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2006 Team Report: Seattle Seahawks

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Starter: Matt Hasselbeck
Backup(s): Seneca Wallace, David Green, Gibran Hamden

Starting QB: Matt Hasselbeck emerged as a top tier fantasy quarterback over the past three seasons leading the Seahawks to playoff births each year including a respectable performance in Super Bowl XL. Hasselbeck has averaged 24 touchdown passes and 3560 yards passing over those three seasons in spite of a receiving corps that has been inconsistent at best. Hasselbeck is now the unquestioned lead on the offensive side of the ball. He exudes confidence in the huddle and on the sideline that only a veteran winning NFL quarterback can display.

Backup QB: Seneca Wallace carried a clipboard all last season as the backup quarterback after a winning the job with multiple solid preseason performances. However, Wallace was used as a wide receiver in the postseason and came through with a big reception in a playoff game. The Seahawks have expressed interest in getting Wallace on the field more as a wide receiver or return man to take advantage of his athleticism, but for the moment he seems to have a solid hold on the backup quarterback job. Rookie David Green held his roster spot all last season as the third quarterback, but donít be surprised if little known Gibran Hamdan, who is having an MVP season in NFL Europe for the Amsterdam Admirals, makes a push for the backup job too.

Running Backs

Starter: Shaun Alexander
Backup(s): Maurice Morris, Josh Scobey
Fullback(s): Mack Strong, Leonard Weaver, David Kirtman (R)

Starting RB: One season after missing out on the league rushing title by a single yard Shaun Alexander crushed his competition with 1880 rushing yards and an NFL record 28 touchdowns on his way to an MVP season. Alexander played last season without a contract beyond 2005 and was primed to enter this off-season as the premiere free agent in the NFL. The Seahawks wasted little time locking down Alexander after the season ended rewarding him with a long term contract that will keep him in Seattle for the majority of his career.

Backup RBs: Maurice Morris has the burst and acceleration that it takes to get through the hole, but his smaller size and injury concerns would make it tough for him to be an every down running back. Morris has spelled Alexander consistently for two or three carries each game over the past few seasons, but never enough to score significant fantasy points. However, if Alexander were to suffer any injury that would force him out of the lineup Morris would step into one of the prime running back jobs in the NFL. Josh Scobey is a return specialist and would only see live action in a desperate situation.

Fullback: Mack Strong returns to the fold for a 13th season as the senior member of the roster. Strong paved the way for a thousand-yard rusher for the fifth consecutive season. Strong can be counted on for an average of three touches per game heading into the 2006 season. Strong will get a few short yardage carries and possibly a screen play or two near the goal line. Backup Leonard Weaver impressed enough last preseason to win the job with multiple impressive runs. As a converted tight end Weaver also brings solid hands to the receiving game should he be pressed into service. Rookie David Kirtman was added to the mix during the draft.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Darrell Jackson, Bobby Engram
Backups: Nate Burleson, Peter Warrick, D.J. Hackett

Starting WRs: Jackson and Engram began the 2005 season with an unprecedented flurry of catches. They led the NFL though week four with a combined 57 receptions for a pair of starting receivers (Jackson 29 and Engram 27). Jacksonís season was interrupted when he was forced to have surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus and a loose flap of articular cartilage. He returned in week sixteen of the regular season and continued with his previous pace as the undisputed number one receiving target in the Seattle passing game. However, off-season surgery to clean up the knee will keep Jackson sidelined until at least the beginning of the 2006 preseason. Engram also missed time following week four with cracked ribs, but returned to the starting lineup and led Seahawk receivers in 2005 with 67 receptions and 778 receiving yards.

Backup WRs: Nate Burleson was signed as a restricted free agent away from the Minnesota Vikings. He disappointed last season in his attempt to be the Vikings' primary WR but could flourish in a complementary role with the Seahawks. He may be able to overtake Engram for a starting spot but should be targeted often regardless. Peter Warrick saw little action through the 2005 season after losing his punt return duties early on. Warrick tended to free lance too much, but he won the job back late in the season and through the playoffs. The signing of Burleson puts D.J. Hackett in limbo for the moment. Hackett showed flashes last year that he could be a solid contributor, but glut at WR means he may have to fight for playing time.

