At a time when you’d probably least expect it, Hawks Haven is back! In case you forgot about us already, Hawks Haven is a running article series that covers our beloved Seahawks, and as the Mariners continue to tumble towards a very favorable draft pick you definitely could not blame us for taking a peek at what the Seahawks have in store for us in 2019.
Let’s be honest here. 2019 has not treated the Seattle sports fan well, and for the first time in a while, I’ve actually been struggling to find any joy or pride in watching sports. The excitement of the NBA playoffs merely intensified my desire for a return of NBA basketball in Seattle, and the Mariners, well, are we even rooting for them to win at this point? In fact, I could even argue that some of the most exciting sports moments for Seattle fans in 2019 did not even occur in the city of Seattle (and surrounding areas)–let’s take Dame’s shot to eliminate OKC from the NBA Playoffs and Jarred Kelenic (Snac!) hitting a long tater somewhere in West Virginia as a few examples.
Being a Seattle sports fan couldn’t possibly be as sad as the gloomy rainy weather our city is known for, which is why we still have the Seahawks, our one and final hope to lighten up our 2019! I really hope we saved the best for last, because we had to go through miles of crap to get there. Sorry, I’ll stop the pessimism now.
Let’s set up the scene. During the offseason, the Seahawks:
- Gave up Earl Thomas to the Baltimore Ravens through FA
- Traded Frank Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs, who I assure you will not commit a pre-snap foul on the most crucial play of the game
- Drafted a bunch of young players (a lot of linebackers!!!)
- DK METCALFFFFFFFF
- Signed Russell to a Mega-Deal, announced in the Wilson’s master bedroom
- Nabbed Ziggy Ansah, who apparently has a shoulder injury that’s been nagging him for a while now
- Also nabbed Mike Iupati as a “change of scenery might help” type of move, I really hope he offers some semblance of protection for Russ
- Signed Jason Myers so that we actually have 11 players actively trying to stop the returner on a kickoff (Sorry Seabass)
One could argue that we are entering a new era for the Seahawks in 2019. It certainly gives off a 2012 vibe, where a bunch of veterans left the team, making way for a class of rookies who we immediately expected a lot out of. To be fair, Bobby Wagner, Bruce Irvin, Russell Wilson, and Jeremy Lane fell right into our laps in quite possibly Schneider’s best ever draft, but who says we can’t expect something similar this year?
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Firstly, we can’t escape the fact that this year’s rookie class is more important than in recent years, especially in the defense. The final remains of the once imposing and formidable Legion of Boom have been wiped away completely with the Earl Thomas departure, and thus this rookie class is tasked with not only replacing them, but also establishing a new defensive identity in Seattle. The offense is a little bit ahead of schedule in the rebuilding process, but the expected yet unexpectedly early retirement of Doug Baldwin leaves a pretty big hole at the wide receiver position. Thank god we have the 6 foot 3, 0.1% body fat or something like that, Greek GOD out of the University of Mississippi:
If Schneider drafted him knowing that it would distract an entire city of 700,000 some people from the Doug Baldwin injury situation, it definitely worked.
Now, who exactly will these new players have to come up against this year? The Seahawks schedule was released a few months ago, and I’m going to be honest, it could be one of the toughest schedules in the league. The NFC West has collectively improved, with the Rams retaining their strong veteran-packed roster and the 49ers and Cardinals capitalizing on high draft picks. Furthermore, quarterback Jimmy G is returning for the Niners, which revitalizes one of NFL’s most heated rivalries. It will be much more difficult to win the division, a goal that many fans have self-imposed on this team this season. The extra-divisional games against the NFC South and the AFC North, as well as the Minnesota Vikings (again) and the Philadelphia Eagles will give the Seahawks a lot of difficult matchups next year.
I believe that the division is within reach for the Seahawks. The defensive core retained in proven skill players such as Bobby Wagner, K.J Wright, and Jarran Reed, combined with our home-field advantage will keep opposing offenses in check. Russell Wilson’s deal to remain a Seahawk for essentially the prime of his career solidifies the offense. However, a few things must be maintained or attained in order to make a proper bid for the division crown:
- Injuries: Let’s just state the obvious: If Russell, Bobby, KJ, or any of our vital leaders and players suffers an unfortunate long-term injury, we might as well tank for an Alabama pass rusher in the 2020 draft class.
- Rookies: This is a huge year for our first year players. We are probably going to have to bank on their performance more than we’ve ever had in the past few years, but luckily it seems like Schneider has done a pretty decent job in restocking our team in areas where we have struggled.
- Wide Receiving: Russell Wilson *had* a go-to guy, but the loss of Doug Baldwin means that Tyler Lockett, David Moore, and other vets will need to step up their performance and guide rookies D.K Metcalf, John Ursua, and Gary Jennings Jr. to do the same.
- Run Game: Chris Carson, former 7th round draft pick, has emerged miraculously as one of the top 5 backs in the league, and I fully expect OC Brian Schottenheimer to further cement his run-first philosophy from the get-go. The Seahawks have a considerable amount of depth at the position in Rashaad Penny, J.D McKissic and even rookie Travis Homer. One area that our backs must improve in from last year is their ball-handling skills, such as catching passes out of the backfield.
- Special Teams: Special Teams is an extremely overlooked side of this game, and yet its importance was felt in a costly way for Seahawks fans in 2018, as it contributed significantly to the losses against the Niners and Cowboys. John Schneider’s draft picks have largely addressed these issues in names such as Cody Barton, Ugo Amadi, and Ben Burr-Kirven, (and Jason Myers!) but this is probably our #1 area for growth.
- Pass Rush: The Seahawk’s 2019 pass rush is for the most part, an unknown commodity right now, with only Jarran Reed being the only player I am confident in at the moment, given that he stays healthy. Jacob Martin has big shoes to fill in replacing Frank Clark, and Ziggy Ansah’s history of shoulder injuries concerns me. L.J Collier, our 1st round draft pick out of TCU, is a promising prospect, but you never know. Our secondary needs time to develop as well, so putting a lot of pressure on opposing QBs will ease that process.
- Secondary/Linebackers: John Schneider has done a pretty good job at solidifying the center of the park for the Seattle D, with a lot of depth at linebacker to back Bobby and K.J. I’m a little bit surprised at the lack of cornerbacks in the Hawks draft, but nonetheless this is a huge year for Shaq Griffin in taking that next step in becoming a true CB 1.
- Divisional Foes: The NFC West has three proper contenders, and a #1 overall pick QB that could shake up the league a bit with the Cards. Divisional Games will be absolutely key for the Hawks next year, and we’re going to have to win at least 4 or 5 of them to capture the division.
I’m genuinely looking forward to this year, there are high expectations for this team and I really hope we can live up to them. Expect a new Hawks Haven article when the preseason rolls in. So long!