by: William P. Tomisser
Ten reasons the Seahawks will win the West in 2009.
1) Hasselbeck and Walter Jones are cornerstones of our offense. Both played well below their capacity last year due to injuries and have been talked about from a number of sources as being washed up and ready to be replaced. Both have a lot to prove this season and both are being reported as well along on their rehabilitation. Both have expressed assurances that they will be ready to play this season. Both want to prove the critics wrong.
2) Mora was criticized in his first stint as head coach for becoming too close to his players and not maintaining discipline. After watching a future HOF coach in Holmgren coach for two seasons from a front row seat, Mora is primed to show he can build a tough football team who will as he puts it “suffocate the” opposition. Mora also has a lot to prove this season as he takes up the reins of the head coach for the second time in his career.
3) Tim Ruskell was said to be in a behind the scenes battle with Holmgren for recognition as the instigator of the teams success while winning 4 division titles in a row and getting to the Super Bowl in 2005. His draft choices have been called into question by some and certainly his handling of the Hutchinson contract negations and trading a number 1 draft choice for Branch have been heavily criticized. Now he’s out from under Holmgren’s shadow and has had the opportunity to hire his hand picked successor as the new head coach. It is now unquestionably Ruskell’s show from top to bottom and he’s got a lot to prove along with Mora.
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4) Last season, even though the offense had question marks, the defense was back completely intact from the previous season in which it had made good improvement from the previous season. The result was that the defense played horribly and along with all the offensive injuries, contributed to the worst season in over a decade for the Seahawks. It was an embarrassing season for the defense and even though some of the problem was most likely the scheme that Marshall devised, the defensive leaders particularly Tatupu didn’t play well. For this season, the defense was revamped from front to back. The defensive line, linebackers, and defensive backfield were all upgraded. The defense as a unit has egg on their collective face from last season and they have a lot to prove this season. Listening to interviews from the defense, they all have talked about turning it around this year.
5) Burleson and Branch were going to be our big one two punch at wide receiver last season. Instead, Burleson got hurt right away and Branch wasn’t able to get back on the field until late in the season and both were much maligned in the press and by fans for being unworthy of their contracts. This season, Seattle finally brought in a blue chip veteran receiver in Houshmandzadeh and they are still counting on Branch and Burleson to compliment him in forming a high impact receiving corps for Hasselbeck to throw to. Branch and Burleson both have a lot to prove in 2009. Both have talked in interviews about proving up this season and both expect to make an impact.
6) Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett have also been criticized for not being worthy of their contracts and they have been characterized as ordinary running backs nearing the end of their effectiveness due to age. Although they are both reputed to be “one cut” backs well suited to the zone blocking system that Seattle intends to employ this season, neither has shown to be an elite level back in a conventional blocking scheme. Both have been interviewed and both are saying that under the zone blocking system they will be much more effective. The coaches believe they can do the job. The claim is that a good one cut back who can make the correct cut isn’t as easy to find as one might think and that both backs have proved that they have the vision and instincts to be effective in that system. It’s been speculated that both were brought in with the anticipation of migrating to the zone blocking system but under Holmgren last season, the new blocking scheme was never implemented. Obviously, both have a lot to prove this season. Both say they will do just that.
7) Spencer, Sims, and Wahle all had problems last season ranging from injury to mental mistakes. All are under the gun this season. Spencer is being pushed by Unger to prove he can be Seattle’s long term answer at center. Sims was hurt last season and hasn’t played well since his rookie season. Coach Solari has said that both should prosper in the new zone blocking system. Wahle had trouble with keeping his head in the game and made several mental mistakes which cost Seattle penalties at critical points in games last season. He also has injury problems. Add to that the fact that Wrotto has been around for 3 years now and hasn’t had more than a handful of snaps in real game action and most of those came last season when the entire offensive line who started the season ended up on injured reserve. Vallos looked as if he might have a future at center but since Unger came aboard in this years draft, he’s back to battling for a job along with Williams who got some snaps last season when the starting offensive line went on IR. Our offensive line is one of the biggest question marks for this season. Solari has stated that he thinks we could have a good offensive line and that the depth we have is good. He’s said that a lot of these guys will revitalize their career under the zone blocking system and become good offensive linemen for Seattle. That makes the entire offensive line a group that has a lot to prove this season. From interviews I’ve listened to, they know it and have confidence they can do it.
