With the preseason officially in the rear view, we can now focus on the real deal. The road to Super Bowl 50 and redemption from the ill-fated pass that ended our last season are what lie ahead. The question for today is what is this team going to look like in 2015?
Last night's win against the Raiders provided opportunities for the guys on the roster bubble to make a case for themselves to have a role on this team. Over the past few seasons, Seattle's success has relied on this team having tremendous depth at all positions to make it through 16 games and a playoff run.
Every season we have lost players to free agency, swooped up by opposing teams trying to capture some of the magic that the Seahawks have displayed, yet somehow Pete Carroll and John Schneider have managed to retain core talent while replenishing the cupboards after the rest of the league has raided them.
Final rosters must be determined by this Saturday and there is going to be some difficult choices to make in several areas. Let's look at each group to see where competition is most fierce.
Russell Wilson is locked up for the next four years. The question is, will the Seahawks keep one or two backups? A few short weeks ago, it would have been pretty cut and dry to assume they'd roll on with the same formula as last season-- Russell at the helm with Tarvaris Jackson holding the clipboard. However, Jackson is nursing a high ankle sprain that could keep him sidelined for a few weeks. RJ Archer has had a decent preseason, so I would've believed that he'd hold down #2 duties until Jackson was cleared for action, at which point we could perhaps stash him on the practice squad. After last night, however-- BJ Daniels showed that his versatility is worth keeping him around. His quarterbacking style is closest to Wilson's, plus he provides some depth as a wide out and return specialist. Tough calls here.
My Prediction: Seahawks keep Wilson, Jackson and Daniels. Archer gets cut with hopes of clearing waivers for practice squad.
Another tough competition perhaps made easier by an injury. Robert Turbin, the projected #2 behind Lynch, is dealing with ankle problems that will keep him out for a while. This seemingly bumps Christine Michael up to #2 and Thomas Rawls to #3. Rawls has had an outstanding camp and preseason. He might be the second best back on this team. Rod Smith is likely the odd man out, but hopefully will make it on to the practice squad given his potential.
My Prediction: Lynch is the bell cow, backed up by Michael and Rawls with Turbin out with injury. Once Turbin is out, it might mean Rawls gets cut, but I'd prefer the Seahawks try to trade Michael before it comes to that.
I wish we had room for both Will Tukuafu and Derrick Coleman, but with the competition at receiver and running back, I'm afraid there won't be enough roster space. Tukuafu is powerful and versatile, but Coleman is the better fullback as he displayed last night with several key run blocks.
My Prediction: Derrick Coleman is the lone fullback.
I thought this race would be tighter than it ended up. Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson are shoe ins, but the battle for that last spot is a close one. Cooper Helfet performed admirably last season when Seattle was thin at the position, but RaShaun Allen and Anthony McCoy possess unique natural ability. McCoy has been about as healthy as he has been consistent-- and that's not a good thing. Still, Allen did nothing to separate himself from the others this preseason.
My Prediction: Graham, Willson and Helfet make the squad. Allen may find his way to the practice squad, but McCoy will get snatched up on the waiver wire. Gus Bradley or Dan Quinn could be watching this battle play out to snag whoever gets the axe.
Arguably the deepest group on the team. Will the Seahawks keep 5, knowing they'll get receiving production from the tight end group this year? Or, will they be forced to keep 6 because of BJ Daniels' versatility? Paul Richardson is out for the season, so that takes a little bit of heat off. Baldwin and Kearse are locks, Lockett and Lockette are solid if for no other reason than their contributions on special teams and the other one or two spots is up for grabs. Chris Matthews gives Seattle the big body they so desperately need, but Kasen Williams and Kevin Smith were both impressive all preseason.
My Prediction: From top to bottom-- Baldwin, Kearse, Lockett, Lockette, Williams and Matthews. Kevin Smith could easily replace Matthews, but he could easily stow away on the practice squad, ready to come in should an injury befall the team.
Another tough nut to crack. We think we know the starters-- Okung, Britt, Nowak, Sweezy and Gilliam-- but who is backing them up? It's anyone's guess what Tom Cable will decide, but there at least seems to be a decent enough pool to draw from.
My Prediction: LT Okung backed up by Alvin Bailey, LG Britt backed up by Kristjan Sokoli, C Nowak backed up by Patrick Lewis, RG Sweezy backed up by Mark Glowinski and RT Gilliam backed up by Terry Poole.
Lots of depth here and lots of youth-- the opposite of last season. I was surprised to see the Seahawks had already released Greg Scruggs, but that speaks to the depth of talent on the defensive front. I think they will keep 4 defensive tackles and 4 defensive ends, but that could shake out any number of ways.
My Prediction: DTs-- Mebane, Rubin, Hill and Williams. Hopefully TY McGill is retained for the practice squad. DEs-- Avril, Bennett, Marsh and Clark. Warmsley and Gwacham could be practice squad candidates.
Our Linebackers seemed pretty well settled before camp even broke. Unlike last season, Seattle is remarkably healthy at this spot-- which makes for tough decisions.
My Prediction: Irvin, Wagner and Wright will start, of course. Backing them up should be Pierre-Louis, Coyle and Morgan. Pinkins could be a surprise to make the final cut, but Singleton will likely find his way to the practice squad at best.
PLEASE GET KAM CHANCELLOR A NEW DEAL! The guy deserves it and we need his leadership on the field week one. Without him, I'm concerned for this position group. Earl Thomas should be good to go, but he can't be everywhere at once-- despite what his game film would have you believe. Sherman desperately needs someone to step up in locking down the right side of the secondary-- that has yet to happen. Seahawks may need to stockpile depth here out of necessity.
My Prediction: I truly hope that Kam gets sorted out by this time next week. That being said, he and Earl are the starters. Backing up Earl will be DeShawn Shead and Dion Bailey will back up, and possibly start in place of, Kam Chancellor. Ronald Martin may be kept if Kam isn't secured. At corner behind Sherman is Cary Williams, Tharold Simon, Mohammed Seisay and Tye Smith. Blackmon has looked poor this preseason.
Arguably the finest in the league. I expect no changes from last season.
My Prediction: Jon Ryan, Stephen Haushka and Clint Gresham.