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Seahawks faced with many issues despite playoff run

  • By Elliot Harrison NFL.com
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Elaine Thompson / Associated Press
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll (center) must choose between Matt Hasselbeck (left) and Charlie Whitehurst (right).


It was a good run. Let's face it, no one thought the Seahawks would beat the Saints. Shoot, no one thought they had a chance.

Last week, the dreams of a less-than-perfect protagonist -- make that less-than-.500 protagonist -- came crashin' down. While Seattle showed some improvement, coach Pete Carroll and the front office have some issues staring them in the face.

In January and February, NFL.com took a look at the five pressing questions facing each team as it heads into the offseason.

AFC East:
» Buffalo Bills: Must remedy draft failures
» Miami Dolphins: Need to overcome awkwardness
» New England Patriots: Issues start on defense
» New York Jets: Rocky road to reach Super Bowl
AFC North:
» Baltimore Ravens: Immense pressure on Flacco
» Cincinnati Bengals: Distractions cloud team's future
» Cleveland Browns: New coach faces no easy fix
» Pittsburgh Steelers: Father Time is biggest hurdle
AFC South:
» Houston Texans: Big issues on defense
» Indianapolis Colts: Big decisions on key players
» Jacksonville Jaguars: Same issues haunt team
» Tennessee Titans: Big void at QB with Young gone
AFC West:
» Denver Broncos: Defense will dictate offseason
» Kansas City Chiefs: Sustaining is next challenge
» Oakland Raiders: Team has hope, questions
» San Diego Chargers: Bolts aim to bounce back
NFC East:
» Dallas Cowboys: More holes to fill than coach
» New York Giants: Many lingering questions
» Philadelphia Eagles: More drama on horizon
» Washington Redskins: Huge problems to tackle
NFC North:
» Chicago Bears: Cutler opens deep bag of issues
» Detroit Lions: Closing in on respectability
» Green Bay Packers: Champs face tricky offseason
» Minnesota Vikings: Uncertainty surrounds team
NFC South:
» Atlanta Falcons: Need help to take next step
» Carolina Panthers: Plenty of room to improve
» New Orleans Saints: Time to tackle backfield, D
» Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Next step won't be easy
NFC West:
» Arizona Cardinals: QB quandary still an issue
» San Francisco 49ers: Must settle QB situation
» Seattle Seahawks: Playoff run can't hide issues
» St. Louis Rams: Reason for optimism

Here are five:

Where to go with Whitehurst?

While some Seahawks fans would like to see Charlie Whitehurst taking snaps in 2011, others would be fine if he just wore some Birkenstocks and held a clipboard. Let's be honest, while he might have a bright future, he could not do what Hasselbeck did against the Saints.

Hasselbeck has been banged up, in and out of the lineup, and mediocre the last three seasons. But he showed he can still make big plays down the field, especially when he gets one-on-one coverage. Carroll has said he wants Hasselbeck to return.

One problem: Hasselbeck is a free agent. There's no CBA in place, and who knows how much Hasselbeck will want, or another team will be willing to pay him. Seattle is already on the hook for $4 million with Whitehurst, who, at this point, has shown only flashes.

What next for Lynch?

Make no bones about it, Marshawn Lynch's 67-yard run against the Saints was nothing short of awesome. But eight broken tackles, as badass as that was, does not make a badass running back.

Lynch only ran for 573 yards in 12 games with the Seahawks, averaging a miniscule 3.5 yards per carry. He's due $1.14 million, which is not exactly a king's ransom in today's NFL. But, should Carroll and his staff go all in with Lynch, give Justin Forsett a shot, or draft someone?

Having a productive running game (Seattle ranked 31st with 89.0 yards per game) would be the great elixir for a team that has had inconsistency at quarterback and a tired defense.

What to do in the draft?

There are so many directions this team could go come April, which means Carroll might just pick the best player on the board -- whoever that could be.

Running back is a possibility, and despite last year's second-round choice of Golden Tate, even a wideout isn't out of the question. The smart money is on Seattle drafting an offensive lineman high -- again.

Meanwhile, the defense could use a shot in the arm at defensive line, especially with Raheem Brock and his nine sacks turning 33 in June, or they could go outside linebacker. The secondary is another deal altogether.

What are the secondary needs?

Carroll couldn't fix everything in one year. The secondary needs serious help. Marcus Trufant is OK, at best. He gave up 58 catches, tied for 10th in the NFL, and only intercepted one pass. The other starting corner, Kelly Jennings, also only picked off just one pass.

Seahawks' pass defense (NFL rank)
Opp. YPG
Opp. 20+ yd passes
TD passes allowed
INTs
249.6 (27th)
60 (31st)
31 (t-29th)
12 (t-25th)

If you watched the playoff game in Chicago, you saw the Bears going after safety Lawyer Milloy right off the bat. Let's just say that strategy worked. Earl Thomas can be a good player in the NFL, but he still has a long way to go.

The Seahawks gave up 76 plays of 20-plus yards, second most in the NFL. Limit those, and Hasselbeck or Whitehurst won't have to be playing catch up all the time.

What kind of impact can Bevell have?

How will Darrell Bevell fit in Seattle? Jason LaCanfora reported Thursday that the Seahawks came to terms with the former Vikings coordinator, and now the offense is his baby.

Carroll has always been known as an aggressive coach, willing to use trick plays or unconventional wisdom on offense. Despite being the NFL's second oldest head coach, he's far from conservative. With that said, it will be interesting to see how Bevell and Carroll mesh.

From a personnel standpoint, Hasselbeck will likely be the biggest factor in the offense's success. Bevell should have no issues dealing with a veteran quarterback, as he's handled Brett Favre the last two seasons in Minnesota. However, that's far from his only task:

» If Hasselbeck falters, or gets hurt (again), he must facilitate Whitehurst's development.
» Develop an effective running game with somebody. Anybody.
» Get the most out of Golden Tate, and don't let Mike Williams regress.

How about the O-line, including right tackle Sean Locklear? Bevell has a great opportunity, especially with a unit that has so much room for improvement. But make no mistake, this will be a tough gig in the early going.

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