The Seahawks are Clueless! Arent they?

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Like nearly all teams in this crazy offseason, the Seahawks have undergone significant personnel changes. The biggest move was allowing longtime starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to leave via free agency to the Titans. Hasselbeck had been the signal caller since his acquisition from the Green Bay Packers in 2001. A three-time Pro Bowler, he was the holder of numerous regular-season and postseason Seahawks records and was the unquestioned face of the franchise; his absence leaves a void on and off the field.  Many expected the Seahawks to draft a young QB in the offseason and while six quarterbacks were drafted in the first 36 picks, the Seahawks chose to take an offensive lineman instead, selecting James Carpenter in the first round. The offensive line was an issue last year; the Seahawks averaged only 3.7 yards per rush, which was the second worst in the league, and allowed 35 sacks and 64 quarterback hits. To further bolster their offensive line, they drafted guard John Moffitt in the third round and signed guard Robert Gallery away from the Raiders. These additions join the 2009 first-round selection, left tackle Russell Okung, making the OL, at least on paper, a strength going forward. The Seahawks then signed the best wide receiver available in free agency, giving former Viking Sidney Rice a five-year deal worth $43 million with $18 of that guaranteed. Rice is 24 and had his best season with Darrell Bevell, Seattle’s current offensive coordinator, when both were in Minnesota. The Seahawks also signed promising TE Zach Miller, a former Raider teammate of Gallery’s. After these smart moves, the Seahawks then filled their vacant quarterback position with…Tavaris Jackson.

 Not only did the Seahawks pass on drafting a quarterback in a strong draft class, they also passed on more established options like Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb and Kyle Orton, all of whom were available via a trade. Jackson started 20 games in Minnesota, with 24 touchdowns, 21 interceptions and 14 fumbles (7 of which were lost).  His play at quarterback was mediocre and uninspiring at best, which led the Vikings to lure Brett Farve out of retirement. After the signing of Jackson, Seattle’s general manager endorsed Tavaris, saying he was not given a fair shot by the Vikings. In our recent staff rankings of starting quarterbacks, Jackson was ranked at 30th, ahead of only talented but raw Cam Newton and fellow rookie Andy Dalton. 

So do the Seahawks really think Jackson is the answer?  I sincerely doubt it, so what is the plan?   The Seahawks find themselves in the enviable position where they really cannot lose. If Tarvaris is awful, as most experts think and the season goes in the tank, then the Seahawks may find themselves in last place in the standings but the winners of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. The Stanford quarterback chose to return to college for his senior year, but if he had come out in this draft he would have been the first pick overall.  If the Seahawks get Luck he will step into a team with a young talented offensive line, a rookie quarterback’s best friend, and solid skill players at receiver and tight end. It remains to be seen if Marshawn Lynch is the long-term answer at running back, but if not, perhaps the Seahawks could address that in the following draft. Several teams have had great success with drafting WR, QB and RB in short succession. The Cowboys had the triplets, drafting Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman and Emmit Smith in the first rounds of the drafts from ‘88-‘90. The Colts did a similar tactic, drafting Marvin Harrison, Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James in a four-year stretch. Are we witnessing the beginning of a similar run in Seattle, signing Rice as the franchise wide receiver instead of drafting one preceding the selection of franchise quarterback Andrew Luck? There are no guarantees that getting a wide receiver, drafting a quarterback and a running back in a row will lead to championships; the Raiders drafted Jamarcus Russell, Darren McFadden and Darius Heyward-Bey in the first round from 2007-2009. In typical Raiders fashion, it has not worked out for them: Heyward-Bey has yet to make an impact and Jamarcus Russell was more interested in the purple drink than working hard to become a starting quarterback. If the Seahawks struggle but do not end up with the first pick, they could still have several QB options to fall back on, like USC’s Matt Barkley or Oklahoma’s Landry Jones.

The Seahawks benefit from one of the easier schedules in the NFL, in a division without a dominant team. Tavaris Jackson may be able to provide mediocre play and that might be enough to win the division again. While most people expect the Rams to be better this season, they are implementing a new offensive system under Josh McDaniels and may have some learning curve issues. The addition of Kevin Kolb should allow the Cardinals to return to respectability on offense after the debacle that was Derick Anderson. The 49ers scare no one with Alex Smith under center. This division is wide open and Seattle can be a factor even without great quarterback play from Jackson.

If somehow, Jackson surprises us all and turns out to be an above-average quarterback, then the Seahawks have solved that position and can use the draft to add a franchise running back or add help on defense. Regardless of how Jackson plays this season, the Seahawks are in a good position. Teams typically draft the franchise quarterback and then try to surround him with talent. The Seahawks invested heavily in offensive line and skill positions first and will worry about addressing the quarterback position later. This should give the quarterback the best chance to succeed right from the first snap. The Seahawks probably will not be good this year, but they aren’t clueless.