8) Colin Cole and Cory Redding both came from programs where they were expected to produce at a higher level and where they had some disappointment in doing so. Cole was going to be Green Bay’s nose guard in moving to a 3 – 4 alignment on defense and was said to be Green Bay’s number one priority for resigning from their unrestricted free agent pool. Redding was given a contract that put him in the top echelon of defensive tackles but didn’t live up to that contract last season in Detroit. Obviously, Green Bay felt that Cole could be an unmovable object in the center of their defensive line and that’s the role he is being asked to play in Seattle. While he’s somewhat one dimensional, that one dimension is just what Seattle has been lacking since Tubbs was unable to play. Redding played for Detroit. I think that’s enough said at this point. Detroit thought he had the goods to play at a higher level. Redding was willing to work for Seattle on a one year contract at a reasonable cost and prove himself before seeking a long term deal. He wants to prove himself first. That certainly speaks of having confidence in his abilities and is a refreshing attitude. He will play both inside and out on the defensive line in the rotation and the Seattle coaches think he will be able to help out at both positions. Both new defensive linemen along with Mebane who is at a new position as an interior pass rusher have a lot to prove this coming season. All three are ready to prove themselves and can’t wait to put on the pads and show what they can do. The two new defensive linemen are ready to prove that they are better than their play at their former teams would indicate.
9) Coach Solari has a burning desire to prove that the zone blocking system can be effectively implemented in Seattle and that it can make the running game easier to plug new components into and get them up to speed quickly. He has repeatedly expressed confidence that the offensive linemen Seattle has under contract now can become effective under the ZBS and that it will turn around the Seahawk’s running game. From the dismal results of the running game in Seattle over the last three years since 2005 when we were at the top of the league, it will be no small feat to put a ground game together that once again strikes fear into opponents hearts and that all starts with the offensive line. Solari has a lot to prove with his new scheme and how well it lends itself to bringing in new personnel and integrating them into the ground game. Solari says it’s going well and that Seattle will be able to run the ball effectively in 2009. Music to all our ears.
10) The injuries Seattle suffered in 2008 are already legendary. There has been speculation that some of the problem was that coach Holmgren was too soft in off season programs and training camp not wanting to get players hurt so as a result, the players weren’t in the best shape they could be and the resulting injuries were in some cases related to the soft training methodology. There were significant injuries in 2006 and 2007 also and the big difference in 2008 was only in the numbers of players injured. Mora has stressed conditioning and as a workout warrior himself, has influenced a lot of the players to get into the best shape of their lives as some have reported including Hasselbeck. His run up the mountain and recent climbing of Mt. Rainier have showed his commitment to being in great shape and he is preaching that the Seahawks will still be putting on the pressure in the fourth quarter where some games are won or lost based on conditioning. It won’t be Seattle that can’t put out maximum effort throughout the game. The new paradigm in conditioning for the Seahawks is one more thing that has to be proved for it to be believed.
Altogether, this team has a lot to prove from one end to the other. Most of it’s key players have a lot to prove this season and a lot of the Seahawk players have a chip on their shoulder this season from being heavily criticized for their play last season or being counted on to produce and having injury take away the opportunity to prove up. You could say this team from the GM on down to the 53rd player on the roster has a chip on it’s organizational shoulders to prove to the community as well as to themselves that last season was an aberration cause by a host of factors from having an unsettled situation for the coaching staff to the multitude of injuries unprecedented in even a coach of Holmgren’s experience. That chip on every shoulder and the need of every critical piece in the machinery of the team to prove themselves this season is going to make for a hungry team who will play more like a team who hasn’t been to the playoffs in a decade than a team who is recovering from one down year. I expect the Seahawks to become a band of demons this year on the field and fueled by the coaches and upper management’s enthusiasm, will play above their heads and take back the West from the Arizona Cardinals. If they can keep that need to prove up and erase the bad taste of the 2008 season at a high level throughout the season, I can see them making a good showing in post season play or even going all the way again. To do so, they will need to keep injury free and as I said maintain the chip on the shoulder attitude. I see a team who is banding together and getting ready to show the rest of the league that some respect is due. Some of you may see something different. Agree or disagree. The floor is yours Addicts.