(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
By: Trevor Williams, Sports Radio KJR
With seven days until Furness and Puckett go live from the Virginia Mason Athletic Complex, Ian Furness, Jason Puckett, and Curtis Crabtree give their take on the seven burning questions surrounding the Seahawks organization heading into 2013.
Here’s what the members of the Furness Show had to say:
Question 1: Can Russell Wilson keep rolling at the same clip he finished last season?
Furness: Yes, and better. Here’s why: Better targets – Percy Harvin, his yards after catch and the fact that he’ll catch balls behind the line of scrimmage that will go as passes will help him [Wilson]. And the biggest thing is he didn’t throw a lot of passes. He threw 393 attempts last year. If you’re averaging 25-28 pass attempts per game - his numbers – they’re going to look almost the same if not better than they were a year ago, in terms of rating, completion percentage, [and] touchdown to interception ratio. I’ll tell you this – I’m going to guess the 26:10 ratio (touchdown:interception) is better this year.
Puckett: Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I just don’t see him (as a quarterback) taking a step back. Maybe he’ll have similar numbers but I think he’ll do it in a more dynamic way. I mean everything you [Furness] said, I essentially agree with. I think the addition of Percy Harvin will make him such a better quarterback because one thing he didn’t do last year (and I may be wrong) was there weren’t a lot of little dump off passes. He didn’t dump a lot of passes into the flat, right? This guy [Percy Harvin] adds a whole different element to that. He [Wilson] can simply just get the ball to Harvin in space and let him take off. I think his maturation is through the ceiling. He is a guy that has put so much work into the offseason. He’s just going to be so much more comfortable with the offense. I think you will see night and day a different quarterback with the difference being he’s going to be that much better.
Crabtree: The thing for me is: You don’t learn a whole lot from offseason practices but it reinforced to me just how accurate he really is. He put the ball in some crazy spots, right where guys could get it.
Consensus: All three believe Russell Wilson will keep pace or be better than last season.
Question 2: What will the Seahawks pass rush be able to produce with Chris Clemon’s injury, Bruce Irvin’s suspension, and the additions of Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett?
Puckett: That’s the greatest question. Without Irvin for the first four games (and we don’t know about Chris Clemons) I guess I still have my doubts of whether or not it [pass rush] will be any better than it was last year. God, I hope it is! Hopefully Cliff Avril can bring something to the table in which it improves the pass rush. But to me, that still becomes the number one storyline (at least for me) heading into this season. They have got to get pressure on the quarterback because (and I know this is an obvious point) their secondary would be so much better if they just got pressure on the quarterback. They wouldn’t have to sit there and make those guys cover guys for so long if they could get a consistent pass rush. To me, ultimately, it’s probably what kept them out of the Super Bowl – Not having a consistent pass rush.
Furness: I guess that you would hope (let’s assume Clemons misses a couple games) with those guys out, they were 18th in the NFL in sacks/pass attempt compared to all other teams. When you’re below the midway point with that type of defense it just isn’t enough. I mean, I would hope it’s slightly better overall and when those guys are all back in the lineup (last 12 games of the season) then it should be significantly better. It’s a great unknown. It’s the greatest question of them all. You have to feel there’s a level of concern by the coaching staff. They must feel like A: It’s a need, B: It’s a concern, and C: They’re really not sure what they have in that regard.
Crabtree: When you have a secondary as good as those guys are, the pass rush has to be better than its been. Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett have been very good players the last few years (for other teams). Those are big additions. At the end of the year, I think it’s better.
Consensus: All three agree by the end of the season they expect the Seahawks pass rush to be improved.
Question 3: What will James Carpenter’s 2013 season look like?
Furness: I’m going to say no more than six starts. Prove me wrong, please prove me wrong (if you’re the big man) but I just don’t see how they’re going to get more than six starts from him. He just hasn’t been able to stay healthy. I think your starters are going to be McQuistan and Sweezy when it’s all said and done at guard.
Puckett: Now, I’m not just taking this opinion because I want to differ from you. I think that James Carpenter will be starting and at that at some point they make a decision on McQuistan. I don’t see them keeping McQuistan moving forward, financially, if they’re comfortable with James Carpenter. I say James Carpenter wins it. I think he stays healthy enough that he wins the job and I think (knock on wood) that guy stays healthy and turns into the beast they thought they were getting when they drafted him.
Crabtree: I think this is one of the more interesting questions of the season. Not only will it affect what he does in his third year (after being drafted), but it will affect where the rest of the line goes from a personnel standpoint. It will affect who they will keep, who plays, and all those sorts of things. I think this year he turns the corner. I think he plays double digit games and becomes a more consistent player for the first time in his career.
Consensus: Crabtree holds the tie-breaker between Furness and Puckett and says this will be a new and better season for Carpenter. Furness hopes he’s wrong and Puckett is optimistic, but only time will tell if James Carpenter truly turns over a new leaf this season.
Question 4: Will Percy Harvin live up to expectations and produce a pro bowl season at wide receiver?
