Hawks have improved almost everywhere

Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson plan to be clapping about their offense a lot this season (Getty Images)A year ago, few people thought the Seahawks could play even .500 ball — due to a completely revamped defense and an offense that didn’t seem capable of winning many shootouts.

Well, as we predicted, the Hawks won 10 games and made the playoffs for the seventh time in Pete Carroll’s nine seasons (and, as we all know, should have beaten Dallas in the wild-card round).

This year, it seems plenty of people have not learned their lesson — still forecasting the Seahawks as an 8-8 or 9-7 team. The main concerns are pass rush and a youthful secondary, plus the permanent loss of Doug Baldwin in the receiving corps.

Carroll knows his pass rush is weaker than it was — “We gotta make something special out of it” — but he also knows his team is otherwise very stout. (UPDATE: The Hawks acquired pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney the day after this was first posted.)

After the Hawks beat the Raiders in the preseason finale, Carroll said, “We’re going to be a really good team. … We’re going to be hard to beat.”

He’s right. When the schedule came out, we predicted 11 or 12 wins. It’s still easy to see that because they look better at six seven of nine position groups.

QB: Better. Russell Wilson looks a lot more comfortable in Brian Schottenheimer’s offense this time, and the QB and OC should be on the same page from the start (Wilson was even calling plays in the final preseason game). Wilson had some great stats last season, but he was inconsistent and made some big game-turning mistakes. His comfort level behind a great line should enable the NFL’s highest-paid player to play like it in 2019.

RB: Better. Mike Davis is gone, but Rashaad Penny, in his second season, is poised to be a strong No. 2 to Chris Carson (who has not played a full season yet).

WR: Same. The injuries to David Moore and D.K. Metcalf have cut into this unit for the start of the season, but top receiver Tyler Lockett returns and Jaron Brown will play a much bigger role this time. By the second half of the season, this unit should be much improved.

TE: Same. If Will Dissly can return to the form he showed early last season before he was injured in Week 4, this unit will be better as well. For now, Ed Dickson is injured again and we don’t know if Jacob Hollister is going to stick long term. But Dissly and Nick Vannett are a solid 1-2.

OL: Better. In Year 2 under Mike Solari, this veteran unit should be even better — especially with Ethan Pocic seeming to finally have stepped up as he plays for the injured Mike Iupati. Once Iupati, George Fant and Jamarco Jones get back to full health, this will be a very deep crew.

(UPDATED)
DL: Better. Losing Frank Clark and Jarran Reed (suspended for six games) set this unit back, but the huge trade for Clowney made up for it. Now they have to hope Clowney gets up to speed somewhat quickly and Ziggy Ansah and L.J. Collier get healthy early in the season. The run defense should be much improved — Quinton Jefferson and Poona Ford have looked great in that department, and Clowney is a good run stopper as well. Once Reed returns, this unit will be at its best — and should be as good as the Michael Bennett/Cliff Avril units.

LB: Better. Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks never played together as a trio last season, so it will be awesome to see perhaps the best linebacking corps in the NFL together as this season gets started. These guys can do so many things, they should help make up for other deficiencies. Carroll loves Kendricks and obviously has his fingers crossed that the linebacker will be with them all season (his sentencing is tentatively set for Sept. 25).

DB: Better. Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers already look like they are much improved. It just comes down to the safety spot opposite Bradley McDougald, which right now belongs to Tedric Thompson, and the nickel position. Carroll excels at developing defensive backs, and this unit definitely will be better after the experience gained in 2018.

ST: Better. Jason Myers is a huge upgrade over Sebastian Janikowski (Carroll and John Schneider whiffed on that choice last year, as we suspected at the time). All-Pro Michael Dickson is a superstar at his position, and Tyler Ott is as steady as they come.

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