Thursday cyber surfing: Clayton sees nine-win season

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, June 21:

John Clayton at ESPN.com forecasts records for the four teams in the NFC West, and also offers his reasons. He has the Seahawks at 9-7, and Mike Sando has the details on his NFC West blog: “The Seahawks were a quarterback upgrade away from reaching, and probably surpassing, .500 last season. They upgraded their depth at the position without question. Their as-yet-unnamed starter will probably fare better than incumbent Tarvaris Jackson, who played much of the 2011 season with a torn right pectoral muscle. The team has reason for optimism as a result, but there are still question marks surrounding the position. The running game should remain strong with Tom Cable coaching the line and (Marshawn) Lynch pounding away. Seattle will not ask its quarterback to carry the team. A strong defense will keep the Seahawks competitive. Taking that next step will require better play at quarterback, most likely from (Matt) Flynn.”

Sando also has “late-season trend sustainability” for the Seahawks, which includes these comments from ESPN fantasy analyst Matthew Berry on Lynch: “He’s only 26. You’d think this guy has been around forever. He’s only 26, and when we talk about repeatability, he had an amazing year last year, we all know that, but he has done it before. It had been a while prior to that. His first two seasons in Buffalo, he had 1,200 total yards in each of those seasons and had been a productive fantasy back those first two years. Pete Carroll likes to run the ball, likes to run with a big back. He traded for him and I like that offensive line in Seattle. They are young and they are getting better. They need to get healthier, but given that division and given their commitment to the run, I think their offense will be better. I don’t think it will be amazing, but I do think the Seattle offense as a whole will be better. He’s gonna get the rock and, by the way, he outscored both those guys (Ryan Mathews and Chris Johnson) last year.”

Still more from Sando, he looks at the TD receptions by the wide receivers for each team in the league. Hard to say what’s tougher to fathom – that the Seahawks had only 13; or that 12 teams had fewer: “The Seahawks were the only NFC West team that did not address the position in the draft. They are expecting a bounce-back season from a healthy Sidney Rice, and a breakout season from 2010 second-round choice Golden Tate. Ricardo Lockette and Kris Durham have a chance to contribute in their second NFL seasons.” And don’t forget about Doug Baldwin.

Dave Boling at News Tribune offers his thoughts on whether the Seahawks’ defense can rank among the Top 10 in the league for a second consecutive season – something that hasn’t happened since 1991-92: “I think the raw stats
from the whole (2011) season, then, are misleading, and projections for this season are more valid when we look at the second half – even though they faced only two playoff-bound teams (Baltimore and San Francisco). Over the second half of the season, their points-against average dropped to 16.25 a game. Four key players were in their first season as starters: Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner, K.J. Wright and Richard Sherman. And Alan Branch was in his first season with the team. All those players are returning with a full offseason to further settle into their roles. Browner, particularly, struggled to find a balance between coverage that was physical and coverage that drew flags. We may assume that will be less a problem. … So, top 10 in the fall? Sure. Maybe better.”

Sidney Rice was on 710 ESPN last week and told Bob and Groz that he has gained 11 pounds in hopes of becoming more durable. Brady Henderson has the details at mynorthwest.com: “ ‘I actually gained 11 pounds of muscle,’ Rice said. ‘I’m really happy about that. I’m planning on putting on about seven more pounds to make coach (Tom) Cable happy.’ ”

Doug Farrar at Shutdown Corner looks at the other team that has a three-way competition for the starting QB job – the Dolphins – along with the Seahawks in this item at FoxSports.com: “(Tarvaris) Jackson looks like the quarterback he was last year – capable of making every throw in the book, but lacking touch on certain finesse and distance throws at times. (Matt) Flynn is perhaps the most practiced at the little things – looking off safeties and throwing with anticipation – but his mechanics have him pushing the ball at times, and he often struggles when throwing against his own momentum or across his body. Without question, (Russell) Wilson has been the story of interest. Many of his new teammates have said that he would have been selected much higher in the draft were he taller than 5-foot-11, and he’s shown why during practices. He has the deep arm of Jackson, but with an uncanny touch at times. And he’s got the fast break offense down from his days at Wisconsin, but he’s a more dynamic and consistent intermediate thrower than Flynn. A team competing for a division title, as Carroll says the Seahawks are doing in the NFC West, would not prefer to start a rookie mid-round pick at the game’s most important position … but stranger things have happened.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we take a look at J.R. Sweezy’s progress in making the transition from college defensive tackle to NFL offensive guard: “ ‘It’s good. I’m adjusting well,’ Sweezy said. ‘It’s different, as I’ve said in every interview. It’s really different. It’s different from everything I’ve pretty much been taught my whole life.’ He made it through the rookie minicamp in May, the OTA practices and last week’s full-squad minicamp without once tackling the ball carrier he was blocking for, or returning to the defensive huddle after the play was over. ‘At least I’ve got the basics,’ he said, smiling.”

Jim Wyatt at the Tennessean checks in with Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck, who was reportedly a target of the Saints’ alleged “bounty” program while playing for the Seahawks: “ ‘I don’t know what to believe. I am not following it that closely,’ Hasselbeck said on Wednesday. ‘I think what I heard was the quarterback, the running back and the top wide receiver were the three names (reportedly on the bounty list for that game). Those are the names you would expect, I guess. … I have been going about my thing, and I really don’t know what to say. I guess there’s been a lot of ‘he said, he said’ in the situation.’ ” And remember, Hasselbeck passed for 272 yards and four touchdowns in the Seahawks’ 41-36 upset win in that wild-card playoff game.


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