So here we are again, gathered around a cozy fire for another chat about all things Seahawk. Except…we are not actually sitting around a fire. Maybe the warmth of our hard drives will suffice? Farrar just stuck a marshmallow in the floppy drive…and, well…we might have to edit ourselves for awhile.
The regular season has come and gone like your favorite recess from 5th grade. All we have left now in Seahawks Nation is to analyze and look ahead to the playoff push.
The assembled brain trust: dfarrar777 [DF]; ArosNET [A]; Rotak [R]; FlyingGreg [FG]; AbsolutPlayer [AP]; Scott Eklund [SE]; NJSeahawksFan [NJ]; rockhawkx [RX]; SchleprockHawk [S]; Hawkstorian [H]
Q. One word to describe Lofa Tatupu:
DF: Genius. He’s a genius, the guys who scouted him are geniuses, and the guys who drafted him are geniuses. Lofa Tatupu, Suuuuuuuper Genius!
FG: Is “Savior” too strong? I just keep thinking back to all the knocks the Seahawks’ front office took when they made the moves to draft him in the 2nd round. I can see Tim Ruskell sitting in his office laughing like a drunken court jester right now.
AP: Funtowatchandimgladhesonourteam (Note from Greg: hee hee hee, watch Doug’s spellchecker go berserk on that one!)
Q. What potential match-up is the best (and why) for the Seahawks in the first playoff game: Washington, Carolina or the N.Y. Giants (Note: these questions were answered before Washington's 17-10 victory over Tampa Bay)?
DF: The Giants, because their linebacking corps is shredded (Shaun would slice through those guys like a hot knife through buttah), and I honestly think that the G-men believe they should have won the regular-season contest against Seattle. In truth, New York was awarded a touchdown they didn’t actually score, and none of Jay Feely’s missed field goals should have been a factor. I also relish the thought of Eli Manning in a road playoff game.
A: Washington. I think they are the softest team out of the three and would be the easiest to beat at home. I for one do not want an overabundance of high stress; I want this game to be over in the third quarter. I want to enjoy the fact that we finally won a playoff game as early as possible, not white-knuckle my way through 60 minutes while I pray for a winning field goal attempt to miss the uprights.
R: The best for the Seahawks would be Washington. Everything that went wrong in that game did, and we still could've won that game if it was at home. The Giants would be the best game.
FG: I think the Redskins. They played out of their minds against the Seahawks in the game at their place earlier this season. At Qwest, with our 12th man, I can’t see them replicating (yes, I had to look that word up…) that kind of success.
AP: I haven’t watched any enough to really know. Probably Carolina, because we will be able to pressure Delhomme and stop their run. They’ve got a good defense, but I can’t see them giving us too much trouble when we have the ball. Gregg Williams on the other hand knows how to give us fits.
SE: New York Giants. Partly because they are banged up and partly because the Seahawks will be out to prove themselves versus the G-men. Washington is on a roll and Carolina is very enigmatic – you never know whether Jekyll or Hyde will show up. I think the Hawks are better than all three, but the Giants offer the best match up in the playoffs.
NJ: I don’t see any one of these teams coming to Qwest Field and winning. Each team has a good defense and an offense that is very good when it’s firing on all cylinders but is also plagued with inconsistency.
RX: Washington, mostly because they are the one team that beat the Hawks earlier this year and beating them in the playoffs would provide further positive momentum.
S: We require redemption against both the Giants and the Skins. What I DON’T want to face is the Panthers just yet. A game under our belt would be nice before facing them. Which means we need the Redskins to upset Tampa, so we can play them and take on a successful Carolina the following week (if I have that right). Only, I don’t think the Redskins teach us much with a win. And that could be dangerous facing Carolina in the following game. So I suppose my answer is – I don’t like the way it’s laying out cuz I’d rather play Tampa, or NYG – and THEN the Panthers. I don’t like the competitive gap between DC and Carolina. And I don’t like the gap of the Super Bowl without playing a team as scary as Carolina. Anybody understand that other than me?
H: Washington, Carolina or the N.Y. Giants. Bring on the Giants. I would love to heal the one perceived blight on the home schedule this past year.
Q. What is the one thing the Seahawks really need before next season?
DF: The signatures of Steve Hutchinson and Shaun Alexander on contracts bearing the name of the Seattle Seahawks Professional Football Club.
