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Preseason Power Rankings No. 22: Seattle Seahawks

Marshawn Lynch Pic Getty Images

The Seahawks under now third-year head coach Pete Carroll have shown an ability to maximize talent. Carroll wasn’t dealt the richest hand when he took over the franchise in 2010, but has still produced two 7-9 seasons and one unlikely 2011 playoff upset of the New Orleans Saints.

And slowly but steadily, Seattle’s talent base has grown through the guidance of G.M. John Schneider.

The Seahawks won five of their final eight games last season, and each of the three losses were by six points or fewer. Coming off an aggressive, addition-filled spring, the Seahawks look like the best bet in the NFC West to challenge reigning champion San Francisco for the division’s top spot.

Strengths.

Seattle’s running game took off after a slow start in 2011, as tailback Marshawn Lynch turned in a career season in a contract year. Lynch reeled off touchdowns in 11 consecutive games from Week Five on, also churning out six 100-yard rushing efforts in the last nine games. Lynch is a ferocious power back with as much natural tackle-breaking ability as any runner in the game. The Seahawks rewarded him after the season with a new four-year, $31 million commitment.

Defensively, the Seahawks are among the league’s better run-stuffing teams, and their secondary has as much promise as any group in football. Ball-hawking free safety Earl Thomas, 23, headlines a young unit that also includes 24-year-old enforcer strong safety Kam Chancellor, promising 24-year-old left cornerback Richard Sherman, and right corner Brandon Browner, who turns 28 in August. Thomas, Chancellor, Sherman, and Browner combined for 16 interceptions in 2011.

Defensive end Chris Clemons has been Seattle’s top pass rusher during the Carroll era, though he wants a new contract and didn’t show for mandatory minicamp in June. The Seahawks did draft a potential heir apparent in first-rounder Bruce Irvin, who is incredibly explosive off the edge.

Weaknesses.

The Seahawks have invested heavily in their offensive line — particularly via the draft — but the picks have yet to pay consistent dividends. While position coach Tom Cable’s zone-blocking scheme really took hold during Lynch’s dominant three months of rushing last year, Seattle needs better durability from the likes of left tackle Russell Okung and right guard John Moffitt. James Carpenter, the Seahawks’ first-round pick in 2011, is a question mark for Week One after tearing his ACL late last November. Carpenter struggled at right tackle before the year-ending injury.

Quarterback play has been shaky at best under Carroll’s watch, although the Seahawks believe they have upgraded the position by signing Matt Flynn and drafting Russell Wilson out of Wisconsin. An ardent promoter of competition for every starting job, Carroll claims incumbent Tarvaris Jackson will get a fair shake in the forthcoming camp battle.

Wide receiver is another big question mark, probably even more so than quarterback. Projected No. 1 wideout Sidney Rice is attempting to return from double offseason shoulder surgeries. Rice also ended last season on injured reserve after suffering three concussions over an 11-month span. The receiver job opposite Rice is wide open.

Changes.

Flynn was Seattle’s biggest offseason addition, inking a three-year, $19.5 million contract after spending four seasons as a backup in Green Bay. This year’s draft netted the aforementioned Wilson, Irvin, second-rounder Bobby Wagner, and physical tailback Robert Turbin in the first four rounds.

The Seahawks have continuity throughout the coaching staff and front office.

Seattle’s defensive line was already a strength, and it added pass-rushing interior tackle Jason Jones to the mix on a cost-effective, one-year contract. Jones will team with Clemons, Irvin, run-stopping end Red Bryant, do-it-all tackle Brandon Mebane, and 330-pound reserve Alan Branch to give the Seahawks one of the league’s most unsung but effective front-four groupings.

Camp Battles.

Gone is middle linebacker David Hawthorne, with Wagner and emerging journeyman Barrett Ruud competing to replace him. The other two linebacker jobs are set.

Although it’d be a fairly big upset if Flynn didn’t win the Week One quarterback job, Jackson and Wilson will compete hard in an August camp battle sure to produce plenty of headlines.

