Team Overview: Of all teams of the NFC West, the Seahawks present the biggest threat to the Rams in the division. The acquisition of Jadeveon Clowney for a couple of so-so linebackers and a third-round draft choice does nothing to hurt that status. Clowney's history of injuries and perhaps not played up to the expectations once predicted after declaring early for the 2014 NFL Draft, but he is an outstanding player when healthy.
Offense: The offense starts with Russell Wilson, who is one of the league's best quarterbacks. The very best at taking a "broken play" and turning it into a significant gain. Wilson is on the small side and takes more than his share of hits, but so far, he has not been injury prone.
As of Labor Day, the word is that Seattle will re-sign Geno Smith to back up Russell Wilson. While there probably are worse backups than Smith, Seattle had better hope they do not have to lean on him to replace Wilson long-term.
The Seahawks had one of the most run-oriented offenses in the league last season, rivaled only by the Baltimore Ravens in that regard. While the Seahawk running backs may not be huge names as a group, they certainly got the job done in 2018. Chris Carson rushed for over 1,100 yards last year, the best total of a Seahawks back since Marshawn Lynch. Carson likely will split carries with former first-round pick Rashaad Penny, who averaged almost five yards a carry last year but was plagued by injuries. Mike Davis and his 500 yards rushing left in free agency, but there is enough depth here so that Davis' departure should not be a huge deal.
There are some questions at receiver with Doug Baldwin's departure. The Seahawks hope rookie D.K. Metcalf can emerge with veteran Tyler Lockett as the top receivers. Lockett, who is also a dangerous return man, racked up over 950 receiving yards last season, leading to a fat new contract. Metcalf is a big, fast receiver whom most people expected to go in the first round of the draft. Flawless during his workouts as part of several NFL teams, or did they know something that raised concerns?
We may find out after the Seahawks spent a second-round pick on him. Metcalf suffered a preseason injury that may delay his progress somewhat.
Veteran David Moore should also see significant targets this season. This group as a unit is not terrible, but on paper, they also do not frighten anybody. The Seahawks have also resigned Jaron Brown after releasing him after the final cuts. Basically what Seattle has at the receiver position is one pretty good player (Lockett), one rookie that some see as having potential (Metcalf), and a bunch of other guys who are, well, questionable (Brown, Moore and others). It's not an overly impressive group, considering Lockett would be a #2 or #3 receiver (at best) on many NFL teams, probably including the Rams. But Russell Wilson can do a lot with a little.
One of the reason's the Seahawks was so run-oriented on offense last season was because that strategy plays to the strength of the Seattle offensive line. Starting left tackle Duane Brown arguably the best Seahawks offensive lineman, and they need for him to stay healthy. There is not a ton of depth here on the Seahawks offensive line. Four-time pro-bowler Mike Iupati replaces J.R. Sweezy at one of the guard spots, which probably an upgrade at that position. The rest of the starting line is OK but not so great considering the talent. The mobility of Russell Wilson's helps offset some of the deficiencies in pass protection. Considering the Seahawks apparently, lack of a reliable backup quarterback they may not him taking off and running any more than what is necessary.
Offensive Overview: Russell Wilson makes what might be considered a mediocre to sub-par offense on paper a lot more credible. Even so, this team is not built to win many shootouts.
Defense: This is the strength of this team, and if everything falls into place, it could be one of the elite units in the NFL. Can teams still win championships in the NFL with the old 1970s formula of running the ball and playing good defense? The 2019 Seattle Seahawks may answer that question IF the defense can stay healthy and do a better job of shutting down opposing running games compared to last season.
However, there are injury concerns here, as well as questions about a secondary that is not entirely on par with the defensive line and linebacking corps.