Furness: I’m all in man. I’m saying yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes… yes, yes, yes… yes. I’m all in on number eleven. All the chips – they’re all – I’m pushing it all in for this guy. After going after Carpenter for not staying healthy, I’m all in on Percy Harvin. I’m more excited to watch this guy (on the field) than any other Seahawk individually this year, including the quarterback.
Puckett: I’m not concerned about the times missed. I will make this prediction (I love making predictions because no one is ever going to hold you to them). He will be in the conversation towards the end of the year for NFL MVP. He’ll be that good. This guy was in the conversation last year with that type of offense (Adrian Peterson being about the only other guy on that team ) and getting nothing from the quarterback position. With this offense and what he’s able to do in this offense, they’ll find ways for him to get involved. I think he’ll be inspired, he’ll be energized and I think with everything around him (with his quarterback) we’ll get to week 15 and there will be a legitimate discussion about him being the MVP of the NFL.
Consensus: No hesitation here. Percy Harvin can and will live up to the expectations of the 12th Man and Furness Show.
Question 5: Can Malcolm Smith, Korey Toomer, or someone else adequately fill the third starting linebacker job?
Puckett: Bruce Irvin. They say he’s going to compete with Malcolm Smith. I think if he competes with Malcolm Smith and competes with Korey Toomer (he was picked in the first round) - I sure hope he wins that job. I hope he ends up winning the job in training camp and after he serves his suspension, gets the job. Now to me, that’s going to be fascinating to watch. Can he play? Can he cover tight ends and do different stuff like that? It’s a new position for him and how quickly he can adapt to that will be the key thing. I expect (if he stays healthy) it’s his job.
Furness: I think that one of the things with the Seahawks defense that kind of goes unnoticed is that two thirds of their line-backing corps is upper-echelon and young. In other words, they’ve got two guys starting (in K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner) that are high caliber. One should’ve been Rookie of the Year. They’re both really good. As much nickel as you use in the NFL that’s probably the least of my concerns (who the third linebacker is) because I’m kind of with Curtis. If we see Bruce Irvin as a linebacker it’s going to be as a pass rush specialist and Malcolm Smith beat out a guy who had a pretty good season last year. Malcolm Smith has been a guy who has done it the hard way. They’ve liked his athleticism and his speed. I think whether it’s Malcolm Smith, Bruce Irvin – it’s going to be maybe split at that. I don’t see Bruce Irvin being a big factor per say at linebacker. I see him being a big factor as a pass rusher wherever he may be when it’s all said and done.
Crabtree: To me, the biggest thing I’m looking at is how they’re going to use their fronts. How are all these guys going to play, what roles are they going to have? I don’t know right now. I see Irvin in more of a DeMarcus Ware role. He’s out there and he rushes the quarterback 90% of the time he’s out there.
Consensus: Sorry Puckett. Crabtree and Furness agree that it should be Malcolm Smith in the third linebacker spot for the 2013 season.
Question 6: Which rookie will have the biggest impact this year?
Furness: Wow. Well, not the first guy taken. I don’t think he will and if he does that probably means there’s an issue. It’s got to be one of the linebackers doesn’t it? Or one of the defensive linemen? I’m going to say Jordan Hill. That’s the interior pass rusher that we spent, goodness knows, how much time talking about last year? The fact they need a better pass rush from the inside to help Clemmons, help Irvin makes me say Jordan Hill is going to have the biggest impact as a rookie, this season. He’s going to be on the field more and we’ll talk about him more as the season goes on.
Puckett: Despite what Sherman Smith told us, I think it’s Christian Michael. I think they think he’s better than Robert Turbin. The more he plays in training camp and preseason, he might establish himself better than Robert Turbin, earn more playing time, and I think he’s going to stand out more than Jordan Hill or Jesse Williams. I take Christian Michael. He has a chance to be a different form of explosive in their backfield.
Crabtree: I think it’s Jordan Hill. I think the defensive line is something that needs to be sorted out. I think he’s going to have an avenue to be the biggest factor there. I think Luke Wilson is also going to play a lot, but to me, it’s Hill.
Consensus: Looks like Puckett is outnumbered again. So, the advantage goes to? Jordan Hill! Watch out for this young-gun during 2013.
Question 7: Can either J.R. Sweezy or John Moffitt seize control of the right guard position and play at an adequate level?
Furness: Yeah. Sweezy, absolutely. Tom Cable told us to get off J.R. Sweezy’s back, so you know what? I’m all chips in on Sweezy.
Puckett: He may lack some of the fundamental skills of the other linemen and maybe even the skills of John Moffit, but what he doesn’t lack is just a moxy and a toughness over John Moffitt. And he’s got the big guy in his corner. He’s got T.C. [Tom Cable] in his corner.
Consensus: Sweezy all the way baby! Furness Show advice? Set him free and see what happens!
So, there you have it. That’s what the Furness Show has to say about the first seven burning questions surrounding the Seahawks this season. With just seven days left until camp opens at the VMAC, we are sure to have more, so stay tuned!