The erratic Seahawks won their
fourth consecutive NFC West division title with a 10-6 record, but lost easily
winnable games to Arizona, Cleveland, Carolina and Atlanta that could have made
their season special while giving them another home game in the playoffs.
They advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the third consecutive season,
but they were not able to get to the Super Bowl, as they did two years ago, perhaps
a sign that the window is closing on this core group of players.
They were excellent at home (7-1), which has become an established rite, but they
again struggled badly on the road (3-5, 3-6 including the playoff loss), a consistent
trait of Holmgren-coached Seahawks teams, particularly on trips to the East Coast.
And so they once again are left with a vacant feeling, wondering why exactly they
can't rekindle that formula that allowed them to become an elite-level team.
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Two things were the primary reasons for the Seahawks' success
this season: Their revamped defense and their passing game. The Seahawks added
free agents Patrick Kerney, Deon Grant and Brian Russell last offseason, and those
acquisitions helped make the Seahawks one of the best defensive units in the league,
holding opponents to just 18.2 points a game.
Kerney was the runner-up to Bob Sanders as the defensive player of the year, orchestrating
14.5 sacks, one shy of the league high. He also had five forced fumbles.
Grant and Russell joined first-time Pro Bowler Marcus Trufant (seven interceptions)
in a secondary that rarely was beat by the deep pass, an Achilles' heel of recent
Seahawks' secondaries, and linebackers Julian Peterson and Lofa Tatupu headed
a stout defense against the run, and Tatupu was named All-Pro for the first time.
Meanwhile, the passing game became the featured part of the offense in the ninth
game of the season, which enabled the Seahawks to reel off five consecutive wins,
enough to win the division title. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck showed he was in
his prime, earning his third Pro Bowl appearance and his second-highest passer
rating while regularly finding veteran Bobby Engram, who led the team in receiving.
WHAT WENT WRONG: The team's offensive line never properly jelled, leaving the
Seahawks with an unimposing running game -- the reason Holmgren switched philosophies
midway through the season. The Seahawks have an odd mix of too-old and too-young
along their line, left guard Rob Sims and center Chris Spencer often missing assignments
because of inexperience, right guard Chris Gray physically overmatched because
of his age.
Meanwhile, running back Shaun Alexander, the 2005 MVP, took a precipitous drop
in his production, many observers saying Alexander lost a step or two.
Alexander declares that a cracked bone in his left wrist and a sprained left knee
are the sole reasons for his rapid decline. But whatever the case, Alexander suffered
the worst season of his career as a full-time starter, averaging less than four
yards a carry for the second straight year.
Without a productive running game, the Seahawks became inconsistent, dropping
games to teams with losing records using backup quarterbacks.
--WR Deion Branch on Saturday suffered what coach Mike Holmgren said is likely
a serious knee injury. Branch will get an MRI, the results of which will determine
what course of action will be taken.
--RB Josh Scobey suffered a broken fibula on the opening kickoff and will have
to have surgery.
--TE Marcus Pollard dropped two passes -- one a touchdown -- and fumbled the
ball after another reception, prompting coach Mike Holmgren to say that Pollard's
career in Seattle likely is over.
--WR Ben Obomanu replaced both Deion Branch and Josh Scobey, becoming the team's
fourth receiver in four-receiver sets and filling in for Scobey on special teams.