meet the new boss, absolutely nothing like the old boss.
No team changed itself more during the offseason than the Seahawks, who hired Pete Carroll as coach, John Schneider as general manager and began making personnel moves like they got a commission every time they landed a spot on the transaction wire.
It's not hard to argue that the Seahawks needed some remodeling. The team had gotten old and the talent level in Seattle dropped as the replacements for players like Shaun Alexander, Julian Peterson and others either never materialized or just disappointed. The question for 2010, and beyond, is if Carroll, a flop in two previous NFL stops, is the right man to oversee the rebuilding.
Offense -- Matt Hasselbeck has always been a steady quarterback when he's healthy, and the Seahawks would certainly stand a fighting chance of contending if he makes 16 starts. Problem is, he hasn't done that since 2007, and the preseason injury to rookie left tackle Russell Okung highlights just how hard it will be to keep the QB upright this season. Thoughts of the running game taking pressure off of Hasselbeck are probably far-fetched. Neither Justin Forsett nor Leon Washington has ever been a feature back for an entire season, and the shocking retirement of blocking guru Alex Gibbs makes you wonder if there will be much improvement from a unit that was quite poor in 2009. At receiver, the first big test of Carroll's acumen will play out. T.J. Houshmandzadeh is gone and Lions first-round bust (and erstwhile Trojan) Mike Williams is in. If it doesn't work out, Hasselbeck might go down with a self-inflicted wound. Heat Index: 5
Defense -- There are more pieces on this side of the ball. Brandon Mebane and Colin Cole are a darn good, if unknown, run-stopping duo in the middle of the line, and the Seahawks have a surplus of good linebackers making tackles behind them. Aaron Curry, Lofa Tatupu and David Hawthorne are a very solid trio and Leroy Hill, assuming his head is screwed on straight, gives Seattle plenty of talent to deploy this season. The downside is that only Curry is a consistent pass rusher, and the Seahawks don't have much in the secondary to dissuade teams from throwing down the field. Marcus Trufant is a shell of his former self and the other corners don't inspire much more confidence. Rookie safety Earl Thomas is going to have to make plays quickly and often if Seattle's pass defense is going to thrive. Heat Index: 6
Special Teams -- Washington missed most of 2009 with a gruesome broken leg, but he's looked healthy and that means good things for the Seahawks in the return game. He's a dynamo capable of breaking a big one at any moment, something that will mean a lot to a team with so many offensive question marks. The Seahawks will have to work harder at not giving up big returns themselves, especially when they are covering punts by Jon Ryan. Heat Index: 6
Coaching -- There are two ways of looking at the way Carroll went about his business in his first offseason with the Seahawks. The first is that he isn't worried about winning right away and is thinking only about turning over every rock he can find to locate talented players. The second is that he doesn't have a clue and is too accustomed to coaching in a place where elite talent flocks every year because of reputation and the work of boosters. The Seahawks are, obviously, banking on the former. Heat Index: 5
Intangibles -- Teams don't win when they are in a complete state of flux, and the Seahawks don't figure to buck history. This is the beginning of the rebuilding process, not the end, and that means there will likely be more pain on the way back to the playoffs. That's going to be hardest on players like Hasselbeck and Tatupu, guys who have experienced winning, but the Seahawks have to move in this direction or risk getting completely lost. Heat Index: 5
Total Heat Index: 27/50 -- It's going to be fascinating watching Carroll in his third -- and likely final -- chance to prove he belongs in the professional game. There's too much unknown right now to expect that it will start with a winning season, but with this division it is hard to rule anything or anyone completely out.