A Couple Of Questions from JohnnyB

I’m going to give my answers to a couple of questions from “JohnnyB” since they are both subjects I have thought a lot about and they’re right on point for where the Seahawks are currently headed. JohnnyB asks:

1) “After the less than stellar performance of the highly touted first round tackles in last years draft, should the Seahawks really spend a first round pick on a tackle?”

You know, it’s still going to be awhile before we know who among the offensive tackles taken over the last two years will become elite left tackles if any do and who will merely become good tackles. It’s very rare that a high first round offensive tackle is a bust. Right now, the best looking prospect has probably been Michael Oher from last year’s draft now playing for Baltimore. Oher plays right tackle now but is the future at left tackle for the Ravens. That’s who I would have chosen when he dropped so far in the draft last year by trying to trade this years first round pick (which we will probably spend on a left tackle this year anyway) to get back into the first round and select Oher. If successful, not only would we have had our left tackle of the future last year (how much difference would he have made to this years team) and we could have had the rest of the draft proceed just as it did with the only consequence being that we would only have Denver’s pick this year in the first round (which once again is what we’re reduced to after we pick a left tackle with our pick this year anyway). Water over the bridge now.

I think this team needs the best left tackle they can lay hands on especially after watching Hasselbeck run for his life all season long from pressure on his blind side. If there’s a franchised left tackle who is young enough to play for a number of years yet, we could use our two first rounders as compensation to sign him. If we need to move up from our spot in the draft to get an elite player, we might need to use Denver’s first rounder too in order to get our man. If there’s a good prospect we can get with our first round pick without additional expense, of course we should take him there. If by some miracle, there was an elite free agent left tackle available, we should be one of the fiercest bidders. That’s top priority unless a player meeting our needs at left tackle just isn’t available anywhere at any price. We’re looking for a sure thing and we can pay for it particularly if next year is an uncapped year. The anchor to our offensive line should be the first stone in the foundation of our new team.

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2) “If the Seahawks don’t need a big rebuild, what are the one or two missing pieces to get this team to a Superbowl?”

There are really three players the team is in most desperate need of acquiring. Those three players could make a major impact in turning this team around without any other changes. As mentioned above, top priority is a quality left tackle. The second priority is equal between an offensive guard/center and an elite pass rusher.

The pass rusher doesn’t necessarily need to be a sack master but he needs to be consistently disruptive to the opposing quarterback’s rhythm. If he can cause hurried throws and/or chase the quarterback out of the pocket consistently, sacks aren’t as important. The disruption that will allow the defensive backfield to do their job and cover receivers is the biggest part of the solution to our pass defense. Our run defense is actually pretty good.

Acquiring another top rated interrior offensive lineman to go along with our new left tackle, should fix our offensive line although it will take some time to gel. Unger, Sims, either Locklear or Willis at right tackle plus the new tackle and new guard/center make for a promising young line that will only get better and better as they play together. The only thing missing will be the proper scheme and good coaching. That’s another subject.

I think you look for your pass rusher in free agency and your left tackle in the draft. The interrior lineman could be a free agent, draft choice, or maybe the result of a trade. Spencer could be re-signed and tried at guard but I’d prefer another prospect like Unger from the draft even if Spencer returns. I would trade Hasselbeck, Wallace, Hawthorne, or Julius Jones for the right player or draft pick but I wouldn’t give them away. I don’t know who else would have any value and could be traded from our team without leaving another hole to fill. Releasing or trading players and filling their position with unknown free agents can be a real gamble. 

There’s another trio of players who could add another layer of repair to this team and give it an even better chance of coming around quickly given good coaching and proven schemes. While our team has adequate players at these positions, they are three players at positions I think would put the icing on the cake next season given that we get the major holes filled first and the coaching and schemes fixed.

First, we need another defensive back. Primarily a talented pass defender, it could be either a safety or cornerback. That player needs to have good size and speed to compete with the NFC West receivers. I see Trufant, Lucas, Wilson, Grant, Babineaux, Adams, and Milloy (if he still has gas in the tank) as needing that one more big pass defender to become a pretty good defensive backfield against the pass with a consistent pass rush to force things.

Next, a firery young running back to pair with Forsett as a one, two punch would keep our running game moving and open up all other facets of our offense. I’m still not sold on Julius Jones and would replace him with the new back. I want to look at Rankin some more before I decide about him but I could live with a new highly touted running back with Forsett as the change of pace back and Rankin as our third back. With a young talented offensive line and perhaps a new more easily executed offensive line scheme or Solari finally getting the ZBS to function, those upgrades should bring a big improvement in the the running game.

Finally, we could use another hotshot receiver. With Branch most likely being gone next season, that really leaves a hole to be filled in the top four receivers group. Housh, Burleson, and Butler should all be figured to make a good start to the receivers group but the addition of another quality receiver to replace Branch could make all the difference to the receivers. I think we should either label Wallace as a receiver or trade him. Wallace could become the receiver to replace Branch if we can’t find a suitable receiver in free agency or the latter rounds of the draft and still be the emergency quarterback. I like the idea of making another big free agent signing of a proven receiver and having Wallace join the receivers as the fifth man/emergency quarterback.

