Behind Enemy Lines: Seahawks at Bills, Part 4

In the last of four preview articles, Tyler Dunne of Buffalo Football Report asks five final questions to Doug Farrar of Seahawks.NET about the Seahawks, the team the Bills will face in their season opener. How has Seattle's defense changed, what will two suspensions mean, and will this team win one for the Gipper?

The loss of Steve Hutchinson clearly hurt Seattle's rushing game last season. Does the addition of Mike Wahle help to fill his void, and is there a chance the offense becomes more balanced this year?

Well, the offense can't become any less balanced that it was in the second half of last season! Hasselbeck was flinging the ball all over the place just to keep the offense going. This season, Seattle's offensive line, the team's biggest liability since Hutchinson's departure, should be at least league average. It could be a bit better if new line coach Mike Solari, who coached a series of great lines in Kansas City, lives up to his reputation. Wahle will be a big help, but I've thought the line has been undercoached recently, and the talent to overcome that hasn't been there.

Seattle's defense was blindsided by Green Bay in the playoffs last year for 408 yards and 42 points. How have they recovered from that shellacking, and is the unit much better than they showed in that game?

The loss in Green Bay proved instructive to the Seahawks' front office -- the team had been living on borrowed time as an undersized defense and a finesse offense. In the draft and free agency, the goal was to correct these issues. The addition of Lawrence Jackson helps, as do new running backs T.J. Duckett and Owen Schmitt. The Seahawks got pushed around in Green Bay, pure and simple -- their backs couldn't get traction and their front seven was gashed by the Packers' power-running sets. The addition of so many tougher, bigger players tells me that the team on the wrong end of that game was exactly the team it appeared to be.

Rocky Bernard and Jordan Babineaux were both suspended for the first game. What are the details on that, and will their absence hurt Seattle's defense?

Babineaux is the team's nickel corner, and I don't know how often the Bills will run formations putting the Seahawks on their heels. He'll be replaced by Josh Wilson, who had a good preseason. The loss of Bernard is more problematic. Not only is he the team's best pass-rushing interior lineman, he's better against the run that most undertackles. He'll be replaced by Craig Terrill, a good depth player with some pass-rush ability (especially in three-man fronts).

Why does Hasselbeck mostly fly under the national radar, even though he's statistically one of the best quarterbacks in the game?

There are actually quite a few quarterbacks who fly under that radar, and I think it's because in Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, you have two players who might wind up as the best at their position. Ever. That's tough to compete with. As good as Hasselbeck is, I also think that New Orleans' Drew Brees, Philly's Donovan McNabb, and Cincinnati's Carson Palmer don't get the credit they deserve. It's just a tough time to be a quarterback if you're anything less than Godlike.

Mike Holmgren has said this is his last year coaching the team. Is there a "win one for the Gipper" type of vibe in Seattle?

Perhaps, though the pro game is tough enough to prevent people from just turning that on and off whenever they want to. Unless you're just abysmal, you're generally playing near the top of your potential and I don't know how much there is left for the "Win one for Coach!" stuff. There's obviously an awareness that they're about to lose a coach that has become as much the face of this franchise as any player, but my sense is that we won't really realize what Holmgren has meant to Seattle and the Seahawks until he's gone. People tend to take big, ubiquitous presences like his for granted. It'll be more about what happens after he's gone that will truly reflect his legacy in Seattle.


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