With the addition of Clowney, the Seahawks front seven on defense match up well with anybody in the league. Frank Clark traded to Kansas City Chiefs, but with Clowney and Ziggy Ansah lining up on Sundays for the Seahawks, opposing quarterbacks will not be celebrating. The big concern is whether both of those guys can stay healthy, given their injury history. The big concern last year for the 'Hawks up front was a porous run defense, which is still a concern. Jaron Reed (suspended) and Poona Ford, are the starting defensive tackles and will need to step up this season. The Seahawks is to be anything more than a fringe wild-card contender. Seattle thinks they will.
Seattle's linebacking unit is among the best in the league when healthy. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner rivaled only by Luke Kuechly of the Panthers for the title of the best at his position in the NFL. Outside linebacker K.J. Wright is no slouch either. Mychal Kendricks looks like the third starter in Seattle's base defense. Kendricks is not entirely on a level of Wagner or Wright, but he's still pretty good. The one downside to the Clowney trade is that it did create some depth concerns. Two players the Seahawks traded (Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin), are likely not pro bowl players, but are heady veterans who knew the defense. The linebackers did not make many mistakes. Mingo started at strongside linebacker for much of last season, so obviously, 'Hawks coach Pete Carroll did not think he was a lousy player. So long as the starters stay healthy none of that may matter, but the remaining reserves are mostly unproven.
The Legion of Boom is gone, and the current secondary is not comparable in terms of talent or experience. Safety Bradley McDougald will start at one of the safety spots. He is not a bad player and is capable of dishing out some nasty hits, albeit he is no Earl Thomas. The starting corners look like Shaquille Griffin and Tre Flowers, a converted safety. Again, as with McDougald, they are solid players, although they will not make anyone forget Richard Sherman. However, after that, there are a whole lot of questions in terms of depth and the other safety position.
If the Seahawks can inflict a pressuring pass rush as expected, and the secondary remain healthy, they may be fine in terms of pass defense.
However, if either or both of those things do not happen, there could be trouble ahead. Seattle does not want to get caught up in too many 45-41 type games, given the style and talent level of their offense.
Defensive Overview: Wagner is an elite player, a real difference-maker at middle linebacker. Wright, Clowney, and possibly Ansah are all outstanding players who are close to elite when healthy. Seattle does need to stop the run better and stay healthy. If they can do those things, they should contend for a playoff spot and maybe even battle the Rams for the division title.
Special teams: Punter Micheal Dickson is excellent, maybe the best punter not named Johnny Hekker in the NFL.
Other than that? Seattle, we have a problem. The special teams for the Seahawks were just not very good last season. Kick and punt returner Tyler Lockett can make things happen when he gets a little blocking, but that usually did not happen last season. Jason Myers replaces Sebastian Janikowski at placekicker. He lost out to "Sea Bass" in 2018 for the job, but now it is his. He lacks Janikowski's range, but Seattle hopes he will be more reliable. We shall see.
Overview: This is a good team and one that should at least contend for a wild card spot.
However, there are concerns. Russell Wilson needs to stay healthy for one thing. Since the Seahawks runs the ball more than anyone else in the league, as long as Wilson is in the lineup, we cannot disregard the threat of the passing game. The Seahawks running backs are a capable group, but they are going to have a hard time being productive. Against eight-men box, especially with an offensive line that is decent at run blocking, but certainly not elite.
The defense is very good at linebacker and on the D-line, while the secondary is relatively average. If Seattle can get ahead and force opponents into passing situations, they can do some damage on defense. However, the run-defense needs to be better than it was last year, and this is not a team that can afford to get behind by more than ten points or so early. Another concern for the 'Hawks is the fact that they were plus 17 in turnovers last season. Historically, the turnover margin is not a stat that tends to be repeatable from season to season. Seattle also notched 7 of their ten wins last year against teams with losing records. If you expect to be the best, you need to beat the best. Seattle didn't really do that in last season.
Prediction: Seattle could battle the Rams for the NFC West in 2019, but a lot would need to go right for that to happen. This is not a team that can sustain many injuries or makes many mistakes if they are going to go anywhere. However, as long as they have Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll, you can't count them out.
10-6, Second Place NFC West