Teams get windows of opportunity. Maybe that window is open for one year, maybe its open for twenty. But when that window closes, you don't know how long its going to be until another one opens.
For the Seahawks, that window was 2003-2007 and it was open mainly for the majority of that time because of four guys: Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Matt Hasselbeck, and Shaun Alexander. One by one those guys started disappearing and the biggest blow was when future Hall of Famer Jones had to hang it up for good.
With Hasselbeck now in Tennesee we can officially say goodbye to the Seahawks we once knew and usher in a new era of Seattle football.
Despite coming off of a season that saw them win the division and beat the defending Super Bowl champs in the playoffs, the Hawks have been pretty terrible for the last three years; they've finished in the bottom third in the NFL in offense and defense each season. Their response on offense was hiring offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell from Minnesota, obtaining a new starting quarterback, wide receiver, and tight end, as well as rebuilding the offensive line.
How the team responds to the changes and whether or not they can improve upon a season that saw them with very few fantasy highlights depends heavily on the play of the new quarterback and the health of offensive tackle Russell Okung and newly-acquired guard Robert Gallery. How will the Seahawks offense respond to suddenly higher expectations?
Take a look after the jump...
He still has some fans left around the league and one of those guys is obviously Bevell. If the former Vikings coach didn't like Tarvaris, he clearly wouldn't be in Seattle, but he saw enough in him to believe he finally deserved his chance to start without having an over-the-hill vet taking the job from him. (Okay, maybe in 2009 it was understandable.) But Jackson is a former 2nd round pick who once went 8-4 as a starter for the Vikings and has shown potential with his strong arm.
His mobility has already helped him prevent some sacks in the preseason in Seattle and he's going to need that. He's got a few skill position weapons to work with this season and he's going into the year without much competition as long as he doesn't play terribly. The Seahawks are building a team around a QB, probably with the idea that they'll finally draft one in the first round next season to be their franchise player, but Tarvaris has an opportunity right now to prove he's the guy. Will he? I predict that he could throw 20-22 TDs and 18-22 INTs, 3,000 yards, and 59% completion over a full season. He'll have a couple big games and a couple terrible ones mixed in with many underwhelming ones.
The Hawks thought "clipboard Jesus" was going to be their franchise QB last season and Pete Carroll and Co. paid a decent price in picks and money to get him. Then he pretty much underwhelmed all year long, and now with a new OC, he's got no advantage over the other QBs and in fact became a disadvantage since Jackson already worked in the system. Whitehurst is not terribly unlike Jackson because he's got a strong, inaccurate arm. He's not someone really worth watching this season.
He's the cousin of Clinton Portis. He looked solid in the preseason. He's probably the first third string QB name that will get chanted from the stands in the NFL this year.
He flashed some really nice ability in his first two seasons after the Bills made him the 12th overall pick in 2007 out of Cal. Then over the last two regular seasons he's played pretty poorly and he hasn't had a 100-yard game in that time. He did rush for 131 yards against the Saints in the playoffs, but that was aided by one of the greatest runs in NFL playoff history. However, he did have one of the greatest runs in the NFL playoff history.
Lynch doesn't have much competition for carries because he's the only power back on the roster. The backups will only get change-of-pace carries and shouldn't steal many goal-line carries. If the offensive line is healthy and plays well, Lynch can get back to his rookie numbers: 1,100 yards and 7 TDs. If they aren't, he might only get 700-800 yards. Also, the Hawks could be playing from behind a lot this season.
Justin Forsett is seen as the main backup in Seattle but fans would love to see more of Washington and believe he can be a great 2nd option if given the chance. He started 8 games as a rookie with the Jets and showed great speed and ability but hasn't been given much of a chance since. He has however returned 7 kicks for TDs in his career, including 3 last season. He'll be interesting to keep an eye on this season, especially if he manages to get in the starting lineup.
