Pete Carroll is building a serious contender in Seattle and he is doing it much the way he did at USC, by having fun. The Seahawks made the playoffs a year ago, won a postseason game and return largely intact. Now, they are aiming for a third trip to the playoffs in just four seasons and are even talking about returning to the Super Bowl.
For the first time since 2009, the Seahawks have an unquestioned starter in QB Russell Wilson. He earned a Pro-Bowl invite after an impressive rookie season and Coach Carroll expects the Wisconsin product to be even better after having a season to adjust to defenses. With a full offseason and training camp working with the first unit under his belt, Wilson could be the best of the returning sophomore QB’s that made so much noise in 2012. He threw for 3,118 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
During the playoffs vs. Washington, Seattle set a franchise record with 224 rushing yards and Marshawn Lynch had 132 of them, tying the Seahawks’ single-game postseason record, previously held by Shaun Alexander. Lynch is coming off a career-best 1,590 rushing yards in 2012 and remains one of the best runners in the game. He tallied 10-100 yard rushing performances in 2012 and is likely to produce close to that in 2013. Once in beast mode, Lynch is now one of the league’s best and he needs to be drafted as such. The Seahawks drafted Christine Michael in the second round as depth in case Lynch begins to show the tread on his tires is wearing thin.
Despite what Hawks fans suggest, the loss of WR Percy Harvin is going to hurt. Last year, Seattle lacked play-making ability from their wideouts, ranking in the bottom four of the league in receptions (143), receiving yards (2,007) and yards after catch (523). The trade for Harvin immediately fixed that as Harvin, despite playing in just nine games last season, had 528 yards after the catch – more than the entire Seattle wide receiver corps combined. Since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970, Harvin is one of only three players to have at least four rushing touchdowns, four receiving touchdowns and four kickoff return touchdowns. With that said, the Seahawks averaged more than 32 points per game over their last 10 games last season.
The loss of Harvin will force Golden Tate back into the starting lineup alongside Sidney Rice. Tate has improved in each of his first three seasons in the league, but he will need to take a significant step forward this season, as he and Rice were among the least productive wide receiver tandems in the NFL last season. Both averaged fewer than 50 yards receiving per game last year, and neither was much of a deep threat. Rice led the team with 50 catches, with Tate not far behind with 45
The Seahawks had one of the best defenses in the NFL a year ago, and return almost the same unit but with upgrades in 2013. They finished fourth in total defense and first in points allowed. They had 32 takeaways, 36 sacks and three TD’s. With their young aggressive secondary a year better and their offseason additions, they should be the first or second defense off the board in 2013.
The Seahawks’ 2013 schedule includes six games against teams that had double-digit wins last year and four games against teams that had double-digit losses. Owners of Russell Wilson should know he has his work cut out for him come fantasy playoff time. The Seahawks will play division rival San Francisco and the Giants on the road before coming home for an NFC West tilt with Arizona. The 49ers and Cardinals were both top-10 fantasy defenses against QBs last season, while a cross-country trip is never easy on the West Coast teams. Overall the Seahawks will face the 17th easiest schedule for QB’s and WR’s, while Marshawn Lynch will only have to deal with the ninth toughest slate in 2013 for RB’s.