Seahawks Insider

Grading the Hawks: The need for speed

Post by Eric Williams on Jan. 8, 2012 at 9:47 am with 43 Comments »
January 8, 2012 9:47 am
Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch runs in for a touchdown past Philadelphia Eagles' Nate Allen in the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

While disappointed his team didn’t make the playoffs, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll overall was pleased with the progress his young team made this season, even though the Seahawks finished 7-9 for a second straight year.

Still, when asked where he thought his team needed to improve at a season-ending press conference this week, Carroll said he wanted to add speed at linebacker, increase the team’s ability to pass rush off the edge and from the interior of the defensive line, and add a playmaker on offense

“You’re always looking for touchdown makers on offense,” Carroll said. “You always want to get guys that can score. So if there’s a wide receiver in the draft that would be cool, if there’s a big- time running back that would be cool.”

That said, here’s a position-by-position look at how the Seahawks graded out at the end of the year.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson warms up before the start of an NFL football game between the St. Louis Rams and the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Quarterback: C
Not many expected Tarvaris Jackson to finish7-7 as a starter. He
showed toughness playing with a torn pectoral muscle for most of the
season. Tabbed the team’s starter in 2012, Jackson’s failings to lead
the Seahawks from behind late in games could force the team to look
for better alternatives.

Running back: B+
Marshawn Lynch rushed for a career-high 1,204 yards and 13 total TDs.
Both Lynch and fullback Michael Robinson were first-alternates for the
Pro Bowl. Now, the Seahawks have to decide how much they want to pay
the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent to keep the team’s best player,

Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Breno Giacomini against the Arizona Cardinals during an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

Offensive line: B+
They went through six different starting combinations and finished the
season with three-fifths of the team’s projected starting line on the
injured reserve. Still, Seattle effectively ran the ball at the end of
the season, a tribute to offensive line/assistant head coach Tom
Cable’s teaching skills.

Receivers: C
High-dollar free agent pickups WR Sidney Rice and TE Zach Miller
underperformed, along with top returner Mike Williams. But undrafted
rookie free agent Doug Baldwin shined, and Golden Tate showed
improvement in his second season.

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons (91) pursues Arizona Cardinals quarterback John Skelton during the first half of an football game Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

Defensive line: B
The front four played stout against the run, but other than Chris
Clemons’ team-high 11 sacks, this group still struggles to
consistently get pressure on the passer.

Linebackers: B
For a third straight season, David Hawthorne led the Seahawks in
tackles (115). Hawthorne could leave in free agency, along with
veteran Leroy Hill. Rookie K.J. Wright proved the most versatile of
the three, and a solid replacement for jettisoned Aaron Curry.

Seattle Seahawks' Brandon Browner, left, intercepts a pass intended for Washington Redskins Jabar Gaffney, right, in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Secondary: A-
Earl Thomas earned his first Pro Bowl invitation, while fellow safety
Kam Chancellor and CB Brandon Browner were selected as first
alternates. Rookie corner Richard Sherman finished with four
interceptions in 10 starts, and could join his teammates on that list
next year.

Special teams: C
Leon Washington was solid, but not as explosive as last season. Punter
Jon Ryan had another good year, and kicker Steven Hauschka made people
forget about Olindo Mare. The usually solid coverage units gave up
three returns for TDs and were one of the most penalized groups in the
NFL this season.

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll celebrates an interception by cornerback Richard Sherman (25) with Sherman and Doug Baldwin (15) in the second half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011. The Seahawks won 38-14. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Coaching: B+
Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider have revamped the roster, with the
Seahawks going from the seventh-oldest team last season to the
second-youngest. Impressively, Seattle stayed competitive while doing
so, and appears primed to make a legitimate playoff run in 2012.

General Seahawks
Leave a comment Comments → 43
  1. JazBadAzz says:

    We’ll be drafting Courtney Upshaw first overall, he can play linebacker at the strong side to make playson run downs and rush from the end on 3rd downs…book it!

