The Legion of Boom – does it still exist or should be start to look towards a new identity in Seattle?
Owain Whatley (@owainLwhatley), UK Seattle Seahawks fan, reflects on 2017 and makes his predictions for 2018 in our latest feature as part of the ‘State of the Franchise’ series.
Last Season’s Reflections
I would like to start with what is no doubt going to become an increasingly whiny article by saying that, as a Seahawks fan, I’ve been very lucky to have been watching intently through the greatest years in the franchise’s history. However, this year felt very, very different.
Since messrs Schneider and Carroll drafted Russell Wilson in 2012, playoff trips have become normality. In each of those seasons, we had at least progressed to the divisional round, the highlight being the demolition of Peyton Manning’s Broncos following the 2013 season. However, in the past 12 months, I fear that the twin messiahs of football in the Pacific Northwest may have lost their way.
I would now like to present Exhibit A: A photo I took while watching the game @ Green Bay this past Autumn.
This has all too often been the cause of the problems for the Seahawks. The offensive line play is just that – offensive. It’s just impossible to play consistently when your quarterback is constantly running for his life.
When the Seahawks were at their peak they had a, not great but serviceable offensive line, coupled with the one of the most powerful running backs to ever lace up a pair of spikes, Marshawn Lynch (something that the entire 2010 Saints defense can attest to). Now, I question whether a committee of Barry Sanders, Jim Brown and the aforementioned Mr. Lynch could run successfully behind our collection of former basketball players, reclamation projects and whiffed draft picks.
Anyway, enough about our O-line, which, although it may be the footballing equivalent of a traffic light stuck on “GO”, only comprises half of the issues we, as a franchise, have encountered this past season.
“The Legion of Boom”
All great defenses have had their special nicknames: “The Steel Curtain”, “The Purple People Eaters” and “The Monsters of Midway” to name a few. The latter three were all exceptional collectives, but only the LOB managed to lead the NFL in scoring defense in 4 consecutive seasons.
That group really was special, “was” being the operative word. Season ending injuries to Cliff Avril, Richard Sherman and my beloved number 31, Kam Chancellor, turned the “Boom” into more of a tickle and prevented our era defining group from being the swarming, physical force they were in the years prior. So, in addition to not being able to score points on offense, the 12’s spent a season watching us get scored on like they hadn’t since Lady Gaga decided to wear half a cow as a dress.
The final nail in the coffin of our 2017 season was nothing that happened in Seattle, nothing that happened in Washington State even. It was a series of events that happened 1,136 miles south of century link field. The Los Angeles Rams are now the team to beat in our division. Not that we could beat them when they were rubbish, but the emergence of Jared Goff and the expert coaching of Sean McVay will, no doubt, make me the recipient of many humorous barbs from my Rams-supporting friend, Steve, that would likely have gone in the other direction in years gone by.
Changes During The Off-Season
Sherman, Thomas, Chancellor. Names to strike fear into the heart of any receiver or quarterback.
Over the years they’ve formed the core of everything good about Seahawks football. It was loud, it was physical, and it was damned tough to beat. Could all of that be over?
Richard Sherman was released, his $11m plus salary cap number was just too much to pay for a 30 year old corner coming off a serious Achilles injury. Of course, in true Richard Sherman fashion, he signed for the team that would no doubt draw the most ire from ‘Hawks fans the world over. He made his name on a play against the 49ers, now he’ll aim to cement his legacy playing for them. Sherman has wanted to prove people wrong ever since he was passed on in the draft, falling to the 5th round. Now he’ll get his chance to prove to the entire Seahawks organisation that they were wrong to let him go.
Kam Chancellor is the beating heart of the secondary, whilst understated off the field, his play is far from it, just ask Vernon Davis. I’m pretty sure Vernon still checks under his bed for “Bam Bam Kam” before he goes to sleep. This past season, Chancellor suffered a serious neck injury, one that threatens to end his career. While I do love watching Kam ruin the days of receivers and tight ends league-wide. Long term health is more important than football, and if he does decide to walk away, our enforcer will be sorely missed, leaving a hole that may never be filled.
The only member of the vaunted secondary group currently on the active roster is Earl Thomas. The perennial all-pro is possibly the best safety in the game right now, and Seattle should do everything they can to keep him at C-Link. Earl, however, seems to have other ideas. Since our game against the Dallas Cowboys, when Thomas hollered “Come get me” to Jason Garrett and the Cowboys brass, rumours have swirled. There was talk of Dallas addressing their one major pre-draft need by trading a high pick to get ETIII, but luckily for us 12’s, this never came to fruition. This has not stopped the media speculation, with many analysts still believing Thomas will move before the season starts in September. I, for one, hope this is not the case.
Compound the above with the trade of Michael Bennett for some magic beans and a signed photo of Carson Wentz, and the career threatening injury to Cliff Avril, and very few pieces of the defense that went to back to back superbowls still remain.
Big Free Agency Moves
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Pick number 18. The highest the Seahawks have enjoyed in quite a while. Analysts were predicting anything from Offensive Tackle to Defensive End to Safety. Nobody predicted us taking Rashaad Penny, even after trading back. While I don’t want to bury the kid before he’s played a down, he really wasn’t our main area of need. Sure, we ranked pretty much last in all rushing stats last year, but were our running backs really the problem? I’d blame it more on the abysmal line play. The thought of a rookie running back trying to run behind that O line with all the pressure associated with being a 1st round pick makes me feel about as comfortable as fiberglass underwear.
Following this, in Round 2 we drafted… oh wait… yeah we traded that pick for 2 sacks and an attitude problem in Sheldon Richardson.
Then we really took the biscuit. Still without drafting anyone who even resembled a tackle or a guard, we traded up for a PUNTER!! A PUNTER!!! And don’t give me that Pat McAfee “punters are people too” spiel, punters are not more important than linemen in today’s NFL!!!
So in essence, we had, let’s say, a “mixed bag”.
Predictions For The New Season
Moving forward, we are not an improved team from the end of last year, especially if Chancellor and Avril don’t come back.
A quick look at our division: The Rams improved maybe more than anyone this off-season, signing the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Brandin Cooks and Marcus Peters through big free agent deals and blockbuster trades.
San Francisco seems all in on Jimmy Garoppolo, and until I see him appear mortal and actually lose a game, I remain scared.
Even Arizona improved their situation following the retirement of Carson Palmer, signing Sam Bradford to be a placeholder and Mentor to their QB of the future, Josh Rosen.
With the moves that our rivals have made, and the moves that the Seahawks have not made, we run the very real risk of being the basement boys of the NFC West this year. A look at our schedule shows us with games against Green Bay, Carolina, Dallas, and 2 games each against the Rams, Niners and Cardinals. That does not make for fun reading to me. At best, the O line progresses with a new coach, Rashaad Penny is a stud and our defense doesn’t regress as much as predicted and we finish around the 8-8 mark. At worst, I dread to think.
All in all, the Seattle Seahawks will be considered a franchise in decline, until performances prove otherwise. I would like to sign off by sending a message to coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider: Please do not waste the prime years of Russell Wilson. He’s the best quarterback ever to play for the franchise, and at the moment he’s getting battered and bruised week in and week out. I will trust in your process for now, but please, prove this Doubting Thomas wrong.
I suppose it could be worse though. I could be a Cleveland fan.
Editor Notes: Seahawks fans, let us know your thoughts and tell us whether you agree with Owain’s reflections and predictions. Leave a comment or contact us via social media below: