The Seahawks are off to a fairly predictable start this postseason with many moves that Pete Carroll and John Schneider hinted toward at the end of the 2011 season. The focus has been retaining the core group of players that Carroll refers to as “our guys.” Meaning guys that arrived after the Ruskell era, or in Red Bryant’s case, in a position that Carroll placed him into.
The Matt Flynn signing has been given paramount publicity for good cause. In order for the Seahawks to take the next step, everyone would agree that they needed better quarterback play over the duration of an entire season. Many Seahawk fanboys believe that Matt Flynn is the answer to that plaguing problem. After all, if the Seahawks conveniently plug in 480 yards and 6 TD’s into their QB stats for every game, Seattle will easily go 16-0 and win the Super Bowl. It’s that easy. Right?
Let’s analyze what a quarterback needs to be successful from a roster standpoint. They need a good offensive line, a threatening running game, and pass-catchers that can make plays and rack up YAC.
Well, Seattle has invested a huge amount of draft capital into their offensive line in the Schneider era. Okung, Carpenter, & Moffitt represent 3 of Seattle’s top 4 picks from the last two years respectively. Seattle also resigned Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan to shore up depth and hedge against injuries. Throw in incumbents like Max Unger and Lemuel Jeanpierre and Seattle has what could be considered a “good” offensive line. *Good health being assumed
Seattle also resigned Marshawn Lynch & Michael Robinson. Then added power back Kregg Lumpkin to backup Lynch. Lumpkin didn’t get the fanfare that Michael Bush and Mike Tolbert received, but he is still a very nice player. He adds versatility, which Carroll adores. Lumpkin can spell Lynch obviously, run short yardage, catch out of the backfield, block on passing downs, and he’s also the new backup fullback. As a senior in high school, Lumpkin was the #2 recruited RB that year behind only Reggie Bush. But high school glory aside, Lumpkin gives the Seahawks options – which Forsett did not. Even without the signing of versatile Kregg Lumpkin, I think most people would consider the Seahawks running game to be “threatening” following their impressive stretch down the 2nd half of last season.
Lastly, Flynn will need pass-catchers who can make plays. This particular area of the roster is the most intriguing to me. Seattle currently has 8 wide receivers who all expect to be on the team. 8. In order of career production: Sidney Rice, Mike Williams, Doug Baldwin, Ben Obomanu, Golden Tate, Deon Butler, Ricardo Lockette, and Kris Durham. Most clubs keep 6 wide receivers on their roster. A few have kept 5 or 7, but usually it is only 6. So which of these 6 will make the opening day roster next year? It is easy to say that Flynn can throw to Sidney Rice circa 2009, Mike Williams circa 2010, and Doug Baldwin circa 2011 and Seattle’s receiving corps will be pretty awesome. But what is the likelihood of that happening?
At least two of the above 8 players need to be trimmed. I think Obomanu is likely to be traded/released. He trailed off down the stretch last year, had an abysmal finale against Arizona, has a very limited ceiling, and is actually the oldest of the bunch. After that I’m really not sure who would be the casualty. The odds that the other 7 are all healthy and ready to go on opening day seems kind of slim, so the problem would likely work itself out. If I had to pick one I’d say Deon Butler would be the next most likely. He had that gruesome leg fracture at the end of the 2010 season, he is only 5’9”, he’ll be a free agent next year, he was drafted by Tim “The Toolbag” Ruskell, and Ricardo Lockette is bigger and FASTER than Butler and has a higher ceiling. It pains me to write this because Deon Butler and I are actually pretty close. We don’t hang out, talk, or write or anything. But his brother did used to date my girlfriend’s cousin, so I saw fit to make Deon part of my family. The word “stalker” may have been thrown out there a few times, but no restraining orders were ever officially filed. Anyway, if he left the Seahawks I’d be heart broken. But it seems very probable.
After breaking down the Seahawks receivers, would the rest of the league classify them as “big play-makers”? Do you think San Francisco’s secondary is game-planning around Doug Baldwin the way they do for Larry Fitzgerald? Of course not. We all want a Larry Fitzgerald, but there just aren’t enough to go around. So unless Mike Williams and Sidney Rice can stay healthy and play up to their career bests – expect the Seahawks to continue to be in the middle of the pack in terms of receiver explosiveness.
That being said, Matt Flynn can still have a nice year. I mean, I’ll take Sidney Rice and BMW over Braylon Edwards and Michael Crabtree – and look what Alex Smith did last year. I guess the point of this article is to try and temper Seahawk fans’ expectations of what Seattle’s passing game will be next year. There’ll likely be a new quarterback in a new system getting his first full year of starter reps (If he beats out Tarvaris). It is more than likely that Matt Flynn will have to take his starter lumps. Seattle also just doesn’t have the firepower surrounding him compared to Green Bay’s receiving corps. But you never know. Seattle could get healthy, find the right rhythm with the rushing attack and be truly dynamic. They also might draft the 2nd best WR on the board at the #12 pick which would change the argument. It will be interesting to see where the chips fall.