Forsett and Lynch played together at Cal and are back at it again. "Beast Mode" can be a good attack when used properly by making teams have to play both against a power back and a speed back, but Forsett probably won't get an opportunity to get more than 10-12 carries in a game. He did so only three times last season. He's talented, but you'd have to really pick your spots with Forsett and hope to get lucky.
The 2011 Hawks have rebuilt themselves with players and coaches from Minnesota and Oakland, so at least Rice sees some familiar faces in his new home. He mostly struggled in his first two seasons in the league, but in 2009 he caught 83 passes for 1,312 yards when he teamed up with a rejuvenated Brett Favre. Last year he waited too long to have hip surgery and didn't play until November. When healthy, Rice can be a good WR2 in fantasy, but he's also got to work with Jackson and a Seattle offense that could struggle. Keeping expectations low: 60 catches, 900 yards, 5 TDs. If all breaks right: 75 catches, 1,100 yards, 8 TDs.
Public perception of Mike Williams might be that he's a diva that wasted an opportunity, has a poor attitude, and would squander his 2nd opportunity in the NFL. However, having followed this guy since the Seahawks gave him that 2nd chance last season, I can tell you that nobody is going to work harder than Mike Williams. When there was talk about him being the Comeback Player of the Year in 2010, Williams tweeted something along the lines of "Leon Washington came back from a broken leg, I came back from being fat and lazy. Give it to Leon!" Williams takes full responsibility for his failures in Detroit, Oakland, and Tennessee, and after being absent from the NFL for two years, he's not going to let himself lose it again. Now, how much talent does he still have left in the tank after missing all that time?
He caught 65 passes for 751 yards last year including three games with 10+ catches. Fantasy owners did get inconsistent production from him, but he was also working as the only real option in Seattle. With Rice and the new tight end in town, he should be open for a lot more of those underneath routes as a possession wide receiver. I could see him do something like 80 catches this year for 900 yards if he can stay healthy. Solid first-bench option and potentially a steal since he's not going very high in drafts.
Kris Durham, Golden Tate, Ben Obamanu, Doug Baldwin
Quick notes on these guys because they could do nothing but they've all got potential to far exceed expectations.
Durham was a 4th round pick this season out of Georgia. Playing opposite of AJ Green, he averaged over 20 yards per catch on 32 balls last season. Probably won't see him do much this year, but he could be interesting down the line.
There was some rumblings that Tate would get cut and that would have been a really stupid move in my opinion. He was a 2nd round pick of Notre Dame last year, and though his numbers have disappointed some, he really showed the kind of open-field ability that only a handful of players in the NFL really have. He may have saved his job with a great performance in the last preseason game. More valuable in return leagues.
Ben Obamanu gets first crack at being the third option in Seattle. He had a career year last year and between weeks 8-11 he had 15 catches for 342 yards and 3 TDs. If he was forced into the starting lineup, he'd be a very interesting sleeper play.
Doug Baldwin was the star of training camp and preseason and the undrafted player out of Stanford earned his way onto the 53-man roster. He returned a kick 105 yards for a TD against Denver and averaged 40 yards per return on 6 kicks (of course, that one long one helped) but he's the sleepiest of the sleepers, but you can't help but root for a guy like Baldwin.
When the Seahawks acquired Miller, they still had John Carlson (who once led the team in receiving yards) on the roster, so it seemed they were too crowded at that position and Carlson would be the odd man out. But Carroll insisted both players would be used together. Well, that's not going to happen because Carlson landed on IR, so Millers value shouldn't be hurt any. The 2010 Pro Bowler has averaged 56 catches and 678 yards in his career. It seems that with Jackson at QB, there will be a lot of shorter routes and he'll rely heavily on the tight end, but Jackson will be airing it out as well. I don't see Miller doing anything too abnormal this season and 60 catches for 750 yards and 5 TDs seems about right. He's a backend TE option in fantasy.
Anthony McCoy and Dominique Byrd will fight for the rest of the reps.