Following a disappointing nine-win season and the departures of former All-Pro defensive studs Cam Chancellor and Richard Sherman in 2017, it appeared that 2018 was going to be a rebuilding year for the once-dominant Seattle Seahawks. But under new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, Seattle transformed their offence into a running juggernaut and surprised many with a 10-win campaign that was enough to get the team into the playoffs. The Seahawks went on to lose to the Dallas Cowboys by two points in the wildcard round, but despite the heartbreaking loss, the season was still deemed a success. Unlike clubs like the Bills, Jets, or Dolphins, Seattle managed to rebuild their roster on the fly and win simultaneously.
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This summer, the Seahawks made a bold statement when they jedi mind tricked the Houston Texans into trading star pass rusher and former first-overall pick Jadeveon Clowney for only a third-round pick and two unproven players. The blockbuster deal bolstered a Seattle team that already had one of the best front sevens in the league. It instantaneously solidified the Seahawks as a true NFC playoff contender.
Despite having an elite quarterback and the highest-paid player in the league in Russell Wilson, the Seahawks remain determined to field a run-first offence. Last year, Seattle finished second in the NFL in rushing attempts per game and first in total rushing yards. Meanwhile, they had the fewest pass attempts in the league—relying on the occasional deep play-action pass to number one receiving target Tyler Lockett for long yardage plays. The Seahawks are once again looking to lean heavily on a running game led by lead back Chris Carson, who finished fifth in total rushing yards and seventh in attempts in 2018. Seattle has discussed their desire to unleash Carson in the passing game. Last season, the Seahawks targeted their running backs the second-fewest in the league (only 85 times). Look for the Seahawks to get versatile second-year back Rashaad Penny more involved in the offence as well. A true one-two punch in the backfield can help support a relatively thin receiving corps. Seattle Seahawks Instagram
Right now, Seattle doesn’t appear to have enough depth and star power at receiver and tight end to threaten the Los Angeles Rams for the division belt. With the recent retirement of Doug Baldwin, the Seahawks have only one established, game changing, receiver in Lockett. This doesn’t bode well for an offence that has a history of having an uninventive passing attack. Seattle learned last year that a one-dimensional offence could only take you so far in the playoffs. They tried addressing their inherent weakness at receiver by drafting the speedy 6-foot-3, DK Metcalf. Metcalf’s in-season development is going to essential—if he can be a reliable deep threat for Wilson, the Seahawks' offence should become more unpredictable and explosive.
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What separates Seattle from the rest of the league is their defensive line. Not only did they add Clowney, who had nine sacks last year, but they also drafted promising edge rusher L.J Collier in the first round and signed reliable defensive end Ziggy Ansah (previously of the Detroit Lions). The defence will be bolstered when they get top tackle Jarred Reed back from a suspension in Week 7 (Reed was reprimanded for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy). The main concern for Seattle’s defence will be their inexperienced defensive backs—last season they were 17th against the pass, but with four-time All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner and a dominant pass rush, Seattle should still have one of the leagues formidable defences.
Seattle’s upcoming regular season schedule is a favorable one—their opponents combined 2018 win percentage is at .479— which gives them the eighth-easiest schedule in the league. Vegas has put Seattle’s over/under win total at 8.5 wins, but Seattle has had a whopping six seasons of 10 or more wins in the last seven campaigns. It’s hard seeing Seattle not making the playoffs again this year, but with that being said, it’s going to be difficult for them to overthrow the reigning NFC champion Los Angeles Rams for the division crown. Right now, on paper, I rate only the Rams, Eagles and Bears, as conference rivals clearly better than the Seahawks. A 10- or 11-win season with a wildcard berth seems right for a Seattle squad that appears to be one reliable receiver and defensive back away from making a long playoff run.