The Seahawks have spent the last five years building one of the best defenses in the history of the NFL — a unit that has allowed the fewest points in the league for three years running and has been the main reason Seattle has reached back-to-back Super Bowls.
But, as we saw in the Super Bowl, the offense is a two-dimensional cardboard cutout — forced to rely largely on the determination of Marshawn Lynch (aka Beast Mode) and the freelance ability of Russell Wilson (aka DangeRuss).
When Seattle’s best offensive personnel grouping includes undrafted receivers Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Ricardo Lockette and fifth-round tight end Luke Willson — and the coaches think throwing to Lockette on the goal line to win the Super Bowl is the best play — the Hawks have a serious problem.
This offseason, that must change. It’s the perfect time for Pete Carroll, John Schneider, Darrell Bevell and Tom Cable to determine the future of the offense — to improve their receiving corps, find some reliable offensive linemen and otherwise make a concerted effort to fix a unit that has been running on the shoestrings of Lynch and Wilson.
A big day for Kris Richard and the Carroll family was trumped by news that Lofa Tatupu is coming back.
For those who just became Seahawks fans in the last four years, Tatupu was the Bobby Wagner of Seattle’s first Super Bowl team. Tatupu played for Pete Carroll at USC and again in 2010, when Carroll came to Seattle.
As much as receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse complain about not getting any respect and being labeled “pedestrian,” the last two games of the season showed the criticisms have a lot of merit.
And when the Seahawks went to Ricardo Lockette — really?! — for the winning touchdown in the final seconds of the Super Bowl, it was a clear indicator that the Seahawks have to upgrade the receiver position in the offseason.
After playing horribly in the NFC title game against Green Bay — shut down for most of the game until they both came up big in overtime — Baldwin and Kearse were almost completely clamped by the Patriots’ secondary in the Super Bowl.
Until yet another undrafted player, Chris Matthews, came up big and sparked the Seattle offense, Russell Wilson had nowhere to go in the first half as Baldwin and Kearse were blanketed by Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.
The Seahawks’ deals for Cliff Avril and K.J. Wright had been in the works pretty much all year, so it was no surprise they got them done before the end of the season.
It takes away the top two players from Seattle’s sizable 2015 free-agent list and means Seattle now has all but one starter from the league’s No. 1 defense under contract next year (two if you add Kevin Williams to Byron Maxwell).
Wright and Avril join Legion of Boom stalwarts Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman, plus defensive lineman Michael Bennett, as the keys to a defense that could reign over the NFL through 2017.
Rookie right tackle Justin Britt’s
struggles have opened up the
debate about whether the
Seahawks should consider
replacing him next year, but the bigger question is whether the Seahawks should replace the left side of their line — Russell Okung and James Carpenter — over the next two years.
The Hawks are unlikely to give up on Britt so soon, but they definitely will have decisions to make along the line in the next couple of years, especially with three starters up for free agency — not that we can tell a starter from a backup anyway, considering injuries continually knock out Okung, Carpenter and center Max Unger.
Offensive line has long been Seattle’s weakest link — and that predates John Schneider, Pete Carroll and Tom Cable. The last time the Hawks started the same five all season was 2007, and they have averaged seven combinations a year in five seasons under this regime. They really need to find some consistency so the offense can progress.
If the Seahawks are able to sustain their newfound energy and momentum and make a major run through the postseason, a lot of credit will go to the veteran players who pulled the team together after the Kansas City loss. A little more credit will go to coach Pete Carroll and his staff.
But let’s not forget a key figure who has helped keep the Hawks afloat amid injuries and drama this season: John Schneider.
The general manager has had his most active season since 2011, when he was still putting together a competitive team for Carroll.
Tony Moeaki has made a heck of an impact in just three games with the Seahawks.
The tight end scored a touchdown in his first game — against his old team, Kansas City. He led the Hawks with four catches in the win against Arizona, making two first downs. And then he pulled off Seattle’s longest play of the year — a 63-yard gain that maybe should have been a 64-yard touchdown — against San Francisco.
It has been a heck of a start for a guy general manager John Schneider picked up four weeks ago to replace Zach Miller, who is out for the season with an ankle injury.
Russell Wilson already loves Moeaki and looks for him in key spots, like the broken play that resulted in the 63-yard pass play.
“Moeaki, man, that’s a tremendous football player,” Wilson said Thursday after the Seahawks’ 19-3 win over the 49ers. “He knows what to do, he runs tremendous routes, he has a great feel for the game, get in and out of his routes at the right time, he has unbelievable hands. His adjustment to us is pretty spectacular to see in terms of how quickly he has made a difference. We are excited to have him on our team and to see all the plays he makes.”