New Additions’ Outlook
The Seattle Seahawks were busy this offseason, trying to bolster a team that nearly made it to the NFC Championship game. While speculation rarely gets you far, the truth is, if the team could have just sealed the deal against the Atlanta Falcons, they likely would have won the Super Bowl.
In week 16, they had just destroyed the San Francisco 49ers, 42-13, and were primed to do it again. As for the Super Bowl, does anyone really think Joe Flacco would have dismantled the Legion of Boom? The Baltimore Raven’s offense may have been peaking, but Seattle’s secondary plays on a whole other level.
In 2012, the Seahawk’s caught a wave and despite a rookie quarterback and PED allegations, came just short of hoisting the Lombardi trophy.
So, in the offseason, head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider used a key trade and free agent signings to bolster some of the team’s weaknesses: QB pressure from the defensive line, a true play-maker on offense, secondary depth, and a backup quarterback in the event something… anything… happens to franchise savior, Russell Wilson.
Let’s take a look at some of those acquisitions:
DE Cliff Avril / DE Michael Bennett
Cliff Avril, a free agent pickup from the Detroit Loins, has averaged nearly 10 sacks a year over the least three seasons. A premier pass rusher, Avril should provide an immediate impact as long as he is healthy. He has been suffering from a plantar fascia issue, which is a painful inflammatory process in the foot.
Avril is said to be good for training camp, however fans should be cautious as these injuries have the tendency to linger. Looking at 2013, I would take the under on ten sacks for Avril, but I do feel like he will make a strong impact in the rotation.
While their other defensive end acquisition doesn’t have the same statistical success as Avril, Michael Bennett will be a powerful force in his own right…when he plays. His nine sacks, 41 total tackles and 3 forced fumbles last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were all career highs.
His second go around with the Seahawks (he was an undrafted free agent with Seattle in 2009), should prove more fruitful than his first stint. The only question with Bennett going into the season is, as with Avril, one of injury.
Back in March, it was reported that Bennett had a torn rotator cuff, and since then, there has been little news on the injury. How much it will affect him this season, especially in the first 4 weeks when Bruce Irvin is suspended, remains to be seen. If Bennett hits 5-6 sacks on the season, I think fans should be grateful.
Even with the concerns, both players should help bolster a rotation that had only 33 sacks by the entire defense in 2012. With both players having injury issues going into training camp, look for the line to be at full strength by week 6, and hitting their stride by week 8.
WR Percy Harvin
Other than the colossal debacle in the handling of Elvis Dumervil, no other offseason acquisition came as more of surprise or made more headlines than the Seahawks’ trade with the Minnesota Vikings for All-Pro wide receiver and return specialist, Percy Harvin.
The Seahawks gave up a first-round draft pick in 2013, and a third-round and a seventh-round draft pick in 2014, for Harvin. Seattle’s pick in the draft would have been at slot 25. The only comparable receiver to Harvin’s talents would be Tavon Austin, who went number 8 to the St. Louis Rams.
So essentially, the Seahawks got a young, proven, game-changing difference-maker 17 ‘picks’ later than a similar, but inferior, player who went to a division rival. That is good roster management.
Harvin will be the ultimate weapon on the field. However, I think the Seahawks should use him less in the return game and save him solely for offensive series. He fills a glaring need for a dynamic receiver that can elude tacklers and make yards after the catch. He wont hit 1,000 yard, but I do think 800 yards and 6 TDs will happen.
While that may not seem like a lot, remember that Harvin has never cracked 1,000 yards receiving in his career and the 800 would still be more yards than any Seahawk receiver had last year. His value won’t be in the stats as much as it will be in helping the offense’s on-field efficiency.
I think his presence alone will help the team average an extra 2.5 points per game over last year.
CB Antoine Winfield
I wrote about Winfield in an earlier article on NW Sports Beat, here. The truth is, I think Winfield is going to have a career year in Seattle. He has talent all around him in Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner and Chris Clemons. In addition, with the defensive line bolstered and a maturing linebacker group, Winfield will be like a kid playing old school ball with the sun setting down on a playground during a summer Tuesday night. All he is going to have to do is run around and make plays.
Between his own skill set and the talent of those around him, that’s exactly what he will be able to do. To fill the role of secondary depth, Winfield will be a perfect fit in the Legion of Boom. Look for him to match or beat his single-season career high in interceptions (4) and passes defended (14).
QB Brady Quinn / QB Tarvaris Jackson
With training camp starting July 24th for the Seahawks, nothing will be talked about more than the quarterback two slot. Who will be one to backup 2nd year starter, Russell Wilson?
Brady Quinn was signed by the Seahawks in April to be Wilson’s backup. Though he has had a less than stellar career, Quinn has the tool set and ability to get a team through a few games in the event of an emergency. There are no misconceptions about him pushing for a starting job, however as a back up, he is more than capable of managing the team for a few games if something were to happen to Wilson.
Don’t be fooled by last years stats, Quinn played for a woeful Kansas City Chiefs team whose problems, which were far more than just Brady Quinn, led them to the number one draft pick.
The Seahawks’ other option for the number two QB position is Tarvaris Jackson. In his second stint with the Seahawks, fans seem to be pushing for Jackson. All I keep hearing about are things such as ‘locker room equity’ and ‘plays a similar style’ to Wilson.
The truth is, Jackson could not even make it as a 3rd string QB for the Buffalo Bills. In addition, Jackson’s best personal career year was in 2009 when he was also among the league’s worst starting quarterbacks.
I get it. On the surface, it seems like there won’t even be a competition. But I would hold on before appointing Jackson as the winner of this battle.
While his skill set may be more likened to Wilson’s, what sets Quinn apart is his decision making prowess.
Do you really want Jackson making read-option decisions during pivotal moments? Or would you rather a game manager in Quinn, who excels when asked to, simply move the chains within the game plan? I think Carroll is too smart of a coach to put the fate of the team in Jackson’s hands, locker-room equity or not. Look for Quinn to earn the backup slot and Jackson lucky to even hold on as a number 3.