Sunday, May 3, 2009

How Much Better Have the Seahawks Gotten? Defensively.

by: Michael Steffes

Yesterday morning I took at look at some of the major changes the Seahawks have gone through on the offensive side of the ball. I listed the best possible outcome and the worst possible outcome. My feelings are that the reality will probably be somewhere in-between. Lets take a look this morning at some of the big changes defensively.


The Linebackers~

The Seahawks have switched out Julian Peterson for Aaron Curry. While this move leaves them several years younger, and 15 lbs heavier at the position, there is still some reason to question the possible results.

UPSIDE: The upside here is obviously that the Seahawks end up with the best linebacking crew in the league. Curry could be everything the Seahawks had in Peterson plus better coverage. It is hard to imagine that Curry will be the pass rusher Julian was, but if he is blitzed at the right times it isn't hard to imagine him having 3 or 4 sacks. Hopefully he frees Lofa and Leroy up to do more, that would make the defensive reach its peak.

DOWNSIDE: There is a rookie learning curve. Curry doesn't have the same experience with the NFL game and has trouble reading and reacting instinctively like Peterson. Without Peterson the Seahawks pass rush falls even further, making the linebacking crew less relevant.

The Defensive Line~

The Seahawks have made a concerted effort to get bigger on the defensive line. Colin Cole will take his 330 lbs to the nose, so that the "Human Bowling Ball" Brandon Mebane can focus on penetration. Cory Redding will be the most stout defensive end the team has had in a while. They now have a lot of depth and versatility in these positions.

: The defensive line becomes a beast. It becomes impossible to really double team any one player. Kerney stays healthy and the pass rush becomes fierce. Also, because of the all the big bodies, the linebackers are free to fly around and make plays. The Hawks end up with a top 10 rushing defense and finish top 10 in sacks.

DOWNSIDE: The pieces don't really fit like the team envisions. Cole has been a backup and has trouble making the transition to starter. This leaves Mebane double teamed more often despite switching positions. Kerney gets banged up again and Redding is the same player that has been a disappointment in Detroit. Jackson hasn't developed and thus the team has few options except to blitz to create pressure.

Right Corner~

The Seahawks have gone to a blast from the past in Kenny Lucas to give them a more a physical presence on the opposite side of the field from Marcus Trufant. This pushes Wilson to the slot. In theory they should have a good group of corners.

UPSIDE: Lucas is able to match up against the divisions bigger receivers. The team goes back to being one of the best team in touchdown passes allowed. Also, Lucas' stature helps the run defense. He is much more stout on the edge furthering the Hawks rush defense. Overall, his addition, and Wilson's competitiveness in the slot allow the team time to get to the QB and then turn bad passes into turnovers.

DOWNSIDE: Turns out it wasn't really the corners, and the increasing age of the safeties is a problem too. Despite solid play on the edges the team is getting beat in the deep middle of the field. Maybe Lucas, like Mike Wahle, was released from Carolina for a reason and the Hawks are the last to find out. Not too many other teams showed interest and now Hawk fans see why. Eventually Jennings is put back on the edge and the run defense then suffers.

I wish that I had a change at safety to talk about, but as for now, it would appear that the team is going to keep the status quo there. So I have listed what I think are the best and worst scenarios for these defensive changes. How do you think it actually plays out? Will this be the year the Seahawks defense finally lives up to its talent level? END