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!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

NFC West Preview: Seattle Offense

First off, big Crushed Optimists shout out to David Locke, who apparently has read some of our tripe recently. Unfortunately, this comes at the same time we criticize him about his Seahawks statements, so if he just Googled his name and popped on over, sorry about that. Write more Sonics stuff, we eat that up.

Anyways, on to the single easiest preview of the week, the Seattle Seahawk Offense. Why is this so easy, you ask? Well, basically because it's the same freaking offense minus two players, Steve Hutchinson and Joe Jurevicius. Now, those are two pretty darn important players, but still...

By the way, if we write this much NOW about the Hawks, just wait until our actual season previews. Just wait.

Matt Hasselbeck - DPAR 88.4, DVOA 28.4%
(Backup Seneca Wallace)

Matt Hasselbeck took the next step last year in his maturation as an NFL quarterback, especially when the game was on the line. He was, by far, the best QB in the NFC last season, even with the uber-hype given to Eli Manning, Jake Delhomme, and Michael Vick. Hasselbeck outshone them with the best run of decision-making we've seen in his career. He never seemed to try and force it the way he had before, letting the offense flow around him. Of course, much of this relaxation was probably due to the fact that he rarely had to worry about pressure, but he continues to display an escapability that surprises observers not used to Seahawk football. His touchdown number (24 last year) will probably go up since Shaun won't get near his own record. That does bring up another point, his red zone efficiency in terms of turning the ball over was also impressive. Our biggest weakness is probably his backup, Seneca Wallace, who I just don't feel comfortable handing the keys over should Matt get hurt.

Running Back:
Shaun Alexander - NFL Freaking MVP, DPAR 57.8, DVOA 20.7%
(Backup Maurice Morris)

Shaun took his game to another level last year, if that wasn't obvious. He ran with more authority through tackles, and even tried pass blocking for the first time in his career. He still sucks at pass blocking, but we'll take the effort. There were two moments last year when I knew Shaun was motivated. The first was his first third-and-short, where he forced it easily. The second was that 90 yard TD run against Arizona, when he ran towards Colin and I, found a final gear, and didn't let the pursuing defenders touch him. There were so many great Shaun moments that it's difficult to describe them all. One area I look to see some improvement is in the screen game, where we used to be terrific and blew last year. Shaun is a much better receiver than is given credit for and should be given more opportunities.

Wide Receivers:
Darrell Jackson - DPAR 14.3, DVOA 23.1% (8th in league)
Bobby Engram - DPAR 13.2, DVOA 4.4%
Nate Burleson - DPAR 4.8, DVOA -.2%
Peter Warrick - N/A
DJ Hackett - N/A
Jerramy Stevens - DPAR 16.6, DVOA 23.9%
Itula Mili - N/A

Ah yes, the loss of Joe Jurevicius. Definitely a blow, as Joe J had great hands, was good in the red zone, and was just a dependable guy. However, this is not a death knell for our team. Joe's stats were mainly the product of the injuries sustained by D-Jack and Bobby Engram. When they were both in, he was relegated to the third receiver and at times disappeared from the picture. Nate Burleson should be different. While the stats above are poor (again, injuries, and Daunte Culpepper SUCKED last season), in 2004 Burleson's numbers were a 35.0 DPAR and a DVOA of 35.3%. Even half of those numbers are close to what Jurevicius put up. Burleson allows Bobby Engram to move back to the slot to pick up automatic first downs for us. DJ Hackett can continue to expand his repetoire as the #4 guy, Jerramy Stevens will be healthy and has turned into a top five TE, and we cannot forget about the return of Itula Mili. Mili and Stevens gives us the luxury of two proven receiving tight ends that we can stick on the field at the same time, another wrinkle for opposign defenses to attempt and plan for. Some health for this group and we will be a better team than last season. D-Jack's numbers will be better. Engram's numbers will be better... I think you're getting the idea. Again, as we wrote multiple times last year, it was insane that Hasselbeck had as good a year as he did with all these injuries, same with Shaun. Defenses had to focus on the running game and could stiff us physically on the outside. Now, with us being healthy, we have Jackson able to break man coverage, Burleson able to provide an actual deep threat, and several tremendous over-the-middle options. Yes, I'm excited.

Oh yeah, all that and I forgot to mention that Peter Warrick is healthy and into our offense now. Now I'm really being optimistic, but Warrick if truly past his leg troubles can be a weapon. Just another tool of depth in our arsenal.

Offensive Line:
Walter Jones, LT, Pork Chop Womack, LG, Robbie Tobeck, C, Chris Gray, RG, Sean Locklear, RT
(Backups Tom Ashworth, T/G, Ray Willis, T, Chris Spencer, C/G, Rob Sims, G)

And we come to the second unit (of doom apparently). Losing G Steve Hutchinson sent much of the local pundit world into a spinning cycle of angst. Such was the level of our woe that nobody noticed that our line is, if anything, deeper this year than the one that had an incredible Power Success rating of 81%, hit 25% of all runs over 10 yards, and was only stuffed 27% of the time. Basically, we had our will with opposing defensive lines. All that and we only gave up sacks a little over 5% of the time. Will everything be as good next season? Probably not, but we shouldn't look at it as a giant decrease. Remember, all those good numbers came with one Chris Gray manning a guard position, yet another reason why guards can be overrated. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Gray was beaten out in training camp by one of our youngsters, including Chris Spencer (would give him some nice playing time before taking over at center). The key to everything, of course, is Walter Jones. As long as Walt is around, we get to wipe out opposing defensive ends out of the equation. They go nowhere. Pork Chop Womack is definitely as athletic as Hutchinson, able to play guard, and while not quite as nasty or strong, will be a more than suitable replacement. Tobeck's another year older but coming off a Pro Bowl season. Basically, we should have zero injury fears (other than Walter, of course). We have so much depth, so many bench players who would start on other teams, that we can and will feel good about the line play for years to come. I'm excited to see what Sean Locklear can do with a year of experience under his belt. He was a terrific young tackle last year, what does that translate to now? If Gray especially is replaced, it could mean that our power success could be to both sides of the football, something defenses would have to play better.

All in all, this will be a top five offense in the NFL once again, and will continue to make opposing defenses look awful, especially those in St Louis, Arizona, and San Francisco.

Tomorrow: The Defense!

posted by Gavin @ 2:54 PM  0 comments


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