Training camp is just around the corner, and with off-season additions just about complete and rosters almost set, we preview the opponents the San Diego Chargers will be facing this season. Each team has made different moves in order to improve their roster, and this series will help you become more familiar with each opponent.
In other words, KNOW YOUR ENEMY...
More Opponent Previews: Arizona Cardinals
Coming into the 2013 season, the Seattle Seahawks were projected by many experts to win the Super Bowl, which they eventually did, by dismantling the Denver Broncos. The main component to their championship run was the defense, which boasts one of the league's best secondary. Even with this tremendous defense, they also field one of the league's best, and youngest, quarterbacks in Russell Wilson, and one of the only players in the NFL to actually create seismic movement, Marshawn Lynch. Since joining forces in 2010, coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider have built one of the league's deepest, and most talented, teams.
Defensively, the Seahawks not only have "The Legion of Boom," a secondary unit manned by Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Cam Chancellor, but also have quite a ferocious defensive lineman in Michael Bennett. Last year, this unit had 28 interceptions and 24 forced fumbles, while sacking the opposing QB 43 times, according to Pro Football Reference. However, the departures of Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, and Clint McDonald will surely hurt the productivity of this defensive line. However, the core of the defense, the secondary, will still be humming, even with Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner both gone as well.
Offensively, they have one of the league's best rushing attacks, with Lynch as the main back, and the young and talented second-year player, Christine Michael, primed for a bigger role. Wilson will be happy to have Percy Harvin to start the season, after missing most of last year, only to come back and display his dangerous speed in the Super Bowl. The departures of Golden Tate and Breno Giacomini will hurt, but the bigger concern will be the offensive line itself. Russell Okung remains their best linemen, but with a career plagued with injuries, and Pro Bowl Center Max Unger entering his 8th season, the Seahawks have unproven depth behind them.
Additions: OG Stephen Schilling, CB Phillip Adams, DT Kevin Williams, WR Taylor Price, WR Kevin Smith, OG Greg Van Roten
Losses: WR Golden Tate, DT Clinton McDonald, DE Red Bryant (cut), DE Chris Clemons, OT Breno Giacomini, S Chris Maragos, CB Brandon Browner, CB Walter Thurmond, G Paul McQuistan
As is usually the case with teams coming off a Super Bowl victory, the Seahawks witnessed many of their free-agents sign contracts elsewhere. Replacing some of these players, especially the starters, will be tough, but keeping Michael Bennett and Doug Baldwin seemed like their top priorities. After extending Sherman and Thomas to keep the core of their secondary intact, this organization retools the way it has been doing for the past few seasons... through the NFL Draft.
45. Paul Richardson, WR Colorado
64. Justin Britt, OT Missouri
108. Cassius Marsh, DE UCLA
123. Kevin Norwood, WR Alabama
132. Kevin Pierre-Loius, OLB Boston College
172. Jimmy Staten, DT, Middle Tennessee State
199. Garrett Scott, OT Marshall
208. Eric Pinkins, S San Diego State
227. Kiero Small, FB Arkansas
Second round pick Justin Britt will be someone Seattle hopes can step in to replace Giacomini, while Paul Richardson well get the chance to compete for a starting spot as well. What this organization does best is finding and developing talent. We just witnessed their 2011 7th round pick earn Super Bowl MVP honors, so we might not hae to wait long to see an impact from this year's draft picks.
The Seahawks are another NFC West team that the San Diego Chargers will face twice this season (once in pre-season and again in week 2). Keenan Allen will be entering his second season, and facing Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman in consecutive weeks will be a big test for the sophomore. Allen and Philip Rivers developed a great connection in 2013, but Seattle is very capable of shutting down a passing attack. Ryan Mathews going against a defense that allowed 3.9 yards per carry last year will be a match up to watch, as well.
Facing the Seahawks in San Diego could help the Bolts, as Seattle's Century Link Field is considered one of the tougher places to play at for a reason. Last year, in away games, the Seahawks surrendered an average of 15.1 points per game while scoring 23 points per game, compared to surrendering 13.75 points per game while scoring an average of 29 at home.
The rushing attack that the Seahawks have is something that can't be ignored. Lynch is the workhorse of this offense, after rushing for 1,257 yards and 12 TDs, but Harvin will be someone the Chargers must game-plan around. The Chargers defensive unit will have their work cut out for them, after giving up an average of 4.6 yards per carry and 7.5 net yards per attempt through the air last year.
The kickers could be the difference in this game, with two of the league's most accurate kickers in Steven Hauschka and Nick Novak on the field. Along with the style both of these teams play, this very well could end up being a close game.