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Seattle Seahawks Season Review And Awards - What Lies Ahead In 2016

Friday, January 22, 2016

 

You could describe the Seattle Seahawks’ entire season the same way you could describe their divisional round loss in Carolina – In big trouble early, a lot of question marks and frustration at the midway point, a furious comeback to close it out, ultimately coming up short.  

Seattle was 0-2 to start the season, 4-4 at midseason, finished 10-6 with the #6 seed in the NFC, going 1-1 in the playoffs for a final record of 11-7.  

In Carolina, the Panthers’ #1 scoring offense looked unstoppable in the first half against Seattle’s #1 scoring defense, scoring on their first 4 drives. Carolina’s #6 overall defense did very well also, relentlessly pressuring Russell Wilson and forcing two errant throws, both of which were intercepted, retuning one for a score. From the opening kickoff to the 6:32 mark of the second quarter, Carolina scored 31 points, held a 214-17 advantage in total yards, and held Seattle to zero points while forcing two turnovers.

Things got very interesting from that point on, and both sides looked like different teams.  

Seattle turned up the heat on defense, holding the Panthers to 89 total yards the rest of the way, zero points, and allowed just 6 first downs. Seattle also drove in to scoring position six times, and came away with four scores totaling 24 points.

Despite the end result, you have to tip your hats to Seattle. For many teams, “phoning it in” would have been a real option, and the game would have been over at halftime. While it’s not an ideal scenario to be facing playoff comeback odds of a historic magnitude (32 points being the largest playoff comeback ever), Seattle owned their situation and clawed their way back to a respectable outcome.

It wasn’t their finest season, but it was very far from their worst. 10-6 and 1-1 in the postseason is a final standing that 28 other NFL franchises would have gladly taken over their own situations. Things didn’t go as planned and it wasn’t a banner year, but it was a very solid “B” if we’re going to grade using the academic scale.

And now the coaches, players, and fans must put this game and this season behind them, and move on to next season where the future is still bright for these Seahawks, where the average player age is 25, third youngest team in the league.  

Jimmy Graham, Thomas Rawls, and Ricardo Lockett should be back and healthy next season, and a handful of rookies should be joining the team as Seattle holds 6 selections in the NFL Draft coming up in April, so there is a chance that this team could be even younger next season depending on who stays.  

The grim side to that bit of brightness is that with every offseason comes the inevitable departures. Perhaps now that Seattle is aware of what they have in Rawls, they might be planning to move on from Marshawn Lynch, but only time will tell.

31 players with the Seahawks currently have expiring contracts, among them starters LT Russell Okung, DT Brandon Mebane, LB Bruce Irvin, Punter Jon Ryan, WR Jermaine Kearse, CB Jeremy Lane, RG JR Sweezy, FB Will Tukuafu, C Patrick Lewis, CB DeShawn Shead, and DT Ahtyba Rubin.

Seattle also has 15 additional players heading in to the final year of their contracts, including starters WR Doug Baldwin, Kicker Steven Hauschka, TE Luke Willson, and RT Gary Gilliam.

John Schneider and Pete Carroll are expected to have in the neighborhood of $30M in cap space to work with, so they should be able to retain at least the bulk of their starters, but it may be tough to retain so much of their depth they worked so hard to bring in and develop.

Every franchise goes through the growing pains of seeing their young talent leave town for a variety of reasons, but the most painful losses are the guys you would love to keep but just cannot afford. While Seattle has so far been able to plug in new players and keep the schemes on both sides going strong, it’s difficult to see what the future will hold. Ideally the front office will find a way to keep any tough to replace players in house, but the NFL is an ongoing war of attrition, and there are bound to be a couple of broken hearts among the 46 players Seattle needs to consider working out new deals for.

There is a chance the Seattle team as it has come to be known will look a little different next season, but no matter what the past or future looks like, there will always be a next season, and with Seattle’s core players locked in to contracts, as long as they keep enough of the complimentary players around and continue to develop depth, there shouldn’t be a drastic difference in the product on the field.

Team Awards –

Offensive Player Of The Year – Doug Baldwin had his best season to date, catching 78 passes for 1,069 yards and 14 touchdowns, and had it not been for Russell Wilson’s career year, he would have the award in hand.

Wilson set career highs in passing attempts, completions, completion percentage, passing yards, passing yards per attempt, passing touchdowns, and passer rating. He also had his second highest career totals in rushing attempts and rushing yards.  

Wilson set the Seattle single-season franchise records for passing yards (4024), passing touchdowns (34), and passer rating (110.1). Wilson also led the league in passer rating.

