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NFC West Breakdown: Seattle Seahawks

Key Additions: FB Justin Griffith (Raiders), DT Colin Cole (Packers), WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Bengals), CB Ken Lucas (Panthers), TE John Owens (Lions), DT Cory Redding (Trade Lions), CB Travis Fisher (Lions).

Key Losses: DT Rocky Bernard (Giants), WR Bobby Engram (Chiefs), RB Maurice Morris (Lions), FB Leonard Weaver (Eagles), C Dominic Raiola (Lions), WR Samie Parker (Raiders), TE Will Heller (Lions) LB Julian Peterson (Trade Lions).

Draft: OLB Aaron Curry (1st), OT Max Unger (2nd), WR Deon Butler (3rd), QB Mike Teel (6th), S Courtney Greene (7th), DE Nick Reed (7th), TE Cameron Morrah (7th).

If there was anything constant about the NFC West division the past few years, it was that Seattle was going to win the division. In the past six years they have been to the playoffs five times and won the division four times. Things have changed for the Seahawks as they are coming off a dreadful season in which went 4-12. They endured tons of injuries, the defense didn't play up to it's ability, and head coach Mike Holmgren coached his final season. This season they hope to fix those problems and get back to what they are used to doing, making the playoffs.

The biggest change this off season for Seattle has to be replacing Mike Holmgren. Seattle has known for sometime that Holmgren has wanted to retire, or leave football for awhile, so in 2007 they went out and hired Jim L. Mora as the secondary's coach/future head coach when Holmgren left. Mora was a head coach for the Atlanta Falcons from 2004-2006 and had some success, taking the team to the playoffs in his first season. In 2006 he instigated a lot of scrutiny when he said he would leave Atlanta to be the head coach of the University of Washington if it was offered to him that season, even if they were in playoff contention which at the time they sort of were. This led to his firing and is how he was available to be a coach for Seattle. One thing is for sure, if he wants to get this team back to the playoffs he will have to fix the injury bug on offense.

Under Holmgren, Seattle had one of the best offenses in the NFL until last season. The offense had virtually no running game and could not keep anyone healthy. They lost several of its receivers to injury including Bobby Engram, Deion Branch, and Nate Burleson. It seemed like they were having to go out and sign someone every week to fill in at receiver. The most important injury this team had was losing Matt Hasselbeck for most of the season. The three time Pro Bowler only played in seven games because of back and knee injuries. If Seattle wants to have any success on offense it needs to keep the offensive line, Hasselbeck, and it's receivers healthy, because they are what made this offense a threat in the past. This has already been a daunting task as WR Deion Branch has had swelling in his reconstructed knee and starting C Chris Spencer hurt his ankle in a pile up. Neither one of them looked to be serious but coming off a season like the Hawks had in 2008, there is still cause for concern.

This off season the team went out and tried to fix some of the problems it faced at receiver by adding star receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The former seventh rounder has proved the past five seasons that he is a top receiver by catching at least 70 passes for over 900 yards in each season despite having Chad Ochocinco wanting the ball every play. Other additions to the offense include Max Unger who can play any position on the offensive line and TE John Owens who is a very good blocking tight end. Both of those players were picked up in hopes of keeping Hasselbeck healthy, which again is very important.

The offense is looking poised for a rebound this season but is the defense looking the same?

Before the start of last season the Seahawks defense looked like it could rank in the top five. It had one of the best linebacker units in the NFL with Julian Peterson, Lofa Tatupu, and Leroy Hill. Their defensive line also looked pretty good with DE Patick Kerney, DE Darryl Tapp, DT Rocky Bernard, and Brandon Mebane starting at the front four. They had Marcus Trufant coming off of a Pro Bowl season, Deon Grant and Brian Russell at safety, and a promising young player in Josh Wilson starting the other corner spot. The defense wasn't immune to injuries either though as Patrick Kerney suffered a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the final nine games of the season. Kerney's absence caused a domino effect that started with a weaker pass rush that in turn put increased pressure on the secondary. The linebackers unit really failed to be the tops in the league even though they played almost every game with the exception of Leroy Hill missing 4 games. Marcus Trufant failed to shutdown any receiver like he did in the 2007 season and the safeties really failed to cover the ball at all.

Despite the lack of plays on defense, there is still reason to be excited with the additions of Cory Redding and Colin Cole at defensive tackle and Aaron Curry replacing Julian Peterson. Curry has missed the first week of training camp but he has as much potential as any young player in the league and could become the best LB on the roster rather quickly. If that is so, then the LB unit will be even scarier than it had been in 2007. Cornerbacks Ken Lucas and Travis Fisher have been added to bolster the depth and act as an insurance policy should the injury bug decide to attack the secondary. Both are veteran defenders with starting experience but hopefully their playing time will be limited to nickel and dime situations. The biggest key for the secondary will be the resurgence of Marcus Trufant because when he's playing up to his ability, he's a special player. Despite the question marks, this defense still has plenty of potential and there are plenty of reasons to be excited if you're a Seahawks fan.

This team is showing some promise but the same question keeps coming up, can this team stay healthy? They have already experienced some injuries in camp with Spencer, Trufant, and Branch which isn't a good sign. You also have to wonder how this team adjusts to Mora's coaching style compared to Holmgren's but that's true for any new head coach. This team is definitely a sleeper team for this season and if they stay healthy they could push the Cardinals for the division.

Record for 2009: 8-8
Record Vs the Cardinals: 1-1 (both teams winning their home games)
Record Vs the NFC West: 4-2