  2. I think the only reason Jackson gets a “C” is because we expected him to be worse. To me, a “C” means average and he’s not that good. He left the Giants game with it tied and it was Whitehurst-to-Baldwin and then the Browner INT that won that game in New Jersey, not Jackson. The stats show 7-7 as a starter, but that’s like giving a starting pitcher a win for leaving the game in the 4th inning with the game tied at 2-2 (so without the Giants win he was supposedly responsible for, he’s 6-7 in games he started/finished). Also, he gave the ball away more (interceptions + lost fumbles) than he had TD passes. I only see below average (I would have been fine with a C- b/c that’s okay, but still below average). Sure, you can point to injuries that hurt (like Rice and Okung for 3 games) but you can point to injuries that helped him, too. Nobody can tell me losing Carpenter wasn’t one of the best things that happened to this offense (although perhaps Carp would have been better had they been smart enough to feed the Beast earlier and more often in the season). Did BMW do anything before he got hurt? No. So crying about that injury doesn’t make sense. And how many QBs got the benefit of having a run game as great as Lynch the last half of the season? He’s lucky he didn’t have to face an above average QB opposing him the last 7-8 games of the regular season (Bradford is good, but not half dead as in injured and can’t even push off), it it may have magnified how bad he is/was, too. It’s easier to look good when you’re playing the Caleb Hanie’s of the world.

  3. Seahawks2620 says:

    Upshaw looks solid, however he is rather slow. I’m not sure Carroll would be interested in another “slow” line backer, seeing as how he would like some speed at the position.

  4. Good grades. But they’re averages for the whole season, and averages hide the real story.

    When Jackson was throwing with his pec torn up, or stumbling around amidst offensive line breakdowns, or waiting for guys like Tate and Obo to get open, he was a D. When he wasn’t gimped by his torn pec, when his O line was doing their jobs, and Rice and Baldwin were on the field, he had a lot of B+ performances. On average, he gets a C.

    The offensive line early in the season, first few games, was the worst I’ve ever seen during a regular season. It was training camp material, constant breakdowns, two rookies, Okung limping, Gallery not ready. That early O line was a D. The final run of games, with backups, from the Ravens game until the end? That was an A for effort if not technique. On average, a B+ to be proud of.

  5. Jackson gets a C because “we expected him to be worse”? Haha. Okay. On the other hand, maybe Jackson gets a C because the offensive line that started the season with him was a D, then he tore his throwing muscles, and then the WR corps who finished the season with him was a D.

  6. devisscher says:

    The best touchdown maker we could add would be one that could throw for a touchdown.

    Jackson is a joke, should have got an F

  7. Courtney Upshaw? I would say Sam Montgomery and Andre Branch are better scheme fits.

  8. JazBadAzz says:

    Jackson is definitely a D
    O-Line started as a F and finish with a A-
    Rb’s A
    receivers c with out Baldwin it would b an F
    D Line gets a B could be an A if we could get Clemons help rushing the passer
    Secondary gets an A easily the strength of our team.

    I hate watching the giants because they have so many guys that can rush the passer and we have only 1…I think we could’ve had pierre paul but o’well

  9. HawkfaninMT says:

    Im looking forward to seeing both Montgomery and Upshaw on Monday. Should be fun!

    At the moment I would say Branch or Marcilus in the 2nd round (or late 1st after a trade down) would be the best fits for us.

    On the TD maker side, I still wouldn’t mind a first spent on Jeffery or Floyd. Isn’t Desean Jackson going to be a Free Agent? He is a td maker, thats been proven

  10. Dukeshire says:

    Eli is ripping up Atlanta’s cover 2. They may want to go to quarters or cover 1. Falcons D being handled.

