By Brady Henderson
The Seahawks – if they even care about such things – might have a legitimate gripe when it comes to the lack of attention they get from national pundits.
That made for good humor when ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck joined "Brock and Salk" earlier this week and spoke highly of the Seahawks. While he didn't pick the Seahawks to overtake the 49ers in the NFC West, Hasselbeck suggested that the gap is much closer now than it was last season when San Francisco won the division with a 13-3 record while Seattle went 7-9 and finished in third place.
"A lot of people have kind of just handed the division back again to the San Francisco 49ers because of the way they dominated it a year ago. But I still have some questions about that football team. They certainly got a couple breaks, they had some new players that really stepped up and played well for them last year," Hasselbeck said.
Tim Hasselbeck thinks Seattle has the best strong safety in the NFC West and the best secondary in the NFL. (AP)
A few of Hasselbeck's thoughts on the Seahawks:
Second(ary) to none. Hasselbeck pointed to the Seahawks' two Pro Bowl safeties, two towering cornerbacks and overall depth as reasons he thinks Seattle has the best secondary in the league. Hasselbeck said Kam Chancellor is better than Arizona's Adrian Wilson -- who's considered one of the top strong safeties in the league -- and predicted a breakout season for Earl Thomas, a Pro Bowl starter in 2011. Hasselbeck: "When Marcus Trufant is your fourth corner, that's a good thing. That is a very good thing in terms of depth for your secondary."
Ruud's addition will help. Hasselbeck described Barrett Ruud, whom the Seahawks signed to a one-year deal after losing David Hawthorne in free agency, as an unflashy yet highly productive middle linebacker. Hasselbeck: "Barrett Ruud is one of those guys where he might not have that impact play, that tackle that causes a fumble that is a swing play in a game, but he's always around the football." Hasselbeck called it an "outstanding" signing while noting Ruud's recent injury issues. Ruud, 29, has topped 100 tackles in four of the last five seasons but is recovering from knee, groin and shoulder injuries.
Will Lynch maintain his edge? You can't blame Hasselbeck for noting the bad track record of running backs re-signed to huge contracts. His brother, Matt Hasselbeck, has seen it with Shaun Alexander in Seattle and last season with Chris Johnson in Tennessee. Tim Hasselbeck: "Marshawn Lynch got paid a bunch of money, so he needs to run like he was running last year for a new contract. Let's face it, the anger and the violence that he ran with was impressive, which is why he was rewarded. But like we've seen from other running backs, you hope you have the same mentality now that you've been paid."
Flynn won't have to do it all. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says he prefers his quarterbacks to be like a point guard, someone whose job isn't necessarily to carry an offense but to distribute the ball to playmakers. Hasselbeck, a former NFL quarterback, thinks Flynn is well suited for that role: "One of the greatest things about the West Coast offense is that your main role ends up being a distributor -- being on time, being accurate and getting the ball into your teammates' hands where they're in position to run after the catch. He's shown that he's been able to do that in Green Bay whether it be in the preseason or the limited time in the regular season, and I think that needs to be his approach."