After countless days of, well, counting the days, I will soon finally be able to shout from the rooftops that the Seahawks are back in action.
But even though tomorrow will be ultra-exciting for me, as I have travelled over 1,200 miles from Northern Los Angeles to be here in Seattle for this week, it will also be maddeningly difficult.
See, there are just so many things I love about this team. So much talent, so many battles, and so much to watch for.
For instance, how am I going to take stock of the strength of the defensive line when Russell Wilson is on the field? You can’t NOT watch Russell Wilson, right? And how am I going to keep track of those two things when there is the best secondary in the NFL battling against the deepest and most talented wide receiving corps the Seahawks have had in recent memory?
There are so many elements to this team to watch, and I’ll try to name as many as I can here.
1) The pass rushing ability and the depth of the defensive line.
As I mentioned in a previous article, Cliff Avril will have to effectively carry the Seahawks pass rushing load through the first four weeks of the season because of the simple fact that he is their only proven edge rusher that will be on the roster during this time. It will be interesting to see if any of the younger edge rushers on the roster, players like Kenneth Boatwright or Benson Mayowa, will step up to fill the void at sub-package edge rusher opposite Avril/backup to spell Avril.
Seattle’s pass rush was the main weakness of their defense for the entire season (save the flukey eight sack first half against Green Bay), and I truly believe that if they can generate a consistently effective pass rush and combine that with their elite secondary, it will make for a type of defense that can carry a team to a Super Bowl. Rookie defensive tackles Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams can surely help in this department as well. And with an improved pass rush combined with the elite secondary, it will hardly even matter how good their linebackers are. Speaking of which–
2) Competition/position change at linebacker.
Linebacker is a devalued position, and the Giants showed that you can win a Super Bowl without great talent at the linebacker position. Still, you can’t have liabilities there when you have guys like Vernon Davis and Jared Cook in the division.
KJ Wright is moving from the strong side to the weak side. Which means he’ll be playing in space more. This may be somewhat of a concern because of Wright’s size and subsequent perceived lack of agility, but he’s surprisingly athletic and definitely has the work ethic to adjust.
But more importantly, Bruce Irvin will reportedly make the transition for at least part of the time from the three-point defensive end position he played last year to a two-point stance at the linebacker position. Not only am I eager to see how he adjusts to playing in space and dropping into coverage, but also in how the Seahawks will use him; how often will he rush the passer? Will new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn move him around (more on this later)? How much has Irvin improved this offseason? Also, the competition for strong side linebacker/primary backup linebacker will be interesting to watch as young players Korey Toomer and John Kotulelei will battle it out.
3) Dan Quinn’s tendencies.
I don’t know how much will be revealed about new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn during training camp. Probably not much. But hopefully I’ll at least get an idea of how much he’ll blitz and vary his play calls this year. I also want to see how he’ll use Bruce Irvin, Earl Thomas, and KJ Wright, since all of these players are very athletic and versatile.
4) Secondary vs. wide receivers.
I’m getting chills thinking about Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, and Antoine Winfield playing press coverage and trying to maul the crap out of Percy Harvin, Golden Tate, and Sidney Rice. But I’m mostly intrigued by how Percy Harvin in particular will adjust and react to the physical style of play Seattle’s secondary prides itself in. He’s a competitor, and he won’t be pushed around. But last year, the secondary had their way with the likes of Sidney Rice, Terrell Owens, and Golden Tate. Which will prevail?
5) New hair styles.
You heard me. Gone are the luscious dread locks from the scalps of both Earl Thomas and Bruce Irvin. It’ll take some getting used to visually, but hey, that wind resistance…
6) Russell Wilson. Duh.
I must admit, I’ve kind of started taking him for granted. Which I probably shouldn’t do. But after getting nervous that I didn’t hear much about him during the Seahawks offseason training activities (OTAs), I asked Jessamyn McIntyre, the executive radio producer of ESPN Seattle, how he looked. Her response? Something along the lines of, “He looked great. He looked like Russell Wilson.” Good enough for me.
Still, I am just eager to feel his greatness permeate throughout the VMAC tomorrow.
7) Luke Willson
This athletic tight end, drafted out of Rice in the fifth round, got himself noticed during OTAs with his speed and athleticism. I’ll be watching him, and hopefully he can show enough in his blocking that he will be able to take the injured Anthony McCoy’s spot as the second tight end on the depth chart. The Seahawks have been missing a pure receiving threat at tight end over the past couple years, and I hope Willson can carve himself a niche in this role.
Time for some rapid fire. You ready?
James Carpenter- will he practice? If he does, what group will he practice with and how strong will he look?
Walter Thurmond- How does he look? Like he could potentially step in for Antoine Winfield should he come down with an injury or a case of old age?
Jeremy Lane- Has he gained any weight, preferably muscle? There were multiple plays last year where Lane attempted to tackle a player yet couldn’t get him to the ground because he just wasn’t big or strong enough.
Michael Bowie- Does he look capable of being the Seahawks’ primary backup tackle?
Jaye Howard- Does he look like he could become part of the regular defensive line rotation this year under Dan Quinn? The same defensive coach who he had his best days under at University of Florida?
Who gets more playing time between Golden Tate and Sidney Rice? Side note: I like Tate over Rice.
Christine Michael vs. Robert Turbin. Who gets more snaps? Who looks for explosive?
Honestly, I could keep coming up with this stuff for a long time. But I should get to bed now. I’ll have a lot to think about tomorrow.