Getting to Know YOUR Seattle Seahawks.

OK, give us a smile! Come on, lemme see those teeth! I know you've got a smile in there, why don't you show us all your beautiful smile?

That's right, boys and girls. Today is July 30th, and you know what that means ...

NFL Training Camps!!!!!!!!!

That's a fuckload of exclaimation points.

Now, I know it's been a long time since we've seen any meaningful football, but it's never too early to look towards the impending season with optimism (even if the national publications have the Seahawks as low as 4th in the division, reportedly, though I've yet to see it in print).

So, before I go through a position-by-position assessment of the Seahawks as I see them, let me just warn you about what the nation is saying. They're saying that the San Francisco 49ers - fresh off the martyrish demise of Bill Walsh - are the most likely to push the Seahawks for the division title thanks to them running all over us last season, coupled with all the new players they've acquired. Well, true dat, but they still have a young quarterback, and odds are they'll have to contend with a Seahawks team that isn't so depleted by injuries. At the very least, the 49ers may nab a wild card spot, but in the NFC that ain't really saying much.

Then, there's the Rams, a vision of consistency who for some God-foresaken reason just gave Marc "I'll Never Win A Championship" Bulger a 6-year extension. Brilliant. The Rams have one player - Stephen Jackson, number 2 fantasy player in the game - and an aging core around him. I'm smelling another 8-8 type season on the horizon.

Finally, there's the Arizona Cardinals; year-in and year-out a national darling on the Sleeper Circuit. Color me crazy, but I don't think Edgerrin James has much left in the tank and I just don't buy Prettyboy Leinart as a star quarterback in this league. 5-7 wins tops. Moving on.


2007 Seattle Seahawks:

Barring any unforeseen glitches, here's our horses going into the season. And, to get it out of the way, I won't be using the phrase "If He Stays Healthy" after this point; it'll just be assumed that the Health Gods are on our side up and down the line.

Quarterback - Matt Hasselbeck, a surefire Top 10 quarterback in the league, perhaps even as high as Top 5. He knows the offense, he knows the players, he's got a Top 10 running back behind him and a line that should gel quite nicely after training camp; as long as he's given proper time to throw, he's one of the better decision-makers out there. Seneca Wallace is still our back up, which means he won't see much - if any - playing time until the playoffs when we'll finally risk throwing him into our arsenal a little bit. Grade: A+

Running Back - We all remember Shaun Alexander and Maurice Morris, right? Well, word is - from the guys covering the mini-camps and training camp now - that Shaun is trimmer and faster than he's looked in years. After his Madden-shortened season last year, look for him to return to his touchdown-gobbling form. Mo Morris is always a solid change-of-pace 3rd down back, look for more of the same. Grade: A

Offensive Line - Here's where things get a little tricky. It's a proven fact that the most important component to any successful team is it's offensive line. Quarterbacks need time to throw, running backs need holes to run through. If a line breaks down, timing is thrown off and 3 and Outs are aplenty. Well, we've got Walter Jones back, and even though he showed signs of losing a step last season - on an injured foot from Game 1 I might add - he's still the anchor of the line and the last line of defense for Hasselbeck's blind side. With Rob Sims another year older and more experienced playing next to Jones at Left Guard, it should ease the pressure from Jones so he can focus solely on blocking the best pass rusher the defense has to offer. Right now, Chris Spencer looks to be The Man at center. A botched off-season surgery might be a problem for him down the line, but we've still got aging wizard Chris Gray at Right Guard to fill in. Right Tackle, meanwhile, is up for grabs at the moment, ensuring us that the best man will be in the job. Things look a little patchwork now, but after a few games, they should have the cohesion required to gel for a playoff run. Grade: B-