  11. boycie99 says:

    Personally I think thats a very fair grade for TJack and the criticism is a little harsh

    Lets look at the facts, he started the season behind an O-line that was starting 2 rookies on the right side that were quite honestly like a saloon door. Later in the season he was playing with a different O-line almost every week.
    Now on to the WR corp, Baldwin was a revelation but Rice and Williams were the 2 biggest disappointments on this team for me and basically contributed hardly anything and the TE, well one dropped almost every catch and the other was in blocking….. Leaving Obo, Tate (Who cant run routes) and Butler just back from a serious leg injury

    You look at the facts and that TJack played through a serious muscle injury that effected his throwing arm and I think TJack did better than some on here like to think

  12. bigmike04 says:

    To Eric
    why did you give pete carroll & john schnider a B + for grading??? Thought I give both of them D + because they failed big time to get a real QB who can actuality play because Tarvish Jackson failed big time this season, 2nd pete Carroll deserve an D because let face it their were questionable play calling this whole season… but that just my opinion..

  13. Stevos – valid points. We may agree to disagree to a certain extent but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect some of the pro-Tarvaris arguments.

    In no way, shape, or form is that guy a leader by example, especially playing through what he played through. The weird part of his season is that he played best when he was hurt and worst when he was healthy (early/end of season). If he were a player at almost any other position, I’d like him and not think he needed to be replaced so badly, but I have such high value for the QB position that I want someone that is considered good.

    The funny part about their philosophy of building the line before bringing in a QB is that the “foundation” they drafted didn’t turn out to be the foundation they hoped for (Carp won’t be ready for the start of next season). The “foundation” was really guys they already had (Okung/Unger), a coach they hired (Cable) and a couple of scrubs they signed that were coached up and fit well with the system (McQuistan/Breno).

  14. oops

    “In no way, shape, or form is that guy ***NOT*** a leader by example…”

    = A REAL LEADER BY EXAMPLE (I don’t know if it could have come out much worse than I intended)

  15. I don’t think Tebow is very good, overall, in the first 45 minutes of each game (today he was) but you can’t tell me that he’s not a guy you wouldn’t want in your foxhole late in the game! Down go the Steelers! Love it!

  16. I don’t know what to make of Tebow. I want to hate the guy. But he’s simply the most exciting player in the game right now and he is an absolute winner. Congrats to the Broncos.

  17. BigBlew says:

    I’m certainly not a Bronco fan… However It’s incredibly fun watching the steelers bite it. Couldn’t be happier.

    I’m not a Jackson appreciator at all. I don’t want a game manager. I want someone to play the position as it is intended to be played. I’d give him a D- at best. Cable I’d give A+ for all the obvious reasons.

  18. Best game Tebow has had all year. He buys time, and today at least, hit guys deep.

    Pretty easy to root for the guy, that’s for sure. And doesn’t hurt to be beating the Steelers. Reminds me of our win over N.O. last year.

  19. Seahawks2620 says:

    Tebow didn’t really have to buy time, when his pocket was spotless for almost 10 seconds per down. It was ridiculous. I am now, and always will sip on the “hatorade” when it comes to Tebow. I know it seems harsh, but I just can’t stand the kid. He is not a legitimate QB, and he will never be one. It’s just irritating seeing everyone give him a pat on the freakin back, when it’s his team that makes him better. They have one of the best offensive lines in the league, and some pretty solid weapons as well. Put him behind the Seahawks O-line and see how well he performs. He definitely wouldn’t have time to take a nap in the pocket like he does in Denver.

  20. He did have plenty of protection on many throws, but on many of the big plays he bought time. And his running ability is a big part of what causes other teams to stack the line, which helps create those big plays.

    I do know what you’re saying – there have been games where his teammates deserve most of the credit, and he seems to get all of it. But, a) it’s not his fault the media does that; and, b) give the guy credit today, he made a lot of big plays. 10 completed passes for 316 yards? Not bad at all.

  21. Seahawks2620 says:

    pdway- completely agree. I guess I just let my emotions get the better of me, while typing that previous comment. I just don’t want everyone to literally treat him as if he is god in human form. It is just a bit absurd.

  22. There’s more to football than measuring up to the stereotypes, and that’s what’s interesting and exciting about Tebow. Unless you’re a Steeler fan, you’ve got to love the fact that he beat them. Sure, it was a whole team effort. Of course. But he hit the passes he needed to hit – the passes everyone said he couldn’t. So good for him. And if he prays, so what? It’s better than slamming someone’s head on the ground repeatedly and kicking him.

