Even though they lost to a young Cowboys team in the wild card game, the Seahawks’ 2018-2019 season is considered to be a success by many since the team was able to go 10-6, when they were expected to have a sub-500 record. Many considered that era of dominance in the NFC to be completed, as the team decided to release Richard Sherman and trade Michael Bennett for cheap. After their 0-2 record to start the season, the team went to win 10 games and only lose 4 for the rest of the season, leading the league in rushing and turnover differential.
A major factor behind their success was the adoption of “Marty Ball”, a defensive-minded offensive scheme ran by head coach Marty Schottenheimer, which prioritized in decreasing the amount of time the defense was on the field and increasing turnover differential through a strong and powerful rushing attack. Marty Schottenheimer produced some of the most effective rushing attacks in the history of the NFL, and played a major role in the careers of Pro Bowl running back Priest Holmes and Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Often mocked by the saying “run, run, pass, punt”, “Marty Ball” was the reason behing the hiring of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer (the son of Marty) during the 2018 offseason.
The Seahawks did lose some valuable starters throughout the 2019 offseason. Future Hall of Fame safety Earl Thomas was upset that he did not receive a contract extension that he desired with the ‘Hawks, leaving the team to join the Ravens on a 4-year, $55 million dollar deal. Elite slot corner Justin Coleman also decided to leave the team, signing a 4-year, $36 million deal that made him the highest paid slot corner at the time.
During the offseason, the Seahawks traded star defensive end Frank Clark to the Chiefs for a 2019 first-round pick, a 2020 second-round pick, and a swap of third-round picks in the 2019 draft. Clark would later sign an extension that would make him the third-highest paid defensive player in the league, with his contract paying him an average of $21.5 million a year, just behind All-Pros in Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack. Starting defensive tackle Shamar Stephen left for the Vikings on a 3-year, $12.45 million deal, rejoining an elite defensive line in Minnesota.
On offense, starting left guard J.R. Sweezy left for the division rival Cardinals on a 2-year, $9 million deal. Sweezy was a valuable starter at left guard, and earned himself Pro Bowl alternate recognition for his performance during the 2018-2019 season. Backup quarterback Brett Hundley also left for the Cardinals, and is signed for a one-year deal. Second-string running back Mike Davis left the team to join the Bears on a 2-year deal, that would pay him $6 million. Davis played an important role as a change-of-pace back and was often used in two minute drills for the offense.
For special teams, the team decided to let kicker Sebastian Janikowski and S Maurice Alexander leave. Sebastian Janikowski has decided to retire after 19 seasons in the league, and was the 17th pick in the 2000 draft by the Raiders. Alexander will join the Bills on a 1-year, $1 million dollar deal.
The Seahawks re-signed many veterans during the offseason, including starting linebackers K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks. The signings of these two linebackers were important as they become one of the best linebacker trios in the NFL. Starting right guard D.J. Fluker was re-signed after a strong performance in the previous season and is an important leader on the offensive line.
Starting defensive end Quinton Jefferson was resigned and tackle/tight-end George Fant were resigned for the next year. Jefferson started opposite Clark during the 2018 season where is credited for being a steady edge defender in the run game. Fant filled in as the sixth offensive lineman where he was forced to check-in as a tight-end, and did a good job for his role. Fant even bothered to catch a pass for eight yards on Monday Night Football.
In order to replace the void left by left guard J.R. Sweezy, the Seahawks signed Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati. Iupati has struggled to stay healthy during his tenure in Arizona but has established himself as one of the best run-blocking guards in the league when healthy, and will certainly make a big impact when on the field. Pro Bowl kicker Jason Myers will join the ‘Hawks on a 4-year, $15.45 million dollar deal. Myers was signed by the team last year, but lost the starting job to Sebastian Janikowski and was claimed by the Jets last year. Pro Bowl defensive end Ziggy Ansah was also added on a one-year, $9 million contract.
In the secondary, the Seahawks resigned corner Akeem King and acquired nickelback Jamar Taylor. Both players will be competing to fill the hole left by Justin Coleman.
The Seahawks added many key players through the draft as well. First-round pick L.J. Collier looks to add some flavor to a defensive line that just lost their sack leader in Frank Clark. Pete Carroll already began Michael Bennett comparisons to Clark because he can play any position on the defensive line. Second-round pick Marquise Blair is a hard-hitter with range, and has excited fans in the Pacific Northwest because he provides a Kam Chancellor-type presence when on the field. Wide receiver DK Metcalf may have been the steal of the draft for this team since he adds a dangerous component to the team’s play action passing game, as Carroll has finally found a big receiver that is capable of thriving in his offensive scheme. Third and fifth-round linebackers Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven have been highly praised for their play recognition and instincts. Fourth-round pick Gary Jennings and seventh-round pick John Ursua look like a strong candidate to replace Doug Baldwin’s spot in the slot. Safety Ugo Amadi, has been a swiss army knife for the team, being able to play free safety, nickelback, and fill in on both punt and kick return in addition to being a special teams ace. Also, sixth-round running back Travis Homer would be an ideal fit for the third down back role due to his pass protection and receiving prowess.
This season, the Seahawks will be able to exceed the offensive production that they displayed in the previous season. Running back Rashaad Penny has stayed healthy in the preseason and has slimmed down in weight, while the team certainly improved their play action passing game with Mike Iupati and DK Metcalf. On defense, Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers look forward to fix the flaws shown in the previous season and Tedric Thompson and Bradley McDougald look to build off their strong 2018 season. One position group to watch this season would be the defensive line since they do not have a dominant pass rusher besides defensive end Ziggy Ansah and the Seahawks are interested in trading for Pro Bowl pass rusher Jadaveon Clowney.
This season, the Seahawks are projected to go 11-5. In non-division games, the Seahawks will win against the Bengals, Ravens, Falcons, Buccaneers, Vikings, Eagles and Panthers, but will lose against the Steelers, Saints, and Browns. Within the division, the Seahawks will split games with the 49ers and Rams, and will sweep the Cardinals.