To kick things off, I’d really like to thank Danny Kelly - lead writer of FieldGulls - for taking the time to answer a few questions I had in regards to the Seahawks, the Rams, and the NFC West. He was kind enough to weigh in on a few things I found pertinent to ask heading into the 2013 season. If you were looking for a refresher - as well as some serious insight - on the Seahawks offseason, then you’re in the right place. If you want can’t catch up with him on TST, their social media hotline is open 24/7 @FieldGulls
The Seahawks are a very solid all-around team. Every team has a need, though. Were you surprised that the team selected Christine Michael with their first pick [2nd round] of this most recent draft? Who would you have taken at 62?
I was actually really excited about the Christine Michael pick. Seattle ran the ball more than any other team in the NFL last season and while Marshawn Lynch is still the clear-cut starter and workhorse in this offense, he's also got a nagging back issue and he's not getting any younger. Thus far, he's been able to tough it out most games he's been in Seattle, but grabbing a guy like Michael that can complement or even replace Lynch in the case of injury is an exciting prospect. Seattle's offense is centered around the run so it's certainly an important position. As for players I would have rather seen taken there, I don't have anyone specific in mind, but one of the top tier offensive linemen or defensive ends would probably have been my next choice.
With the majority of the Seahawks players solidly holding their positions on the depth chart, which rookie would you think makes the biggest impact in the upcoming season?
I think that the Seahawks' two defensive line picks - Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams - will likely be the most prominent rookies in year one. They'll likely be inserted into the defensive line rotation early on, and both players are capable of playing multiple spots (3-technique, nose tackle, and 5-technique), so their versatility will pay off. Past that, it's looking like with the season-ending achilles injury suffered by Anthony McCoy, fifth-round TE Luke Willson will get a shot to make a big impact in his first year, used backing up Zach Miller and being used in two tight end sets with him.
Other than not hating Christian Ponder, there's been very little news in the offseason about the one of the offseason's most notable signings; Percy Harvin. What impact do you think he can have in an offense that already has several weapons, and are there concerns that he might not be able to play 16 games?
I cannot wait to see what Harvin can do, in probably a similar way that Rams feel about Tavon Austin. Harvin will be involved in the kick return game, in the slot, on the wing, and even in the backfield. I think he'll be a real X-factor for the offense - a guy you can use in a traditional offensive roles as a slot receiver, getting him the football and letting him make things happen in space, or even by getting him involved in the read-option game that Seattle developed last year. I'm not particularly worried about him missing too much time - he hasn't had a migraine in a few years and his ankle injury from last year isn't necessarily something you need to worry about going forward. Football players get hurt, but I don't think Harvin is more injury-prone than any other player, particularly considering how much he touches the football.
The Seahawks made 11 picks in the initial seven rounds of the 2013 Draft. If you had to make a super-early prognostication for Rookie of the Year, who would win the award? How about Offensive and Defensive MVPs?
For Seattle, my early money on their 'rookie of the year' would go to Jordan Hill. I think he's going to be a very big part of what they want to do on the defensive line, and he's going to mix it up at a couple of positions. As for Offensive MVP? That's easy - Russell Wilson. It's all about the quarterback, and the Seahawks wouldn't be where they are without him. Defensive MVP? My vote would go to Earl Thomas, because while his numbers might not suggest it, his range, speed, and instincts allow Seattle to run their cover-3 with press-man on the sidelines, and the rest of their defensive scheming in the secondary revolves around that. If it's not Earl, it'll probably be Richard Sherman, for similar reasons. He has the ability to take away one whole side of the field for an offense, and creates turnovers for his unit.
The term "sophomore slump" will never go away. Russell Wilson made many NFL organizations think twice about drafting a QB on day one. Is there any concern that watching tape and having ample time to game plan might result in less-than-expected results in 2013?
This is something that we've wondered about at the site at well, but honestly there's not a whole lot there that leads me to believe he'll regress (much) in 2013. Wilson plays well from both inside the pocket and on the move, is very proficient in the read-zone game, is a film-rat, is accurate, smart, doesn't turn the ball over, is effective and efficient in the red zone, and while it's a tired cliche to say it, is a playmaker. I'm actually not too worried at this point that he'll 'get worse' in year two. That said, it's the NFL, and a lot of weird crap happens every year, so obviously I'm not going to guarantee anything.
Because Brandon Gibson doesn't know where to line up, the 49ers finished 1/2 game ahead of the Seahawks in 2012, therefore awarding them the Division Championship [going 11-4-1]. Many experts and pundits think the Seahawks are the best team in the NFC heading into the upcoming season though. How many wins will it take to win the West in 2013?
Right now, I'm honestly pretty worried about both the Niners and the Rams. I think the Cardinals will even prove to be pretty tough, because they have a very good defense and now a somewhat competent quarterback. If I had to guess, the NFC West is going to absolutely beat up on each other, and for that reason, I would tentatively guess 10 or 11 wins gets you the division (probably 11).
The Rams will head to Seattle [again] in Week 17. It's becoming somewhat of a tradition at this point, and one that I'm sure Seahawks fans have come to enjoy. The Seahawks are the only NFC West team to have beaten the Rams in 2012. What do you think of the Rams heading into 2013, and what's it going to take for a Week 17 win IN Seattle?
As I said above, I'm actually really high on the Rams, and I'm frankly pretty excited for the rivalry that will further develop between our teams. The Rams have a really great defense - they gave the Hawks (and Niners, and Cardinals) fits in 2012 with a very strong pass rush (I think you guys got like eleventy billion sacks last year in the regular season finale) and now have made improvements in the secondary. On the other side of the ball, I think St. Louis will be much improved as well, and I'm excited to see this rumored reincarnation of the Sam Bradford 'Oklahoma spread offense' that I've been hearing about. With Tavon Austin, Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead, Chris Givens, Jared Cook, and a few others, the Rams have some serious, serious speed. It's going to be a real pain in the ass for Seattle to match up with, because historically, they match up better with 'power' teams as opposed to 'speed teams'. Typically, the small, shifty guys give Seattle problems, and a part of that is because the Hawks' secondary is built around being physical with Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Brandon Browner. That said, Seattle's front-seven is pretty insanely athletic, and with the additions of Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, and Antoine Winfield, I feel a little bit better about our chances.
…again, many thanks to Danny Kelly for his time and willingness to participate in this Q&A. He’s a busy man, but I’ve invited him - and the Field Gulls’ friendly - over to TST to field some of your questions, as well as answer some of theirs.
Have at it!