BoltHype - Now that the draft is over and we are finally getting to see some games being played, what's your record prediction for the NFC West?
FieldGulls - I’m being prudent… I think the Seahawks are still primed to win the division, but I think both the 49ers and the Rams made significant moves in the offseason. So did the Cardinals, but they’re… well, they’re the Cardinals.
At this writing I’m going with:
I pick the 49ers to represent one of the NFC wild card spots too. But it honestly could swing either way this year; the division is tougher and the top teams are a lot closer. If I didn’t have so many questions about the Rams’ defense, the title could be a three-team race.
BoltHype - We know that both team's top players will not be playing much, if at all. So who are some intriguing players on the Seahawks that will turn our heads? Who are some of the lesser known players, maybe buried on the depth chart or possibly rookies, that have some serious talent?
FieldGulls - As far as intrigue is concerned, I think every Seahawk fan has their eyes on what D.J. Hackett is going to do this year, now that he’s the prohibitive favorite to start at the split opposite Deion Branch. So he won’t be buried on the depth chart, but if there’s a breakout kid to watch this year, it’s him. His main competition in camp is Nate Burleson, who thrived as a return specialist last year. I still believe Burleson could be one of our wild-cards this year if he finds himself in the right place at the right time.
Will Heller is second on our tight end depth chart, but he may be worth looking at just to see what he’ll do. Hasselbeck used Jerramy Stevens as one of his favorite targets in our playoff runs, but since his release, our subsequent signing of Marcus Pollard and not addressing the tight end position in the draft, you have to wonder whether the position will morph into a more traditional blocking tight end (which Heller is) or if they can even use Heller in the passing game. He did catch a TD pass last year in the regular season; it was one of the funnier moments of the year.
Somebody everyone should keep their eyes on all year is fullback Leonard Weaver, who needs to be groomed into a starter fairly soon, since our local favorite Mack Strong has a limited amount of time left. Weaver was on injured reserve for most of last year, so we’re pretty anxious to see what he can do. He’s showing promise as both a ball carrier and as a traditional blocker.
Linebacker Niko Koutouvides, a special-teams specialist, had an unusually strong scrimmage last week with 4 solo tackles and a fumble recovery. It’ll be interesting to see where he performs on Sunday. A lot of Hawk fans have their hopes pinned on Brandon Mebane, our second draft-pick (3rd round) this year, to reinforce our defensive inside line.
David Greene, our third-string quarterback, should get most of the reps Sunday. I personally like the guy, but only the pre-season belongs to him. Might want to send him a card.
BoltHype - How's that offensive line shaping up? Kris Dielman chose to resign with the Chargers, but Seattle was prepared to make him a very rich man.
FieldGulls - Well, the Dielman situation was a disappointment, but you can’t blame a guy for displaying signs of loyalty towards San Diego. I was pretty ticked off about it, until I sat back and rationally said, “You know, if the Seahawks weren’t involved in this ordeal, I’d be in big admiration of Dielman for sticking to his heart and not going after the money.” So big ups to Kris from me and I hope he has a good year.
Our line, on the other hand… I’d be lying to say I’m not concerned. We used about a zillion different personnel combos on the offensive line last year, due to injuries and some compulsive tinkering. This year if we can keep the same lineup intact for at least three-quarters of the season I’ll feel better about our chances, but Walter Jones and Chris Gray are getting older, and I still feel there’s a learning curve for Rob Sims and Ray Willis that needs to complete itself.
Our best case scenario has Jones and Sims at least partly re-establishing the dominant left side that Shaun Alexander exploited so well in ’05, that Chris Spencer settles into the center position now that it’s entirely his own, and that Matt Hasselbeck isn’t scrambling for his life as much as he did last year. All I’m keeping my fingers crossed for is some consistency – if and when that happens, we’ll see what the Hawks can do with that foundation in the future. Sims and Willis show a lot of promise, so we’re hoping to see that promise unveil itself.
BoltHype - Sure it may be only the preseason, but who is winning on Sunday? You may have forgotten, but the Bolts throttled the Hawks last year in the preseason, 31-20
FieldGulls - I did forget. Since I run no risk of public humiliation for picking against the Seahawks in the preseason, I’ll go with San Diego 24, Seattle 17. I’m just relieved we’re not running into you guys in the regular season.
Thanks for chatting Paul. We'll talk after the game on Sunday!
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