Just a thought. What if the passing game simply needs time?
Russell Wilson spent most of training camp splitting reps and competing for the starting job. It’s not the ideal situation to create chemistry with your receivers or get a complete feel for the offense. I don’t have an issue with the competition and think the right man won the gig, but the lack of a complete off-season is probably having some impact in Wilson’s first season.
There’s no reason why he won’t gradually start to build that rapport, in fact I think we’ve already started to see evidence of it. Look how well he’s started to find Doug Baldwin on third down as a good example here. He’s working out the strengths and weaknesses of each receiver and he’s making more plays as a consequence. Who’s to say that with further game time and an off-season where he’s the unquestioned starter, that relationship couldn’t develop even further?
Most people gave the additions of Sidney Rice and Zach Miller a thumbs up. Golden Tate has shown flashes, aside from Thursday’s horror show. Baldwin is making a promising start to his career even if injuries have hampered his second year so far. It’s unlikely Rice and Miller will survive on their current contracts for 2013, but it’s not impossible for both to remain on the roster. It’s a group that could use at least one solid addition in free agency or the draft, probably two. But it’s not a hopeless group without potential.
The running game is working extremely well and Marshawn Lynch is undoubtedly one of the top five running backs in the league. The run blocking is also performing well so far, certainly it’s been superior to the pass protection (which in fairness, has improved a lot in the last three games). The Seahawks really only have one major flaw right now – and that’s the passing game.
It’s very easy to sit here and say the front office must go big to improve the skill positions. It’s much harder to be patient and trust the investment made in several key players. The Seahawks haven’t ignored the passing game – quite the opposite in fact. The entire offense has seen a big injection of cash and draft stock, it’s just a shame that the results haven’t matched the outlay so far. Maybe it’ll just take time?
The flashes of quality that we have seen (the Patriots game, for example) are cause for such optimism. The big test will be to see whether gradual improvement continues. It’s hard to be too critical when the team faces a defense like San Francisco’s on the road on a short week. Even then mere execution was the issue, not a lack of talent. There are several winnable home games in the second half of the schedule and that’s where we’ll learn how good this offense can be with the current personnel.
It may be that the offense does keep improving and that would put Seattle in an ideal drafting scenario. They don’t want to be handcuffed to need in a way they perhaps have been since 2010. If the top three players available in round one next April are defensive players, I’m sure they’d like to keep improving a unit which is earning elite status. I imagine the front office would welcome the opportunity to draft a ‘luxury’ pick like another linebacker, a defensive tackle or even another corner because the offense has stepped up in a big way this year. If we don’t see big improvements as the season continues, we’ll probably end up concentrating on receivers, offensive lineman and maybe even quarterbacks.
The point of this piece is really to remind us all that it’s October. A lot can change between now and April and while most assume – myself included – that drafting a receiver or tight end will be the priority. It’s hard to move away from that, but things can change quickly.
Three defensive prospects the Seahawks might show interest in:
Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia) – athletic linebacker and former safety. Incredible range to make plays and owns untapped potential as a pass rusher. Plays inside for the Bulldogs but could move to the WILL in Seattle.
Arthur Brown (LB, Kansas State) – ‘heart of the defense’ type of player who loves the game of football. During recruiting at USC, Pete Carroll once referred to this guy as the best linebacker he’d scouted in seven years.
Jonathan Banks (CB, Mississippi State) – Tall, physical corner very much in the mould of Seattle’s current tandem. He’s also a playmaker who forces turnovers.
Getting to grips with Dion Jordan
There aren’t many 6-7 pass rushers with the athletic talent of Dion Jordan. I’ve never seen a guy like this before. Usually at that height the movement skills aren’t there, they stick to the defensive line and they carry a lot more weight than 240lbs. Jordan’s size is more traditional for a pass-catching tight end – the position he was expected to play coming out of high school. Yet here he is, seven games into his senior season and with five sacks already.
It still amazes me how much he’s in coverage for a guy that big. I doubt it’s something he’ll do that much in the NFL, but it will reassure scouts that want to use him as a 3-4 OLB. The big issue I had coming into the year was really that the most interesting thing about Jordan was the height and athleticism. It’s great being that big and being able to run fast, but you’ve got to show you can rush the passer against some of the weaker opponents on Oregon’s powder puff early schedule. The sack at 0:22 in the video below is what we need to see and Jordan has really polished up his technique as a senior. He’s starting to use his athleticism in a positive way – he’s less of a gimmick these days and looks like he belongs out there.
His all-round pressure against Arizona State last week was impressive and in an era where Chandler Jones gets talked into the first round (with a decent start to his NFL career), there’s no doubt in my mind that Jordan will end up being a top-15 pick. He has limitless potential and in the right scheme (imagine him across from DeMarcus Ware in Dallas) he could be a star for the future. Jordan and Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore are developing into the two premier pass rushers in the 2013 eligible draft class.