Tight End - We got rid of Jerramy Stevens!!! Hoorah!!! Marcus Pollard is his replacement and comes with a pedigree of having worked with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis before playing in Detroit last season. He may be older, but he'll definitely be less a liability on and off the field. Will Heller returns as our primary Blocking Tight End, giving our line that extra oomph required on 3rd and Shorts. I think Pollard will be better than most people now give him credit for. Grade: B+

Wide Receivers - We lost Darrell Jackson, but as Seahawks fans, we should be used to not seeing him on our field for most of the season. He's the same guy who lost 11 weeks in our Super Bowl year two seasons ago. Deion Branch is his replacement and, now in his natural position as the Number 1 option, he should more than pick up the slack. Our 2-receiver is up for grabs right now between D.J. Hackett - who came on strong last season as a deep threat - and Nate Burlson - who proved his meddle as a return man, now with a year under his belt immersed in the West Coast Offense. I'm giving the edge to Hackett because he showed last year that he could make the big catch when it mattered. And, as always, our number 3 receiver will be Bobby Engram. Best hands on the team, bar none. With 4 awesome receivers and whoever wins out for that battle of the 5th among the youngsters means that we'll once again have the best receiving corps in the league without a 100-catch stud. Grade: A-

Defensive Line - We're young, quick, and undersized all over our defense. That poses potential match-up problems, but it also means we should be in every game and have a chance on every play to do something amazing. Patrick Kerney will be the giant white man playing defensive end; he was our top signing in the offseason. Apparently, according to the writers, he's just a sight to behold. All muscle, all energy, all the time. Kind of like a Kacyvenski who knows what the hell he's supposed to be doing. Bryce Fisher is the bookend on the line, along with Darryl Tapp in the rotation. They're not going to overpower anybody, but just hope they get in the face of the quarterback enough to fluster him. We're thin up the middle, but that's nothing new. Hopefully Marcus Tubbs will be ready to go come the regular season, otherwise our run-stuffing at the line will be few and far between. Grade: C+

Linebackers - In keeping with the theme, it's not so bad being quick and undersized at this position. Lofa Tatupu still holds court as the middle linebacker and he'll get his 100 tackles. Julian Peterson is still the maniac playing outside linebacker, he'll get 10+ sacks and 80+ tackles. And, don't forget Leroy Hill on the other side. The defensive coordinator is planning on blitzing him more often too - as a change-up from Peterson - so look for him to have a near-Pro Bowl year. We're thinnest at this position, but arguably the most athletic. Grade: A

Secondary - Marcus Trufant will be playing his natural corner position this year after two years off due to a shoulder problem. Hopefully, this means more production in the interception department. He's not the lockdown corner we imagined after drafting him in the first round, but he's got excellent recovery speed and has a nose for the ball. Kelly Jennings is penciled in as the other corner - though he'll be pushed by our top draft pick this year Josh Wilson, look for him to get significant playing time in the nickel. Jennings is small but fast and showed great resolve in the playoff stretch last season. At safety, we're MUCH improved. Deon Grant and Brian Russell - two free agents - are pretty much locked in as starters and won't give up the big plays that Hamlin (now playing for Dallas) and Boulware (fighting for a spot in the rotation for the Seahawks) did last year. I'm hearing great things about their communication and leadership abilities. Should they pan out, that'll free up our linebackers to be the big playmakers of the defense, since they won't have to help out so much in the coverage schemes. Grade: B-

Special Teams - Kicker Josh Brown is back, he's solid. Ryan Plackemeier is another year stouter, should be fine. I have no idea who'll be returning, but with Burlson, Engram, rookie Josh Wilson, and even Seneca Wallace all taking kicks this training camp, it should be interesting to see who's back there in the regular season. Grade: B+

Overall, with Holmgren being Holmgren, with Jim Mora supplementing our defensive coaching staff, I'm seeing great things. Double-digit wins in a tough schedule, hopefully a 1st round bye, HOPEFULLY a pole position slot in the playoffs so all games have to go through Qwest Field.

Seahawks Overall Grade: A-
Seahawks Predicted Record: 11-5