Yes, I am indeed picking the Sea Hawks to capture the NFC West crown one more time in 2015. But I will also add that I think the clock is ticking toward midnight on this team as a serious Super Bowl contender. They are close to hitting the Salary Cap wall, especially with RUSSELL WILSON finally being in a position to get paid big QB bucks next year. His soon to be dollar figure will severely hamper the team’s ability to hang on to their top players. In recent seasons they have been losing starters to other teams at an escalating rate, as well as highly esteemed assistant coaches. It also appears to me that the team has taken to gambling ways on Draft Day in recent years. Sooner or later too many players of questionable character will cause implosions. But for now let’s stick to the 2015 outlook.
Whether it was legit, or just a gambit to gain dollars (bet on the latter) the team dodged a bullet when RB/MARSHAWN LYNCH ended retirement talk and inked a big, new deal this off-season. His pounding running style, ala EARL CAMPBELL, wears down opposing defenses in the latter stages of many games.TURBIN & MICHAEL are also excellent back-ups. Watch out in Training Camp for URFA THOMAS RAWLS, who had some “issues” in his college career which over shadowed his natural running ability. The receiving corps gets a huge boost from the addition of JIMMY GRAHAM/TE who could become WILSON’s favorite target quite quickly. In an off-year in New Orleans in 2014, which included some shoulder issues, GRAHAM caught 85 balls, including 10 TD. DOUG BALDWIN led the Sea Hawks with 66 catches. Throw in developing player PAUL RICHARDSON/WR, and you can see some of the offensive load shifting off LYNCH’s legs and onto WILSON’s arm. But wait, as they say on late night TV commercials, there’s more. The team also added WR/TYLER LOCKETT in the Draft process and should get double payback from his selection. Not only was he a record breaking receiver at K-State, but he was also a dynamic Return Man. That could be a huge boost for a Special Teams unit that was 30th in the League in Punt Return average and 16th in Kick Returns. A ball control offense such as theirs would benefit greatly from the better starting field position that LOCKETT might provide. One of the most interesting dynamics of the Sea Hawks Offense revolves around the work of OL Coach TOM CABLE. Because of dollars allocated elsewhere on the roster CABLE is asked to work miracles with lesser regarded collegians who he turns into solid NFL starters. RG J.R. SWEEZY is a prime example of CABLE’s magic. SWEEZY played DT for NC State, but was drafted for his potential to switch to Offense. He has handled the transition nicely and is solidly entrenched as a starter. Last year JUSTIN BRITT/OT started at RT as a Rookie. His play was more than adequate. Last year the team also signed GARRY GILLIAM as an URFA after he spent most of his career playing TE while at Penn State. He’s now the team’s No.3 OT, and goal line TE. In this year’s draft the team selected both TERRY POOLE/OT & MARK GLOWINSKI/OG in Round 4. But they also selected DT/KRISJIAN SOKOLI in Round 6 with the plan that CABLE will develop him into an Interior OL candidate.
The basically vanilla Offense ranked 10th in the NFL scoring with 24.6 points per game.
But what clearly sets this team apart from the others in its division is their hard hitting, fast paced Legion of Boom Defense. KRIS RICHARD has taken over as the DC with the departure of DAN QUINN to the Head Coaching position in Atlanta. Don’t expect much to change schematically, since CARROLL has his fingerprints all over the defensive schemes in place here. An aggressive style, played by physical and aggressive players make this team a definite non-favorite among opposing offenses. The hub is the secondary manned by RICHARD SHERMAN/CB, EARL THOMAS/FS & KAM CHANCELLOR/SS. The newbie in the group is likely to be CB/CARY WILLIAMS, whose aggressive style of play and motor mouth, should fit right in with the rest of the unit. VFA WILL BLACKMON/CB was signed to fight for back-up time and slot action in sub-packages. This is his second stint with the team. Also watch for R/TYE SMITH/CB to work his way up the depth chart. The team was able to hang onto OLB/ER/BRUCE IRVIN, who ha shown signs of developing as a full-time LB not just a pass rusher. KEVIN PIERRE-LOUIS/OLB came on as his rookie season progressed in 2014 and should see more playing time in 2015. I think a surprise here could be URFA QUAYSHAWN NEALY/LB who was the leader of the D at GA TECH and though lacking ideal size and workout numbers is a smart LB who makes a ton of plays. Assuming the team is able to coax MICHAEL BENNETT/DE into Camp, despite a threatened contract holdout, their DL group has potential to be deeper than ever. FRANK CLARK/DE/ER/R is similar to IRVIN coming out of college, including some off-field baggage. AHTYBA RUBIN/DT/VFA is an athletic big-body run stopper who may rotate with BRANDON MEBANE inside. CASSIUS MARSH/DE/ER lost his entire Rookie season to injury. But the loose-cannon personality, plays like his hair is on fire in pursuit of opposing QB when healthy.
The talent is here for another Super Bowl run, and I mean “run” literally, DARRELL BEVELL/OC! No one in the NFC West has as well rounded a roster as PETE CARROLL. As long as the locker room can be kept under control with some of these characters towing the line, the SEA HAWKS clearly are the cream of the crop in the West, and as we all know the cream rises to the top. One more big run, but then check in here after the next off-season to see if it can all be held together for the future.