Tight Ends

Starters: Jerramy Stevens
Backups: Itula Mili, Will Heller

Jerramy Stevens emerged in 2005 as the undisputed starter for the Seahawks at tight end. He posted career best in receptions, yards, touchdowns and yards per reception. He also developed into the redzone target late in the season that head coach Mike Holmgren had hoped he would become. Stevens scored touchdowns in three consecutive weeks as well two more scores in the postseason. However, Stevens developed knee pain at the end of the season. Surgery revealed a cartilage tear. Stevens will miss mini camps and the team hopes he will be ready for training camp. Mili returns for his eleventh season in Seattle as Stevens backup. Will Heller was signed in the off-season to add depth.

Place Kicker

Josh Brown : After hitting 92.0% on FGs in 2004, Brownís average dropped to 72.0% (18 of 25) last year. The primary reason was probably an increase in long range attempts. In 2004 he was 7 of 8 from 40+ yards; however he was 9 of 15 in 2005. He also missed a PAT for the first time in his NFL career. While his percentages have fluctuated, his scoring with the Seahawks has remained fairly constant: 114 as a rookie, 109 in 2004, and 110 last year.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Josh Scobey; Maurice Morris; Marquis Weeks; Ran Carthon; Jimmy Williams; Mack Strong

RB Josh Scobey emerged as the work horse on kickoffs for the Seahawks last year, with 59 of their 61 returns and averaging 22.5 yards. RB Maurice Morris was relegated to backup duties (one return for 21 yards) after having led the team the three prior years. RB Marquis Weeks spent last year on the practice squad and returned kickoffs during his college career at Virginia. RB Ran Carthon was a backup KR while with the Colts the beginning part of 2005 (5 returns, 18.4 avg.). CB Jimmy Williams did not return any kickoffs for the Seahawks last year; however he has plenty of experience from his years with the 49ers. FB Mack Strong did not have any returns the last two years, but had several back in 2003.

Punt Returners: Jimmy Williams; Nate Burleson; Bobby Engram; Maurice Morris

Jimmy Williams handled the majority of the Seahawks punt returns last year (24 returns, 5.8 avg.). FA acquisition WR Nate Burleson is a very capable punt returner, having led the Vikings in 2004 (25 return, 8.6 avg., 1 TD). If all else fails, thereís always very reliable and effective WR Bobby Engram. Since joining Seattle in 2001, he has averaged 11.1 yards and scored twice on his 69 returns. Maurice Morris was a backup PR in 2004 (15 returns, 5.0 avg.).

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: RT Sean Locklear, RG Tom Ashworth, C Robbie Tobeck, LG Floyd Womack, LT Walter Jones
Key Backups: T/G Sean Locklear, C Chris Spencer, T Ray Willis, G Rob Sims (rookie)

The Seahawks received a crushing blow this off-season when the Vikings found a way to scoop Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson away from the team. He is one of the top three guards in the game today and the team will be very hard pressed to replace him in any fashion this season. The Seahawks appear to be going with two starters along the offensive line this season that will be 36-years of age this season in center Robbie Tobeck and guard Chris Gray but donít be surprised to see ultra-talented 2nd-year center Chris Spencer push for the starting spot. Tackle Walter Jones is amongst the finest in the NFL today and he is the foundation of this group. He is in the prime of his career and a force for the club. The rest of this group is good but not great. Sean Locklear did a surprisingly good job a year ago at right tackle, starting 16 games for the Seahawks. He isnít your classic offensive tackle at 6í3 and just 300 pounds but heíll likely start once again in 2006 with newcomer Tom Ashworth possibly slotting in at the guard position. If tackle Ray Willis can have a fantastic training camp, he may get the chance to start at right tackle with Locklear slotting inside but that will be determined down the road. Another option is Ashworth slotting in at tackle with Locklear going inside to guard. The loss of Hutchinson will hurt this unit and they will not be as dominant in 2006. Expect a good but not great year from this offensive line.

