Shutdown Corner - NFL

It's too early for '09 season previews, and too late for '08 season reviews. What's an NFL blog to do in the never-ending quest to overcover the bejeezus out of the NFL? Offseason progress reports. Let's go in alphabetical order. Today, the Seattle Seahawks.

Free agents lost: DT Rocky Bernard(notes), CB DeMichael Dizer, WR Bobby Engram(notes), QB Charlie Frye(notes), DT Howard Green(notes), TE Will Heller(notes), RB Maurice Morris(notes), WR Samie Parker(notes), C Dominic Raiola(notes), OL Tyler Schmitt(notes), WR Trent Shelton(notes), FB Leonard Weaver(notes), OL Floyd Womack(notes)

Free agents gained: DT Colin Cole(notes), FB Dan Curran, FB Justin Griffith(notes), WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh(notes), FB David Kirtman(notes), CB Ken Lucas(notes), TE John Owens(notes), C Bryan Pittman(notes), LB Tony Taylor

Lost via trade: LB Julian Peterson(notes)

Acquired via trade: DT Cory Redding(notes)

Drafted: OLB Aaron Curry(notes), OT Max Unger(notes), WR Deon Butler(notes), QB Mike Teel(notes), SS Courtney Greene(notes), DE Nick Reed(notes), TE Cameron Morrah(notes)

It's going to feel a little weird seeing the Seattle Seahawks take the field without Mike Holmgren. In week one, when Jim Mora Jr. comes out of the tunnel leading the team, I'm going to stop, pause for a moment, and hope that Holmgren and Craig Stadler have settled down somewhere and opened up a cozy little little walrus-grooming shop.

Mora represents just one of the big variables in Seattle for 2009, and he might not even be the most important one. That distinction goes to quarterback Matt Hasselbeck(notes), because the teams with good quarterbacks are the teams that make the playoffs. If Hasselbeck is healthy and playing as well as he can, Seattle's a playoff contender. If he's not, they're not.

Hasselbeck says he feels tip-top, but don't trust his word on that. Not that Hasselbeck is some kind of a liar, but every player always thinks they're in great shape. Never have you heard a guy say, "No, I just don't feel good about this season. My joints ache, I feel like there's a decent chance I'll be permanently crippled by week four and I might have chlamydia. It's gonna be a long year."

You couldn't blame a Seahawks receiver if they felt that way, though. Last year, some kind of black plague infected Seattle's receivers, and they fell to injury, one after the other, until the team was left with an Arena League-caliber receiving corps. Something very similar happened to the offensive line, too.

But it's a new year, and for the most part, the receivers are healthy. They've added T.J. Houshmandzadeh, too, making them a formidable group, at least on paper. With health, this can be an above average offense. And in the NFC West, if either your offensive or defensive unit can be classified as "above average," you're almost automatically a division contender.

There's reason to be excited about the defense, too. Colin Cole and Cory Redding promise to solidify the interior of the defensive line, and Aaron Curry, a draft gift, promises to do just about everything well.

Progress: If anyone's going to challenge Arizona for division supremacy, I'll take Seattle over San Francisco. All they need is a reasonable amount of health, whereas the 49ers need young and/or unproven guys to step up and show that they can play at a level they've never played at before. I think health is a little bit more likely.

Plus four games. 4-12 last year, 8-8 this year.

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