It has been awhile since we’ve dipped into the mailbag to answer readers’ questions.
It’s a new year – with a new coach (Pete Carroll), a new general manager (John Schneider) and a new outlook – so here goes.
Q: Many of the questions center on the April NFL draft and who the Seahawks might select with the sixth and 14th picks in the first round. So we’ll try to tackle them in one response. William in Virginia says it would be “crazy” for the team to go defensive line and running back in the first round, as many “experts” are predicting, when he sees a greater need for a quarterback. Jake in Monroe also wants a quarterback at No. 6. But Seattle Stoneback in Las Vegas doesn’t like the idea of a QB with the first pick, but wonders who might be selected and what impact that player will have. Ben in Memphis wants to know what the chances are of drafting a QB; Rexphil in Hawaii is wondering if a QB will be drafted; and Scott in Cedar Falls, Iowa, asks who we think the team should draft
A: Sorry to go GM on you, but the Seahawks’ selections in the first round will be based more on value than need. That will be a difficult rule to follow, giving the number of needs, but John Schneider is well aware the reaching to fill a need is the best way to waste a pick. The BPA (best player available) formula is one Schneider formulated while working for Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson in Green Bay, Mike Holmgren in Seattle and Marty Schottenheimer in Kansas City and Washington.
I know fans cringe – or worse – when they hear BPA, because they want this player or a player at that position. But the BPA approach is tested, and usually true. When BPA and need intersect, all the better.
This is a critical draft for the Seahawks, for multiple reasons. First, they hold the sixth, 14th and 40th picks. As stated, they have numerous needs in a rebuilding process that likely will take more than one year, and one draft. And, they cannot afford to make a mistake.
So who will they select? The names being offered at No. 6 by the “experts” in their mock drafts run from QB Sam Bradford, to defensive end Derrick Morgan, to tackle Russell Okung, to homegrown safety Taylor Mays. But it’s all speculation at this point.
Which players the Seahawks ultimately will select is what Schneider and his staff, as well as the new coaching staff, are working on right now. They’ve already had numerous meetings to evaluate the talent on the current roster. Next week, they will be in Indianapolis for the scouting combine. While the college scouts already are very familiar with these players, the coaches aren’t. As defensive coordinator Gus Bradley put it, “For us, it’s a good introduction to all the top players.”
After that “introduction,” there will be more meetings to continue ranking the players – by position, as well as from top to bottom regardless of position. The moves the team makes in free agency also will impact the decisions in the draft.
So while it’s too early to target specific players, or even positions, the Seahawks need to acquire talent as they move toward erasing the memories of back-to-back seasons that have produced a combined nine victories.
Q: Rather than ask a question, John in Georgia makes more a statement: He thinks the team needs a physical cornerback.
A: Expect Marcus Trufant to rebound after a 2009 season where he never was right because of the back issue that forced him to spend training camp and the first six games on the physically-unable-to-perform list. But who plays opposite him? Ken Lucas, a former second-round draft choice who was re-signed last offseason, is about to become an unrestricted free agent. Josh Wilson returns, and while he is a physical player he’s also 5-foot-9.
So, going after a bigger corner in the draft or free agency makes sense.
Q: Dave in Calgary wants to know when the schedule will be released.
A: It came out on April 14 last year, so expect it in April this year. The Seahawks already know which teams they will play in 2010, they just don’t know the dates of the games.
The home schedule includes games against the Falcons, Panthers, Giants, Chiefs, Chargers and the other teams in the NFC West – Cardinals, 49ers and Rams. The road schedule includes games against the Broncos, Raiders, Bears, Saints, Buccaneers and the other NFC West teams.
Q: Dave in Calgary also wants to know way the Seahawks have not worn throwback uniforms, adding, “As we look toward an exciting future, let’s remember the past.”
A: The club didn’t go with retro or throwback uniforms last season because the team wore the neon-green uniforms the Seahawks unleashed against the Bears in Week 3.
Q: Iain in Scotland wants to know the chances of the Seahawks participating in the America Bowl at Wembley Stadium, and adds, “Also, Matt Hasselbeck is god.”
A: To steal a phase Iain, “To the victor go the spoils.” The Seahawks will need to win more games on this continent before they are “rewarded” with an international game.
The league wants to showcase its product, so those games go to teams that win more than four or five games. In 2010, it will be the 49ers and Broncos, who started well last season (6-0 for Denver, 3-1 for San Francisco) before finishing 8-8. In 2009, it was the Buccaneers and Patriots, who had won nine and 11 games the previous season. In ’08, it was the Saints and Chargers, who won seven and 11 games in 2007.
Q: Iain’s comment on Hasselbeck plays into a question from Triston in Iowa about the team’s situation at quarterback: Is Pete Carroll planning to stick with Matt; develop (Seneca) Wallace or (Mike) Teel; or look for someone in the draft?
A: It could be all of the above, Triston. Carroll and new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates have said they’re glad to have a veteran QB to help with their transition. As Bates put it, “We’re very fortunate to walk into an organization with Matt Hasselbeck being the leader.”
But Hasselbeck has not played a 16-game season since 2007 and will turn 35 in September, so Carroll and Schneider are aware that they must at least start thinking about life after Hasselbeck. That’s why it would not be surprising to see them address the position at some point in the draft, and explore what they have in Wallace and Teel during the spring minicamps and OTA sessions.
Q: John in Vermont has a problem many long-distance Seahawks fans encounter: How to get the best daily coverage of the team.
A: Well, John, that’s one of the reasons we’re here. In addition to Seahawks.com, The Seattle Times, PI.com and News Tribune in Tacoma also feature blogs that are part of their daily coverage of the team.
Each outlet goes at it in a little different fashion, so sampling them should help you find the right mix of style and substance to scratch your informational itch.