The Seahawks would probably like for Golden Tate to secure the No. 2 receiver spot opposite Rice, but Kris Durham, Ben Obomanu, and second-year speedster Ricardo Lockette will receive long looks. Doug Baldwin should be entrenched as Seattle’s slot receiver.

On the offensive line, left guard and right tackle will be hotly contested. Carpenter — if healthy — will push Breno Giacomini opposite Okung. The open guard spot could go to Lemuel Jeanpierre, Frank Omiyale, or Paul McQuistan.

Prospects.

The Seahawks seem to be a team on the rise, but they’ve yet to exceed seven regular-season wins through two years of the Carroll/Schneider regime. In order to instill confidence in the minds of observers, Seattle needs to take a significant step forward in on-the-field performance.

Seattle’s 2012 schedule includes a brutal stretch from Weeks Two through Eight. They’ll square off with four returning playoff teams — the Packers, Patriots, 49ers, and Lions. During the seven-game run, the Seahawks also face the explosive offenses of Dallas and Carolina. We’ll have a very good feel for what kind of team the 2012 Seahawks are following that tough run.

Ultimately, we ranked Seattle as the second best team in the NFC West. We like them better than the Cardinals and Rams, but much less than the Niners. The Seahawks are a club that certainly could surprise, especially if they emerge from the aforementioned seven-game stretch with four solid wins.

Our guess is they’re probably still a year away from serious title contention.

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16 Responses to “Preseason Power Rankings No. 22: Seattle Seahawks”
  1. jikkle49 says: Jul 14, 2012 8:32 AM

    Fair ranking to start with but I think ultimately they wind up in that 11-15 range in the power rankings.

    I think their defense is just shy of being considered elite but it will definitely keep them in and win games for them.

    But the obvious big downfall is their offense. Their offensive line has yet to produce on a consistently high level and anytime you have not a 2 but 3 man QB competition than you have some issues at that position.

  2. theashleyguy says: Jul 14, 2012 9:26 AM

    The analysis is accurate but the conclusion seems off. If we have one of the league’s best run-stuffing defenses AND 3 of the 4 members of the secondary have gone to the Pro Bowl AND the pass rush has been significantly improved with the additions of Jones and Irvin, that becomes a Top 5 defense. And a Top 5 defense combined with a mediocre offense should result in something much better than a ranking of 22. We do have a rugged schedule the first half of the year, but I think a ranking of 12 is much more appropriate.

  3. negaduck says: Jul 14, 2012 10:12 AM

    “We do have a rugged schedule the first half of the year, but I think a ranking of 12 is much more appropriate.”

    Which 11 teams would be in front of Seattle? Here is a random list of teams Id expect to be better than Seattle.

    New England
    NYJ
    Buffalo
    Pittsburgh
    Baltimore
    Cincinnati
    Houston
    San Diego
    Denver
    San Francisco
    New Orleans
    Atlanta
    Green Bay
    Chicago
    NYG
    Philly
    Dallas

  4. yelix says: Jul 14, 2012 10:31 AM

    Pretty fair, but I think they’ll be better than that this year. If Flynn can deliver on the promise of his two starts in Green Bay, this is a darn good football team.

  5. oreo51 says: Jul 14, 2012 11:28 AM

    I think everyone expects the Seahawk defense to be solid enough to keep them in games. The questions are all on offense where the line has been injury prone, the QB play inconsistent and the WR’s are all unknowns. If the offense comes together they could surprise alot of teams and go 11-5. If they have a reoccurrence of the last couple years then 7-9 would be considered encouraging. There is plenty of reason to believe they strengthened the offense in the off season, however.

  6. seatownballers says: Jul 14, 2012 4:11 PM

    We all know and love the defense. Lynch is the only proven monster that strikes fear into opposing defenses. This entire season rests in Flynn’s hands. Receivers and winslow must make plays and that oline must protect. Otherwise its 7-9 again

  7. radrntn says: Jul 14, 2012 4:13 PM

    in front of the raiders who finished 8-8 last year who had to play teams like the Packers, and Patriots last year, why the seahawks played the rams and cardinals…..time will tell

  8. 561bengal says: Jul 14, 2012 5:13 PM

    Seahawks are real close to being competitive for years.

