275. Why is that number significant? That is how many personnel changes Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and company made during the course of the 2010 NFL season after taking over the franchise that has been dealing with an identity crisis ever since it’s improbable Super Bowl run in 2005.
The moves haven’t stopped there either, with the Seahawks being one of the more aggressive teams in the free agent market since the lockout ended and teams were allowed to begin speaking to undrafted free agents only 13 days ago. A lot can be said about the flurry of roster moves since Carroll has been at the helm, but one thing is for sure- he and his coaching staff will stop at nothing to get “bigger, faster and stronger” at every position.
The positions that have seen the biggest improvement in size are both the offensive and defensive line and the defensive back.
With the signings of free agent Brandon Mebane and former Arizona Cardinal Alan Branch along with the return of big Red Bryant, the Hawks have taken huge strides in building a D-Line that will be a force to be reckoned with. To put this in perspective, the Seahawks currently have 7 defensive linemen on their active roster that are over 310 pounds.
“I mean, I’m pumped about it” linebacker David Hawthorne said about his D-Line in an interview with Seahawks.com. “You know, obviously you can see we’ve got some hogs up front, a bunch of big guys that take up a lot of space.”
Combining the size and power of the retooled defensive line, the speed and athleticism of the linebacking corps and the return of sack leaders Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock, the Hawks could really cause opposing offenses some trouble in the 2011 campaign. And just think how the defense would look if the team could somehow pull off a move for New York Giants DE Osi Umenyiora, who, rumor has it, wants to be traded to Seattle.
Another position in need of supersizing has been the defensive backfield. Gone are the days of drafting the 5’10” cornerback (sorry Kelly Jennings) with Carroll now favoring a larger DB that can better match up on the larger wide outs in the league. The Hawks have struggled in previous years in press coverage because let’s face it, when you have a 5’11” corner lined up on a 6’3” receiver you are leaving your whole defense vulnerable.
Coach Carroll seems to have addressed this issue with this year’s draft picks with the 6’3” Richard Sherman and 6’0” Byron Maxwell, both big physical corners who’s strength is their presence at the line, in press coverage as well as in run support. It remains to be seen whether they have what it takes to be big difference makers, but I like the skills that these types of players bring to the table.
I understand that big players alone aren’t going to win you games, and by no means am I alluding to that fact, but it sure can’t hurt.
Only time will tell if these moves are going to ultimately help the Hawks move from mediocrity to the ranks of the NFL’s elite, but one thing is for sure- if you are a Seahawks fan there is plenty to be excited about in 12th Man country. They seem to really have the players in place with the size, toughness and athletic ability to do something great. And if you are an extreme optimist like me, there is no limit what these Seahawks are capable of in 2011.