Wilson didn’t stop with his own franchise, he also set NFL records for “First and the only quarterback in NFL history to throw 3+ passing touchdowns in five consecutive games”, “First and the only quarterback that had a passer rating of 128.3 or higher in five consecutive games”, and “First and the only quarterback in NFL history to have 4,000+ passing yards, 30+ passing touchdowns, and 500+ rushing yards in the same season”.

Defensive Player Of The Year- There were as many as five deserving candidates on the defensive side, but this may be the only year that Seattle did not have a statistical monster on defense. Earl Thomas led the pack in this case as he tied for 6th in the league with 5 interceptions and also tied for 33rd in the league among all defensive players for passes defensed.

Special Teams Player Of The Year - Steven Hauschka continues to be one of the league’s most reliable place kickers, as he finished 10th in field goals made with 29, tying for 1st with a 94% success rate. He also made 40 of 44 extra points, placing 33rd among active kickers with 91% success rate, with two of the misses being blocked. Hauschka’s 47 touchbacks were 8th best in the league, and only kicked 1 of 91 kickoffs out of bounds.   

Team Rookie Of The Year – Tyler Lockett, hands down. Lockett recorded 51 receptions for 664 yards and 6 touchdowns, as well as averaging nearly 17 yards per kick or punt return, posting an additional 2 return touchdowns. The sky is the limit for this young playmaker.

Wilson, Michael Bennett, Bobby Wagner, Richard Sherman, Thomas, and Kam Chancellor were all named to the NFC’s Pro-Bowl roster, and Tyler Lockett was named as a return specialist. Cliff Avril, Baldwin, Hauschka, Lynch, and Okung were named as alternates.

GoLocalPDX partner Oregon Sports News: Since 2011, Oregon Sports News has provided entertaining, hard-hitting local sports news & commentary every weekday. To read more from this author, check out Oregon Sports News by clicking here.

 

Related Slideshow: 12 of the Greatest Sports Movies of All Time

Hank Stern ranks his top twelve favorite sports films. 

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#12 Rollerball

Some of the non-athletic scenes in this dystopian classic show their age, but Rollerball is a strangely prescient film that anticipated both the corporatization of sport and fans’ limitless taste for violence. Bonus points for the ominous intro music.

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#11 A League of Their Own

A comedy that looks back to the antithesis of corporate sport – a women’s baseball league during World War II with many memorable lines to choose from (e.g.,”There’s no crying in baseball.”)

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#10 Remember The Titans

Yes, filmmakers took liberties with some of the facts dealing with the integration of a high school football team in Virginia. But there’s a reason football teams often screen this film on the eve of big games. It’s a damn inspirational tale.

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#9 The Natural

This film has grown on me over time. Originally, it seemed slow and schmaltzy. Now, it seems well-paced and charming. Then and now, the re-created scenes of pre-World War II ballparks arrive like perfectly preserved postcards from the past.  

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#8 The Longest Yard

Not the remake with Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. But the hilarious original with Burt Reynolds and Eddie Albert as a wonderfully villainous warden who pits the guards against the inmates in a grudge football game that includes former Green Bay linebacker Ray Nitschke and other ex-football players like Sonny Sixkiller and Joe Kapp, both stalwart Pac-8 quarterbacks long, long ago.  

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#7 Slap Shot

The Hanson brothers. Enough said.

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#6 Rocky

Often imitated, but never replicated. The definitive underdog boxing story featuring Sylvester Stallone before he became a self-caricature in multiple sequels. Impossible to hear the theme song without being motivated to get off the couch.

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#5 Seabiscuit

A fantastic book as well as a great movie. Like “The Natural,” Seabiscuit captures its Depression-era setting for modern-day viewers taken back to an era when horse racing actually meant something in America. 

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#4 Requiem for a Heavywei

A too often-forgotten film these days but a wonderful boxing drama that shows the sport’s underside with memorable  performances by Mickey Rooney, Jackie Gleason and Anthony Quinn.

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#3 Hoosiers

Want to know something about small-town America in the 1950s and about Indiana basketball? This hoops movie does all of that with a healthy dose of redemption throughout. 

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#2 Bull Durham

There’s a pretty good case to be made this movie played a huge part in the rebirth and re-marketing of minor league baseball. As written by former minor leaguer Ron Shelton, there are many great scenes to choose from but this one is a favorite. 

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#1 Raging Bull

A rags-to-riches-to-rags story of boxer Jake LaMotta meets the actor born to play him, Robert De Niro. Not a false moment in this black-and-white powerhouse.

 
 

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