  23. Southendzone says:

    How would Hawks offense look if we swapped out Forsett for LeMicheal James? (and resigned Lynch). That would go a ways to satisfy the need for speed and keep beast around as our #1. At 185 lbs, LeMicheal isn’t going to be an every down guy.

  24. Tebow certainly isn’t a finished product by any stretch of the imagination and can look downright horrible at times. If I had to list the top 32 starting QBs in the NFL I’m pretty sure I’d put him near the bottom. However, if I had to rank all of those QBs as to who I’d want the ball in their hands with 2 minutes left and needing a score, he’d be on a very short list after guys like Brady, Brees, and Rogers. Sure, there has been some luck involved with some of his games (Marion Barber being a moron) but this was a team that was 1-4 before he took over, too. That same 1-4 team had the same playmakers, offensive line, and defense. I think Tebow at least deserves a little bit of credit. Personally, I’ll take a guy that prays and tries to be a good person and root for him any day of the week over a guy like Ben Rapistburger.

  25. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Big Bum and the Stealers have been on their way down since Ruthlessraper was exposed for what he is.

    I would rather have Tebow as my qb any day of the week over Jackson! Some people forget that Elway was a career 55% passer for his first ten years in the NFL, however he was also the most feared qb of that time, imo.
    Jake Locker will be better than Tebow, and Newton, however our FO chose for the second straight year to underachieve at the most important position.
    Let’s hope they don’t screw it up three years in a row!

  26. Concerning a QB,the FO didn’t find THEIR guy last year at an acceptable price. Really, the only guy we could have had was Dalton rather than Carpenter. Good chance though that had he played, Dalton would now be injured for life. Our line was terrible and T-Jack was brought in as an affordable & expendable QB. He is a stop-gap guy and his contract shows that.

    As for the “other” positions, they turned the roster around quickly and found some good talent in places that you don’t count on to find it.

    Next season the table is set for a qb aquisition to elevate this team to the next(playoff) level. So my wish list is this: The Right Guy. But hell what fun is that? So I will guess that it is Flynn. No draft picks given, just a straight signing. An educated gamble by Schneider who has seen him up close. Keep the draft picks free so that we can have maximum fun come draft day!

    I was happy to see the Steelers go down today too, though no team has ever pegged my hate meter as high as the Broncos used to do.

  27. raymaines says:

    I think all the grades are a little inflated. The grades average out to to a B- (almost 2.88 out of four), and that’s just too high for a 7-9 team.

  28. I give the OL a far lower grade – We still can’t Pass Pro without a TE or keeping someone else in to protect. Which, IMO, lowered the grade of our Receivers, I think it sucks that the last 2 season (1 for Carlson, and 1 for Miller) we have wasted a decent or better TE receiver to help protect or worse yet block out of the backfield.

    I still think there is potential but I want to see in our base offense we can block with 5 guys and not needing a million extra guys to protect ( ok I exaggerate a little)

    I also think our WR would be better with a better QB – Tjack has been a good stop gap guy – but all you hear all week this week. Eli M. makes his WR better, Aaron R. makes his WR better, Tom B. . . . you get the idea. That will never be heard for TJack – He holds the ball too long, looks at just a portion of the field, and can’t scramble to save his life. NONE of those issues will be corrected with a healthy Pectoral muscle.

  29. Football is the ultimate team game. I think its always a mistake to try to place all the blame on any one of 11 players, even though the QB is the biggest piece of the 11.

    Like sc pointed out, its a stretch to put all the blame on the offensive line or the receivers without recognizing that good QBs do make receivers and lines look better. TJack often stood in the pocket too long, showed poor footwork in the pocket, looked indecisive, and made some bad decisions that led to sacks and turnovers.

    Likewise, it would also be real stretch to put all the blame on TJack without recognizing his struggles in the final games with young WRs like Tate and Lockette who ran sloppy routes and failed to gain separation, or BMW who never got any separation, or Obo who dropped balls. TJack spent far too much time scanning the field wondering which of those guys might be able to make a play. That rarely happened when Rice was on the field, as TJack could trust him. TJack spent less time standing in the pocket thinking when Rice was on the field — look back at the replays. TJack also was poorer at decisions and looked less certain with pass rushers coming at him from all angles due to multiple O line breakdowns on pass plays, and that happened in more games than not. TJack was more decisive when under less pressure, and that never happened until near season’s end after Rice was on the bench and Baldwin was regularly double-covered.

