2005 Team Report: Seattle Seahawks
Starter: Matt Hasselbeck
Backup(s): Seneca Wallace, David Greene [r]
Starting QB: Matt Hasselbeck emerged as a top tier fantasy quarterback over the past two season leading the Seahawks to consecutive playoff births. Hasselbeck has averaged 24 touchdown passes and 3613 yards passing over those two seasons in spite of a receiving corps that has been disappointing at best. Hasselbeck entered the offseason as an unrestricted free agent, but the team placed a high priority on signing him to a long term contract and got him inked quickly along with Pro Bowl LT Walter Jones. Hasselbeck is becoming the team leader on the offensive side of the ball. He exudes much more confidence in the huddle and on the sideline than he did when Holmgren first acquired him from Green Bay and inserted him into the starting role.
Backup QB: With Trent Dilfer traded away to the Cleveland Browns in the offseason, the backup job falls to third year understudy Seneca Wallace. Conventional thought suggests that head coach Mike Holmgren won't head into the season without a veteran backup at the quarterback position. If someone else is brought in, expect rookie David Greene from Georgia to compete with Wallace for the third string job.
Starter: Shaun Alexander
Backup(s): Maurice Morris, Josh Scobey
Fullback(s): Mack Strong, Leonard Weaver
Starting RB: Looking back a season ago, the word out of Seattle was that Alexander would be seeing fewer carries and that backup Maurice Morris was going to get more touches on a weekly basis. A year later we see that this was just coachspeak. Alexander carried the load quite well in 2004 and missed out on a rushing title by only one yard to Curtis Martin. Coming up one yard short opened the floodgates with an outpouring of animosity between Alexander and the team. The team used the franchise tag on Alexander preventing him from seeking a monster contract on the open market. But after an offseason of discontent, Alexander signed a one-year $6.3 million deal just in time for training camp. As part of the deal, the team contractually is prohibited from franchising Alexander again next season, so either the team successfully comes to terms on a long-term extension or he'll be an unrestricted free agent in 2006.
Backup RBs: Maurice Morris would step into the starting job for the moment if Alexander was out of the picture, but its more likely that if Alexander were no longer a Seahawk that the starter is not on the current roster. Morris has the burst and acceleration that it takes to get through the hole, but his smaller size and injury concerns would make it tough for him to be an every down running back. Arizona cast off Josh Scobey was claimed off waivers in mid August.
Fullback: Mack Strong returns to the fold for a 12th season as the senior member of the roster. Strong paved the way for a thousand-yard rusher for the fourth consecutive season. Strong can be counted on for an average of three touches per game heading into the 2005 season. Strong will get a few short yardage carries and possibly a screen play or two near the goal line. Backup Heath Evans signed with the Miami Dolphins in the offseason and will be replaced by free agent Leonard Weaver.
Starters: Darrell Jackson, Bobby Engram
Backups: Joe Jurevicius, Peter Warrick, D.J. Hackett, Jerheme Urban, Alex Bannister
Starting WRs: The Seahawks receiving corps has been much maligned for their tendency to drop passes. The drops from Jackson (11 in 2004) and Koren Robinson (10 in 2004), last year's starters have become a running joke over the past two seasons in the NFL. However, it's not nearly as bad as what the situation has been hyped to be. Jackson was in the top ten in passing targets in 2004 and has become quite the playmaker for the Seahawks. QB Matt Hasselbeck views Jackson as his go-to receiver and has built a solid rapport with him. Robinson, while unmistakably talented, was released following another alcohol-related incident. Bobby Engram was named the starter after several years as the team's slot receiver. Engram is a reliable veteran who no longer possesses the physical skills to dominate, but uses a combination of solid route running and an understanding of how to position himself against defensive backs in tight coverage to make plays.
Backup WRs: The Seahawks have excellent depth at the receiver position despite releasing the enigmatic Koren Robinson. Joe Jurevicius was brought in as a free agent this offseason, and Peter Warrick, who was signed after being released by Cincinnati in late August, may ultimately push for Engram's role if healthy. While it's unclear how this group will be utilized, and how the cadre of young receivers (Alex Bannister, Jerheme Urban, D.J. Hackett) fit into the mix; there's little question that QB Matt Hasselbeck will have an opportunity to spread the ball in multiple-receiver sets. Engram, Warrick and Jurevicius are all solid NFL caliber receivers who have 50-catch seasons to their credit.
Starters: Jerramy Stevens, Itula Mili
Backups: Ryan Hannam
At the start of the 2004 season the starting job was handed to Jerramy Stevens, but inconsistency and a lack of production led to Itula Mili getting the nod as the starter again late in the season. Word out of Seattle this offseason is similar to last year. Stevens has been rededicating himself to being the starting tight end that they hoped to select in the first round of the 2002 draft. In three seasons as a pro Stevens has yet to deliver on the promise of his potential, but he has shown flashes of what may come. Stevens scored touchdowns in weeks 15 and 17 last season. The Seahawks are still convinced that Stevens can become a redzone monster. Itula Mili is a sharp contrast. Seattle knows exactly what they get from Mili - consistent, solid, yet unimpressive play. Mili is a player you can rely on to not make mistakes, but don't expect the spectacular. Third year backup tight end Ryan Hannam may become a solid pro much like Mili. He was often used in two tight end sets but not near the redzone.
