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.
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.