Seattle Seahawks 2011 NFL Preview and Prediction

Coming off a 7-9 season and a playoff victory over the New Orleans
Saints the Seattle Seahawks are still in rebuilding mode. Seattle
finally put an end to the tenure of Matt Hasselbeck, who led the
franchise to their only Super Bowl appearance in 10 seasons with the
Seahawks.

Seattle also cut ties with offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates after
one season and hired former Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell
to the same position. Bevell, who was in Minnesota during Brett Favre’s
tenure, runs a pure West Coast Offense.

Also joining Seattle’s coaching staff is former Oakland Raiders head
coach Tom Cable who will be the offensive line coach and assistant head
coach. Cable came to Seattle with the focus of improving a horrendous
running game and solidifying the offensive line.

Seattle’s two main coaching additions proved dividend in free agency
when Sydney Rice, Zach Miller and Robert Gallery all signed with the
Seahawks. Rice comes from Minnesota while Miller and Gallery come from
Oakland.

Tarvaris Jackson also signed a two-year contract with the Seahawks
this offseason. Jackson was the Vikings starting quarterback in 2008
before Brett Favre showed up. Jackson’s career has been one of
disappointment and not being given a legitimate chance.

Now he’s going to get his chance in Seattle having been named the
starting quarterback by Pete Carroll. Several critics have been
skeptical of Seattle’s decision to let an experienced veteran go in
Hasselbeck for the unproven Jackson. With Charlie Whitehurst in the
final year of his two-year contract he’s got one last shot to be a
starter in the NFL.

Both Whitehurst and Jackson are average to below average quarterbacks which doesn’t bod well for Seattle’s chances in 2011.

During the 2011 NFL Draft the Seahawks upgraded their offensive line
with their first two picks selecting offensive tackle James Carpenter in
the first-round and guard John Moffitt in the third-round.

Both Carpenter and Moffitt will start week one baring injury.
Carpenter will start at right tackle and Moffitt will start at right
guard. Filling out the rest of the offensive line will be Russell Okung
at left tackle (currently injured with a high ankle sprain), Robert
Gallery at left guard and Max Unger at center.

Seattle will have a plethora of wide receivers in 2011 with Mike
Williams and Sydney Rice combining to be one of the tallest duos in the
league. Behind Rice and Williams Seattle’s loaded with speed with Deon
Butler, Golden Tate and Ben Obomanu.

Several rookies will be competing for the sixth spot in the depth
chart. Doug Baldwin, Kris Durham, Ricardo Lockette and former Washington
quarterback turned wide receiver Isiah Stanback.

Seattle is deep at tight end with John Carlson entering his fourth
season in the NFL. Zach Miller, who signed a five-year deal this
offseason with the Seahawks is the current starting tight end but expect
a lot of two tight end sets. Seattle also has former USC Trojan Anthony
McCoy who played well in his rookie season in 2010.

Marshawn Lynch will be entering his first full season in Seattle
after being acquired after week four in 2010. Lynch was vital to
Seattle’s postseason run and will be relied on heavily this season to
improve the running game. Behind Lynch is Leon Washington who signed a
four-year contract before the lockout and Justin Forsett.

Forsett might be released in favor of Thomas Clayton who played well
against San Diego. Michael Robinson re-signed with the Seahawks on a
one-year deal to remain the starting fullback.

On defense Seattle has several new faces while some old faces have
resurfaced again. Brandon Mebane stayed in Seattle after testing the
free agent market this offseason. Alan Branch stayed in the division
signing a two-year deal with Seattle and Red Bryant returns from a torn
ACL.

Seattle re-signed defensive end Raheem Brock to a one-year deal and
signed versatile defensive lineman Jimmy Wilkinson to one-year deal to
add depth. Chris Clemons remains the starting left defensive end and
hopes to improve on a solid campaign  in 2010.

Other notable free agent signings on the defensive line are Junior
Siavii (defensive tackle), Jay Alford (defensive tackle) and Pierre
Allan (defensive end). Kentwan Balmer and Dexter Davis finish out the
defensive line and left defense tackle and left end respectively.

At linebacker Leroy Hill returns after missing all of 2010 at
strongside linebacker. At middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu is out and David
Hawthorne is in. The Seahawks cut Tatupu after five seasons in Seattle
after Tatupu turned down a restructured contract. Third year linebacker
Aaron Curry will start at weakside linebacker.

In the secondary veteran safety Lawyer Milloy is gone and in is 2010
fifth-round pick Kam Chancellor. Marcus Trufant is finally healthy at
starting at left cornerback. Walter Thurmond, who sat out the Seahawks
first preseason game, is most likely to start at right cornerback over
Kelly Jennings who hasn’t stepped up to job.

Earl Thomas enters  his second season in the NFL and Seattle is
hoping he can take the next step in his career. After finishing 2010
with five interceptions Thomas is looking ready to double that total in
2011. One of the more unnoticed signings,  Brandon Browner, is a name to
focus on during the preseason. At 6-4 221 he’s got the size of a wide
receiver at cornerback and could be huge for Seattle if he continues his
form.

When it comes to special teams Jon Ryan is going to be the starting
punter and Jeff Reed, who signed a one-year contract this offseason will
be the place kicker.

For Seattle they have a lot of pieces around the quarterback but the
key is the play of either Charlie Whitehurst or Tarvaris Jackson.
Seattle’s success is going to live and die by the play of the
quarterback. With Rice, Williams, Butler, Tate and Co around at the
skill positions it’s up to either Jackson or Whitehurst to swim or sink
this season.

Prediction: 6-10, Whitehurst takes over after week 8.

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