Seahawks offseason crucial to championship window.

Coming off another season of falling a little short of their expectations, the Seahawks are faced with an offseason crucial to their championship window.

More than a month after a difficult playoff loss the Seahawks are faced with the harsh reality of a make or break offseason. The decisions made over the next several months could determine wether the championship window is still wide open, or about to slam shut.

From the outside, the 2016 season looked like a successful one for the Seahawks. Double digit wins, a Division Title, and a trip to the Divisional round of the playoffs for the fifth straight year seems pretty solid. Yet there were events that transpired over the course of the year that leaves some doubt and questions as to what the future holds for a team heading into a crucial offseason.

Is this team still hungry? This is the first thing that comes to mind. Yes, they had a good season all things considered, but there was a time when this team wasn’t just good, it was dominant. A big reason for that dominance was the talent. But talent was only part of the story. From 2012-2014 there wasn’t a hungrier team in the NFL.

When you have a core group of players who have tasted incredible highs and devastating lows, what’s left? At times this team has appeared to be complacent with a solid five year run. Where is that win at all costs motivation? Pete Carroll is going to have to solve that riddle this offseason if the Seahawks want a shot at another Super Bowl.

Another offseason development to look in to are coaching staff changes. Some offseason staff shakeups have already taken place and will be worth monitoring moving forward. A lot of these moves have flown under the radar, but the Seahawks have lost some important pieces. Lofa Tatupu (Assistant Linebacker’s Coach), Rocky Seto (Assistant Head Coach/Defense), and Sherman Smith (Running Back’s Coach) are all gone.

Tatupu and Seto left on their own terms to pursue passions outside of football.  Smith’s departure was different and may be the most puzzling. The long time assistant was unexpectedly fired upon learning that the team wanted to get fresh, younger blood at the position. This was a head scratcher. Why fire a guy who is one of the original Seahawks (drafted by the team in 1976) and had been part of an extremely successful ground attack up until last season.

Speaking of which, the woes of the ground game in 2016 were purely a result of poor offensive line play and the inability of running backs to stay healthy. Sherman Smith was not the issue. It will be interesting to see what sort of effect these coaching changes have on the team in the long run.

When evaluating where the Seahawks sit during the offseason it’s also important to look at the core of the team. When looking at several key players like Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Doug Baldwin, and Jimmy Graham one question comes to mind. How much longer can they do this?

Everyone knows the adage that the NFL stands for “Not For Long”. It wouldn’t be a big surprise if those players came out and all had great seasons. But it also wouldn’t be a surprise if those players showed some signs of slowing down. A slight drop off from several or all of these players could be the difference in double digit wins and missing the playoffs.

The previously mentioned storylines, are all interesting, but they might not carry the same weight as this next item to watch. Over the coming months how the Seahawks will need to address the glaring weakness that is the offensive line. Whether it’s through the draft or through free agency, the team must make moves to get better up front.

The offensive line will have to find a way to not get bowled over in 2017. As I’ve mentioned before, they don’t need to be an All-Pro unit. They don’t even have to be good. They just need to be able to get in the way of opposing defenses. At times in 2016, that task proved to be too tall of an order.

The guys they have in there are young and seem to be hungry for success. Even if they do make a huge improvement this year, it would still be wise to bring in some capable players to push the guys already on the roster. No matter what, the line has to be better than it was last season if the Seahawks want to win more than 10 games and advance past the divisional round.

The way the front office, coaches, and players handle their business this offseason will determine wether this run is extended or comes to screeching halt. Let’s hope for the latter.