This series will examine seven position groups on the Seahawks, reviewing their 2015 performance, and how the front office may make changes, including free agency or the draft. The final part of the series will propose a cumulative plan.
Part I: Quarterbacks Part II: Offensive Line Part III: Wide Receivers & Tight Ends Part IV: Running Backs & Fullbacks Part V: Defensive Line Part VI: Linebackers Part VII: Secondary Part VIII: Summary & Recommendations
State of the position: Quarterbacks
The Seahawks finished the 2002 season 7-9, and Mike Holmgren was nearly fired from both jobs before agreeing to relinquish his General Manager title. It was a nondescript year by most standards. In one important regard, however, it was pivotal. After starting out 4-9, Matt Hasselbeck and the offense caught fire, averaging 482.3 yards and 30 ppg. It was a sign of things to come as Hasselbeck grew into a franchise quarterback.
The 2015 season may be remembered for similar reasons, as Russell Wilson evolved from a game managing chrysalis to a bombardiering butterfly.
Russell Wilson was paid like a franchise to start the 2015 season, and he played like one by the end of it.
Wilson did things during the stretch run last year that had never been done by any quarterback in history. His numbers were so absurdly efficient that we may not truly appreciate it until years have passed.
What was most encouraging was the way Wilson compiled the gaudy numbers. He was delivering the ball on time and in rhythm. His ability to escape pressure had also made him overly ambitious at times. He would hold onto the ball to find a pass he liked instead of taking advantage of the pass he had in front of him. This put additional pressure on an inexperienced offensive line, and put Wilson in harm’s way.
His newfound willingness to get rid of the ball quickly led to a dramatic increase in third down conversions, red zone efficiency and overall scoring. Nobody played the position better than Wilson over the final seven weeks of the season. To put it in perspective, Wilson threw 25 touchdown passes in the final eight games. His career high for a full season had been 26 before last year. Could Wilson become just the third player to throw for 50 touchdowns in a season? The fact that the question is worth asking says everything about the growth we saw from him last year.
Could Wilson become just the third player to throw for 50 touchdowns in a season? The fact that the question is worth asking says everything about the growth we saw from him last year.
Wilson can be better. An improved offensive line will make him better. An additional year of development from Tyler Lockett and other young receivers will make him better. What will help him the most is dedicating his offseason to the mental aspects of the position. He proudly talked about how he focused on getting faster last offseason. He is an athlete, and knows what his body needs, but I can’t help but think physical development is not going to be the thing that unlocks his full potential.
A Russell Wilson that can make pre-snap reads immediately and identify the weak parts of a defense to exploit would be far more scary for opposing defenses than one who is stronger or faster. He will be entering his fifth season and turning 28 years old. It is time for him to marry his youthful athletic gifts with veteran savvy. It is time for him to enter his prime.
Tarvaris Jackson reprised his role as the Maytag repairman. Wilson, despite the pounding he has taken, has been remarkably durable. Jackson has barely sniffed the field over the past few seasons.
Reports have surfaced that he will explore the free agent market. He should. I doubt there will be anything appealing out there, but maybe Jackson will pick a place with a starter who is more injury prone (e.g., wherever RG3 signs).
The team lost B.J. Daniels to Houston, who wanted him as a quarterback instead of the receiver Seattle had converted him to. It may be time to find a new backup for Wilson.
The team could go one of two ways: they could draft and develop a young player, or they could find a veteran who could fill in and possibly assist Wilson in his development.
A guy like Matt Hasselbeck would be ideal, but it seems unlikely he would leave Indianapolis at this point.
2016 Seahawks Free Agent Quarterbacks:
Seahawks Quarterbacks Under Contract:
Phillip Sims (Futures Contract)
Possible Free Agents To Consider
Jackson is a logical candidate to consider, and at age 33, will still be more than capable of filling the backup role. It is not clear how much Jackson is helping Wilson develop as a player, but the locker room has a lot of confidence in his ability to step in and win a game or two if needed.
Hasselbeck is 40 years old already. He also played capably as a starter last year when Andrew Luck was injured. He is the ideal player to backup a guy like Wilson because he is incredibly wise and very eager to pass on his knowledge. He’s also great in any locker room, and could mentor Wilson on what it means to be one of the guys.
Believe it or not, Weeden is just a year younger than Jackson. He is no longer someone to be considered for a starting role. He does have a great arm, and could be a viable veteran backup.
Vick was horrible in Pittsburgh last year. The team performed significantly worse when he was at the helm than either Landry Jones or Ben Roethlisberger. Some people will link him to Seattle because of his athleticism, but that would be a mistake. Seattle can do better than a veteran who plays like a rookie.
Freeman is interesting in that he is still just twenty-eight. His career fell apart in Tampa and then Minnesota. Pete Carroll and John Schneider could be tempted to bring aboard another reclamation project with little downside.