How the Redskins can Follow the Seahawks Blueprint
Every team is going to try to look at the Seahawks and use them as the model franchise to emulate. Now some teams will try to focus on one aspect (i.e. bigger corners) and miss the big picture of how the Seahawks were built. That’s fine as those teams won’t be much of a threat. The Redskins should focus on what really makes Seattle tick and use that as a blueprint.
For Seattle it’s not really difficult to figure out what they are doing to be so successful. Offensively they are a run heavy team, that relies on their passing attack to be efficient and not turn the ball over (this is basically the offensive game plan the Redskins won the division with in 2012). Russell Wilson makes good decisions, both with throwing the ball and when to run, but the team really relies on Marshawn Lynch to be the workhorse. It’s a simple old school approach, but it’s also time tested and proven to work. It’s a great way to help develop a young quarterback, though Wilson shows plenty of maturity and understanding about what he needs to do to be successful.
Defensively everyone wants to focus on the “Legion of Boom” and for good reason, as they are very talented, but the NFL is still won upfront in the trenches. That’s not to take away from that talented secondary, and they do a nice job helping out against the run, but if not for the pressure they put on the opposing quarterback and their ability to stop the run, that secondary would go to waste. Now the secondary definitely helps as their coverage and discipline help allows the pass rush to get there in time, but you still have to have some guys up front who can get after the quarterback. The Seahawks have that, and what’s most impressive is that this season they had question marks about their top two pass rushers. DE Chris Clemons tore his ACL in the same game as RGIII and OLB/DE Bruce Irvin was facing an early season suspension. The Seahawks found a pair of bargains on the open market in Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett and they were even better than before.
The Seahawks whole strategy has revolved around building through the draft and finding bargains. They’ve not only done a great job in finding the starters needed for their system, but also finding capable back-ups. Seattle dealt with multiple injuries and suspensions among their offensive line, wide receivers, defensive line and cornerbacks, yet this team didn’t miss a beat. Their depth is incredibly impressive and is a major reason why they are Super Bowl Champs.
The draft/bargain shopping approach is the first thing the Redskins need to copy. The Redskins need to do what they can to stockpile picks, and that includes both trading back and trading some players like perhaps Kirk Cousins and Roy Helu Jr. Six draft picks just isn’t going to cut it, not when they really need to rebuild 60% (30+ players) of this roster. The Redskins also need to look for bargains in free agency. It’s easy to say the Redskins have a lot of cap room and should spend big, but with so many holes they can’t fill everything. Also if they tie up a lot of future money to 2nd and 3rd tier guys, what will happen when Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan, Alfred Morris and RGIII hit free agency in the coming years? The Skins will have to cut them and will be right back in the cap hell they have always been in.
The Redskins need to focus their resources on the defensive side of the ball while building up their offensive line. With the exception of Brian Orakpo and maybe one or two other guys, the Redskins shouldn’t enter into longer than 3 year deals (and many 1 year deals) with free agents to maximize cap flexibility. Again with the exception of Orakpo and another guy or two, the Redskins shouldn’t look to give out big money to players, that way they can bring in quality depth to go along with building up the starters. While the secondary is in need of an overhaul, the Redskins shouldn’t ignore up front. Their defensive line has been very pedestrian beyond Barry Cofield and it’s made things harder on the linebackers both in pass rushing and run stopping. The Redskins could use an impact player along the defensive line, who can pose another threat to the backfield.
The cupboard is bare at inside linebacker so the Redskins are going to need to bring in multiple guys. Given all their needs this probably isn’t a position they want to spend a lot of money on (and that includes Perry Riley) so the Redskins should instead look for a combination of stopgap and draft options to fill the need here. In the secondary corner can be a very expensive position to pay for among the top guys, so the Redskins really need to look at bargains here. At safety they desperately need to find a pair of starters and at least one of them should come from free agency.
On offense the offensive is in rough shape. Four starters should be replaced, and the Redskins really can’t rely on any of their back-ups. Washington will need to use free agency and the draft to find multiple starters (hopefully at least 3) and a couple back-ups (probably at least 2). This has to be the offensive priority this offseason, as it will help both Alfred Morris (who should be the offensive focal point) and RGIII. The Redskins also could use some additional WR’s and TE’s, but this is not an area where they should feel the need to spend mega resources on. Seattle got by last year with their top two WR’s injured and their top TE ineffective. They relied on Golden Tate (a guy Pierre Garcon is clearly better than) and a pair of former UDFA’s (Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse) at WR and a late round TE (Luke Wilson).
Now it of course won’t happen overnight, but if the Redskins start taking the Seattle approach and focus they could quickly right the ship and be ready to contend in maybe two years.