Seattle Seahawks: 3 Reasons the Hawks will be better in 2016

The Seattle Seahawks nearly pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history against the Carolina Panthers, but just fell short. It was a comparatively tougher season after two straight Super Bowl appearances and a slow start.

However, there’s a number of reasons to believe that the Seahawks will be back and better than ever next season. Here’s three of them.

  • Jimmy Graham

In the last seven games of the regular season Russell Wilson amassed 1,949 passing yards, 22 touchdowns (only two interceptions) and a 124.4 quarterback rating without Jimmy Graham. Imagine Wilson running an offense with Graham.

Injuries to running backs Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls forced Seattle to throw more, and it worked out brilliantly. Wilson was historically good, and the team excelled when leaning on passing plays.

Graham’s injury was particularly unfortunate, because it seemed as if he had finally adjusted to playing with the scrambling Wilson after years of catching passes from the stationary Drew Brees.

After so much success, Pete Carroll and company aren’t likely to abandon the prolific passing attack anytime soon. This increased number of throwing plays will only benefit Graham. The combination of the towering tight end, Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett will give opposing defenses nightmares.

  • A Healthy Run Game

Whether this is Lynch, Rawls or a bit of both, the Seahawks’ star running backs will both likely be fully healthy in 2016/2017 after each missing significant time due to injury. The combination of a dominant run game, regardless of the back, with a dynamic passing attack will make Seattle one of the league’s best teams.

  • The Continued Improvement of Russel Willson

By all accounts, the Seattle signal caller had a career year in 2015. Wilson set career highs in the following categories:

  • Completions
  • Completion Percentage
  • Passing Yards
  • Passing Touchdowns
  • Yards Gained Per Pass Attempt
  • Adjusted Yards Gained Per Pass Attempt
  • Passing Yards Per Game
  • Quarterback Rating
  • QBR
  • Net Yards Gained Per Pass Attempt
  • Adjusted Net Yards Per Pass Attempt

As time goes by, Wilson continues to get better and better, showing steady improvement. He’s already one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but he has the potential to grow his game even more considering his track record. With more control in the offense next season, expect Russell Wilson to continue to grow and the Seattle Seahawks to come back strong in 2016.

Seattle Seahawks: Even as Six Seed, Hawks Remain Poised for Another Super Bowl Run

Another season, another playoff appearance for the Seattle Seahawks. The two-time defending NFC champions enter the playoffs as the sixth, and lowest, seed in the National Football Conference. Seattle opens the playoffs against the Minnesota Vikings, the highest seeded NFC team not to receive a first-round bye. Additionally, even if the team wins it all, the Seahawks are guaranteed a total of zero home games.

And yet, the Seattle Seahawks have the look of a team poised to make a third consecutive Super Bowl.

Pete Carroll’s squad trounced the Arizona Cardinals on the road to wrap up the regular season. Playing without starters Russell OkungKam ChancellorMarshawn LynchJ.R. Sweezy and Luke Willson, the Hawks beat the team’s division rivals 36-6. Seattle’s defense bottled up one of the league’s best offenses while Russell Wilson and company shredded an equally elite defense.

The win was not only impressive, but it showed a sign of things to come for the Hawks.

Seattle will now take the show on the road during the playoffs, but that shouldn’t be a cause for worry. The team’s opponent in the first round is the Minnesota Vikings. Obviously it’s the playoffs and anything can happen, but the Seahawks did steam role the Vikings in Minnesota just last month. The score in that contest was 38-7, with Wilson tossing three touchdowns and Adrian Peterson being held to just 18 yards.

If the Seahawks beat Minnesota, the team will travel to play the Carolina Panthers. Carolina did beat Seattle earlier this year in the Pacific Northwest, but the Hawks led 20-7 at one point and controlled most of the game.

While the Panthers are an extremely good team, Cam Newton doesn’t have a lot of weapons at his disposal in the same way Russell Wilson does. In other words, if Newton has an off day, Carolina is susceptible to defeat. Case in point, the Panthers only loss came against the Atlanta Falcons, who held Carolina’s star quarterback to 188 total yards and one total touchdown.

Of the three teams the Seahawks could face in a potential NFC Championship game, none should be overly intimidating. Washington owns the worst record of any playoff team, while Seattle has experience against both Green Bay and (obviously) Arizona.

The Hawks lost by 10 to the Packers on the road in Week 2. However, Seattle had a lead in the fourth quarter despite playing without Chancellor. Green Bay also needed a passing masterclass from Aaron Rodgers to earn the win.

One of the NFC’s two wild cards, Green Bay faltered down the stretch, going 4-6 over the team’s final 10 games. That included losses to the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears. Additionally, three of the Pack’s four wins came against struggling teams such as the Lions, Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders.

In addition to a potentially favorable schedule, the Hawks will get Lynch back from injury. The Seattle offense was already dynamic without the team’s star running back. Now it seems the offense will only become more explosive with a healthy “Beast Mode.”

