Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Seattle Seahawks fans celebrate in the stands after Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Do the Seattle Seahawks have what it takes to repeat?

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As if winning the Super Bowl wasn’t a big challenge in its self, repeating has become almost impossible in the NFL.

Not only do the defending champions have a target on their backs, but they often have to deal with the loss of numerous contributors due to salary cap limitations coupled with the value of their free agents increasing immensely.

Though the Seahawks didn’t lose many of their starters, they did lose a number of key contributors. Not to mention, their NFC West competition have been busy building their own respective rosters via free agency and very sound draft strategies.

Given that they have the Legion of Boom locked down for the next 4-5 years, they should remain solid on the defensive side of the ball. However, they did lose some depth upfront via free agent (most notably, Chris Clemons, Red Bryant and Clinton McDonald).

That said, I believe their biggest areas of concern reside on the offensive side of the ball.

Arguably, the Seahawks biggest weakness last year was their offensive line.

Due to a number of injuries throughout the season, the Seahawks were forced to move their pieces around quite a bit, which led to less than adequate pass coverage at times. However, given Russell Wilson‘s mobility and poise, they were able to make due.

Unfortunately, the Seahawks could find themselves facing similar challenges protecting Wilson again this year. Not only have the defenses in the NFC West apparently gotten stronger, but the Seahawks didn’t appear to do much to address this weakness in the off-season. The relevant changes were the loss of Breno Giacomini to free agency, and their drafting Justin Britt in the second round (which many analysts viewed as a significant reach).

However, they did address their other perceived weakness on the offensive side of the ball, which was their passing game.

Though they lost their primary target from last year, Golden Tate, to the Lions in free agency, they should have no problem filling that void. Not only will they have Super Bowl difference maker Percy Harvin (for as long as he can stay healthy), but they have the always reliable, but underrated, Doug (don’t call me “pedestrian”) Baldwin and up-and-comer Jermaine Kearse returning, as well.

Not to mention, they re-signed possession receiver Sidney Rice (who missed most of last year due to injury), and chose receivers Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood in the draft.

Kevin Norwood appears ready to contribute as a reliable possession receiver immediately, and Richardson could be a real game-breaker. Though most of the draft analysts viewed the Seahawks’ taking Richardson early in second round as a reach, the Seahawks brass had him as their primary target all along. The knock on him is that he does not possess the ideal NFL body (6-foot even, 180 pounds). However, he is known for his blazing speed (4.3 40), athleticism (38″ vertical), having great hands, being a great route runner, and having the ability to create immediate separation off the line.

If those attributes translate to the NFL, he could provide a threat that the Seahawks lack, even with Harvin, in the way of a vertical deep threat similar to DeSean Jackson. As if the Seahawks offense didn’t look dynamic enough in their Super Bowl victory with Harvin in there, just think how difficult they will be to defend with a legitimate home run threat.

If Wilson is going to have limited time in the pocket, at least he will have a multitude of dynamic weapons to work with.

Add that air attack to an already potent ground game featuring Marshawn Lynch and projected breakout Christine Michael, and you are talking about a pretty scary challenge, even for the strong defenses in the NFC West.

With their defense still in tact, and an improved offense, it is hard not to like their chances of repeating, especially with the tremendous home field advantage afforded them via the earth quake causing 12th man.

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  • HD

    Honestly…I think the offensive line is going to surprise the opponents how good they are (as a unit)…I really like Britt (his work against the SEC opponents…including Clowney), Bowie and Bailey with reps from last year…and their form at the end of the season…of course Unger and Okung…Carpenter finally healthy and in shape (and playing for his career), Sweezy plus 20 Lbs of muscle…and with two years of guard under his belt (baptism of fire all done in the NFC West)…Van Roten and Schilling as potential backups with some experience (Van Roten 2 playoff games too)…Lem returning as Seattle new journeyman and possible dark horses in Hauptmann, and UDFA’s Gilliam and Isles…I think Cable is looking for the right mix…and this group might be close…time will tell

