With rosters now pretty well set, NFL.com is projecting the starting lineups for every team, and today focused on the Seahawks.
If that lineup looks pretty familiar, well, it should as it’s not really a whole lot different than the lineup the Seahawks fielded for the Super Bowl.
On offense, the only differences are at right tackle (Breno Giacomini then, Michael Bowie or Justin Britt now), one receiver spot (Golden Tate then, Percy Harvin now) and another WR spot (they go with Sidney Rice as the No. 3 WR when it would have been Harvin for the Super Bowl with Tate and Doug Baldwin as the official listed starters.)
On defense, there are actually only two changes, each at tackle, with NFL.com listing Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel as starters when Michael Bennett and Clinton McDonald were the official starters at tackle for the Super Bowl, which Seattle began in a nickel defense and its pass rushing D-line of Cliff Avril and Chris Clemons at the ends and Bennett and McDonald inside. Obviously, the usual starting DL all year had Red Bryant at one end along with, usually, Clemons at the other end and then McDaniel and Mebane at tackles.
I know none of this is probably news to anyone reading this. But seeing the starting lineup laid out like that is a reminder that for all that Seattle was perceived to have lost during the off-season, the Seahawks will be able to field a starting lineup that would essentially feature a returning starter (if you count Harvin as one) at every spot other than right tackle on offense.
What also caught my eye, though, was the item that says Carroll said McDaniel will be a direct replacement for Bryant. If so, then he won’t really be playing tackle since the Bryant role is the five-technique defensive end spot that last year lined up over a tackle with the specific role usually of charging ahead and disrupting the play, leaving others to clean up.
One reason the Seahawks signed McDaniel and let McDonald go, though, is that they like his ability to play multiple positions on the line. Same with Bennett, whose ability to play against the run was better a year ago than the Seahawks imagined it might be. The versatility of those two played into the decisions to jettison Bryant and Clemons and let McDonald walk, the idea being that they can expand the roles of McDaniel and Bennett, if needed, to fill in the void created by the losses of the others.
I think the real hope, though, is that some young players emerge, such as Greg Scruggs, Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams (and Benson Mayowa at the LEO defensive end spot) potentially allowing for a similar rotation as a year ago. That seven-man rotation — which allowed the Seahawks to mix and match personnel by situation and also by opponent — was maybe the most underrated aspect of the team’s success last season.
And it’s that loss of experienced depth, and how well Seattle can replace it with the younger guys, that figures to be as intriguing a question as anything for the Seahawks this season.