Eric Parks, Managing Editor
With the start of the 2019 NFL season, the sport’s 100th anniversary, already underway, fans of all 32 franchises are excited to see what is in store for their team. After an unexpected playoff berth and an active offseason, Seattle Seahawks fans have as much reason as any others to be optimistic.
Prior to last season, Cynthia Frelund, a data analyst for NFL.com that uses a computer model to project win totals, predicted that the Seahawks would finish 6-10. After a rough 0-2 start, many fans had written the team off, as well. However, the Seahawks won six of their last seven to finish 10-6, good enough for the fifth seed in the playoffs. Seattle lost in the first round to Dallas, 24-22, but most fans were pleased with the team’s postseason qualification. After a full offseason with many additions and subtractions, fans and analysts are more optimistic about this 2019 Seahawks team than they were a year ago.
The Seahawks’ offseason did not begin how most fans would have liked. The team traded star defensive end Frank Clark to the Chiefs and lost future Hall of Fame safety Earl Thomas in free agency to the Ravens. General Manager John Schneider had a plan to replace these players and upgrade the defense in general, and that became clear in the ensuing weeks and months. Seattle signed defensive end Ezekiel Ansah from Detroit on a bargain contract because of his injury history. If Ansah can stay healthy, he helps fill the gaps left by Frank Clark and fellow defensive end Dion Jordan. Additionally, the Seahawks used the draft pick they received from the Chiefs on defensive end L.J. Collier. Collier will need some development from Seattle’s coaching staff, but he looks to be a great fit for Pete Carroll’s scheme. Fans were pleased with these moves, but when Seattle completed a trade in early September for all-star defensive end Jadeveon Clowny from Houston for rotational linebackers Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin, as well as a 2020 third round pick, analysts such as NFL Network’s Jim Trotter stated that General Manager John Schneider “won the offseason.” Pairing these new players with defensive tackles Jarran Reed, Al Woods, and Poona Ford makes Seattle’s defensive front the best it has been in a while.
While losing Earl Thomas in the secondary will be felt, Seattle used a high draft pick on safety Marquise Blair, and the improved defensive line will help take the pressure off the secondary. Rookie wide receiver D.K. Metcalf, who was a 2019 second round pick, has had a fantastic training camp according to Head Coach Pete Carroll. Pairing him with Tyler Lockett, as well as welcoming back tight end Will Dissly from injury, should spark last year’s questionable passing attack. The offensive line and kicker, two areas of major concern in recent years for the Seahawks, received upgrades in free agency. Seattle signed former Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati from division rival Arizona and kicker Jason Myers from the Jets, who was a Pro Bowl selection last season. With these additions, Seattle has few holes on their roster and will push for the second Super Bowl of the Russell Wilson-Pete Carroll era.
Seattle begins the season at home against the Cincinnati Bengals, then travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. Both games are winnable for the Seahawks, but the schedule gets tougher after that. From weeks three through seven, the Seahawks face three playoff teams: The Saints, Rams and Ravens. Luckily, all three games are at home, but the other two contests will not be easy, either. They play at Arizona and at Cleveland. Both of these teams are significantly improved from last season and have new, young offensive head coaches. After Seattle comes back from their Week 11 bye, they will travel to Philadelphia, come home to play the Vikings, and then have back-to-back road games at the Rams and Panthers. While these two stretches will be difficult for Seattle to manage, the common notion in the NFL is that defenses and running-based offenses travel well, which is what Seattle has been known for. If the team can successfully make it through this stretch, they will be well-seasoned for the playoffs.