With the season in the books, we begin our watch and speculation as to what will happen at Seahawks headquarters in Renton, Wash.
In the front office, the team needs to hire a president as well as a general manager. From there, it is not clear whether or not Jim Mora Jr. will be retained as Seattle’s head coach after going 5-12 in his first season in command and dropping his last four regular-season games, something that a Seattle head coach hadn’t done since 1992.
On the player personnel front, there are numerous questions that need to be figured out prior to the start of next season.
Left tackle Walter Jones might be able to return to play after missing 20 games over the past two seasons due to knee issues, but nobody knows if he’ll be successful at a comeback and, if he is, how effective he would be considering he will be 36 years old next season.
With Jones on the shelf, the Seahawks tried to plug the hole by turning the offensive line into a game of musical chairs. The team used inexperienced players and was forced to sign a veteran off the street. The result? A line that couldn’t hold up and keep quarterback Matt Hasselbeck off the turf.
While on the subject of Hasselbeck, the signal caller is 34, was injured for much of the season and has one year left on his contract. He finished off the 2009-2010 campaign tossing 10 interceptions in the team’s final four games, rounding out his season total at 17, the same number of touchdowns he had this season.
When you look at wide receiver you would, at least on the surface, think that it’s a position of strength for the Seahawks. That’s where you’d be wrong. Aside for TJ Houshmandzadeh, the team has a lot of uncertainty at the position. Nate Burleson is an unrestricted free agent and Deion Branch has most likely played his last game in the Pacific Northwest, as I wrote about earlier this season. This leaves two players on the Seattle roster that saw significant playing time this season, Houshmandzadeh and Deon Butler. While I love Butler, Seattle can’t run on the two alone.
Something has to happen at running back. Neither Julius Jones nor Justin Forsett cut it as a feature back in a Seahawks uniform. Granted Forsett had some respectable games hear and there this season, he isn’t built to carry the load day in and day out at the highest level of his sport. Forsett is better suited as a third-down back or solely as a return specialist on special teams.
Diving deeper into special teams, the Seahawks head into the offseason with a 39-year-old long snapper and without a kicker.
Jeff Robinson was brought in to play the final two games of the season after Kevin Houser was put on Injured Reserve. The long snapper position has been an enigma for Seattle over the past few seasons and the team will have to shore that up soon because Robinson cannot be called on in a relief-type roll for much longer.
Kicker Olindo Mare’s contract is up and I wouldn’t be surprised if he Seattle doesn’t bring him back. While he was successful on each extra point and made 24 of 26 field goal attempts, the two field goals he missed cost the Seahawks an opportunity to come out victorious at home in Week Three against Chicago. Had Seattle won that game, they would have been 2-1 and, while one game that early in the season might seem trivial, it could have spurred some momentum going into the following weeks, a time when they would go 1-3. Factor in the Chicago loss and Seattle’s record was 2-5.
Defensively, key players in the secondary are growing long in the tooth. Both cornerback Ken Lucas and strong safety Deon Grant are 30. Lawyer Milloy came in as a backup but saw more time as the season wore on. He’s 36.
While Seattle’s younger players in the secondary have significant experience, they’ve had more than there fair share of breakdowns in coverage over the past few seasons.
The defensive line is pretty good for the most part heading into next season. Defensive tackle Cory Redding is an unrestricted free agent and veteran defensive end Patrick Kearney is 33 and had just five sacks this season. It was his second consecutive season with five sacks. These totals come on the heels of his first season with the team in the 2007-2008 season when he brought down opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times behind the line of scrimmage. If Seattle addresses these two roster spots, things should be fine with the line.
A combination of free agent signings and rookies selected in April’s draft is the only way to fix the current state of the team. Seattle doesn’t have enough draft picks to deal with all the aforementioned issues, but they can strategically use the draft to compliment their free agent signings by focusing on a few of these weak spots, mainly: the offensive line, quarterback, running back, defensive back and kicker. Whether they are able to execute is what we all will be watching for.