: Brown followed up his promising 2003 rookie year with a very strong second season. His accuracy improved significantly, increasing from 73.3% to 92.0% (23 of 25). The difference was in the 40+ yard kicks (which he improved from 50.0% as a rookie to 87.5% last year). He was perfect on PATs both seasons. His point totals have ranked him ninth and eleventh in the NFL.
Kick and Punt Returners
Kick Returners: Maurice Morris
The Seahawks lack a true KR threat and basically rely on their stable of RBs to catch and hold onto the ball and gain a few yards. RB Maurice Morris has led the team the last three years (47 returns, 21.1 avg).
Punt Returners: Bobby Engram, Peter Warrick, Maurice Morris
WR Bobby Engram is a good punt returner. He missed some time last year (10 returns, 11.8 avg) but can put up decent numbers when he plays a full season (31 returns, 10.3 avg, 1 TD in 2003). Morris used his same reliable but not flashy skills on punts last year (15 returns, 5.0 avg). As a team, the Seahawks fantasy return numbers having been decreasing for several years - dipping to 22nd last year.
Projected Starters: RT Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack [inj], RG Chris Gray, C Robbie Tobeck, LG Steve Hutchinson, LT Walter Jones
Key Backups: G/T Sean Locklear, T Wayne Hunter, T Ray Willis [r], C Chris Spencer [r]
The Seahawks are blessed with two legitimate stars along the offensive line in Walter Jones at tackle and Steve Hutchinson at guard. However there are deficiencies and question marks along the starting five. Robbie Tobeck has been a rock at the center position, but he is 35 years old and has begun to slow down. Chris Gray was brought back and he'll bring stability to the guard position, but he is also 35 years old. Pork Chop Womack is great at drive blocking but is very limited due to his marginal athleticism. Rookie Chris Spencer has great quickness and footwork and should start at center by 2006. This unit will be good, but can it be great? Floyd Womack is expected to miss the first four games of the season with a triceps injury. He'll be replaced by Sean Locklear.
Bobby Engram's drop in the end zone capping a playoff loss to the Rams was a microcosm of last season. The defense dropped the ball several times, failing to hold late game leads in devastating losses to nemesis St. Louis (one of the biggest comebacks in NFL history) and Dallas (MNF debacle with Julius Jones doing an impression of a wrecking ball through a condemned building). A mediocre run defense (126.9 YPG #11 NFC) coupled with poor pass defense (224.3 YPG #13 NFC) yielded porous total defense numbers (351.3 YPG #14 NFC) in '04. Seattle's scoring defense was marginally better (23.3 PPG #10 NFC). A bright spot, however, was takeaways (32 tied #3 NFLů,fueled by a 20 INT outburst #2 NFL). A suspect and thinly spread defense lost a DE (Chike Okeafor to division rival Arizona), two LBs (Anthony Simmons and Chad Brown were released) and a CB (Ken Lucas parlayed a career year into a raise with Carolina). Adding some quality free agents helped balance the ledger.
Starters: DE Grant Wistrom, DE Bryce Fisher, DT Marcus Tubbs, DT Chartric Darby
Backups: DT Craig Terrill, DT Rocky Bernard, DE Joe Tafoya
Starting DL: Last offseason, Wistrom lunged for a massive FA contract ($14 million bonus) faster than any QB he ever sacked. The former Ram is good, but that kind of money is usually reserved for elite DEs. With a well rounded game (nearly 50 solos a year '00-'03), Wistrom offers superior intangibles, including leadership, team focus and Super Bowl experience. The organization hopes his work ethic off the field will become contagious (Seattle has had immaturity issues) and elevate the team's level of preparation to win. He suffered multiple leg injuries that destroyed much of last season, but the defense was clearly better when Wistrom was healthy (3-0 start). Bryce Fisher plugs into the hole left by Chike Okeafor's defection and gives the Seahawks bookend ex-Ram DEs. Before Wistrom's departure he toiled in line rotation obscurity... eight sacks and two FFs led to a FA deal commensurate with a starting role. He had surgery this offseason to clean up his foot. Tubbs has the potential to emerge as the top interior DL on the team and can be a difference maker. The second year former Longhorn has first round pedigree and compiled an impressive body of work at Texas. A cousin of former 49er Pro Bowl LB Winfred Tubbs, he flashed the rare ability by a DT to be disruptive during his collegiate tenure (15 sacks, 40 TFL, five FFs and four blocked kicks). He is very athletic and agile for a big man (6'3" 320+), a reflection of his prep TE and basketball background. His rookie season was a washout, but he had some mitigating factors - a severe high ankle sprain and the passing of his mother during the season. When playing with technique and leverage, a tree stump is easier to budge. He has the power and explosion to rag doll guards, control gaps and collapse the pocket, creating more opportunities to make plays for the entire defense. Chartric Darby was one of the lesser known components of the Bucs defensive front the last few years, and will be tested in a full time role this year.