A: To re-sign Shaun Alexander and Steve Hutchinson.
R: Fix the pass-defense. Maybe we need a new coordinator, maybe a CB who can actually react to the ball in the air, or maybe a DE who can constantly harass the QB.
FG: We need a punt return threat. Bad…like, really bad. Scobey was pretty good on kick offs, but our punt returns are boring and sedentary. See my earlier comments regarding Casullo.
AP: OL depth.
SE: To sign Steve Hutchinson to a long-term contract.
NJ: To re-sign Shaun Alexander.
RX: To re-sign Shaun Alexander.
S: Duh – A Super Bowl Championship!!
H: A healthy Ken Hamlin.
Q. Will Shaun Alexander be a Seahawk in 2006?
DF: I believe he will be. He’ll test the market, but he’ll return. From Seattle’s perspective, Shaun’s excellence has morphed the team from a West Coast Offense to a balanced run/pass juggernaut. From Shaun’s perspective, he’ll never find a better line to run behind.
A: Yes I believe so. I sincerely think Shaun isn’t asking to break the bank. He wants what’s fair for his services. If he can sustain these numbers he’s been putting up for a few more seasons, you’re talking about the second Hall of Famer this team has ever had. He’s excitement and entertainment personified. He’s a big draw on Sundays. If it’s remotely reasonable, you do what it takes to sign him. I think Tim Ruskell will do the right thing and make sure a deal is met that is favorable for both sides. Shaun will remain a Seahawk in 2006 and beyond.
R: I'm going to take the unpopular choice and say “no”. It's a bad track record for RBs who have had 370 carries in a season. REAL bad.
FG: Yes. I didn’t think so before the season ((just based on how I evaluated Ruskell’s moves), but with his pending MVP award, a record 28 TD’s and a rushing title, how can the Seahawks let him get away now?
AP: Yeah, and he will go into the Hall of Fame as a Seahawk. It will take a team effort from the players, Shaun, and the front office, but I have no doubt that he will stay here. Coach knows how important Shaun is to this offense, and he won’t let him go.
SE: No. I think his price might be too high for the Seahawks to stomach.
RX: Unfortunately, no. Tim Ruskell has shown to be a shrewd spender for free agents, and he will not overpay to keep Shaun here. I see Arizona (or possibly Cleveland) overspending for his services, just as they did for Chike Okeafor last year.
S: I don’t see how that’s going to get done. And if you ask me who I prefer between Alexander and Hutchinson? I’m taking Hutch. Sadly, I think we’re going to lose the league MVP (and that would clearly alter the priority of the off-season question above. Morris can’t get it done 20/game).
H: Yes! No! I mean yes… wait…. probably not…who knows. Anybody who says they know really doesn’t.
Q. Who was the Seahawks’ unsung hero this season?
DF: Let’s put it this way.
Linebacker A finished the 2005 regular season with 54 tackles, 10 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 5 passes defensed.
Linebacker B finished the 2005 regular season with 68 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 2 passes defensed.
Linebacker A is San Diego’s Shawne Merriman, who just won the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Linebacker B is Seattle rookie Leroy Hill…and nobody’s talking about him. Hill has been money all year in blitz packages, and stepped in for the injured Jamie Sharper with veteran-level aplomb.
A: Ryan Hannam certainly comes to mind. Really played well this year. Sean Locklear was unbelievably good when he took over Womack’s position. Leroy Hill was exceptional but I don’t know if he was under the radar enough to be considered unsung…DJ Hackett…Marquand Manuel…Craig Terrill…Boy, there’s a lot of guys on this team that stepped up when we needed them to and that is one of the primary reasons for our success this year.
R: Marcus Tubbs. I think he is the main reason behind both Bryce Fisher's fast start and our great defensive play in the middle.
FG: Joe Jurevicius or Sean Locklear. Marquand Manuel enters the picture also, in my opinion. I thought losing Hamlin would have been much more damaging.
AP: Mike Holmgren, but not for his offense. He has got the team to play and conduct themselves like we’ve never seen before. It’s a difficult thing to lead a team to play together and for each other the way they have this year, so my vote goes to Mike Holmgren as a leader. They’ve gone from expecting something bad to happen to making things go their way.
