Last year’s version of the Seattle Seahawks team looked a bit worn down and less intimidating than recent years past. It wasn’t just a perception, it was the reality that set in after Marshawn Lynch “retired” after the 2015 season, and the leg injury to Earl Thomas that ended his season. With those losses, the team identity on both offense and defense went missing, and with it, the Seahawks made an uneventful exit on the road in the second round of the playoffs versus the Atlanta Falcons.
John Schneider and Pete Carroll were intent on making sure that dull exit did not extend into the 2017 season. Pete made it clear in the offseason that the team was going to address its areas of weakness, and attack those areas head on via free agency and the draft. That is exactly what the team did, signing multiple players to one year deals, and drafting a slew of new guys in April’s NFL Draft.
Headlining the free agent signings must be Eddie Lacy, the physical former Green Bay Packers running back, to challenge Thomas Rawls for the starting job. The team also signed Luke Joeckel on a one year contract to play either left tackle or move inside to left guard. Bradley McDougald, an underrated signing at free safety to a one year deal to back up Earl Thomas, after Steven Terrill was underwhelming as Thomas’ replacement in 2016. Seattle also signed a trio of linebackers to add to the mix including one year deals for Michael Wilhoite, a former starter for San Francisco. Terence Garvin and Arthur Brown were additions to add depth and contribute on special teams.
The Team then added 11 players in the 2017 NFL Draft, and several more as undrafted free agent additions post draft. Players out of the draft looking to make an immediate impact this season are 2nd round pick Malik McDowell as a pass rushing defensive tackle. Ethan Pocic is a 2nd round offensive lineman looking to compete for a starting job in his first season.
The team drafted Shaquill Griffin with the number 90 overall pick in the 3rd round. He will immediately get a chance to start opposite Richard Sherman as the #2 right side corner. Sticking to the defensive side of the ball, the team used pick 95 overall to draft Delano Hill at strong safety, and Nazair Jones as a run stuffing defensive tackle at pick 102. Another two players the team believes will contribute right away is Amara Darboh, wide receiver out of Michigan with the 106th pick overall, and Tedric Thompson at free safety with pick 111. Others selected include CB Michael Tyson, OT Justin Senior, WR David Moore and RB Christopher Carson.
The competition at camp this year will not be in name only. This is going to be the most competitive training camp since at least 2012 for the Seahawks. Seattle needs it to be. Last year you could not only sense a drop off in talent, especially at the depth positions, but you could see it. Seattle had over a dozen running backs carry the ball, and none of them were consistent enough to give the team it’s signature identity while Marshawn Lynch was pounding the rock. Both Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise flashed brilliance, but injuries made consistency impossible at the position. The offensive line never gelled in 2016, and had a negative impact in both the running and passing games.
On defense, we were great again at stopping the run but clearly lacked that interior disruptive pass rusher. Bobby Wagner had a stellar all-pro season at middle linebacker, but took way too many defensive snaps and needed an influx of quality depth on the team there. Our secondary was good early, but Chancellor missed games because of injury, and when Thomas went down with a broken leg, we just couldn’t maintain our dominance.
That’s all about to change with the influx of starting caliber players, as well as several strong additions that will greatly enhance our depth at key positions. This training camp will bristle with real battles for minutes on Pete Carroll’s team, and with it, your Seattle Seahawks are going to be a better football team this season.
We are better at virtually every position group this year, and the fire that was missing in last year’s team, with return with a vengeance this year and lead us to a deep playoff run.
Through all the off-season distractions like Richard Sherman’s trade talk, to Michael Bennett’s media feuding, it remains very clear that this team is primed and ready to compete for another Super Bowl run this season. Training camp and the start of the 2017 campaign can’t get here soon enough.