Wednesday, July 16, 2014
How Seahawks' offense stacks up
By Terry Blount
Before training camp begins on July 25, here's a look (by position) at how the Seattle Seahawks stack up going in and whether the team is improved or not as good as it was a year ago.
The offensive line was Tuesday. Now, let's look at the rest of the offense.
Wide receivers -- Better
Essentially what has happened in the offseason is the Seahawks have swapped Golden Tate for Percy Harvin as a starter, but not exactly. Doug Baldwin will move from the slot to Tate's spot outside. Harvin, who missed most of last season with a hip injury, will start in the slot.
Tate had an outstanding season in 2013 and parlayed that into a big-money deal with the Detroit Lions. But a three-receiver formation of Baldwin, Harvin and Jermaine Kearse can be better with Harvin instead of Tate.
A big improvement here is speed, including second-round draft choice Paul Richardson of Colorado. Richardson can flat-out fly. He proved it in the offseason workouts, consistently getting behind defenders on deep throws.
The man who could be the biggest surprise in the receiving corps is fourth-round pick Kevin Norwood of Alabama. Norwood has impressed everyone with his reliable hands and his ability to make tough catches in traffic. He's a mature guy and it's obvious he came from a big-time college program by how he reacts to instruction and his understanding of proper route running.
Seattle's receivers got a bad rap last year. They don't put up big numbers because the Seahawks don't throw the ball as much as most teams. But this is a quality group that has much better speed than it had a year ago.
Tight ends -- Better
Getting starter Zach Miller to restructure his contract was a huge plus for Seattle. Miller isn't flashy, but he plays at a consistently high level as a plus blocker and a man who can make key catches over the middle.
What will make the group better this year is Luke Willson having a full year under his belt. Willson easily was the highest-performing rookie for the team last year. He had 20 receptions and was a better blocker than expected.
The Seahawks also have Anthony McCoy returning after missing last season with a torn Achilles tendon.
Running backs -- Not as good
Marshawn Lynch has been as big a part of the team's success as anyone with three consecutive seasons of at least 1,200 yards rushing. He is the heart and soul of Seattle's entire team attitude with his relentless power running style and his physical nature.
However, he has taken a pounding, averaging 300 carries per year the last three seasons. It's not just the number of carries; it's how Lynch runs, barreling over defenders in Beast Mode.
The other issue is Lynch's desire for a change to his contract, wanting more money up front this season. He attended minicamp (but did not participate due a sore ankle) because he felt the Seahawks would negotiate in good faith. Everyone put on a happy face and said all is well.
But what happens if Lynch doesn't get what he wants? How will it change things this season and is this his last season in Seattle?
No matter what happens on that front, it's likely Lynch will have fewer carries this season as the Seahawks try to gradually make 2013 rookie Christine Michael a bigger part of the offense. Robert Turbin also looked good in offseason workouts after having a knee problem repaired when the 2013 season ended.
Lynch also won't have his buddy in the backfield with him. The Seahawks didn't re-sign fullback Michael Robinson, who is like a big brother to Lynch. Robinson has health issues that probably have ended his career.
But the Seahawks won't lose anything in fullback production because Derrick Coleman is a quality blocker ready to step up. They also drafted a human concrete block in Kiero Small (5-8, 250), who will fight for a spot on the 53-man roster.
The Seahawks will continue to be a power-running offense, but look for them to throw a little more this season with speedsters Harvin and Richardson as consistent options.
Quarterback -- Better
It's almost scary to think how good Russell Wilson can be considering he already led the team to its first Super Bowl title in only his second season. And he did it with an offensive line that struggled through injuries. He also did it for the most part without Harvin, the man who was signed to open up the offense and give Wilson more options.
Now Wilson will have a healthy Harvin on the field, and hopefully, a more consistent performance from his offensive line.
Tarvaris Jackson gives Seattle one of the best backup QBs in the league -- a man who knows the offense and is well-respected by his teammates.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Terrelle Pryor and whether he earns a spot as a third quarterback. Pryor was up and down in the offseason workouts, but his physical ability is unquestioned and the coaches have been impressed with his work ethic. It appears they have no interest in trying him at another position. B.J. Daniels will battle Pryor for a roster spot.