For 10 straight seasons, the Seahawks had
claimed anywhere between six and nine victories, never ascending to great heights or sinking to terrific lows. Sort of like the temperatures in their
home city. In 2004, the Seattle Seahawks may just be the team to beat in the NFC. Coming out of the relatively weak NFC West, Seattle should head into
the season as the division favorite with the Rams as their only true competition. The Seahawks were (5-1) in their division last year and a perfect
(8-0) at home, but if they are going to go far this year, they must improve on their (2-6) road record. It appears that the schedule makers were
paying attention to these numbers because Seattle will not only play their first 2 games of the season on the road, but also six of their first nine
games as well. If the Seahawks can keep things together during this early stretch on the road, they will have a great opportunity to finish the season
strong playing 5 of their last 7 games at home.
Matt Hasselbeck (QB, 6th year, 6'4", 225 lbs); Shaun Alexander (RB, 5th year, 5'11", 225 lbs); Darrell Jackson (WR, 5th year, 6'0",
200 lbs); Steve Hutchinson (OG, 4th year, 6'5", 313 lbs); Walter Jones (OT, 8th year, 6'5", 310 lbs); Anthony Simmons (OLB, 7th year, 6'1", 240 lbs);
Marcus Trufant (CB, 2nd year, 5'11", 200 lbs); Ken Hamlin (S, 2nd year, 6'0", 205 lbs)
Grant Wistrom (DE, 7th year, 6'4",272 lbs, signed from St. Louis); Bobby Taylor (CB, 10th year, 6'3", 216, signed from
Reggie Tongue (S, signed with New York Jets); Shawn Springs (CB, signed with Washington); Norman Hand (DT, signed with
New York Giants)
Chris Terry (OT, 6th year, 6'5", 300 lbs); Cedric Woodard (DT, 5th year, 6'2", 310 lbs); Ken Lucas (CB, 4th, 6'0", 205 lbs);
Koren Robinson (WR, 4th year, 6'1", 205 lbs); Chad Brown (OLB, 12th year, 6'2", 245 lbs); Mac Strong (FB, 12th year, 6'0", 245 lbs).
Matt Hasselbeck has developed into one of the better QBs in the league under head coach Mike Holmgren the past couple years and will continue to lead
an offense that was ranked sixth in the league in 2003. He has good touch and arm strength, although he doesn't throw the long ball particularly well.
He is a great fit for Seattle's version of the West Coast offense, and he is developing into a leader on the offensive side of the ball.
Shaun Alexander isn't your prototypical West
Coast back, but he is among the best runners in the league. He's a good cutback runner who hits the line aggressively and has the speed to bounce
outside. He is very strong between the tackles, but he needs to do a better job of picking up the blitz. Backup Maurice Morris has displayed some
explosiveness, but durability would be a concern if he were asked to fill in for Alexander for a significant period of time. Inexperienced Kerry
Carter should see time as the No. 3 back and the versatile Mack Strong will remain the starter at fullback. The Seahawks have a solid trio at receiver
with Koren Robinson and Darrell Jackson on the outsides and veteran Bobby Engram in the slot. Robinson has great athletic ability, and he makes some
spectacular catches, but he dropped too many balls in 2003. He has the ability to be one of the top receivers in the league, but he has got to become
more consistent. Jackson is an excellent route-runner and he is good at finding holes in the zone, but he’s not much of a vertical threat. Engram is
a cagey veteran with excellent hands who matches up well with most No. 3 cornerbacks. Alex Bannister, who will likely be the No. 4 receiver, lacks
polish but has shown some potential. At this time, Itula Mili is penciled in as the starting tight end, but the coaches are hoping 2002 first-rounder
Jerramy Stevens finally puts it all together this year and takes the job away. He is as physically gifted as most tight ends in the league, with great
size and the speed to create match-up problems for defenses, but up to this point, he has been inconsistent. He appears to have rededicated himself
during the off-season, however, and seems better prepared to fulfill his potential.
In their former home, the AFC West, the Seahawks would have had a hard time contending with the Broncos and Chiefs for a division title and playoff
berth this season. But this is the NFC West, where nine or 10 wins could very well be good enough to claim the division title. Seattle is the favorite
to wear that crown, with a stable offensive unit and capable defense leading Holmgren's team to success probably akin to last year's. To expect more
requires a leap of faith. Wistrom, Taylor, and Tubbs, the three players that were supposed to make the defense dominant, all remain question marks,
and Brown, one of the unit's linchpins, might not be ready to make an impact until the second half. The Seahawks should again be good, not great, are
likely to win the West, and could earn their first playoff victory in 20 years. But much more is improbable.