The Seahawks are going to look a lot different this year and perhaps for the better. Gone are standbys Josh Wilson, Jordan Babineaux, Owen Schmitt, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (much to the delight of poor spelling bloggers, spelling bee championship!). Also gone are Kevin Vickerson, Louis Rankin, Steve Vallos, Kevin Ellison, Mansfield Wrotto, J.P. Losman, and a slew of other practice squad guys. And it appears that Sean Locklear is on his way out the door.
In to replace them in some capacity are Stacy Andrews, Chris Henry (the former Titans/Arizona Wildcats running back), Michael Robinson, Kentwan Balmer, Raheem Brock, Zac Robinson, and some others.
The great thing about the present Seahawks front office is that while they’ve released and traded some guys who seemed useful to the 2010 Seahawks, they’ve committed to one thing: Versatility.
While their defensive line (presently boasting four former DTs who figure to take snaps on the inside and outside of their line, as well as the “elephant”) may scream a devout 3-4, they’ve set themselves up to throw a lot of looks at opposing defenses.
Since 2005, the season that ended in a Seahawks Super Bowl appearance, they’ve seemed much more committed to putting positive stories in the media guide, and less committed to putting a productive, talented team on the field.
The problem is that great character is easy to cover and tackle. While I’ve been highly critical of the trade that brought Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch (I don’t think I’ve referred to him as anything but his cynical accomplishment based title since his arrival), on the present depth chart, which I’ll never know how he survived, he actually makes sense. The Seahawks appear ready to see Branch, Mike Williams, and Golden Tate take most of the snaps lined up at receiver positions for the Seahawks. Williams offers size, while Tate offers world class athleticism, and Branch is a solid route runner with good hands and a high football IQ.
In the running game, a team that once had Julius Jones and Justin Forsett handling the ball most often, has the 2009 duo back, with Jones on a restructured deal, along with Leon Washington. The three are pretty similar in style, but Henry and Robinson offer elements the team hasn’t had in the past.
Henry is an athletic bruiser, who has a style that isn’t flashy. He’ll pound the ball between the tackles in his limited opportunities.
By contrast, Robinson has handled a few different roles in his football career. A quarterback at Penn State, Robinson bucked convention and entered the draft as a running back, and was drafted by San Francisco. He ran the ball 86 times for the 49ers with limited success, but in an NFL that has become so obsessed with the Wildcat, he only threw the ball once in San Fran.
He’s since converted to receiver, but he probably figures to throw the ball a few times this season, catch some balls, and perhaps line up deep in the backfield.
The ugliest departure, and unarguably the most unfortunate, is that of Alex Gibbs. Gibbs has been pretty nomadic since leaving the Broncos in the early 2000s, but the Seahawks faithful was rightfully excited to see the NFL’s most storied offensive line coach tutor Russell Okung, and hopefully transform the Seahawks into a productive running team. While his philosophy should remain, and for now be perpetuated by Jeremy Bates, it’s unfortunate to see such a pioneer leave the team.