Seattle Seahawks 2014-15 Team Preview
The Seattle Seahawks took the 2014 Superbowl, but fall to a T-3rd in the Bovada futures for the 2015 title. The Seahawks return most of its key players from last year’s team, but did lose two offensive starters and two defensive starters in cost saving moves.
Marshawn Lynch is due to decline. QB Russell Wilson, safety Earl Thomas and CB Richard Sherman will all be even stronger, but the Seahawks will have to count on Pete Carroll working his brilliance with replacement starters.
The Seahawks became the 4th youngest team ever to win the Super Bowl, so this could be the second of many titles if the team manages to sustain its success from last season.
Odds to win Superbowl: 15/2
Odds to win NFC: 17/4
Odds to win NFC West: +110
Betting Odds courtesy of Bovada
The Seahawks attempted the second-fewest passes last season, and it stands to reason with Lynch reaching pasture age that Wilson is required to throw more this season. He was the third-youngest QB ever to win a Super Bowl, and he’s ready to take on more responsibilities for a team that sorely needs him to.
Wilson has to be measured, though, on the basis of his efficiency. He threw more TDs in his first two seasons than any QB in NFL history not named Peyton Manning or Dan Marino. Wilson has a very strong arm and he’s a good playmaker. He got hit a lot last year, and the Seahawks just lost two OL to free agency. Tavaris Jackson is a great backup, too.
Lynch has rushed for more than 1,200 yards in three straight seasons, and the only player to run for more during that span is Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson. But, as stated, he’s due to start declining.
Lynch just turned 28 years old and is two years away from the midnight hour for running backs, and Seattle spent its 2012 and 2013 draft picks looking for a replacement down the line. Christine Michael (2013) is considered by Seahawks GM John Schneider to be one of the most explosive players on the roster. Lynch needs to reduce his load, and it will benefit the offense as Wilson picks up the load with his arm.
Losing Percy Harvin was a big blow last season, and it hurt a lot since the Seahawks surrendered three picks (including a 2013 1st rounder) to obtain Harvin. He played just one regular season game due to his hip injury, then suffered a season-ending concussion in the first postseason game.
Seattle is fully committed to getting Harvin back to his excellence, but with no guarantee whatsoever it happens. Golden Tate also bucked in free agency, making Harvin even more important. Tight end Zach Miller is a good blocker, but he is one of the better receiving TEs in the league, which will alleviate the pain of having such poor No. 2 options at WR (Doug Baldwin, Paul Richardson).
The OL is marginal at best. It allowed 44 sacks last season, 8th most in the NFL. Seattle has to cover a lot of free agent losses too, so it could regress further still. OL coach Tom Cable has allowed a lot of QB abuse, which is disconcerting considering Wilson already took a ton of hits last year. Having a franchise QB helps the Seahawks compensate for having such a mediocre OL, but it’s a lot of pressure on Wilson to expect him to cover every blunder that it makes.
The Seahawks D is what makes the team the formidable force it is. The Seahawks have allowed the fewest points in the league over the past two seasons, and the beautiful thing about the defense is how simple it really is. The Seahawks don’t rely on the blitz, but have great corner coverage with Sherman, while Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are both top-notch as well.
The DL will feature a big change with Red Bryant having been released. Michael Bennett was re-signed in the offseason as last year’s team sack leader. Cliff Avril also had a great second half last season and will be back on the line. Tackles Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel will be relied heavily on to stop early down runs.
Seattle has young talent at linebacker, and a lot of depth. Even Superbowl MVP Malcolm Smith isn’t locked into a starting role firmly. Bobby Wagner has blinding speed and he’s a physical LB against the run. K.J. Wright is multitalented and can play all three LB positions. He’s good covering TEs. Bruce Irvin could add a big element as a pass rusher.
The secondary features the most vocal and most excellent Sherman. The Seahawks excel here, as it allowed the fewest passing yards in the league last season while also intercepting the most passes (28). Sherman is by his own reckoning, and everyone else’s, the best cornerback in the NFL. Earl Thomas is more than adequate to line up across Sherm, and Chancellor is another problem for team’s to deal with. Third-year corner Jeremy Lane may see some spot minutes as a future hope for the position.
The Seahawks punt and kick games aren’t overly impressive, but they are solid enough. Steven Hauschka hit 94 percent of his field goal attempts and has above-average kickoff distance. Punter Joe Ryan placed 28 punts inside the 20.
Harvin could potentially be a monster with the kickoff returns, but losing Tate leaves a big question mark on punt returns. The idea has been kicked around of using Sherman here, but it seems unlikely given his prominent role on the team. He was the backup last season, but it’s risking a lot to put Sherman into a lot of special teams play.
The Seahawks are the reigning champs and favored by Bovada to win the NFC West. The top-three players on the team should easily account for the Seahawks being among the favorites, but both the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos have better odds to win it.
The Seahawks won’t really miss Tate as much as most think, but Wilson will need to stay healthy with Lynch likely to have a load reduction. Wilson is definitely good enough to carry the offense based on his efficiency alone. The only knock against the Seahawks chances, really, is just how darn hard it can be to repeat in the NFL.