We’re back with more of the 2009 RotoRob NFL Draft Kit with yet another team preview (we’re nearly done now, with just a few teams to go). We’re going to try to shoot out all these team previews and then start releasing the kit’s other goodies (cheat sheets, sleepers/busts lists, etc.). While we wonder if the Seattle Seahawks can recover from last season’s disaster, let’s take this opportunity to welcome better-late-than-never Leon Washington to the Jets’ camp.
What Went Right
When your team goes 4-12, not a lot could have gone right. John Carlson, the second-round pick out of Notre Dame, was a revelation at tight end. He’s not exceptionally fast, but the guy can just flat out catch the football. Over the next few years, he should prove to be a top 10 Fantasy tight end on an annual basis. In other news, Matt Hasselbeck has successfully made the transition from poor prognosticator to marketable franchise quarterback.
What Went Wrong
Hasselbeck spent too much time wearing his sideline cap. The suddenly much more marketable Hasselbeck had fewer pass attempts than Seneca Wallace. With different quarterbacks at the helm, the passing game never was able to get in sync. Carlson led the team in receptions and receiving yards, but the passing game was not the only flaw on this team. Shaun Alexander’s departure paved the way for Julius Jones to lead the team in rushing with just 698 yards. Jones, Maurice Morris, and T.J. Duckett combined to put up RB3-type numbers, but individually they were virtually useless in most Fantasy formats. The poor offensive numbers, in turn, led to the downfall of talented defensive unit.
Mike Holmgren is out; Jim Mora, Jr. is in. This move officially occurred this offseason, but it was predetermined before the 2008 season. Hiring Mora to replace Holmgren will provide continuity for the Seahawk organization, but one has to wonder if this team wants continuity after last season. To help solve the passing game, T.J. Houshmandzadeh has been signed to replace the departed Bobby Engram. Seahawk fans will enjoy drafting Houshmandzadeh a round or two too early just to claim they have already won the championship. On the defensive side of the ball, Cory Redding has been acquired to help stop the run, while star linebacker Julian Peterson is off to Detroit. In the secondary, Ken Lucas has returned after four years in Carolina.
The horrible season for the Seahawks did allow the team to pick fourth overall in the NFL draft. After being potentially linked to exciting offensive players like Mark Sanchez and Michael Crabtree, the Seahawks did the right thing by allowing their defense to get younger. Aaron Curry, the linebacker the team selected out of Wake Forest, has a nose for the football. Some scouts feel that he could have a Patrick Willis-like immediate impact on the defensive unit. Deon Butler could have an impact on the passing game, but it is more likely that he is nothing more than a special teamer this season. After flirting with the idea of taking Sanchez, the Seahawks took Mike Teel in the sixth round. He played in a pro-style offense at Rutgers and will be the third quarterback this year.
State of the Team
Hasselbeck is reportedly healthier this year than he was last year. Granted, that’s not hard to accomplish, as he was not healthy even when he did play. Hasselbeck enters camp with no lingering injuries and is just one year removed from a 3,966-yard season. With a healthier group of receivers and no running game to speak of, he could be a steal this year. The shifty Wallace will return as his backup and will see time if Hasselbeck does go down with an injury. I like the rookie Teel in deep dynasty leagues. He played for an average team in college, but posted numbers that were second only to Sam Bradford in the second half of the last college season.
Last year, Jones, Morris and Duckett were the feature backs in the Seahawk offense. They combined to form the 19th-best run game in the NFL. Believe it or not, they actually averaged more rushing yards per game than San Diego, Philadelphia and St. Louis. That means the Jones, Morris, and Duckett trio was able to average more rushing yards per game than some 2008 draft darlings, like LaDainian Tomlinson, Brian Westbrook and Steven Jackson.
These statistics apparently led the Seahawk front office to believe that they were too good at running the ball. Morris has left for Detroit and the onus of carrying the pigskin falls upon Jones, Duckett and Justin Forsett. Jones is the starter, Duckett is the goal line back, and Forsett was Marshawn Lynch’s backup at the University of California. Jones showed promise last year, but he has been unable to hold down a starting role his entire career. Duckett struggles to hold down even a back-up role wherever he goes. Forsett is the wild card here and will be worth monitoring during training camp. Don’t get too excited though; even the running back-needy Colts cut him last season.
Houshmandzadeh is the big addition in the passing game. He immediately becomes the number one threat in the aerial attack and should thrive in this offense. Houshmandzadeh has never been a burner; he is a talented possession receiver that just knows how to get open. Look for him to flirt with 100 receptions again in this West Coast offense. Nate Burleson and Deion Branch both return from injuries. Burleson is slated to start opposite Houshmandzadeh, while Branch’s role is uncertain. As of now, he is projected to be the slot receiver, but he could be cut if he is outperformed by Courtney Taylor, Ben Obomanu or Logan Payne in training camp.
Carlson is the name to know at tight end. He should be one of the top ten Fantasy tight ends this season, as other defenses will likely focus on Houshmandzadeh and Burleson. This will allow Carlson to see plenty of single coverage and be one of Hasselbeck’s go-to targets on third down and in the red zone.
The Seahawks do play in a division with San Francisco and St. Louis, so if nothing else, this means that the defense should have the opportunity to perform well for at least 25 per cent of the season. The Seahawks had the worst pass defense in the NFL last season. They surrendered almost 260 yards per game, but they hope that the signing of Lucas will improve that statistic. The Seahawks lost one of their premier defenders in Peterson, but Curry should fill in nicely. This defensive unit was one of the better groups in the league just a few years ago, so an improvement is not out of the question. They’re not worth drafting, though.