    Sure its fun to gripe about just one guy, but it all works together or it doesn’t. The offense was a “C” offense because of TJack’s limitations, AND a WR corps that was lame by season’s end, AND a novice O line, AND no off-season program for the young players to learn together. There’s no telling how much better any of those pieces might have performed if the others had played better.

    I saw a lot of improvements that told me every part of this offense – including Jackson – will be improved through offseason work together even before they’ve stepped on the field next September.

    A few new players will simply be a bonus on top of that improvement.

  30. * Like xcman pointed out

  31. The Hawks need smart, instinctive players that understand their assignments(e.g., Doug Baldwin, K.J. Wright.)

    Taylor Mays and Darnell Bing, both former Trojan DBs looked like Tarzan.

  32. Jackson can’t cover the field and look to a bunch of different receivers so it really doesn’t make sense to have people running routes that will never get looked at so it only makes more sense to keep an extra guy in to block.

    Saying no other QB would have survived the beating that Jackson took in the 1st month of the season is like saying that we had good pass protection in ’08 (back injury had nothing to do with pass protection) or ’09. We did not and our QBs took beatings every bit as bad as the first month this year (except whereas this only lasted a little over a month those years were almost every week of bad pass protection and no run game, which he had the benefit of that no other Seahawks QB since ’05 had the benefit of). Or the Oakland game last year.

    And we probably took about 10 needless sacks this past year than we should have because he held onto the ball too long.

  33. RDPoulsbo says:

    C is a fair grade for Jackson. He’s an average QB, but the problem is average doesn’t get you past the 7-9 win season or deep into the playoffs in today’s NFL. I don’t blame him for his troubles early in the season. The Week 1 line had the least experience in the league since 1995. Along with that comes some pretty ugly protection. My problem is whenever he had to put the offense on his shoulders to win the game, he folded like a cheap suit.

  34. Dukeshire says:

    I don’t want to pile on Jackson here, but one thing was reaffirmed after watching the playoff games this weekend: he is simply awful at buying time in the pocket and scrambling. After watching so-called “un-athletic” QBs like Manning, Ryan and a hobbled Rothlisberger evade pressure time and again it makes me wonder why he struggles with this. Feeling pressure and sensing where it’s coming from and how to escape it is terribly nuanced, I don’t know that there’s an easy answer for this. It’s not like correcting a mechanical issue in a throwing motion or learning to read a defense. Those are very tangible things. But one thing is for certain, if the pocket collapses on Jackson, the play is all but dead. Not good.

  35. HawkfaninMT says:

    So the 3 worst grades come at QB, WR, and Special Teams. So I would assert that these should be the main focus of the offseason, with a special eye to things we know PC/JS value. Those being youth, speed and agressiveness, and size.

    Some options worth explroing?

    QB- 1)Trade up and draft RG3 or Luck 2)Sign a Free Agent (Flynn, … any other options?) 3)Continue with T-Jack as the starter and draft a mid-round QB to groom as the Future QB

    WR- 1) Draft a 1st or 2nd round WR to replace BMW (Jefferey, Floyd, KJ Wright) 2) Sign a Free Agent (DeSean jackson, Vincent Jackson, not really sure who will be available but these 2 seem probable) 3) Hope that BMW or Obo really excel over the offseason

    ST- I Like Haushka, and am fine with our kick return units. I really think that our coverage units will benefit from the offseason and cohesion that comes with a decrease in the roster churn that took place and has finally begun to die down.

