Updated Apr 4, 2011 - 8:52 pm
Hawks offensive grades: Let the debates begin!
By Mike Salk
How do you grade members of the 2010 Seahawks? They started off by shocking the world for six games then they tanked for the next nine. They followed that stretch with a pair of brilliant efforts when they needed it most, then failed to show up in Chicago. Along the way, it seemed each position group went through its ups and downs. Each group took turns helping in wins and each one could be blamed for losses too.
With that in mind, I can COMPLETELY understand any disagreements you may have with these grades. Heck, it's likely that I changed my mind five times myself! Try to remember though, this team finished 8-10 with both its offense and defense ranked near the bottom of the league. That may account for some rankings lower than you might expect given the high note on which they nearly finished.
If you disagree, please feel free to put your grades in the comment section below.
I'll start with the offense and grade the defense on Thursday. Remember, this offensive group was ineffective enough that their coordinator was fired after the year ended. They failed to establish any identity and were one of the worst ranked units in the league.
When this team was beating New Orleans at home on wild card weekend, Matt Hasselbeck was the story. He was nearly perfect that day and the team responded to both his leadership and his performance. The 20 interceptions on the year were the ninth most in the NFL but fortunately they seemed to come in bunches.
The number that jumps out to me is the 14 touchdown passes. That is (obviously) less than one per game. By contrast, nine teams threw for at least twice as many scores! Only three teams (Carolina, Cleveland and Arizona) threw for fewer, and all three teams are either still searching for their quarterback and/or starting rookies picked outside the first round.
14 touchdown passes speaks to the Seahawks inability to come up with big plays (which will be covered when we get the wide receivers!), but it also relates to their problems connecting on third downs. Too often, they failed to keep drives moving. Too often, they were inaccurate when they needed to be on target.
The quarterback is the most important position on the field and the teams that challenge every year are the ones who have elite players at that position. If we give "A"s to the elite guys, certainly the Hawks group does not belong in that category. But Hasselbeck and company were better than the failures at the bottom of the draft (AZ, SF, Buffalo, Carolina, etc.) which brings the grade back up and Hasselbeck was stellar in the playoffs.
Running Backs: B+
I think this might be the best position group on the team because I like the role that each member plays. Marshawn Lynch has shown that he is a capable lead back. He picks up the yards in front of him, usually picks up extra yards in space and fights for every inch of turf. Justin Forsett proved once again to be a fantastic change of pace, a quality receiver out of the backfield and a decent fill-in. Leon Washington plays a nice role.
Unfortunately, none of these players are magicians. Unlike Barry Sanders, they can't make something out of nothing. The offensive line they played behind was often pushed back and did not open up consistent holes. It's too bad, because I think Lynch could be deadly if given the room to build up speed and unleash his special brand of controlled aggression.
Michael Robinson provided some intriguing versatility at the fullback position but is not elite. If the team is serious about a power running game with Tom Cable coaching the offensive line, I would expect them to search for a bruiser at that position.
Wide Receivers: C+
Before we get to the negative, let's start with the positive. Mike Williams impressed all of us. I was 100% wrong about this guy and I am all too happy to admit it. He showed that he not only belongs in the NFL, he deserves to start and can be a big time contributor to a receiving corps. Not only does he use his size to his advantage, he seems to be a leader in the locker room. The offense slumped badly when he was out; it was obvious how much he was missed.
That said, I still believe Williams would be made considerably better with a true speed threat playing opposite him. I'm not sure he has the skillset to beat coverage designed with him as the focus.
None of his current teammates are good enough to be a number one option beside him. Ben Obomanu might be the best of the bunch, but he is limited and would be best as a number four option. Deon Butler showed glimpses but also dropped too many balls for anyone to count on him in a big spot. Golden Tate may have potential but had trouble working his way into the lineup even when injuries beset the group. He may get it together this offseason, but he does nothing to add to the grade for the past year.
In short, this is a below average group with only one player (Williams) that should be among the top three receivers on a prolific offense.
