Midseason Report: Seattle Seahawks
November, 6, 2013
By Terry Blount | ESPN.com
It hasn’t always been pretty for the Seattle Seahawks, but it’s hard to argue with an 8-1 record that includes being 4-1 on the road. This team was often criticized in the past for its poor play away from home. This is a team that finds a way to win games that it would have lost in years past, like overcoming a 21-0 deficit Sunday against Tampa Bay.
Seattle has gotten there with a patchwork offensive line that has made things difficult at times for quarterback Russell Wilson. But his remarkable athletic skills have allowed the offense to overcome the problems up front.
The defense, which led the league in fewest points allowed last season, has struggled at stopping the run, but it has more depth now on the defensive line and a much better pass rush.
GRADING THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
|Quarterbacks||Russell Wilson is a big reason this team is 8-1. With both starting tackles out with injuries, Wilson has been under constant pressure. Wilson doesn't put up big numbers, but his ability to escape and improvise often results in a big play for the offense. Simply put, the Seahawks would not be where they are without him.|
|Running Backs||After a bit of a slow start, Marshawn Lynch is back in Beast Mode and running over people. Despite injuries up front that have limited his openings, Lynch just carries would-be tacklers with him and gets most of his yards after initial contact. Wilson's running skills also have helped the team, and Robert Turbin continues to be a capable backup to Lynch. Rookie Christine Michael is waiting in the wings to show what he can do.|
|Wide Receivers||This may be the most underrated area of the team. None of them put up big numbers because Wilson spreads the ball around, but all the receivers have contributed and helped the team win. Doug Baldwin has been the go-to guy on third down, Golden Tate is one of the best at yards after the catch. Jermaine Kearse has three TD catches and is starting for injured Sidney Rice. And think how good this group can be when Percy Harvin takes the field soon.|
|Tight Ends||Starter Zach Miller missed two games with a hamstring injury, but he has three TD catches and really helps the team with his blocking skills. Rookie Luke Willson also has been a solid contributor, and third TE Kellen Davis is a good blocker who also has TD catch.|
|Offensive Line||This is the team's weakest link, by far. It's amazing the Seahawks are 8-1 considering how poorly the line has played in pass protection. Backup tackles Paul McQuistan and rookie Michael Bowie are just "trying to survive" as offensive line coach Tom Cable puts it. Starting guards James Carpenter and J.R. Sweezy have struggled at times. Only Pro Bowl center Max Unger is holding things together (but he suffered a concussion Sunday) until starting tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini return.|
|Defensive Line||Possibly the deepest defensive front in the NFL with the addition of Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Tony McDaniel. Defensive end Chris Clemons hasn't missed a beat in his return for ACL surgery, and tackles Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant are rocks inside. But the Seahawks have struggled against the run the past two games, allowing 200 yards rushing in both games due to poor tackling. The Seahawks rotate eight players up front, which keeps everyone fresh and makes the line much more effective in the fourth quarter.|
|Linebackers||Good, but not great. They have to play better against the run, and it is getting better since Bruce Irvin returned from a four-game suspension. Irvin has been everything the coaches hoped he would be in his move from defensive end to outside linebacker. Malcolm Smith has stepped up his play this season at an outside linebacker spot and K.J. Wright is a solid tackler inside or outside. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner missed two games with an ankle sprain, but continues to anchor the group.|
|Secondary||They've given up a few big plays, but the Legion of Boom is the best secondary in the league. Free safety Earl Thomas is a legitimate candidate for defensive player of the year with his aggressive tackling and knack for being around the ball and knowing what's coming from the offense. He has four interceptions, as does cornerback Richard Sherman, who is letting his stellar play do most of his talking these days.|
|Special Teams||Kicker Steven Hauschka has been perfect this year except for the blocked kick that was returned for a touchdown at Indianapolis. Another field goal attempt was returned for a score by Tennessee, but Hauschka was out and backups flubbed the play. Golden Tate also has done a good job returning punts and Jon Ryan is consistent as the team's punter.|
|Coaching||Hard to find fault with the staff of one of the deepest teams in the NFL. And the players feed off Pete Carroll's positive-reinforcement approach to doing things. The energy around this team is palpable, a direct result of Carroll's positive attitude.|