  36. yellaman says:

    I don’t agree with quarterback getting a C grade. I would give the QB position a D (Below Average) as well as Running Back a C and WR a D. The reason for the low grades on the offensive side of the ball is just look at the season numbers Total offense wa 28th, Passing Offense was 22nd and rushing offense was 21st. If Lynch didn’t play we had no running game. Our WR’s didn’t make enough plays or Jackson could get the ball out to our WRs. I don’t know who was more ineffective but the offensive line was a surprise after the injuries we accrued and the defense was what I was hoping for ( Top 10) but penalties was a problem and lack of pressure on the opposing QB was a problem. Team needs depth/upgrades at:

    QB, RB, WR, DE, & LB

  37. If you throw out the stats from the first 8 games, this team grades much better…and that’s the fair thing to do, considering all of the roster changes, lack of offseason work, etc…

    Can anyone provide a stat comparison between games 1-8 and 9-16?

  38. Audible – fair point. However, I don’t see many scenarios where we’re going to get as bad of an 8 game stretch again (final 8 games this past season) where we went up against horrible QB play, too, so the numbers will always be a bit scewed. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love Sam Bradford and think he’s a good QB, but the Sam Bradford we saw twice was a guy that was extremely hobbled and couldn’t virtually do anything. The second Rams game was almost like watching the Rapist yesterday (though I love watching him lose). That means all we saw for the final two months (8 games) was VY (sucks), Alex Smith (sucks), Skelton (sucks), Sexy-Rexy (who sucks worse than sucks), and Hanie (sucks worse than Rex). Really, the only decent guy that we faced was Flacco and that was 8 games ago (and I think he’s overrated).

    Now, I’m certainly not trying to be “debbie-downer” here because I truly love much of our roster moving forward, but there are some concerns I have with going against good QBs moving forward (and not having one). One thing I’m scared of is good, athletic QBs (VY was only athletic, he’s nothing by way of good) and I think Mr. Happy is too in reading that he wants more athleticism moving forward at LB (in addition to pass rush ability, which may come via a LB position).

    Next year we’re gonna see (outside the division) Rogers, Brady, Cutler (unless we get lucy with Hanie II again), Newton, Stafford, and Romo. I’m certainly not a big Romo fan, but if we would have faced the Cowboys this past season, Romo would have been close to the top of the list of QBs we faced all season (that’s pretty sad). We need to improve and I have no doubt they know this too.

    May we sign Flynn and get a legit pass rusher at #11 (win coin flip). That’s my ideal scenario. I don’t care if it’s a LB, DT, or DE. I just want someone who can quickly get to the QB.

  39. “May we sign Flynn and get a legit pass rusher at #11 (win coin flip). That’s my ideal scenario. I don’t care if it’s a LB, DT, or DE. I just want someone who can quickly get to the QB.”

    I’m cool w/that too if our guys think Flynn can play.

    And we did play Dallas this year . . .though I’ll agree that it was a forgettable game, except that it was the one that started Marshawn on his nice streak.

  40. I just meant the last 8 games of the season.

  41. Hawksrule says:

    I can’t believe the amount of Jackson bashing I hear – I wasn’t a Jackson fan when we signed him but he won me over with his play during the season. Other than his frustrating knack of holding the ball too long I thought he did a great job. Does anyone remember the beating he took in pre-season and at the start of regular season – Hasslebeck would have killed! Jackson’s accurate, makes good reads and has some scrambling ability – he’s not Rodgers, Brady or Brees but 28 other teams don’t have those 3 either; We could spend years drafting Joe Flacco type guys in hopes they turn into superstars, but outside of the superstars, I think Jackson can be mentioned in the same breath. I think a C is too hard on him for what he did; more like a B-.

  42. B- for more turnovers than TDs? What the heck kind of grading scale are you used to?

    Bullcrap Hasselbeck would have been killed. Was he killed in ’06, ’08 (did Senceca get hurt?; Matt’s back wasn’t hurt during the season), or ’09? You CANNOT tell me that the OL was any worse the first months of this past season than all of those seasons.

  43. The 2011 opening day offensive line was worse by far than the ’06 and ’08 lines. At least as bad or worse than the ’09 line. But that’s just my opinion.

    Good thing is, this line improved more over the season than any of those lines did. Improved tremendously. And that’s the only thing I really want to keep thinking about through the offseason.

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0