SE: Leroy Hill. Finally…the Seahawks have a linebacker who knows how to get to the quarterback and a defensive scheme that uses him the correct way. When Chad Brown was in his prime with the Hawks, the defensive scheme rarely used him the way he should have been used – rushing the passer.
NJ: Jordan Babineaux. He stepped it up in relief of the many injuries in the secondary and did an fine job.
S: Chuck Darby. He’s the difference on the Defensive Line. Unbelievable pick-up by Tim Ruskell. Absolutely blind-sided me with a guy I never heard of. Mammoth addition on many levels – not only did he inspire the rest of the line, but it allowed us to free cap space dropping Woodard and Moore, plus allow roster spots for heavy contributors Craig Terrill and the Casper-effective Joe Tafoya.
H: Marcus Trufant. He stayed healthy all year and kept the secondary from completely falling apart.
Q. What parts of the playbook would you like to see unveiled during the playoffs?
DF: I can tell you the part of the playbook I’d like burned - the part that directs the defense to rush four, drop seven, and leave a 20-yard freakin’ wheat field between the defensive line and the safeties, especially toward the end of each half. If the starting corners are healthy, there should be no reason to give #3 wideouts a 10-yard cushion all the time.
A: Well whatever part of the playbook that has that soft zone, prevent defensive scheme…BURN IT. We can start there, okay? I would like to see more 3, even 4-man WR sets…Really stretch that defense. A few trick plays (not too many) would certainly be nice and would give the opponents something to think about. A flea flicker here, a fake punt there…Oh yes. Definitely give opponents a few new looks.
R: Depends on the opponent. I'd like Marshall/Rhodes to re-unveil the playbook that we saw earlier. The one where Leroy Hill blitzed more than once a game.
FG: I would like to see some more of Alexander, Morris and Strong in the passing game. Things like the “Texas” routes out of the traditional West Coast Offense. I recognize that teams are so focused on Shaun that it’s hard to get him open, but take a look at the decline in his reception totals: 2002-59, 2003-42; 2004-23; 2005-15. We’ll need to come up with some wrinkles as we will most likely face defenses that have already played us (Washington/NY Giants).
AP: Nothing new, we’re good at what we’ve been doing all season, and there is absolutely no reason to tweak it. We haven’t been sitting on anything special all year long. As for trick plays, I don’t see any reason to use some because we have no reason for them. They never work anyway; I hate flea-flickers and reverse passes. But to play along, a halfback pass or a fake FG would be neat – but not at a critical time.
SE: More screen passes. Alexander used to be pretty good at catching the screen pass and with Maurice Morris getting more playing time, I would really like to see the Hawks use him more on screen passes. I would also like to see a corner blitz thrown in when the nickel package is in there.
NJ: Nothing. Why screw with what’s earned you the best record in the conference, not to mention in team history?
RX: Enough Dog and Blitz packages to overwhelm the opponents. I do NOT want to see a conservative defensive scheme, ever.
S: I want to see us stick to the run in reasonable distance situations. I want Strong in there blocking and I want to pound the ball at the defense with an attitude. I want to invigorate our Offense with the confidence we can do that, while ripping the heart from a Defense in the process. I do NOT want 3 wides in there on 2nd or 3rd and short. It drives me absolutely batty how consistent we are at passing in those situations. If I ever see 3 Rush calls in a row I’ll drop my shorts with glee.
H: Playbook looks just fine to me!
Q. Do you miss any of the numerous players that the Seahawks released and/or traded after the 2004 season?
DF: From a coverage standpoint, I really miss Ken Lucas. I know Seattle wasn’t in a position to match what Carolina gave him, but the Andre Dyson/Kelly Herndon aggregate hasn’t quite filled that void. I was prepared to miss Anthony Simmons, but the Seahawks went and drafted another linebacker from Clemson (Hill), and I’m pretty much over it. I miss Trent Dilfer for his leadership. How ironic it was that just as Tim Ruskell started to define this formerly dysfunctional team in his own image, the most “Ruskell-esque” of all the Seahawks departed for Cleveland.
A: I miss Ken Lucas. I really liked Ken and I thought he was becoming one of the best corners in the NFL. Especially after Trufant’s drop off this year and the injuries we have suffered at the position, having Lucas would have been a big help to our team. Finally, I would say it’s really a shame Chad Brown didn’t want to take the contract we offered him after the 2004 season. He really deserves to share in the success the team has finally enjoyed in 2005. Chad was such a warrior who gave so much of his body and soul for all of those years.