Team Defense

The Seahawks are coming off the best season in their thirty year history, a year in which they nearly knocked off the Steelers in Super Bowl XL, amidst a lot of adversity... their DC Ray Rhodes had to step down after a several minor strokes, FA LB Jamie Sharper was hurt and unable to make an impact and starting FS Ken Hamlin suffered massive head trauma during an off-field altercation. The 2005 season was also the first year with new GM Tim Ruskell at the helm, and he was directly responsible for drafting massive impact players-to-be, LBs Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill. Free agent DE Bryce Fisher was another good call, leading the team in sacks (9). The 2006 year brings another free agency cycle, and Ruskell made a huge splash by signing Pro Bowl OLB and supremely gifted athlete Julian Peterson to a monster multi-year contract. The draft has yielded, true to form, a couple "undersized" playmakers on defense (press cover CB Kelly Jennings and DE Daryl Tapp) that were highly productive and are just plain good football players. SEA went from #23 to #5 in rush defense, from #21 to #7 in total defense (PPG allowed) and from #21 to #1 in sacks. With nearly the entire defense returning intact, impending return of Hamlin and key reloads with the good looking 2006 FA/draft class, there is no reason the Seahawks shouldn't be able to start where they left off in 2005 and avoid the Super Bowl loser jinx.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Grant Wistrom, DE Bryce Fisher, DT Chuck Darby, DT Rocky Bernard
Backups: DE Daryl Tapp, DT Marcus Tubbs, DT Russell Davis

Starting DL: The Seahawks raided divisional rival Rams by signing away their second and third best DEs in consecutive seasons... simultaneously weakening the Rams while strengthening themselves (Julian Peterson signing had similar effect relative to 49ers). Wistrom is a cagey and wiley veteran who has seen it all. Though many league insiders raised their eybrows at the bank breaking contract he signed in 2004 (he is a good but not elite DE), his veteran leadership and Super Bowl experience has been a welcome addition on and off the field, and his contribution can't be measured solely in tangible metrics like stats. All Fisher did in his first season was lead the team in sacks (9)... spearheading the team's NFL lead (50). Ex-Buc Darby was an unsung hero in enabling other front seven defenders to get as many sack opportunities as they did. Bernard was second on the team in sacks (8.5) and is an ascendant player that could be an emerging star. He is the rare interior DL with the combo of agility and power to be a sack machine (ala Randle, Sapp, Glover, Coleman).

Backup DL: Tapp was a classic Ruskell pick... a second rounder that was supposedly undersized and too slow (sound familiar?), he is a better football player than an athlete. He is also quicker than he is fast... though running a pedestrian 40 he had an outstanding 10 yard split time. Tapp was the best player on one of the top defenses in the nation at Virginia Tech. He is extremely mature and NFL-ready in his development, with an array of pass rush moves and counters. Very powerful for his size (27 reps) and his mutant-like extra long arms enable him to keep OL at bay to better slip blocks. Hits like a fist loaded with a roll of quarters (lot of FFs at Va Tech). Great work ethic and leadership, off the charts intangibles and a non-stop motor. Don't be surprised if he makes an impact in a rotation right away and is groomed to be Wistrom's heir apparent. BIG UPSIDE! Former first rounder Tubbs is starting to come into his own. His ability to collapse the pocket was another hidden factor (like Darby) in the success of his supporting cast. Nifty feet can be traced to prep TE and hoops background. Closed strong (4 sacks in final month). Davis comes from ARI to fortify the interior DL rotation and for depth.


Starters: WLB Julian Peterson, MLB Lofa Tatupu, SLB Leroy Hill
Backups: MLB Niko Koutouvides, WLB D.D. Lewis, WLB Isaiah Kacyvenski, OLB Kevin Bentley