 

With Lynch’s return, the Hawks are now equipped to play any style required. The team can slug it out in a run dominated and low scoring affair, or throw it 50 times per game.

However you slice it, the Seattle Seahawks are equipped for another Super Bowl run. Watch out NFL.

Seattle Seahawks: Christine Michael Finally Gets His Shot

After almost three years and stints with two different teams, Christine Michael is getting his chance to shine with the Seattle Seahawks.

The running back, who was drafted in the second round by the Hawks in 2013, is back with Seattle. He was previously traded to the Dallas Cowboys before the season to clear room for the man he is helping replace in the Pacific Northwest: Thomas Rawls. Dallas cut Michael, prompting the back to sign with Washington’s practice squad.

But thanks to injuries to Rawls and Marshawn Lynch, not to mention DuJuan Harris’ ineffectiveness, Christine Michael will finally have his shot to be the lead back in Seattle.

He’ll obviously have to compete with fellow new addition Bryce Brown for snaps, but with Fred Jackson staying in a passing/third-down capacity, there will be plenty of snaps for Michael.

The former second-round draft has always had the talent, but has never quite had a full opportunity to establish himself. Michael never had that chance with the Hawks thanks to the presence of Lynch. If “Beast Mode” is healthy, no one is going to be taking carries away from him.

But with Lynch injured, it could Michael’s time to shine.

In 19 career games, the newest Seahawk has ran for 305 yards on 67 carries.

Early in his career, Michael showed flashes of brilliance. The running back once ran for 71 yards on only four carries against the Giants. For his career with Seattle, Michael has averaged 4.6 yards per carry. There’s clearly talent there, but the Seahawks just need to see it on a more consistent basis. The former Texas A&M star has registered five career games with less than five total rushing yards.

Despite that, the Seahawks’ upcoming schedule provides Michael the opportunity to do some serious damage. Sunday’s opponent, the Cleveland Browns, allow the fourth most rushing yards. The Browns have also allowed 11 rushing scores, tied for the sixth-most in NFL history.

Following the Browns, Seattle will play the St. Louis Rams. St. Louis has given up the eleventh most yards on the ground. The team’s last contest of the season is against the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona has only allowed the sixth-fewest rushing yards in the league. While the game could be an intense battle for the division, it could also be a game in which the Cardinals are resting there starters ahead of the playoffs.

What’s more, Russell Wilson and the passing game’s recent hot streak will open up running lanes for Michael as teams focus on Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and the receivers. The now-former Cowboy is joining a dynamic offense. An offense that will also provide him plenty of opportunity. Only the Carolina Panthers have attempted more rushes in the NFL.

In other words, Christine Michael will get his chances.

Cyber Monday Deals: Seattle Sports and Washington State Sports

From the Seattle sports teams to college programs like UW, WSU and Gonzaga, Kingdome has you covered for Cyber Monday (well, actually Amazon does, but stay with me here). Feel free to click around. Any kind of purchase you make is a great way to support Kingdome and sister site Know Hitter. Happy Holidays!

Seattle Mariners’ Early Trades Already Making the Team Better

New Mariners’ general manager Jerry Dipoto was essentially tasked with making the Seattle Mariners relevant again. With a core consisting of Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz already in place, Dipoto had a solid base to build upon. However, in the past few weeks, the GM has significantly improved the Mariners’ roster with a trio of moves.

Seattle made the first significant trade of the offseason by dealing Danny Farquhar, Brad Miller and Logan Morrison to the Tampa Bay Rays for starting pitcher Nate Karns, outfielder Book Powell and reliever C.J. Riefenhauser.

It may seem like a lopsided deal to move three players who were major contributors for one proven big-league player and two prospects, but the Mariners made out like bandits in this one.

The team essentially dealt from unneeded surplus to improve the roster.

In terms of Seattle relievers, Carson Smith was the only reliever left on the roster who posted a WAR above 1.4 last season. After him there was/is a good deal of uncertainty and sub-par pitching. Farquhar’s WAR was a career-low -0.7. His ERA (5.12) and FIP (4.60) weren’t much better. Tampa Bay has a history of rehabbing struggling relievers, so perhaps this will happen to the now-former Mariner, but he likely wasn’t assured a job next season thanks to his numbers in 2015.

Tampa Bay now has the same dilemma at shortstop that Seattle faced a few years ago, start Miller or Nick Franklin? Granted, the Rays also have former first-overall draft pick Tim Beckham in the mix, but still—same dilemma.

Miller was expendable thanks to the presence of Ketel Marte. Marte posted a .283 batting average, a 2.3 WAR, 17 extra-base hits and 17 RBI in 57 games. At only 22-years-old, the former top prospect seems to have a stranglehold on the shortstop position. Miller played a number of positions as a Mariner, but didn’t profile as a quality defender at any of them. In other words, he wasn’t going to cut it as a utility player. His .258 batting average and 101 strikeouts didn’t exactly help his cause either.