Backup DL: The backups are neither proven nor compelling, with only Joe Tafoya capable of playing defensive end on a regular basis. Craig Terrill is in his second year with Seattle, but is an undersized tackle (6'2", 290 lbs.) who had a grand total of one solo tackle last season. Like Terrill, Bernard is an undersized tackle (6'3", 293 lbs.) but has been a regular contributor in the Seahawks rotation. In three seasons, Bernard has 9.5 sacks and 70 tackles, so there is some hope he could do more with an increased number of snaps.
Starters: WLB Leroy Hill [r], MLB Lofa Tatupu [r], SLB Jamie Sharper
Backups: MLB Niko Koutouvides, SLB Isaiah Kacyvenski, SLB Kevin Bentley, WLB D.D. Lewis
Starting LBs: No starting LBs from opening day 2004 remain on the roster. Simmons had multiple run-ins with the coaching staff, didn't fit Ruskell's emphasis on team players and (along with the also departed Chad Brown) missed a combined total of 40 games since '02. Jamie Sharper will be the one fixed point and North Star of the LB corps. The Seahawks wasted no time signing the former Ravens/Texans Pro Bowler (five years, $17.5 million deal) shortly after being released by Houston (who thought he was a player in decline). His streak of 128 straight contests appealed to a team snake bit by LB injuries recently (as did his nearly 110 solo, four sack and seven PD per season average since '02). Recently an ILB, he combines the run support stopping power of a hollow-point round with the athleticism to rush the passer and cover TEs. Joining him in the starting lineup are two rookies: WLB Leroy Hill and MLB Lofa Tatupu. Tatupu was declared a reach, but Seattle saw something others didn't (they paid a second and two fourth round picks to move up in the second for him). How much he was a product of his supporting cast make him difficult for scouts to project. Pete Carroll's pro style coaching augmented an ex-QB's off-the-charts football IQ. Shaun Cody confirmed his spooky instincts (he was calling out Oklahoma's plays before the snap in the 2005 Orange Bowl). Rich McKay (Ruskell's boss in Tampa Bay) drafted "undersized" players Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks. Scouts failed to appreciate them as FOOTBALL PLAYERS. Their atypical size eluded the blunt instrument of conventional positional metrics... which didn't account for immeasurable intangibles. If Tatupu is Zach Thomas 2.0, the Seahawks faith/foresight could be rewarded with their starting MLB for the next decade. Leroy Hill, also considered a major reach when Seattle chose him in the 3rd round, will play outside linebacker after being primarily an inside 'backer at Clemson. Hill's strengths are sideline-to-sideline speed, hard and efficient tackling and a non-stop motor. However, his lack of bulk and limitations in coverage has to give Seahawks fans pause now that he's been named the starter.
Backup LBs: Third year undrafted FA Lewis and second year fourth rounder Koutouvides had mirror image stats last year with nearly 50 solos each in limited action. Given their starting experience, they should be considered above average backups. Kacyvenski played at Harvard, but you don't have to be a Harvard man to figure out he played a lot with all the LB injuries (72 and 89 tackles in '02 and '04). Bentley started for the Browns (96 tackles in '03) and adds the versatility to back up SLB/WLB.
Starters: CB Andre Dyson, CB Marcus Trufant, SS Michael Boulware, FS Ken Hamlin
Backups: CB Kelly Herndon, S John Howell, CB Jordan Babineaux, FS Marquand Manuel
Starting DBs: Trufant looked like an emerging star in his rookie season of '03. Last year he appeared to regress as he overcompensated for the five yard chuck rule (enforcement), giving too much cushion. He has improved his tackle numbers (83-96) and INTs (2-5) and has 40 PD in two seasons. Seattle jumped on Dyson as soon as he was released by the cap-strapped Titans. Dyson offers close to a 60 tackle and four INTs average from his years with Tennessee. He slots into the void from Lucas' departure. Boulware could be the Seahawks top defender. Nominated for ROY (Jonathan Vilma only other IDP), he evokes memories of Carnell Lake and Darren Woodson. At 6'3" 223 lbs., he was the fastest (4.4) and consensus top cover LB in his class and smoothly morphed into a big time NFL SS. A line of 65 tackles, one sack, five INTs, one TD and two FFs in limited action could foreshadow stardom. Hamlin is multidimensional, a rare combo of size, speed and power. He jolts like a Tommy Hearns straight right. He is monster hitter but plays with (barely) controlled fury. While not a huge liability in coverage (four INTs in '04), Hamlin's strength is run support (he could be a perennial LB-like 90-100 tackle DB).
Backup DBs: Herndon is an undersized (5'10" 180 lbs.) but scrappy playmaker (averaged 60 solos and combined for five INTs and a five FFs in '02-'03). He will at least fortify Seattle's nickel package and is capable of starting in a pinch. He is a much needed reinforcement for the war in the sky, being in the same division with the vaunted Rams and ascendant Cardinals aerial attacks.
Last modified: 2005-09-04 19:48:53