Sifting through the wreckage of 4-12

Published on December 30, 2008 by     Seahawk Fanatic

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Remember the end of last season, when we evaluated the Seahawks’ needs and the only real dire situation was at tight end?

Now it seems they need to add players at the other 21 positions.

They don’t give me enough space to elaborate on all the problems the Seahawks have had in the 4-12 season that ended Sunday in a 34-21 loss to Arizona at University of Phoenix Stadium.

So I’ll just hit the major concerns.

As if we needed more proof, this game was another example that good big receivers will beat good little cornerbacks. (The Seahawks have little cornerbacks and Larry Fitzgerald had another two-touchdown, 130-yard receiving day despite close coverage by Marcus Trufant – the Hawks’ biggest corner.)

It also reminded us that you’re in for a long day if you can’t pressure the opposing quarterback. (Kurt Warner threw four touchdown passes and was sacked just once).

And if you’re playing with nothing but replacements on the offensive line – and then you have to replace one of the practice-squad refugees with another practice-squad guy – well, yards and points become tough to generate.

“We’ll be back next year … and hopefully we’ll have a few more of our guys (healthy),” coach Mike Holmgren said after the loss.

Actually, he won’t be back next year, and it will take a lot of hours on his motorcycle to expunge the memory of this season. So, this will be Jim Mora’s mess to untangle.

And as for having a few more of their guys, well, they better have the injured guys back, along with an addition of somebody else’s guys, too … free agents and rookies.

Fitzgerald’s two performances against Seattle this season should convince the Seahawks to use their first pick – the fourth in the draft – to land Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree (he’s a sophomore, but eligible for the draft). He’s 6-3, 214 pounds and physical in the Fitzgerald mold.

But how much good will a big receiver do if nobody is around to protect 33-year-old quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who missed most of this season with a bad back?

Left tackle Walter Jones will be 35 years old and coming off the kind of microfracture knee surgery that sometimes signals the end of players’ careers. Great players at that position usually go in the top few picks. If you get the fourth pick, aren’t you forced to try to find a lock-down left tackle?

Of course, on the other side of the ball, where the Seahawks got inconsistent pressure on the quarterback, top rusher Patrick Kerney will be 33 and coming off recurrent shoulder surgeries.

You will say, “yes, but didn’t the Seahawks just use a first-round pick on defensive end Lawrence Jackson?” Well, yes they did. But even if you cut slack for a rookie in a learning situation, he showed very little aptitude for pass rushing.

Cornerback? Didn’t they use first- and second-round picks in two of the last three years to get guys to play there?

Yes, and Josh Wilson is one of the most improved players on the team. But receivers like those the Cardinals have tend to jump over guys like Wilson and Kelly Jennings.

What do they do at linebacker, where Lofa Tatupu and Julian Peterson did not produce the big plays we’ve come to expect of them, and Leroy Hill is a free agent? Peterson is under contract, but his production may have diminished below his cost. Can they give Hill enough to keep him and still pay Peterson?

Aside from needing to upgrade certain starters, digging up depth in the secondary and offensive line will be crucial.

After the game Sunday, Holmgren pointed to center Steve Vallos and tackle Ray Willis as fill-ins who performed well.

Receiver Deion Branch had a welcome revival late in the season when he returned to health. Fullback Leonard Weaver, a restricted free agent, grew into his role at fullback this season, adding blocking to his repertoire.

Mo Morris, Rocky Bernard and Bobby Engram are a few other free agents who could enter the market with their value open to fair debate.

Oh, yeah, and there’s this little thing of asking Mora to step in and replace Holmgren, a possible Hall of Fame coach.

Good luck, Jim. Get to work; you’ve got a big job ahead.

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