Lastly there’s Morrison. The first baseman/corner outfielder/designated hitter managed only a .225 batting average and 54 RBI in 146 games. These numbers are significantly below LoMo’s career numbers. The stats not only made Morrison expandable, but also created a significant need at first base. Regardless of this deal, changes were bound to happen at first base. Including Morrison in this deal ensured that the team received value for him.

The gem of the trade for Seattle is Karns. The 27-year-old starting pitcher turned in a solid season in Tampa last year, posting a 7-5 record, a 3.67 ERA and 145 strikeouts in 147 innings. He also chipped in with a 2.2 WAR.

Karns has already proven his worth as a dependable starter. The fact that the M’s acquired him looks even better when you consider that the former Washington Nationals’ farmhand isn’t arbitration eligible until 2018. The earliest he can become a free agent is 2021.

In addition to the years of controllability, Karns provides the Mariners with a potential replacement for Hisashi Iwakuma. MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports that Tigers’ general manger disclosed that Iwakuma is a player Detroit has interest in. In addition to Detroit, a number of teams figure to be interested in ‘Kuma’ thanks to his track record. Karns provide an excellent replacement should Iwakuma leave town in the offseason.

If Iwakuma joins Karns in the rotation, it allows the Mariners to deal a rotation arm like James Paxton for a proven upgrade elsewhere on the roster. While moving Paxton seems unlikely given his age, controllability and upside, he was rumored to be discussed with the New York Yankees. That same report from The New York Post said the M’s have interest in Brett Gardner.

Can be Iwakuma insurance in case Iwakuma leaves. Also allows the team to shop someone like James Paxton or another pitcher if they feel so inclined (for upgrades elsewhere on the roster). Add link to Paxton/Brett Gardner link.

Powell and Riefenhauser are both inexperienced, but both come with upside. Powell was originally drafted by the Oakland Athletics, before being dealt along with Daniel Robertson and former Mariner John Jaso for Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar last offseason. The 22-year-old hit .295 with 28 extra-base hits (including nine triples), 40 RBI, 18 steals and 61 walks in 117 games between Double-A and Triple-A. His slugging numbers won’t earn him any accolades, but he did post a .385 OBP last season.

Riefenhauser does have a career 6.30 ERA and a 5.68 FIP in only 24 appearances in the majors. However, his minor-league stats reveal more promise. In six seasons in the Rays’ farm system, the pitcher owns a 2.77 ERA and 442 strikeouts over 480.1 innings pitched. Riefenhauser is also extremely versatile having started 42 games and finishing 56 contests in his career. In 2015, his ERA in 34.2 innings at the Triple-A level was 2.86.

With so many question marks in the bullpen, Dipoto made another trade. The new GM dealt for established reliever Joaquin Benoit.

Benoit has been excellent since 2010. Equally adept as a setup man or a closer, Benoit owns a 2.35 ERA and 422 strikeouts in 370 innings dating back to the 2010 season. His FIP also comes out at a favorable 3.15.

The Mariners surrendered two prospects, Enyel De Los Santos and Nelson Ward, to the San Diego Padres in the trade. De Los Santos is the only one of the two to make it onto MLB.com’s list of the top 30 Padres prospects.

Neither prospect has passed the Single-A level in the minors, and given Benoit’s track record, this trade could pay massive dividends for the Mariners.

Did I mention Joaquin Benoit has a 16.7 WAR since 2010?

With the Benoit, Smith and Charlie Furbush on the roster, Tom Wilhelmsen was likely out of a gig as a setup reliever. Dipoto capitalized on this brief surplus by flipping Wilhelmsen and centerfielder James Jones to the Texas Rangers for reliever Anthony Bass and centerfielder Leonys Martin. It may seem redundant to trade an outfielder and a reliever for an outfielder and a reliever, but what Dipoto has essentially done is turn the two prospects he sent to San Diego into upgrades in the bullpen and in center field.

Seattle comes away from the deal with a significant upgrade in the outfield. Like Jones, Martin brings a similar speed element to the game. However, unlike Jones, he’s shown the ability to be an above-average contributor at the dish.

In 2013 and 2014, Martin hit .268 while averaging eight home runs, six triples, 17 doubles, 34 stolen bases and 44 RBI. Over those two seasons, his WAR was a combined 8.1. Jones’ career WAR is -1.1.

The Wilhelmsen/Bass exchange may seem more titled in Texas’ favor, but when you consider the M’s already added Benoit, it makes the deal much easier to accept.

While Wilhelmsen’s track record is much better and more consistent than Bass’, the now-former Texas reliever isn’t just a throw in. Bass posted a respectable 3.73 FIP in Texas’ launch-pad-masquerading-as-a ballpark.

Put it this way, would you rather have Benoit, Martin and Bass or Wilhelmsen, Jones and two prospects? Easy choice right?

Since taking over, Jerry Dipoto is doing an excellent job at reshaping the Seattle Mariners. He’s already turned excess depth into upgrades. Should he continue to make more shrewd moves, he’ll be the architect of a potential playoff team.

For more Mariners, click here.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.