Starting LBs: The ex-49er Pro Bowl OLB Peterson was one of the most coveted defensive players in free agency (on either side of the ball). Given a monster multi-year contract ($54 million with $18.5 million guaranteed), the SEA front office and coaching staff are banking on a return to his electrifying pre-Achilles tendon injury form. He is the only defensive player since the merger known to have lined up at DE, LB, S and CORNERBACK (!) in the same game. DROY runner up Tatupu was a godsend and maybe the most pleasant surprise to emerge from the 2005 draft in the entire league. Deemed by pundits a reach and too small/slow, he took charge of the huddle and became the QB of the defense early on. His soaring, off-the-charts football IQ, telepathic instincts and unerring first step make him like a Samoan Mike Singletary. He is also a deceptively good athlete and playmaker despite sub-par measurables (by anticipating play better than everybody), making plays blitzing and dropping into coverage. Magic Johnson-esque ability to make those around him better. Seahawks maybe don't go to the Super Bowl without him. Hill was also a revelation in a less spectacular manner. Not a tackle maven, he was one of the top sack artists among LBs, third among rookies after Shawne Merriman and DeMarcus Ware (who were picks #12 & #11... Hill was #98).

Backup LBs: Koutouvides is an athletic MIKE LB. Before the 2005 draft he looked like he might be the MLB of the future... until Tatupu arrived on the scene. Now he has about as much chance of getting the job back as Wally Pipp did with Lou Gehrig. D.D. Lewis was a solid if unspectacular starter in recent seasons, but he will return to a spot starter and depth role with the blockbuster Peterson acquisition. Veteran Kacyvenski has decent size for a WLB and very good athleticism (went to state finals as a pentathlete AND wrestler). He is also exceptionally bright, earning a Pre-Med degree at Harvard... he probably doesn't have too much trouble understanding the weekly game plan and new defensive installations. Bentley did a good job filling in when Lewis was banged up. The Seahawks are now in the enviable position of having excellent starters as well as depth at the position.

Defensive Backs

Starters: SS Michael Boulware, FS Ken Hamlin, CB Marcus Trufant, CB Kelly Herndon
Backups: CB Kelly Jennings, CB/FS Jordan Babineaux, FS/SS Mike Green, S Oliver Celestin, S Shaunard Harts, S Etric Pruitt

Starting DBs: Boulware is entering his third year of the WLB/SS conversion. He is still a work in progress, morphing from Florida State All-American WLB to Seattle Seahawks future Pro Bowl SS. He has great bloodlines (his brother Peter was a DE in college that evolved into a Pro Bowl OLB for the Ravens). The field looks different from the perspective of a LB or a safety, and he is still recalibrating pursuit angles. At times there are still growing pains, as evidenced by the horrific angle he took on Fast Willie Parker's long TD run that broke open the Super Bowl. He didn't have as many tackles in 2005, but that was reportedly scheme-related (he was asked to keep everything in front of him). Boulware is a magnificent athlete who can run, hit and cover with a playmaker's flair for the dramatic. Hamlin looked like an ascendant player as one of the rare breed of safeties that can be monster hitters while retaining a high level of coverage ability. His career is at a crossroads after suffering a near fatal beating with head trauma so severe it put his football career in question. The latest reports are tentatively encouraging, but more will be known when the hitting starts. Trufant is one of the best young CBs in the NFL and is rarely tested. His tackles went down, in large part because the front seven in front of him was upgraded. Herndon keeps the position warm until Jennings is ready.

Backup DBs: Jennings was maybe the most accomplished "press" corner in his class. The SEA scouts also thought he was the most consistent CB among the frontline candidates (on film he flashes a smooth backpedal, explosive short area burst and suddenness and the elite change of direction ability to shadow top WRs). He is another typical Ruskell pick in that he is supposedly "undersized" yet he was undeniably very productive for a big time Div I program. Battle-tested in the most demanding conditions possible... the Miami practice field! He should already be penciled in for the nickle CB role. Has the talent and skills to quickly push for the starting job opposite Trufant. Great pick because he can help in the slot and dampen some of the NFC West aerial fireworks. Babineaux's brother plays DT for the Falcons. He is a versatile DB that can start at CB across from Trufant or fill the void if Hamlin proves unable to return for neurological reasons, wherever he is most needed. Green is a former starting FS/SS for the Bears. Not a blue chip talent, he is experienced and will make a very solid backup and insurance for Hamlin. Transplanted safeties Celestin (NYJ), Harts (KC) and Pruitt (ATL) make a crowded deep patrol picture, and there could be some pruning in camp and during the pre-season.

Last modified: 2006-09-03 06:54:54

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