Seattle Seahawks 2013 Offseason Preview
2012 Season Recap
After four consecutive losing seasons, the Seahawks broke through in 2012. They looked mediocre at the midway point of the season with a 4-4 record, but caught fire in the second half and won seven of eight games, ending the regular season on a 5-0 run. During a three-game stretch, they beat the Cardinals 58-0, the Bills 50-17 and the eventual NFC champion 49ers">49ers 42-13. Seattle went unbeaten at home for the third time in team history and won its first road playoff game (a 24-14 wild-card victory over the Redskins) in nearly 30 years.
The Seahawks won four games in the final two minutes of regulation or in overtime. They were contenders in every game, their largest defeat being a seven-point loss to San Francisco on Oct. 18. A defense led by end Chris Clemons, rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner and a secondary that featured cornerback Richard Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor allowed only 15.3 points per game -- the fewest in the league.
The Seahawks were involved in the most embroiled moment of the season in Week 3. Replacement referee Wayne Elliott ruled that wide receiver Golden Tate caught a 24-yard touchdown pass on the final play of a Monday Night game against Green Bay that gave Seattle a 14-12 win, even though Tate shoved a defender while the ball was in the air and it appeared that Packers defensive back M.D. Jennings had a greater control of the ball than Tate. The controversial call precipitated a quick settlement to the officials lockout, and regular officials returned to the field in Week 4.
Six Seahawks went to the Pro Bowl. Offensive tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger were elected as starters; running back Marshawn Lynch, Thomas and kick returner Leon Washington were backups; and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson was an injury replacement.
Stat To Feel Good About
If It Ain't Broke ...
While much of the league's attention going into the season was placed on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, the first two players taken in the draft, the lesser-known Wilson emerged as a potential franchise QB in Seattle. After beating out free agent acquisition Matt Flynn in training camp, Wilson, a third-round pick, started every game and helped lead the Seahawks to the postseason. He threw more touchdown passes (26) than Luck (23) or Griffin (20).
Like RGIII and Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco's second-year quarterback who helped lead the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII this season, Wilson can serrate defenses with his arm and his legs. He passed for 3,118 yards and 26 touchdowns, and he ran for 489 yards and four scores. He threw a game-winning scoring pass in the final two minute of regulation or in overtime three times -- the most by a rookie quarterback since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger -- and he won a fourth game inside two minutes with a rushing touchdown. His plus-16 differential of touchdown passes (26) to interceptions (10) was the best in history by a rookie QB.
Must Fix It
The Seahawks need to adapt the blocking scheme of their offensive line to where it's more in sync with the 5-foot-11, 206-pound Wilson, who is not a prototype pocket passer and throws a lot while he's on the move. Tight ends and backs also might have to help. Keeping pass rushers off Wilson, who was sacked 33 times (once for about every 12 pass attempts), is paramount. Right tackle Breno Giacomini is someone the team could stand to improve on, especially in a talent-rich free agent class at the position. The team doesn't necessarily need a home-run signing there, but the right deal at right tackle could go a long way.
More On The To-Do List
What We'll Be Saying In July
General manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have formed a strong rapport in their three years together, and the fruits of it have spilled on to the field. They have restocked the roster; 46 of the 53 players (87 percent) who finished the season were in their first, second or third years with the Seahawks. This is a burgeoning team with young players (Wilson, Lynch, Tate, Okung, Unger, Wagner, Sherman and Irvin) at several key positions, and any free agent losses shouldn't dilute the roster.
San Francisco has won the NFC West two years in a row and still is hungry coming off its Super Bowl loss to Baltimore. St. Louis looks like it might be ready to make a push in the division. Seattle already has most of the pieces in place to contend for first place and, possibly, make a Super Bowl run in 2013. If Schneider and Carroll continue to make the right moves, the Seahawks will be a team of great expectations.