I am going on record right now to say that the Seattle Seahawks are undoubtedly going to end the recent trend of Super Bowl losers not making the playoffs the following season.
Not only are the Seahawks still loaded with talent, but they are now a battle hardened experienced team that will be better off in 2006 because of last season’s excellent run to the Super Bowl, where, some say (like me), they were robbed by of any chance of winning by a group of incompetent officials.
Matt Hasslebeck may not have the big name – or the big arm – all he does is get the job done. Hasslebeck has mastered head coach, Mike Holmgren’s version of the West Coast offense and always seems to make the right read these days.
If Hasslebeck goes down however, Seattle could be in big trouble with no veteran backup on the roster. Holmgren may want to address this issue at some point because if he has to turn to Seneca Wallace, Seattle can kiss their season goodbye.
Well, it took long enough for Alexander to get the money he so rightfully deserves. Now, we will see if he still has the same motivation in 2006 that he had last season when he was playing for his big contract, although I suspect he will.
Alexander has that rare combination of power and speed that is rarely found in running backs of any era and is going to find himself firmly entrenched as a resident in Canton if he keeps putting up numbers like last season’s record setting 28 scores and 1,800-plus yards.
Backup Maurice Morris is a talented player who will spell Alexander occasionally and fullback, Matt Strong, is an excellent lead blocker for Alexander if nothing else.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
The Seahawks have three veteran receivers who know how to get the job done in Darrell Jackson, Bobby Engram and free agent acquisition, Nate Burleson. If Burleson in particular can become the deep threat the Seahawks so desperately need, then that should make Alexander and Hasslebeck even more dangerous.
All world left tackle, Walter Jones sets the tone for Seattle’s offensive line, which will have to deal with the loss of Pro Bowl guard, Steve Hutchinson. If veteran Floyd Womack can fill Hutchinson’s immense shoes, Seattle should continue to experience plenty of success both, through the air and on the ground.
Center Robbie Tobeck, right guard Chris Gray and right tackle, Sean Locklear are all capable blockers, who should help ease the loss of Hutchinson. Overall, I’d have to say the Seahawks’ offensive line is about as good as it gets.
Seattle’s defensive line may not have one singular overpowering presence, but collectively, they led the league in sacks.
Defensive tackles Rocky Bernard and Chartric Darby are space eating run stuffers who get a good push in the middle of the line, while ends, Grant Wistrom and Bryce Fisher are solid against the run or rushing the quarterback. Seattle also has plenty of depth along their d-line with youngsters, Marcus Tubbs and Darryl Tapp.
This could very well be Seattle’s strongest unit on their entire team. The acquisition of Julian Peterson gives the Seahawks an impact player who can play in coverage or rush the quarterback equally well. Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, was spectacular in his rookie season earning a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2005. Weak side linebacker Leroy Hill, is coming off a 7.5-sack season last year and should be much improved in his sophomore season.
Seattle’s secondary is a nondescript group that should be thankful for the team’s strong front seven. Cornerbacks, Kelly Herndon and Marcus Trufant are average at best as are safeties, Ken Hamlin and Michael Boulware. How this group doesn’t get toasted on a weekly basis is beyond me, but at some point, someone in this unit will have to step up – or step aside.
Seattle’s kicking game is pretty solid with place kicker, Josh Brown and punter Tom Rouen. However, as competent as those two are, that’s exactly how incompetent Seattle’s return game has been.
Engram is a sure-handed punt returner but lacks the speed to “take it to the house.” Seattle’s kickoff return men are almost nonexistent. Josh Scobey and Maurice Morris will begin the year as the primary kickoff return men, but that is clearly subject to change at any moment.
For a guy that was on the hot seat just a couple of seasons ago, Mike Holmgren sure has turned things around in a hurry. Holmgren possesses one of the game’s best offensive minds and is a player’s coach through and through.
I don’t know why it seems as though a lot of people feel like Holmgren has to validate himself with another Super Bowl title, but if that’s what people want, that may be exactly what they get in 2006.