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News » Seattle Seahawks Inside Slant 2008-08-28

Seattle Seahawks Inside Slant 2008-08-28

Seattle Seahawks Inside Slant 2008-08-28
Despite being besieged by injuries that have prevented the Seattle Seahawks from truly getting into regular-season form, the team still should be considered the favorite to win the NFC West for a fifth consecutive season.

It's not necessarily that the Seahawks in their current form are that good; it's that the rest of the division is that bad. While the Seahawks continue to chug along in what is Mike Holmgren' final season, a look around the division indicates why Holmgren once again should get at least one home playoff game.

Arizona has an inexperienced quarterback in Matt Leinart who is throwing to a receiver, Anquan Boldin, who is being asked to be traded and who is not speaking with the coach; San Francisco has settled on unproven J.T. O'Sullivan as its starting quarterback over highly-paid first-round draft pick Alex Smith, which should only heighten the tension between Smith and coach Mike Nolan; and St. Louis, winner of only three games last season, just recently got out from under a contract holdout from star running back Stephen Jackson and may have lost left tackle Orlando Pace yet again.

Yes, Seattle has its issues. No, they are not nearly as bad as their division rivals. When the Seahawks came into this training camp, their biggest questions were at running back and wide receiver. A month later, they still don't have answers. In fact, the situation may have gotten murkier.

A cracked bone in the shoulder of veteran WR Bobby Engram that will keep him sidelined for six to eight weeks has thrown the team's receiving corps into some bit of turmoil, with even Holmgren saying he has no idea what to expect when the ball is kicked off in Buffalo on Sept. 7.

With Engram out and Deion Branch sidelined for the foreseeable future, it leaves Matt Hasselbeck with Nate Burleson and, well, who knows? Courtney Taylor has been penciled in as the starting flanker. He has five career catches. Ben Obomanu is likely the third receiver. He has 12 career receptions. Logan Payne and Jordan Kent, the fourth and fifth receivers, have never played in a game.

On top of all that, Matt Hasselbeck has sat out for more than two weeks nursing a sore back, which means he has not had much opportunity to develop any cohesiveness with the young players.

Then there is the running game. Holmgren was hoping that training camp would provide some clarity, but it has made things more confusing. Julius Jones, who was supposed to be the starter, has not shown much in the preseason. T.J. Duckett, given $4 million in guaranteed money, also has shown very little and is in danger of being cut. In fact, the best running back has been rookie Justin Forsett, a seventh-round draft choice overlooked because of his smallish size.

Holmgren says he is going to use a running back by committee approach, with Jones and Maurice Morris sharing the load. But Jones left Dallas because of the very fact that he was in the same situation with Marion Barber, so returning to that dynamic cannot be pleasing.

The strength of the team is on the other side of the ball, where 11 starters return and which has been augmented by the additions of first-round draft pick Lawrence Jackson, who appears as if he will unseat incumbent Darryl Tapp at right defensive end, and fourth-round pick Red Bryant, a defensive tackle whose size alone should help stuff the run.

Before they gave up 41 points in a meaningless game at the end of last season, Seattle's defense threatened to set a franchise record for fewest points allowed in a season.

With a year of experience together, as well as the presence of linebackers Lofa Tatupu and Julian Peterson, there is a decent chance they get that record.

They better score some touchdowns, too, because they have no idea how many the offense will manage.

COACHING: Mike Holmgren, 17th season, 10th with Seattle (170-110).

REMEMBERING: 2007 record: 10-6 (1st in NFC West); lost in NFL Divisional Game to Green Bay, 42-20.

PREDICTING: 2008 regular-season record 10-6 (1st in division); lose in NFC championship game.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: August 28, 2008

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