2014 NFL Season Preview, Fantasy Sleepers, and Predictions: Can the Seattle Seahawks Repeat as Champions?
- Sign up to receive the lastest news from LATINONE
With the NFL season fast approaching, Latino Post looks at the offseason moves that will make or break each team.
Last Season: 13-3 (NFC West Champions, Super Bowl Champions)
Key Additions: CB Philip Adams, CB A.J. Jefferson, DT Kevin Williams, WR Paul Richardson (2nd round pick), OT Justin Britt (2nd round pick), DE Cassius Marsh (4th round pick), WR Kevin Norwood (4th round pick)
Key Losses: WR Golden Tate, WR Sidney Rice, DE Chris Clemons, DT Clinton McDonald, OT Breno Giacomini, DE Red Bryant, CB Brandon Browner, CB Walter Thurmond
Games to Watch: Sept. 4 vs. Green Bay, Sept. 21 vs. Denver, Nov. 27 at San Francisco, Dec. 14 vs. San Francisco
Three Questions Heading into the 2014-15 Season:
1. Can the Seahawks' offense function without Marshawn Lynch?
Seattle couldn't have won their first-ever Super Bowl without Marshawn Lynch. He's the cog holding the Seahawks' offense together, often transitioning from a powerful back to "Beast Mode;" a near-unstoppable force whose violent spurts led to a third straight 1,200 yard season.
Lynch led the NFL in carries last season, further signifying his importance to a Seattle team reeling from the loss of wide receivers Golden Tate and Sidney Rice. Factor Percy Harvin's inability to stay healthy and "Beast Mode" becomes that much more important.
The Seahawks, their 12th man, and Lynch himself knows of his importance. Which leads to Lynch's current holdout.
In the midst of a four-year, $31 million contract signed in 2012, Lynch has been a no-show while awaiting a more lucrative offer. Coincidentally, Lynch's holdout came one day after Kansas City star running back Jamaal Charles issued a similar request.
If Lynch doesn't make the opening day roster, head coach Pete Carroll is left with tailbacks Christine Michael and Robert Turbin. The duo combined for 95 carries and 343 yards without a touchdown.
Granted, Michael and Turbin weren't given many opportunities with Lynch carrying the workload, but therein lies the problem. The Seahawks game plan rests around their running game. Minus Lynch, Seattle degrades from a repeat Super Bowl contender to a Wild Card team.
2. How will the "Legion of Boom" adjust to losses on d-line and defensive backfield?
Veteran defensive ends Red Bryant and Chris Clemons-16 years NFL experience between them-were released and Corners Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond found work in New England and New York, respectively.
Richards Sherman, meanwhile, received a four-year, $57.4 contract extension.
There are major holes to fill in Seattle's defensive backfield and they can't expect Sherman and Earl Thomas to fill them all. Safety Kam Chancellor is among the league's elite when he's healthy. Unfortunately, he's coming off hip surgery and may not be 100 percent for their opener with Green Bay, or through the season for that matter.
Seattle really didn't do anything to shore up their backfield during the offseason, meaning Byron Maxwell and 2013 5th-round pick Tharold Simon will need to step up.
The addition of five-time All-Pro defensive tackle Kevin Williams shores up a shaky front line. He'll be tasked with replacing Clinton McDonald, whose breakout season led to 35 tackles, 5 ½ sacks, and 13 quarterback hurries. The only question is whether the 34-year-old Williams can still perform at a Pro Bowl level.
The heart and soul of Seattle's defense is in their linebackers. Luckily, not much has changed.
Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, and Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith are back to lead the "Legion of Boom" to another NFC West crown. The trio will be more than enough for opposing quarterbacks to handle.
3. Is Russell Wilson ready to be an elite quarterback?
Russell Wilson doesn't have much left to prove.
First critics questioned his height, then drafting him early in the 2012 NFL draft became a concern- he eventually dropping to the third round-and finally, people couldn't phantom Wilson defeating sure-fire Hall of Famer Peyton Manning in last year's Super Bowl.
Wilson did it all and has the hardware to prove it. The only question remaining is whether he can list himself among the NFL's elite.
The Seahawks' third-year quarterback ranked fifth among NFC passers in rating (101.2), just behind Drew Brees, and carried the third highest yards per pass attempted average (8.25). Conversely, he achieved about 210 yards per game, second lowest among NFC playoff quarterbacks.
If this says anything about Wilson, it's that he's always looking for the big play. With Carroll's offense centered around Lynch, Wilson often has to look deep. This time around, he won't have Rice and Tate to look for.
Wilson has the fourth-highest passer rating of any quarterback in his first two seasons. That doesn't necessary make him elite.
Michael Turbin- RB
Keep an eye on the Lynch situation. Turbin likely gets the nod if he doesn't suit up for their opener with the Packers.
Turbin was slowed by a knee injury last year but holds a strength and speed advantage over Michael. He appears healthy and ready to take over Lynch's role.
Doug Baldwin- WR
Doug Baldwin is a No. 1 receiver in the making. He, above any Seahawks wide outs, will benefit from Tate and Rice's absence.
Look for double coverage on Harvin to free Baldwin up. He's one of Wilson's favorite targets- averaging 15.6 yards per reception-and is a legitimate deep target.
Prediction: 10-6 (Advances to postseason via Wild Card)
- Sign up to receive the lastest news from LATINONE