    • Peter Smith

      Well said! And there are also the non-additions of CB(/nickel) Tharold Simon, and DT Jesse Williams, both of whom were injured all of last year, but could very well be impact players this year. And the sneaky-good snag of UDFA DE Jackson Jeffcoat. I think all three of these guys will make their names known in 2014. With Jeffcoat and Cassius Marsh, our DL could be better than expected, especially when assisted by our beloved Legion of Boom, and what looks to be a deep LB mix (love the Kevin Pierre-Louis pick! Talk about a guy who fits our system!). We may have actually improved on defense, especially when growth and experience are taken into consideration. Young teams generally only get better.

      Arguably, the weakest part of our team in most people’s eyes is the OL. But… is it really? If Britt can step in at RT as play like Tom Cable thinks he can, then we may be better than many expect up front. James Carpenter, if he can stay healthy, might just turn into the LG we drafted him to be, and let’s remember that we drafted him as a project, so improvement was/is expected. Which leaves RG as the potential weak spot, but Bowie and Sweezy should be able to lock that down well enough.

      Combine the potential dual speed threat of Harvin and PRich on the outsides, a mix of Baldwin, Kearse, Norwood and Miller in the middle, aaaand…. always having Christine Michael and/or Lynch on the field, what can a defense be thinking? How can they stay one step ahead, versus one step behind? Oh yeah, and then there’s that dual threat kid… what’s his name… oh yeah, Russell Wilson. I think we’ve put together a potential nightmare offense for defenses to game-plan.

      A QB who can pass in the pocket, or make a run-out and pass on the run look easy, or just tuck the ball and run it himself. Two WR’s with 4.3 40 speed on the outside (and the versatility of Harvin for trick plays), plus three more WRs who can tear it up in the middle, and an excellent blocking TE who can roll out and catch if needed (Anthony McCoy and Luke Willson are no slouches either). And two RBs who can carry the rock like lead backs, alternating plays. What is an opposing defense to do??

      Oh yeah, and our offense gets to practice against the league’s best defense ta boot. Talk about game preparation!

      Its one game at a time… go 1-0 every week, and consider each game as a championship game. But as a fan its hard not to believe I smell another Lombardi Trophy in the near future. We had great depth and starter talent last year (which was, and will still be crucial in the brutal NFC West), but I argue we only improved in those areas this off-season.

      We’re the best candidate for a repeat in the last decade. But with an ever improving NFC West, the window for success may be getting smaller each year, as our competition is only getting stronger. Sucks to be the divisions that have to play the NFC West……. ;)

    • Daniel Dannen

      The offensive line is crap, and nothing other than pure homer-ism can make you think otherwise. Anyone could see how terrible it was last year. The only meaningful addition that was made to it this offseason was Britt, and we’ll be lucky if he’s AS GOOD as the mediocre and departed Breno Giacomini. The only thing that will save this unit from sub-mediocrity will be Russell Okung (if he stays healthy and returns to his 2012 form).

      • HD

        I guess wie’l see how the season shakes out

  • Anthony N

    On defense we will be better than we were last year. BMax is an improvement over BB, Clem and Red were winding down and Scruggs and Benson, Hill and Williams will prove to be an upgrade not to mention cool Rookies like Marsh and Jeffcoat coming in. The LB core is only going to get better with another year of growth (especially Irvin) and the addition of Louie Pierre.

    On Offense our line is much better by letting Mcquistan and Breno go. Bailey and Bowie will be improvements and Britt is a pro bowler in the making. Tate is the big loss but his contribution or lack thereof in the SB shows we don’t need him, but wait; we add Norwood and RIchardson? Crazy deep. Watch the Canadian FB WR to make an impact too. Add to all that the increased output of CMichaels and Beast modes efforts and well see the O increase productivity. I didn’t even mention Wilsons growth as a QB!

    No, Seattle is going to do fine. They could be the first team to 3 Peat!