Found January 20, 2013 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
A Team Transformed Part 1 Defense >>> Many question marks surrounded the Seattle Seahawks‘ offense heading into the 2012-2013 season. The defense was expected to be elite – as well as the running game – but the passing game hadn’t seen top 20 action in a few years. These questions were soon answered by the emergence of Russell Wilson. The offense began much like the year prior, handing the ball off to Marshawn Lynch on early downs and throwing only when necessary. Yet with Wilson the offense was able to evolve into much greater levels that we have yet to see in a Seattle offense. The results exceeded expectations, and led the offense to #9 in the league in total points. The Seahawks had one of the greatest seasons in the history of the franchise. Here is a review of their individual performances. Offensive Line The big boys up front were once again outstanding on the season. Since the signing of Tom Cable in 2011, the Seahawks’ offensive line as specialized in consistency and toughness – even with a steady rotation of new faces. 2012 was the healthiest Okung has been thus far in his career. At season’s end the offensive line heralded two Pro Bowl players, the leagues third-ranked running attack and provided protection for one of the greatest rookie-quarterback performances in the history of the league. Russell Okung Russell Okung was selected 6th overall in the 2010 draft. This was Pete Carroll‘s first selection as head coach of the Seahawks, and turned out to be a great cornerstone for the franchise. Okung was a two-time All-American at Oklahoma State, and was one of the two selected to the Pro Bowl this past season. Okung has been outstanding in Tom Cable’s system because of his unique combination of size and agility. Cable likes his lineman big and physical. He tends to look past technique, as he considers athleticism to be nature and skills more nurtured. Okung stands at 6’5″ and 310 lbs, yet has the footwork and quickness of a much smaller tackle. His ability to create push in the run game and still keep up with even the fastest of pass-rushers in protection gives him a bright future in this league. This was also the healthiest Okung has been thus far in his career, missing only one game all season against Dallas. Max Unger Along with Okung, Max Unger was named to the Pro Bowl. Unger was drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Oregon. His main strength was his versatility and leadership, as he could play both center or either guard position. Jim Mora had him at left guard in his early years. Tom Cable placed him at center when he arrived, and Unger has had the best years of his career at the position. Cable praises Unger’s efforts, stating “He’s right all the time. I think to do this to the consistency thing comes into play here. You’ve got to do it running the ball and protecting your quarterback down after down, and he’s done that.” Big words from a prominent offensive line guru. J.R. Sweezy “It isn’t easy being Sweezy.” The offensive line wore t-shirts with that slogan on them. They were pretty accurate, considering JR Sweezy was a defensive tackle at NC State. With one off-season under his belt, Sweezy was immediately put into the starting rotation as an offensive guard. This is quite a transition, especially at the professional level. And the performance in the season opener from the rookie showed some extensive growing pains. He was torn apart by the Cardinals’ defensive front, and was then replaced by fan-favorite John Moffitt. However, Sweezy worked and learned throughout the season, and eventually earned his starting spot back. He finished the season as the starting right guard for the Seattle Seahawks. A place he probably never imagined he would be. He still has plenty of room to improve – and with a quality guard behind him on the depth chart in Moffitt – the competition will only bring out the best in both of them. Wide Receivers and Tight Ends The area of concern in the draft was wide receivers. There seemed to be a void in this select group, as no player could rise up to be a reliable option. Sidney Rice refrained from remaining healthy for an entire season, Golden Tate couldn’t grasp the little things – i.e. route running – and the team’s leading receiver, Doug Baldwin, was an impressive slot receiver at best. There were question marks galore in this group, and the players were aware of this. So they came to play. Sidney Rice Sidney Rice was signed to a 5-year, $41 million contract in 2011 to the Seattle Seahawks. It was a big signing at the time, because he was the elite receiver Seattle desperately needed and he was reunited with Minnesota’s Darrell Bevell and Tarvaris Jackson. Rice made big plays all season long Rice showed promise in limited action, but was put on injured reserve on November 30th in 2011. This was a worry Seattle fans had when they brought Rice in, as he had only been healthy all-season once in his career – granted it was a Pro Bowl year for him. This year Rice put the critiques to rest as he remained healthy all season, leading the team in receptions (50), receiving yards (748), and tied for first in touchdowns (7) with Golden Tate. Rice made big plays all season long, including the game-winning touchdowns against both the Patriots and the Bears. Golden Tate Golden was an interesting case entering the season. He showed flashes of brilliance when he could get the ball in his hands, but he struggled to remain on the field due to lack of route running efficiency and catching the ball. He and Russell Wilson grew together, however, throughout the season and created a much-needed chemistry for the two young athletes. Both players were constantly critiqued on their height, both played baseball and were drafted to the professional leagues, and both have interesting taste in Halloween costumes. The off-field friendship between the two grew into an on-field chemistry that was utilized more and more as the season went on. The play that the