Also, I would make a deal for another QB to throw in the mix for finding our quarterback of the future. He could be a 4th through 7th round draft choice or we might trade for him. Trading Hass, Wallace, Hawthorne, or Jones for a young backup quarterback somewhere who has shown promise and is ready to start learning as a starter would make all kinds of sense. It could be a free agent if he had something to offer and wasn’t way overpriced.

I sincerly believe that if we could acquire those 6 players and a promising quarterback prospect to battle it out with Teel, a good head coach and coordinators with a proven scheme could fabricate a pretty good football team. This article has nothing to do with coaching or scheme and really I’m not sure what would be the best direction to go anyway with that aspect of the puzzle. Maybe Mora overseeing a couple of new more experienced and previously successful coordinators with proven schemes would work. Maybe we need to do a traditional turnover and let the new GM bring in his coach and then let him hire his staff and go from there. This article has to do with what I would do to give the next front office/coaching tandem a talented team to work with that has good players at every position and some prospects for a handful of elite impact players to emerge as the team comes together.

Just for grins, I’m going to play GM for a moment. Here’s the moves I would make and then the resulting team as it would look next season with all seven of the new players I acquired on the roster (including the New QB). Any players from the 5th through 7th round picks who can make the team and bump one of the last positions on the roster is a bonus. Here, I assumed we got a quarterback prospect with our 4th round pick and had no player trades. There are 5 new players on offense and two on defense. We resign our free agents as shown. The 1b draft choice (cornerback) and the pass rushing defensive end acquired in free agency could be exchanged depending on who’s available in free agency.

My Draft:

1a Left Tackle
1b Cornerback or Pass Rusher (DE)
2 Offensive Guard/Center
4 Quarterback
5 – 7 BPA

Free Agents: Pass Rusher (DE) or Cornerback, Running Back, Wide Receiver

Offense: (25)

QB: Hasselbeck, Teel, New QB(#4)
TE: Carlson, Owens, Morrah
OL: New LT(#1a), Sims, Unger, New Guard/Center(#2), Locklear, Willis, Frye, Spencer, Wrotto
RB: New RB(FA), Forsett, Rankin
FB: Griffin, Schmitt
WR: New WR(FA), Houshmandzadeh, Burleson, Butler, Wallace

Defense: (25)

DL: New Pass Rusher(FA or 1b), Jackson, Tapp, Reed, Redding, Cole, Bryant, Mebane, Terrill, Walker
LB: Hill, Tatupu, Curry, Laury, Lewis, Hawthorne, Herring
DB: New CB(1b or FA), Milloy, Adams, Grant, Babineaux, Lucas, Wilson, Trufant

Special Teams (3)

K: Mare, P: Ryan, LS: Houser

I’d love to have you Addicts give me your analysis of this roster and who you would get rid of and how you would replace them. Please don’t give a 25 trade/draft/free agent acquisition scenario that would turn over half the team because we all know that’s impossible. Assume you’re the GM and you have a great coaching staff you just hired or you just amended Mora’s staff. If you think we should get rid of some players on my roster, tell me who you would get rid of and how you would go about replacing them. What I presented is realistic and the players I acquired were done so using our draft and free agency not a fantasy with players who come out of nowhere. Call this a plan from which any deviation will only be allowed if parts of it are not able to be completed. For example, there’s no acceptable cornerback available with our second pick or in free agency.

Figure that our first three choices (our two firsts and our second) are gone plus we spent our 4th on a quarterback so only the 5th, 6th, and 7th rounders remain. We got two offensive linemen and a cornerback with those first three picks. We got a RB, Pass Rusher, and WR in free agency. That’s something like what our new GM is most likely to be faced with. If he got us the 7 players I asked for, he would have used up most of our free agent dollars and more than likely the first four draft picks. What would you do from this point on? If you’re going to blow the team up, show me how you would proceed from here and how you would put it back together.

For me, I stand pat at this point and barring any free agents or trade scenarios that present themselves unexpectedly and that I think would help the club, I’m ready for training camp. I think any good coach who can make productive use of talented players could mold this team into a winner. If you think this upgraded team is still lacking in talent or over-hyped and want to correct it, here’s your chance.

Merry Christmas and a Stupendous New Year to all you Seahawk Addicts. Keep the faith and don’t let the doomers and gloomers get you down. The Seahawks will rise again. For one thing, there’s nowhere to go but up at this point. Don’t let anyone convince you this team is totally lacking in talent because it’s not. Our troubles are from lack of proper leadership, instruction, and game preparation (read coaching) as well as our basic scheme that’s the foundation of our offense and defense. Fix those and find out what kind of team you really have. I think you’ll be surprised. Have a hit from my optimism bong and smile your way through the holidays. Remember, 2010 is the start of the rest of the Seahawk’s life. Forget the past and embrace the future.