Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Seahawks Offseason Overview

It is finally time. Time for Colin and I to man up, get out of our end of the season malaise, and finally admit that we need to write this damn overview. Also, I'm finally starting to get moderately excited about baseball season (although I am avoiding spring training articles like the plague... one more fluff piece on Joel Piniero's "promise" and I'm going to flip) so it's time to close the book on what was an absolutely fantastic 2005 season.

Our first set of kudos go to Mike Reinfeldt, the original savior of this season, much less this franchise. Reinfeldt signed Walter Jones and Matt Hasselbeck, letting us franchise Shaun Alexander and essentially allowing Tim Ruskell to step into a stress-free environment.

Still, let's not minimize what Ruskell achieved. Colin and I have gushed enough, but there are very few moves he made which didn't work out. It's not his fault Etric Pruitt sucked... he brought him in to be a third string safety, not play the entire second half of the Super Bowl.

A few other awards:

MVP: The Offensive Line. While Matt Hasselbeck is definitely deserving of this as well, our offensive line dominated just about every opposing d-line, notwithstanding one effort against Dallas which was against the three lineman, four backers, eight samurai warriors, and two cornerbacks. They opened up the holes for Shaun. They gave Matt time. Our offensive stars struggle if they are forced into quick decisions. The offensive line made life easy.

Best Offseason Acquisition: One Joe Jurevicius as the free agent and Lofa Tatupu as the rookie. Jurevicius salvaged our offensive season with his performance after the injuries to Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram. We thought he could be a great goal line threat and over the middle and he sure didn't disappoint. You just knew if you put the ball near him he was going to get it. The catch he made in the game against the Giants when he essentially took an interception away at the goal line to score a touchdown was one of my favorite plays of the year. As for Tatupu, what can you say? We now have a middle linebacker and quarterback for the next ten years. Honorable mention to Leroy Hill, who we would be touting as the best rookie linebacker we've seen in a good long time if not for Tatupu.

Enough about the season. Let's talk about what Ruskell needs to do in order for me to buy a ticket to Miami (if you think I'm missing that Super Bowl you are legitimately hurting upstairs).

1. Don't try to get all Isaiah Thomas on us.
An odd quirk of many teams who almost win the big one is to make large changes to one side of the ball or another in order to get over the hump. This seems odd and the Hawks would do well to avoid this train of thought. We really don't have to do much here.

2. Sign Steve Hutchinson to a long-term deal.
The transition tag is all well and good but let's avoid a potential holdout and just get a deal done. He knows we want him, we know we want him, there is no question. Just sign the man. He is our top priority (yes, over Shaun). If you want to see something amazing during a game, focus on the left side of our line for some of the best football you'll ever witness.

3. Don't sign Shaun Alexander.
Just kidding. Colin and I will actually debate this later.

4. Try to sign Rocky Bernard, but don't be too upset if he walks.
Rocky has a good motor and added a lot to our squad, but he is not worth the type of money someone is going to offer him, especially for a player who NEVER had that type of season before. Marcus Tubbs is a better player anyways, and a line anchored by Tubbs, Chartic Darby and Craig Terrill will still help us be one of the better rushing defenses in the league.

5. Resign Joe Jurevicius and Mack Strong.
I'm not going to get into all of our free agents, since most are people I could care less about, but these two (and maybe Marquand Manuel) are too invaluable.

So far these moves are all status-quo. That's good news... we made the Super Bowl! Let's see where those moves leave us.

Offense:
QB: Matt Hasselbeck, backup QB: ?
Hasselbeck is the best QB in the NFC. I think we're fine with him. Seneca Wallace has a lot of talent, but it's not like I'm going to be crying if he leaves. Backup QBs are everywhere. Go get Brad Johnson or someone similar.

RB: Someone who is going to get 1000 yards behind our offensive line. Maybe not 28 touchdowns, but take the 1000 yards to the bank.

FB: Mack Strong, with Leonard Weaver there are terrific depth.

O-Line: Jones, Hutchinson, Tobeck, Gray, Locklear, the best line in the NFL, with Chris Spencer and Pork Chop Womack as extremely capable reserves. Our offensive line depth is simply tremendous.

TE: Jerramy Stevens and Ryan Hannam. Hannam is a free agent that I anticipate resigning, as Holmgren loves him. If not we'll see more of Itula Mili (unless we cut Mili). Stevens, regardless of the Super Bowl disaster, seems poised to become a top-five TE. I'm admittedly excited to see how we use him to attack defenses crowding the line of scrimmage to try and stop the run.

WRs: Darrell Jackson (elite wide receiver, by the way, hate it when he's disrespected like that), Joe Jurevicius, DJ Hackett. Bobby Engram is a free agent who I'd love to have back, but again we could easily replace him. We could still use a burner, but I think if we continue to develop Hackett he could turn into that for us. Just don't think Hackett can be a starter. He can't.

Defense: Remember, this group was one of the youngest in the league. We should be really excited about the possibilities we see below.
D-Line: Grant Wistrom and Bryce Fisher on the edge with Marcus Tubbs and Chuck Darby in the middle. Craig Terrill provide tackle depth while absolutely no one (perhaps last year pick Jeb Huckeba) provides good rush depth.

Linebackers: Jamie Sharper, Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill should be our corps for the next three years, with DD Lewis a great immediate backup. We should never have to see Isaiah K in a game again.

Corners: Marcus Trufant finally started looking like the corner we thought he could be, while Andre Dyson and Kelley Herndon are fairly cheap as a two-three. Jordan Babineaux provides terrific depth. It sure would be nice to see what these guys could do if all were healthy. The playoffs provided a little glimpse.

Safety: This all hinges on the health of Ken Hamlin. If the Hammer is back, pair him with Michael Boulware and get excited. This is why we could still use Marquand Manuel, although I think he played well enough to get a starting job elsewhere.

Here's the truth. We have ZERO starting positions we need to fill, unless you count running back. That is nuts. We are only talking about backups.

Here are my thoughts:

1. Draft a defensive end. Wistrom only has one-two years left. He has lost a step and couldn't get pressure as much as in previous years. Fisher is the youngster but we need more depth. Anything is better than Joe Tafoya. I want to see Jeb Huckeba, who we drafted from Arkansas. He had some talent, but we need more. First round pick here.

2. Get better safety help. If Manuel leaves (probable), find someone we can trust to back up Hamlin.

3. Draft a return specialist (Jeremy Bloom?). This is what lower round draft picks are for, people. If we can finally have someone who is at least a mediocre threat to return the ball up the field we will gain 3-4 points per game.

4. Sign a veteran wide receiver with a little more size. The west coast offense needs size for those short crossing patterns. Jurevicius fit the bill perfectly. Getting another will force teams away from playing the "Dallas" defense against us even better than getting a deep threat, which again I think Hackett can be. There is no wide receiver available in free agency that can improve our long ball presence, not to mention that Hasselbeck sucks throwing it deep. Work to strengths.

I have to be honest... this is all I think we need to do. we don't need a huge star, don't need to trade away picks to move up in the draft, don't need more. The biggest change I would ask Colin and I will discuss later. This is going to be a damn good team next year. I'm excited to see what happens.

Go Ruskell!

Go Hawks!

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