Weekly Mailbag: 11/5

Weekly Mailbag: Have questions for longtime football scout and life-long Seattle-area resident Rob Rang? He’ll answer five questions per week for SeahawkFootball.com. Send in your questions for possible inclusion in a future article to his Twitter account @RobRang

Is it a lack of offensive creativity or limitations of the players already on the roster that limit the Seahawks’ ability to throwing deep down the middle or with crossing routes?

My strengths lie in personnel rather than scheme but I believe that some of the deeper crossing routes so popular in other NFL offenses aren’t used often by Seattle in part because defenses are gearing up to stop the running game first and foremost. That leaves defenders in the middle of the field, rather than on an island in man to man coverage.

Further, deep passing requires deep drops from the quarterback and time and with Seattle’s successful rushing attack, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to risk big losses on sacks and holding penalties.

I’d argue that Seattle does attempt a fair number of deep passes. The Seahawks haven’t been as successful on deep passes this year as last, which I believe is in part due to the loss of the team’s best deep ball receiver, Golden Tate, and the injuries this season along the offensive line.

What do the Seahawks lose with Kam Chancellor off the field?

Leadership, toughness, physicality are certainly lost with Chancellor off the field. I haven’t always given Chancellor as much credit to Seattle’s success as he deserves. Besides being the team’s enforcer as a hitter, his awareness and poise are highly regarded. Though neither has played up to Chancellor’s level, I thought DeShawn Shead played a nice game against Oakland and I’ve previously been impressed by Jeron Johnson. Each boasts the combination of length and fluidity to handle coverage responsibilities and are reliable open-field tacklers.

What can newly signed TE Tony Moeaki bring to the Seahawks?

Hopefully some consistency at the position, as the team has struggled to make tight end a reliable component of the offense since Zach Miller went down with an injury. Regardless of who you blame, Russell Wilson and Luke Willson haven’t been able to get on the same page, thus far. Neither Willson nor Cooper Helfet are stout blockers, either. Each is faster and more fluid than Miller and I’ve seen each make “wow” catches in practice.

At 6-3, 245 pounds, Moeaki isn’t as big as either Willson or Helfet, but if he’s as quick as the player I scouted from Iowa, he can get open. Moeaki also possesses soft hands and is tougher as a blocker than he looks. The issue with Moeaki has never been talent, it’s been durability. The former member of the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs has struggled with injuries dating back to college.

What do you view as the Seahawks’ top draft/offseason priority?

Improving. I don’t mean to come off as sarcastic but there is so much football left to be played that projecting what may be the team’s biggest area of strength and/or weakness is difficult. Clearly, the Seahawks won’t be drafting a quarterback and I’d be surprised by a running back (though this year’s class looks extraordinary). Help along the offensive line and another pass-catcher wouldn’t be a surprise. I currently project Seattle to select Michigan tight end/wide receiver Devin Funchess, a 6-5, 240 pound matchup nightmare with excellent body control and the hand-eye coordination to win contested passes.

Defensively, the secondary looks good at this point. Linebacker could be a concern given that K.J. Wright is in the last year of his contract. Like every other team in the league, the Seahawks are always looking for difference-makers along the defensive line and this year’s class looks potentially loaded with them.

Who is the team’s midseason MVP?

This is a tougher question than it appears. I happened to catch a few minutes of Mitch Levy’s morning show for KJR 950 AM Seattle on Wednesday morning and I agree with his initial take to the question – Richard Sherman has been Seattle’s best player thus far in 2014.

I’d further argue that Brandon Mebane has been even better this season than last year – and I don’t know that we can say that about any other player on the roster, thus far this season. The fact that the Seahawks struggle to mount consistent pressure on quarterbacks and yet opponents very rarely attempt true deep passes is a testament to Earl Thomas’ continued brilliance as the deep centerfielder.

Marshawn Lynch is the Beast that drives the bus, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know that an effective argument can be made right now that he is the team’s MVP but as far as I’m concerned, Marshawn Lynch is the Beast that drives the bus. I remain convinced that Seattle’s poised for another deep playoff run if he continues to be the offensive centerpiece.

All of that said, given Seattle’s reliance on his poise, passing and scrambling, Wilson is my choice for team MVP. Quarterbacks are the easy fall-back MVP option in today’s pass-happy league and the Seahawks boast one of the league’s brightest young stars. With Wilson at the helm, the Seahawks are never really out of the game. Isn’t that what an MVP is all about?

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