  9. 49erstim says: Jul 14, 2012 5:15 PM

    I agree. Seattle’s biggest question marks are on offense. Right now they are at QB and WR. How will Flynn do? Will he beat out Jackson? If not, then how do you justify that signing? Who are your starting WRs? Who is the guy you HAVE to get the ball to in the clutch?

    If I were asked to rank them it’d probably be 20. There is nothing wrong with that. It is only preseason. We’re a week or so away from camps opening. Then some of those questions will get hashed out. I do expect big things from Seattle this year, but right now on paper they are bottom half of league in my own opinion. I’m really looking forward to the series of games the 9ers and Seahawks play this year.

  10. norcalmafia says: Jul 14, 2012 5:28 PM

    Seahawks are light years behind the Niners and behind Arizona too..Your defense isnt even thatgood..Arizonas is better.

  11. trollhammer20 says: Jul 14, 2012 5:48 PM

    The biggest question marks on defense:

    1) The pass rush, which must improve outside of Clemons if the unit is to reach its full potential.

    2) MLB, where I think they’re going to start Bobby Wagner week one. Irvin got more attention on Draft Day, but how Wagner fares will probably be a lot more important to Seattle’s defensive fortunes. If he can’t hold the center, the team will be in trouble. He’s got some good linemen protecting him.

    Offense, there are too many ?s right now for me, a fan of the team, to predict playoff glory this year, but I think we’ll be in the hunt. Obviously, the critical position is QB, where decision-making must improve. The line was terrible early last year, but a lot of the sacks surrendered were because Jackson held the ball too long.

    Not as worried about WR as some may be. The fact they got rid of Williams so early, before camp even begins, indicates to me the coaches like the other receivers. Doug Baldwin is solid. Golden Tate was starting to come into his own as last season progressed, Ricardo Lockette showed some big-play flashes, and Kris Durham has the kind of size and hands that probably made Williams expendable. The biggest ? on the offense may be Sidney Rice. He needs to be healthy, and history is not on his side in that regard.

  12. savannahrose44 says: Jul 14, 2012 8:03 PM

    in front of the raiders who finished 8-8 last year who had to play teams like the Packers, and Patriots last year, why the seahawks played the rams and cardinals…..time will tell

    Seattle also plays San Francisco twice a year and played a very good Ravens team and the reigning super bowl champions in their house I might add and won. The Raiders play the Chiefs and Broncos twice a year so what’s your point?

  13. norcalmafia says: Jul 14, 2012 8:20 PM

    His point is the Seahawks are not nearly as good as you think..You have no star players a broken tight end K Kolb part 2 and a cheerleader for a coach..All your optimistism well come crashing down..Overrated team..lol

  14. jeffesky says: Jul 15, 2012 6:25 PM

    Dont forget about our TE’s we have two good ones and that will help out Flynn. If Flynn doesnt win the job then its going to be a long season. get through the first 8 games at 4-4 and they have a chance to go 10-6 and get in. The niners are solid but thier not gona go 14-2.

  15. jwreck says: Jul 16, 2012 11:15 AM

    theashleyguy says: Jul 14, 2012 9:26 AM

    We do have a rugged schedule the first half of the year, but I think a ranking of 12 is much more appropriate.
    __________

    There is no denying that Seattle is one of the up and coming teams in the league, a ranking of 12 means Seattle is a playoff team, or at least a playoff caliber team. This is just not the case, especially in the surging and tumultuous NFC.

    While Seattle should be very dangerous in the next couple years, especially if they can get their quarterback issues straightened out and Sidney Rice can stay healthy and play to his full potential. However, as of 2012, the Seahawks are not yet ready to consistently play at the level of the 12th best team in the NFL, and for now a ranking in the late teens or early 20′s seems fair.

  16. Nevis says: Jul 16, 2012 11:41 AM

    They have no QB and Carroll has whiffed at every attempt to land one. T-Jax, Whitehurst, huge fails.

    Flynn may be next — so for Carroll’s job’s sake, he better hope not.

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