media remembers is the “fail mary” that defeated the Packers in week 3. However, there were many other plays that showed the great ability of Golden Tate after the catch, and his relationship with Wilson will only continue to grow as their careers continue. Zach Miller Miller was signed by Seattle in 2011 after his departure from the Oakland Raiders. He followed Tom Cable in the off season, who praised Zach Miller’s ability in the running game – as well as his proven receiving ability. His first season in Seattle wasn’t a stat-sheet stuffer, but was efficient nonetheless. He was utilized as a run blocker early and often, and proved Cable’s words of wisdom. Late in this past season, Darrell Bevell added a few packages which lined Miller up in the H-back position – which is roughly the same as the full back in a shotgun setting, just  a few steps forward. In these formations, Miller would leak out into the flats or in the seams, and would be targeted by Wilson – mainly on third downs. Beast Mode has been the workhorse for this team Miller got more and more looks at the season’s end, and he had his best season as a Seahawks by far in their final game – 8 receptions for 142 yards and a touchdown. Look for Miller to pick up where he left off next season. Running Backs Marshawn Lynch The story of Lynch is a great one. Many thought his career had ended early in Buffalo. His production was down, his relationship with the coaching staff was rocky at best, and he was traded to Seattle in 2010 for a mere third-round pick. His first season as a Seahawk was Pete Carroll’s first as well. Their transitions to the new team were both a little rough at first. But once the team started to form together, Lynch’s productivity followed suit. In his second season in Seattle Lynch rushed for a career-high 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns. Lynch showed that his career was far from over. He then followed those stats up with this past season, rushing for 1,590 yards and 11 touchdowns. Beast Mode has been the workhorse for this team under Pete Carroll, and his numbers have grown each year. We can all look forward to tasting the rainbow for years to come. Michael Robinson The unsung hero of the Seattle offense, Michael Robinson has gradually become a fan favorite. Largely in part due to his online video series “The Real Rob Report,” which has caught viral fire over this past season. In the video, “Mike Rob” roams various settings – such as the team locker room, the team jet, the medical facilities, etc. – to get exclusive interviews with players and coaches Or he simply follows Marshawn around, searching for that long sought-after interview that he will seemingly never receive. The greatness of Mike Rob doesn’t remain behind the scenes. He is an outstanding fullback – which he proved last season making it to the Pro Bowl. He is a special fullback, because he played quarterback in college at Penn State. The transition from quarterback to fullback may be the most drastic in history – something Tebow should consider. Robinson has a unique stance in the backfield. He doesn’t put his hand in the dirt like most fullbacks. Instead, he remains upright – this way he can peer over the lineman and get a good look at the defense, finding his holes and gaps to pursue. Lynch is aware of his fullback’s unique quarterback-like abilities – which is why he calls him “eyes.” He relies on Mike Rob’s vision for his success, and just follows the path the Penn State product leads. Leon Washington While Leon Washington rarely gets any carries in the offensive game, he deserves consideration on account of his impact on special teams. Leon has made a career out of kick-returning – and has done so to a level that only one other has reached in the history of the league. Wilson brought life through his unique composure and poise He is tied with Josh Cribbs for the NFL’s All-Time Kickoff Return Touchdown leader with 8. He also holds Seattle Seahawk franchise records in kickoff return touchdowns (4), longest kickoff return touchdown (101 yards), and most kickoff return touchdowns in a game (2). His production has added yet another element to this prolific Seattle team, and this is why he was named to the 2012 Pro Bowl. The Quarterback While scanning my twitter feed a few weeks back, I came across one regarding Russell Wilson that I found interesting. It compared Russell Wilson to Ken Griffey Jr. Notifying their impacts on the city of Seattle at such young ages and the breaths of life they both brought to their respective franchises. It closed saying “There’s a new Kid in town.” I really loved this tweet because it couldn’t be more accurate. While Griffey was the top pick in the MLB draft and was expected to be great, they still both came out in their rookie seasons and shocked the world. They both had great, positive attitudes and brought life to a city that needed it. Griffey brought life to the city through his amazing plays in center field and moonshot home runs – all while maintaining his youthful charisma and simply having fun in his backwards hat accompanied with constant smiling and laughter. Wilson brought life through his unique composure and poise. It isn’t just the picture perfect spiral he throws, the innate elusiveness he carries in the pocket, his ability to see plays or the chemistry he quickly built with his receivers. It is the way that a rookie quarterback with minimal expectations came into a franchise and took the torch. The way that everyone on the team – no matter their experience – bought into this young man and followed him all season long. It is spending his days off at the children’s hospital, making dreams come true. The words describing the greatness of this young man are endless. To put it simply, there is no quarterback on this earth I would rather have leading my team than Russell Wilson. GO SEAHAWKS!!! Part 1 Defense >>> CLICK HERE CHECK OUT THE SEAHAWKS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE AT NWSB!

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