Louis Bacigalupi posts comments on the site as LouieLouie. He’s an accountant by trade and worked in a USFL front office. He can be reached by email at Louie@fiercelyI.com.
The addition of Percy Harvin makes the Seahawks’ receiving corps one of the best in pro football. Combine that with one of the top ground-and-pound running games in the league and it won’t be long before we start to hear the “E” word being used by the 12th man (and woman). At first, only a few daring souls will speak it, so it might sound like a faint whisper, but make no mistake: by the end of the 2013 season the word “elite” will be commonplace when people talk about the Seahawks’ offense.
Imagine you’re a defensive coordinator. You were already going to have to game plan against Russell Wilson, the read option, Beast Mode, Sidney Rice, Zach Miller, Golden Tate, and Doug Baldwin, and now you have to worry about Percy Harvin, too. How would you stop that offense? There’s only one option: hire a Tonya Harding brigade to club Seattle’s players in the kneecaps on their way into the stadium.
What does Harvin add to the offense? Plenty! He is the kind of player who, to quote our fearless GM, “tilts the field.” When the St. Louis Rams were the Greatest Show on Turf, they had an MVP quarterback, a ferocious receiving corps, and one guy who could tilt the field: Marshall Faulk. Harvin could be the Seahawks’ equivalent of Faulk. Carroll and Schneider would never have given up so many draft picks unless they saw Harvin as that type of player.
Leon Washington was an elite kick return specialist, but he was never able to contribute significantly to the running game. Cutting him might be a setback on kick returns, but it will benefit the rushing attack by freeing up a roster spot for an actual running back. Leon was a scatback type of runner, and Harvin will do some of that for the Seahawks. I would look for the Hawks to add another bruiser type running back, maybe with a slightly different skill set than Beast Mode or Robert Turbin. That way if Lynch were to go down, heaven forbid, there would be someone who could step in to play alongside Turbin. Combined with a solid o-line, that additional bruiser could save the season.
One thing that Harvin will not be doing much of, at least during the regular season, is returning kickoffs and punts. You’re not going to pay dearly for a player only to risk him getting his ankle broken returning a kick in September. But while Harvin might not return many kicks, Golden Tate will.
There has been a lot of talk about Golden Tate being the odd man out with the addition of Harvin, but that will not be the case. He may not see the field as often, but he’ll make up for it in the return game, and he’ll do a decent job. On offense, pairing him with Harvin and the rest of the receiving corps could cause some DCs to have psychotic episodes. Hopefully the big screen at the Clink show a replay of his winning TD catch against Green Bay at least once during every home game, just to help spur those episodes on.
The only real chink in the Seahawks’ Super Bowl armor is the pass rush. The rush wasn’t bad for most of the 2012 season, but there were times when it was very good, and times it was not good. The Hawks usually rushed just four down linemen in passing situations and didn’t blitz much, so part of that lack of pass rush was by design, but the real issue was the lack of depth. When a starter went down, nobody seemed to be able to step up and take his place.
I had expected to see Schneider wait to beef up the pass rush until after the first volley of free agent signings, because there are always some bargains to be found then. Past second tier bargains that come to mind are the acquisitions of Chris Clemons and Brandon Browner. Neither was highly touted, nor were they very expensive, and they’ve both played so well that no one considers either of them to be merely second tier bargains. The signings of Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett should shore up the pass rush, and coupled with Clemons and Bruce Irvin still being on the roster, depth shouldn’t be an issue, either. Of course, there’s still the 2013 draft in which Carroll and Schneider will have 10 picks to play with, so we should see a couple more pass-rushing d-linemen added to the roster this April.
Another thing Seahawks fans must remember is that Bruce Irvin was just a rookie last season. By his own account, he didn’t receive much coaching in college. He played on raw talent and still led all rookies with 8 sacks in 2012. He did have problems against the run, but before we write him off as a limited, situational pass rusher, remember that Clemons didn’t tear up the league during the years before he arrived in Seattle, and he’s played pretty well since then. Irvin has some work to do; he will keep getting better, it just may take him another year or two to develop. Not every rookie can step in and play at a high level right away.
Fortunately, the Seahawks did draft one rookie in particular last year who could step in and play at a high level right away: Russell Wilson. It was obvious to many that he was special when he stepped on to the field during the preseason (Louis really nailed that one, and I’m not just saying that because he asked me to, either. –Ed.). Wilson is gifted with many physical tools that enhance his play and more than offset his “size” issue like his strong arm, his footwork, his elusiveness, and his ability to run the ball. But what really made his ability evident is a principal characteristic shared by all elite quarterbacks: it isn’t what’s between the shoulder pads and cleats that makes a QB great, it’s what’s between his ears.
Yes, we will be hearing, speaking, reading, and writing about that “E” word regarding this team. Last year, it was used to describe the defense, and despite the difficulties with the pass rush the defense played at that level. This season, we’ll be adding the offense to that conversation. On both sides of the ball, the Seattle Seahawks have the makings of an elite team.
Next phrase up: Super Bowl Champs.