The Seattle Seahawks open the 2018 year with their lowest expected win total since 2011. There has been a lot of change from last year on both sides of the ball. Paul Richardson, Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson and Thomas Rawls are just a few of the offensive playmakers that are playing somewhere else right now. To be successful this year Seattle needs to do several things well on offensive.
- Run the ball effectively
The Seahawks’ run game has not had a leg to stand on since Thomas Rawls’ excellent rookie year in 2015. They have cycled through running backs for a few years trying to find an effective starter and have fallen short of that goal. Chris Carson is the most recent in a line of backs Seattle has seen potential in. Carson may be the answer but Seattle still took Rashaad Penny with their first pick in the draft this year. So, they clearly are more serious about running the ball. If they can average more than four yards a carry this year they will be in good shape.
I expect the offensive line to improve this year. They finally have an established starter at almost every position at this point. Training camp will be just as much about learning how to work together as it is about learning the playbook. Mike Solari’s coaching is the new factor in the run game for the offensive line. Solari has good credentials and is expected to help improve this unit’s overall game.
- Get to the quarterback
Seattle’s defense has averaged around 39 sacks a year since 2012. It is a relatively average number ranking somewhere around 13th in the league in that timespan. They consistently get pressure on the quarterback though, and they could rely on the pass coverage to give them time. Now there is no Richard Sherman or Kam Chancellor to give them that extra time. Couple that with the fact Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril won’t be rushing the passer with Seattle anymore, and there is a lot of uncertainty for this young group. Frank Clark is expected to pick up the slack and improve after getting 19 sacks the past two years. There is a lot of pressure on him because his contract is almost up and he will want big dollars attached to his next one, his production this year will determine what he can ask for.
Clark is not the only one trying to get to the quarterback. Dion Jordan, Barkevious Mingo, Bobby Wagner, Rasheem Green, Nazair Jones, Quinton Jefferson and Jarran Reed are also just a few of the other defenders vying for sacks. Wagner is a devastating blitzer who’s sack numbers through the years do not tell the whole story on how well he rushes the passer, because he does it only on occasion. Jordan has shown flashes with the Seahawks that he could be a good pass rusher for us, and Seattle made it a priority to resign him. His speed and length could really help opposite Clark.
- All of special teams
This is not even an exaggeration, Seattle used to pride itself on having competitive and effective special teams’ units. Now they could use a little bit of help almost everywhere. The Seahawks missed 8 out of 29 field goals last year, which is a measly 72% conversion rate (opponent’s hit almost 89% of their kicks against the Seahawks). Opponents also averaged 10 yards per punt return but only 20 yards per kick return, so it isn’t all bad. Picking up Shaquem Griffin should help the coverage units, he is a fast, instinctive player who can make plays with skill and hustle.
This is an important part of the game and one that helped keep the offense and defense in good positions throughout Seattle’s better years. If the Seahawks can improve in these three areas they should easily make the playoffs in 2018. They need to average more than 4 yards per carry in the run game, have around 40 sacks and make plays on special teams.