Monday, July 13, 2009

Storylines for 2009

by: Chris Sullivan

We are one month and two days away from the first preseason game. There are so many unknowns right now that pretty much everything is up in the air. At this time last year, the storylines for the Seahawks would not have included a) too few WRs (remember how "deep" we were?!), b) Hasselbeck's health, c) the offensive line's health (it was stalwart with Wahle, right? Riiiight???), and so forth. So y'know, take these suckers with a grain of salt. In an ideal, injury-free, wrinkle-free world, these are what shape up to be the top storylines for your Seattle Seahawks in 2009:

1.) How can the Seahawks come back from a 4-12 season? Most of the players on the 2008 team had never had a losing season. Let that sink in. The Seahawks had largely rebuilt around its 2005-2008 draft picks, almost all of whom had come from big programs at winning schools. The veterans had been on a largely-successful Seahawks team for much of the previous 5 years. On the whole, these were a bunch of talented guys who hadn't really faced that sort of adversity in their careers. They faltered and failed, even when they should have been able to win (Miami, SF, Tampa Bay). Will we find the Seahawks as a new group of inspired guys who want to reprove their excellence? Or a bunch of weinerheads who can't regain their confidence (Kelly Jennings, we're looking at you)?

2.) How will Greg Knapp balance his offense now that he has a strong, immobile quarterback and middle-of-the-pack running backs? Is this going to be a run-first offense as so many fear it will be, or will Knapp have the smarts and discipline to really use his players? To me, this is probably the most pressing question, but #1 above won out because it all hinges on the players not being weinerheads.

3.) What will the West Coast Defense actually look like? With the personnel that the Seahawks have in defense, there is not really an excuse for them to be outside of the top 10 defenses, and really, top 5 should be the goal. However, the secondary is still suspect and the line is largely unproven -- Kerney, yes, but Tapp and Jackson haven't won the starting job yet despite many opportunities to differentiate themselves; Redding was decent on a terrible team but how will he do flexing inside and outside on the line?; Colin Cole is as big a question mark as he is a man. He probably has the most to prove outside of Julius Jones.

4.) Will Julius Jones prove himself an NFL-caliber running back? If he can't pull his weight this year, the Seahawks will be in trouble. Duckett can't handle the load and Forsett is an exciting back, but not likely the solution at the #1 spot. Devon Moore looks good, but again, he's a Forsett clone so those two will battle it out if he has a monster pre-season, but he will not compete. Our RB depth is a big concern and keeping Jones healthy is probably the third most important person on the team -- Hasselbeck, Walter Jones and J.J.. Kerney is probably more important actually, but I'm trying to make this dramatic.

5.) What will become of the Cardinals? If they are as good as last year, I think we can take them down, but what if they get better? What about the 49ers? Even the Rams -- who the often prescient Football Outsiders predict will finish second in the NFC West -- could make a run at it. NFC Worst no longer, my friends. I have a feeling this one is going to be a dog fight . . . Vick?