Monday, April 28, 2008

Off-Season Evaluation (Glass Half Full Version)

Let's take a moment to put those rose-colored glasses on and imagine what our new additions could mean for our team next year.

Offense
Clearly the big priority here was to upgrade the running game. As I mentioned in the first part of my 2007 season review, we needed at least one major upgrade at guard and an upgrade at running back. My feelings about our running back choices is well chronicled on this blog, but let me talk about what the best case scenario would look like for a second:
  • Mike Wahle would stay healthy and perform at least to a 2005 Chris Gray level, and possibly a notch higher
  • Rob Sims would come to camp with competition from someone (Ray Willis) and the pain from last season's failures would allow him to focus during mini-camps and training camps on the details he failed to grasp.
  • John Carlson comes in and earns the starting TE spot by providing a great balance of good blocking and dependable receiving.
  • Mike Solari brings Seahawks blocking schemes into the 21st century and reinvigorates a line on the ropes.
  • The combination of Weaver and Owen Schmidt at FB gives the team maximum flexibility in how they can run the ball, and maybe even allows for a power-power combo in the backfield with Schmidt clearing the way for Weaver.
  • Julius Jones and TJ Duckett stay healthy and combine for 1300 yards rushing behind this improved line and talented FB duo.
  • The improved running game takes pressure off a passing game that needs a few games to find its rhythm after losing its two starters from last year (Branch and Hackett).
  • Courtney Taylor and/or Ben Obamanu emerge as a legitimate starting WR that pushes Nate Burleson for snaps. Logan Payne pushes his way into the mix as an heir apparent to Bobby, and gives us reason to try some 5 WR sets.
  • The versatility of our WRs, RBs and TEs gives Holmgren the tools he needs to keep defenses guessing. We see the return of the Pro set, screens and more.
Defense
I said in part II of my 2007 season review that we needed to upgrade our DE spot where Tapp plays and add a run-stuffing DT in order to improve here. I think the positive story is pretty easy to tell here.
  • Lawrence Jackson is good enough to become a regular member of the DE rotation, and preferably becomes the starter who is good against the run. He slides inside on passing downs and allows Tapp to be the all-out pass rusher he is built to be.
  • Baraka Atkins helps on the DE part as well by continuing to develop and gives the Hawks a legit 4-man rotation.
  • Red Bryant stays big and active and good enough be a part of the DT rotation. His presence makes the availability of Tubbs a luxury and not a requirement. Similarly, this allows Rocky Bernard to return to more of a pass rushing DT instead of the every down player that has seemed to wear him down the past couple of years.
  • Marcus Tubbs does make it back and gives the Hawks their most talented DT group since Tez and Sam Adams played together.
  • The depth and size of the line allows the Hawks linebackers to make plays all over the field and helps lead them to a Top 10 finish in rush defense and Top 5 in sacks.
I'll decide later whether I want to do the glass half-empty version. For now, I'm happy to go to bed dreaming about what might be.

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