Behind Enemy Lines: Seahawks/Texans, Pt. 2

In Part Two of our pregame preview, Doug Farrar answers five Seahawks questions from Charlie Bernstein of BattleRedNation.com. Why have the Seahawks underperformed in recent years, has Aaron Curry lived up to the hype, and is it time for Jake Locker to move from Montlake to Renton?

Charlie Bernstein: This was supposed to be the year that Seattle returned to prominence in the NFC West but injuries have certainly seemed to derail another season.  What kind of changes can we expect to see in the offseason?

Doug Farrar: The big change has already has been made, as former team president/general manager Tim Ruskell resigned/was fired on December 3. Most of the team's current issues can be traced back to Ruskell's decisions -- he made sub-standard decisions regarding the offensive and defensive lines, overpaid at least two wide receivers, drafted nickel corners in the first round, and failed to find a suitable replacement down the road for Matt Hasselbeck. There's also the small matter of running a future Hall of Fame head coach in Mike Holmgren out of town so that he could get his own guy (Jim Mora) installed. Now, the Seahawks must replace Ruskell (Holmgren is everybody's favorite to come back and take the job), and everything will emanate from the new guy's philosophy. The Seahawks do have two first-round draft picks in 2010, and I'd expect the changes to start with picks made to solidify an offensive line that has become an extreme liability.

CB: The Seahawks have seemingly been searching for a running back ever since Shaun Alexander left.  Can Justin Forsett be an effective runner or will they have to go back to the proverbial drawing board? 

DF: Forsett's a good change-of-pace guy -- small and shifty but pretty tough inside. He doesn't quite match up to Maurice Jones-Drew, but I think he's a good rotation back. Unfortunately, the Seahawks seem bent on trying to prove that their bad contracts must play on the field, which puts Julius Jones in the game far more than he should be. The Seahawks will have to draft or acquire someone to share the load with Forsett, who is the team's best back at this time. Forsett was another Ruskell blunder, by the way -- he released the Cal alum after drafting him, and it was only because the Colts let him go as well that the Seahawks got him back. The overriding theme here is that it doesn't matter who's in that backfield until the line is fixed. Chris Johnson would have trouble putting up 100 yards per game running behind these guys.

CB: Aaron Curry was everyone's preseason pick for Defensive Rookie of the Year.  How has he played this season and does it look like he'll live up to his draft status?

DF: Not yet. The Seahawks are taking him off the field on a lot of obvious passing downs, which seems to be the opposite of what the Texans are doing with Brian Cushing -- get him out there as much as possible and play his way out of the inevitable mistakes. Curry has more raw athletic talent than any other player in the 2009 draft, but it is raw, and the team is going to have to find a balance between coaching him up and letting him learn in real-time situations. Curry was affected greatly by the loss of middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who's on IR and was the field general out there, getting everyone lined up correctly. Right now, I think we could all agree that Cushing has been the league's best rookie defender.

CB: The Texans are pretty much a one-dimensional team, especially now that running back Steve Slaton is down for the year.  How has the Seahawks secondary been this year and where do you see the Texans greatest matchup advantage on offense?

DF: Marcus Trufant has racked up far too many pass interference calls in his injury-shortened season, though a few of them have been pretty ticky-tack. My concern about Trufant is that he's looking slow in his trail speed, which is not a good attribute for a #1 corner. Or maybe I've been watching too much darrelle Revis and I'm just spoiled … Josh Wilson has been a nice surprise at corner. He's got coverage speed and agility, but he likes to knock things around -- he's not fragile at all. The safety situation is decent for now with Deon Grant and Jordan Babineaux, but anyone who watches Tennessee's Eric Berry can't help but notice what an elite safety pick would do for Seattle's Cover/Tampa-2 defense. Seattle will obviously put their focus on Andre Johnson, but that doesn't mean that Johnson won't get his catches.

CB: With likely a high first-round pick this April, will the Seahawks look to find the replacement for Matt Hasselbeck?  Perhaps a local kid (Jake Locker)?

DF: Personally, I'm not convinced that this is the year for the Seahawks to take a high-pick quarterback. Locker has the best skill set and the most potential of anyone in this draft class, but I really hope he stays another year at Washington. He's developed so well under new Huskies head coach Steve Sarkasian, and the Seahawks' current offensive coordinator (Greg Knapp) is the same guy who tried to get Michael Vick to play in a West Coast Offense. Epic fail there. If Holmgren came back, and used his own quarterback acumen to develop a guy like Locker or Colt McCoy, it could be something truly special. But I have little faith in the current staff's ability to develop quarterback talent, and if that current staff is retained in a new regime, I'd rather the team draft where the coaching talent is -- that puts the focus on the offensive and defensive lines.


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