First round draft pick Marcus Tubbs was another nice addition. The stout rookie provides a big body to clog the middle of the defensive line and a speedy development could give the team the run-stuffer they have lacked the last few years. However, the Seahawks once again failed to find a long-term solution to fill the hole at middle linebacker.
Defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes has had an entire season to work in his scheme, so it would not be at all surprising if this squad, with an increased pass rush and a stiffer run defense, were to jump into the top ten in the league. If the offense, which was among the best in the league last year, can hold serve, and this team can learn to win consistently on the road, they could be dangerous and in for a deep playoff run.
Matt Hasselbeck has developed into one of the better QBs in the league under head coach Mike Holmgren the past couple years and will continue to lead an offense that was ranked sixth in the league in 2003. He has good touch and arm strength, although he doesnt throw the long ball particularly well. He is a great fit for Seattles version of the West Coast offense, and he is developing into a leader on the offensive side of the ball.
Trent Dilfer is the ultimate backup. He has experience, the ability to run this offense, and he doesnt complain about his lack of playing time. Generally, hes the type of team player coaches like on their clubs, and in some capacities, his presence is like having an extra coach on the sidelines. Brock Huard was brought in during the off-season to compete with last years fourth-round draft pick Seneca Wallace for the No. 3 job. Overall, the Seahawks are deep at QB, but durability is a bit of a concern with Dilfer and Huard both sidelined during training camp with back injuries.
Shaun Alexander isnt your prototypical West Coast back, but he is among the best runners in the league. Hes a good cutback runner who hits the line aggressively and has the speed to bounce outside. He is very strong between the tackles, but he needs to do a better job of picking up the blitz.
Backup Maurice Morris has displayed some explosiveness, but durability would be a concern if he were asked to fill in for Alexander for a significant period of time. Inexperienced Kerry Carter should see time as the No. 3 back and the versatile Mack Strong will remain the starter at fullback.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
The Seahawks have a solid trio at receiver with Koren Robinson and Darrell Jackson on the outsides and veteran Bobby Engram in the slot. Robinson has great athletic ability, and he makes some spectacular catches, but he dropped too many balls in 2003. He has the ability to be one of the top receivers in the league, but he has got to become more consistent.
Jackson is an excellent route-runner and he is good at finding holes in the zone, but hes not much of a vertical threat. Engram is a cagey veteran with excellent hands who matches up well with most No. 3 cornerbacks. Alex Bannister, who will likely be the No. 4 receiver, lacks polish but has shown some potential.
At this time, Itula Mili is penciled in as the starting tight end, but the coaches are hoping 2002 first-rounder Jerramy Stevens finally puts it all together this year and takes the job away. He is as physically gifted as most tight ends in the league, with great size and the speed to create match-up problems for defenses, but up to this point, he has been inconsistent. He appears to have rededicated himself during the off-season, however, and seems better prepared to fulfill his potential.
You dont hear a lot about Seattles offensive line, but they are among the best in the league. Left tackle Walter Jones has excellent size, strength, and athletic ability, and is among the better pass blockers, but his run blocking can be inconsistent. Chris Terry will start at right tackle, and despite his off-field problems, he has the ability to develop into a Pro-Bowl type player.
Center is probably the weakest link on the line with journeyman Robbie Tobeck starting. The guy has a nonstop motor, but he struggles against big nose tackles and hes not as mobile as he once was. Flanking him on each side are guards Steve Hutchinson and Chris Gray. Hutchinson is a Pro-Bowl player with a good all-around game. Gray is on the downside of his career and lacks athleticism, but he is still consistent and possesses a nasty streak.