Seattle Seahawks 2016 Off-Season: Top 3 Needs

Somewhere during the middle of the 2015 season the Seahawks seamlessly shifted from a run reliant offense, to Russell Wilson torching secondaries like he was doing his best Aaron Rodgers impression. Seriously, all that was missing was a memorable Hail Mary, Olivia Munn, and a couple of State Farm Commercials and the Wilson/Rodgers imitation was all set. We all knew Wilson was good, we just didn’t know he was that good. Before we knew it, Seattle was riding Russel’s arm into the postseason, and that shaky 2-4 start was an afterthought. How did this happen?

Seattle Seahawks 2016 Off-Season: Top 3 Needs

An unusual slew of trip-ups occurred. The offense, which was predicated on one of the best, durable, and also media shy backs in Marshawn Lynch, hobbled his way through the season with an injured abdominal muscle (seven games, 417 yards, three touchdowns, 3.8 yds per rush). Cam Chancellor held out for more money mutating the Legion of Boom into the Legion of Confusion, leaving people wondering was it Cam or Dan Quinn’s absence affecting the defense more. And then Jimmy Graham tore his patellar tendon in Week 12 ousting him for the rest of the season. Surprisingly, the Graham injury freed up Wilson to spread the ball around more, and with one of the league’s most accurate quarterbacks at their disposal, why wouldn’t Seattle toss the ball around more? It made too much sense!

A couple of months later, a field goal miss, an almost divisional round comeback, and the Seahawks enter the off-season with a couple of questions. Like, how do they revive the Legion of Boom? What needs to be done to improve the offense for Wilson? Can Thomas Rawls carry the load for a retired Beast Mode? And is Jimmy Graham a receiver or a tight end? Okay okay, that last one we’ll never know, but the other three we can easily examine. So without further ado, here’s the top three needs for Seattle.

Wide Receiver

Raise your hand if you knew Russell Wilson is sandwiched between Matthew Stafford and Ryan Tannehill in the “sacked” category. That’s right, Wilson was crushed more times than Stafford (44) and one less than Tannehill (45) last year. Can we all agree if we described Detroit and Miami’s offensive lines, it’d be somewhere between porous and free flowing. What does that make Seattle’s then? I’m not sure, but they got within one onside kick, and a comeback touchdown to playing in the Conference Championship for the right to the Super Bowl. Confusing right!? How can they be two things at once? Even Senator Palpatine is impressed by this double act. Also here’s this:

Rushing average per game – 136.8 (2013), 172.6 (2014), 141.8 (2015)

Passing sacks given up per season – 44, 42, 45

So their rush game hovered within the top ten rankings the past three years, but they also drowned in the bottom six in sacks too. I’m even more confused. Did I just watch the ending of Interstellar and came away totally time travel lost, or were we talking about Seattle’s offensive line?

So either the offensive line stinks in pass coverage ooooorrrrrrrrr drum roll please!… Seattle’s receivers can’t get open, BINGO!

Fact. Their best receiver, Doug Baldwin, is actually a third option on a great receiving corps. Fact. Their number two tight end is actually one of their best two receiving options, and fit better than their highly priced number one tight end. Fact. They never totally figured out how to incorporate Jimmy Graham into the offense, and it always felt forced.

And while there are options available (free agent Riley Cooper), their best bet might be through the draft (Corey Coleman or Braxton Miller) or trade (on second thought maybe I shouldn’t entice them! See Jimmy Graham and Percy Harvin). But remember, Wilson is putting on his best Aaron Rodgers impersonation, so they don’t need some standout megastar, just a Jordy Nelson type that opens the offense up for all the other receiving options.

Offensive Line

That huge drop-off from 172.6 rushing yards per game in 2014 to 141.8 in 2015 is also significant. And with Russell Okung and J.R. Sweezy becoming free agents, it’s time to shop around.[1] Just know that I’m ruling out Buffalo’s Cordy Glenn (this year’s best lineman), but not Cincinnati’s Andre Smith (this year’s third-best lineman). There’s only so many ways $23 million in cap space can be split up, especially with Graham still lurking for receiver status. And if there’s anything to be learned from this year’s Patriots and Colts, never ever overlook the importance of an offensive line and how debilitating a horrendous one can make. Isn’t that right Andrew Luck?

Defensive Line/Pass Rusher

Three years ago, I watched the greatest secondary ever destroy Peyton Manning’s historic offense. By the second quarter, my friends and I were seriously contemplating skipping the rest and heading to downtown Austin to make the best of the disappointing situation. Two years later, that same secondary has diminished to the point teams have thrown at Optimus Prime (Richard Sherman) without hesitation and with success! Seriously. There was a point during the season he allowed a horrible 66.7% completion percentage and 15.4 yards per reception. Again, 15.4 yards per reception. Did Sherman eventually get his mojo back? Of course! But that doesn’t take away from the need for a better pass rush, especially with their aging defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (31) and Ahtyba Rubin about to hit free agency.

Flash back to last year’s Super Bowl. Remember what happened when Cliff Avril left for concussion reasons. The Pats capitalized and quieted a destructive Michael Bennett with double teams. Now imagine what happens to Seattle if they were to lose either Avril or Bennett for the season. Exactly!

This year’s best attainable defensive line free agents: Malik Jackson, Jaye Howard, and Greg Hardy.

This year’s best possible draft prospects: Jonathan Bullard, Robert Nkemdiche, Kevin Dodd, and Emmanuel Ogbah.

[1] This year’s possible 1st round draft prospects: Taylor Decker, Cody Whitehair, Jack Conklin, and Jason Spriggs.

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