While our last image of them was tainted by the myriad drops in Chicago, the bigger issue was that they did not make enough explosive plays. They only scored three times on passing plays from outside the 25 yard line and one of those was a 36-yard TD that came once they were already down 41 points against the Giants.
This groups needs an influx of speed in a hurry. Williams and Obomanu are solid and strong but not burners. Butler may be fast but much of that speed is lost on the field.
Tight Ends: D+
Only John Carlson's two touchdowns against New Orleans keep the tight ends from an outright failing grade. Yes, that's probably being unfair, but some of this grade is based on disappointment more than just lack of production.
Carlson is known for his receiving ability and yet he ranked 33rd among tight ends in receptions (31) and 34th in yards (318). He had only four plays all year of more than 20 yards, ranking 29th among tight ends.
And we already know he isn't much of a blocker!
Cameron Morrah did some nice things (tainted though they may be by his HUGE drop in Chicago) as did Chris Baker, but both have limited ability and merely provide depth at their positions.
Offensive Line: B-/C+
That grade may seem high to some and low to others but it reflects both their ability to protect the passer and their inability to generate a consistent running game.
When healthy, Russell Okung sure looked to me like the real deal at left tackle. But I'd rather leave it to our resident expert at the position.
“After having several conversations with him, I believe in his commitment to be great,” said former NFL left tackle Ray Roberts. “I was really impressed with the consistency of his technique especially in pass protection. It took me two years to establish that. He learned how to play hurt. I think he struggled with that early on. He can improve in the run game. He played too high at times and did not use his legs to create movement.
“He tried to muscle guys with his upper body which is common with great collegiate lineman entering the NFL. But overall, when he was on the field he justified being the sixth pick in the draft.”
For the record, Ray would have graded the line a “C”, though he was okay with my grade even if it was a little generous. Ray is hard on linemen.
Still, the rotation at left guard was unimpressive (although Tyler Polumbus had some success there late). The center position was solid though unspectacular. Stacy Andrews lost his job to the oft-cut Mike Gibson which says all you need to know about the right guard position. And Sean Locklear was too often beaten by speed off the edge to qualify as even average. Yet, they managed to come together to allow their quarterbacks enough time to make plays in most games.
That said, I thought this running game was horrible and much of the blame seemed to fall on the line. Lynch, at worst a capable runner who can make people miss in the open field, was held without a 100-yard game in the regular season. Too often the big guys failed to move the line forward. They struggled badly enough in short yardage situations that the team often went with high-risk fade routes.
This is the first of a series of blog posts that Mike and Brock will be writing over the first few weeks of the Seahawks offseason. See the entire schedule near the top of this page on the righthand column. Up next: Grading the defense!
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By Mike Salk
How do you grade members of the 2010 Seahawks? They started off by shocking the world for six games then they tanked for the next nine.
- Jan 18 - Jeremy Bates, we hardly knew ya
- Jan 20 - Mike grades the Seahawks offense
- Jan 21 - Brock and Salk look at playoff matchups
- Jan 24 - Mike grades the Seahawks defense
- Jan 25 - What's at stake for Jake?
- Jan 27 - What's in store for Matt Hasselbeck?
- Feb 1 - Seahawks Offense: Who stays, who goes?
- Feb 4 - Brock and Salk's Super Bowl preview
- Feb 8 - Three Seahawks at career crossroads
- Feb 14 - How a lockout affects Seahawks
- The Welcome Back Wak-Off! Youth is served!
- Mariners can't keep Jack Wilson, Wedge shows he's in charge
- SI's Peter King fears Jake Locker will be a bust
- 4/5: Ryan Mallett or Jake Locker?
- Mariners show something we hardly saw in 2010 -- heart
- Blue 42: Ryan Mallett doesn't fit with Seahawks
- 4/4: Justin Smoak looks good in Mariners' opening series
- 4/1: Seahawks' top offseason priorities
- Blue 42: All quarterbacks are picked apart
- What will Michael Pineda give the Mariners?