R: I miss Trent Dilfer's presence, but I don't think this team needs it.
FG: At first, I was devastated that I had to retire my Brandon Mitchell lucky socks. But through good counseling and coping skills, I have moved on…
But seriously, I don’t think I miss anyone that much. I miss the potential of an Anthony Simmons and Koren Robinson, but I got tired of waiting for them to produce. I wish Kenny Lucas was still here, but he was too expensive. Of course I miss Trent Dilfer, just for the kind of person he is and the influence he had on Matt Hasselbeck.
P.S. Hey Chike, did you enjoy your season in Arizona? Grass is greener, right?
AP: You’ll have to remind me who we lost. I miss having Dilfer around.
RX: From purely a fan standpoint, I miss Chad Brown, and from a talent standpoint, I miss Ken Lucas, but otherwise I can not disapprove any move the front office made. (The Bob Whitsitt release was one of the best moves in the history of this franchise).
S: Absolutely. Those are my players. They never go away and get forgotten. And can someone please explain to me… what the hell happened to Anthony Simmons? Am I missing something?
H: Was that Koren Robinson I saw returning a kickoff for a touchdown? How many times did we do that this year?
Q. Ray Rhodes, John Marshall or (other) for defensive coordinator in 2006?
DF: I’d like to see Marshall get a year of his own, with his own game plan. Rhodes would be an asset in the areas of personnel (he has been invaluable in Seattle’s last three defensive drafts) and secondary play, but the players need to know that there’s one man they must answer to.
A: I would give the keys to John Marshall. See what he can do without Rhodes’ influence. Ray needs to focus on his health so I think his days in the NFL may be over.
R: No to “Prevent man” for sure. And anyone who employed a version of the Prevent against the Tennessee Titans shouldn't be given the job either. That leaves (other). Gregg Williams would thrill me.
FG: This is another tough call, seeing how Marshall stepped up and filled in. I’m just not a big proponent of the Rhodes style of defense, but it is hard to argue with the results in 2005. I’ll put my binding faith in Ruskell.
AP: John Marshall. I’ve liked him since we picked him up. He ran a couple top Defenses in Carolina and Atlanta, and as a LB coach he’s got to like using extra guys to create pressure. He’s an intense guy, when I worked at camp he really loved what he does, and he puts his heart into this team.
SE: Hard to argue with Marshall’s results this season. Rhodes is probably done, given his health issues. I like the continuity of the same defensive scheme and in the coaching staff. Maybe Marshall will be more aggressive when it’s HIS defense.
NJ: I think you bring back both Rhodes and Marshall. If Ray’s health prevents him from returning, you promote Marshall.
RX: New DC in ‘06. I think Ray Rhodes needs some time away from the game for his health, and we need to update the position with an aggressive and innovative coach.
S: John Marshall. How can you argue with the results? I know my man Doug won’t… or will he?
Q. Crystal Ball: Super Bowl XL will feature the ______ vs. ______; The _______ will win the game:
DF: Seahawks against the Colts. The Colts will win the game.
A: Seahawks against the Broncos. The Seahawks will win the game. OH YEAH BABY!
R: Seahawks against the Patriots. The Patriots will win the game.
FG: Seahawks against the Colts. The Colts will win the game. I just think the Colts are too good. Keep in mind, the Seahawks were picked to finish third in many pre-season polls (behind the media darling Cardinals and Rams), so I’ll ‘painfully accept’ a Super Bowl defeat. Give Ruskell some more time to mold this roster, and then we’ll be ready to claim in the Lombardi.
AP: Seahawks against the Colts. The Colts will win the game.
SE: Seahawks against the Broncos. The Seahawks will win the game.
RX: Seahawks against the Broncos. YOUR SEATTLE SEAHAWKS will win the game.
S: Just because I yam what I yam (stubborn beyond reproach)… I’ll take the Broncos vs. the Seahawks. And with a record as poor as mine this season, I would never consider jinxing us by taking a side. Just being there will be plenty. Can any of us truly fathom we’re walking into the Playoff’s with Home Field Advantage?
I can’t wait to see the fans in the stands next week… Bring everything you’ve got. We’re counting on you…
H: Seahawks against the Patriots. Who wins that game? Stay tuned for the pre-Super Bowl fireside chat to find out.