Note: The following may not make sense to some people. The author was high on muscle relaxants at the time.
'Keys' atricles are always kind of weird. Whether they are keys to the game or of the season, there is always a simple tendency to state the obvious. Whenever I see "Shaun Alexander needs to have a good game," "the offensive line needs to protect Matt Hasselbeck," or "establish the running game," I want to yank on puppy ears and knock over lamps.
In my opinion, a good 'keys' feature will avoid the obvious, football 101 crap. You folks know all this--If you're a Seahawks fan and found this site, chances are that you have seen all the banal speculation, but are looking for something beyond that. For the sake of not wasting your attention span, I'll cast aside all of the primordial shit and focus on the more obscure.
1. The Seahawks' offense is the key to stopping the run. Much has been said of the loss of Tubbs to the IR, and how it will be a disaster to the Seahawks' run defense. Yes, it is undeniably a factor. But looking back to the 2005 season, the old axiom has proven true: The best defense is a good offense.
Back in '05, Seattle's powerful and balanced attack put other teams behind and on their heels. The result? The defense often found themselves playing against a team under a lot of pressure to score, and passing more than it otherwise wanted to. Seattle ended up leading the NFL in sacks, and their run defense was good, in part, because teams found themselves behind the 8-ball and elected to pass instead.
So this season, what we may see, instead of Jerramy Stevens killing drives with butterfingers, Marcus Pollard moving the chains closer to the goal line. Instead of Seneca Wallace getting chased out of the pocket along in a limping offense, Patrick Kerney **going off** on the other team's QB because he knows it will be a pass.
In any case, the way this undersized-but-fast defense is made, it is built to keep a lead and rush the passer, not to grind out a low-scoring duel of running backs. If the offense hold up it's end of the deal, the Seahawks' rushing defense will do well.
2. The learning curve of Leonard Weaver. There are a few weaknesses on this offense. Screen passes are a crack smoker's dream that never came true. Nobody in the backfield can pass block their grandmother.
Weaver has the ability to change that. On occasion, he has shown flashes of playmaking ability that could change him into a dynamic threat. He could add components to the offense that would give defenses fits.
The problem is that he's something of a dumbass. If he ever catches on, look out.
3. The maturation of the secondary. Everyone is expecting the additions of Deon Grant and Brian Russell to stop the profuse bleeding of deep passes. I am hoping for more.
Some nice things happen when a cornerback can rely on the safety behind him. When he knows his partner is assignment correct, he stops playing tenetively and can play more agressively. When was the last time you saw a Seattle cornerback just flat outplay a receiver for the ball?
I want to see turnovers, baby. If this nominally improved secondary does it's job, we will see them.
OK, I'm bored now. Let's hear your keys to the season in the comments.