Salk: The top 5 Seahawks storylines as training camp begins

Jul 28, 2021, 9:28 AM | Updated: Sep 14, 2021, 10:52 am
Seahawks Russell Wilson Pete Carroll...
Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll have a new offensive coordinator this season. (Getty)

As the Seahawks get set to put a somewhat tumultuous offseason behind them and get away from talking and back to playing, it’s time to revive an old favorite: the top storylines of training camp.

Clayton: What to know going into Seahawks training camp

These are the top questions we’ll be asking, stories we’ll be following, and conversations we’ll be having. The answers to these questions will determine what kind of season the Seahawks have.

1. What does Shane Waldron’s offense look like, and will it lead to a happy Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll?

By far the biggest offseason storyline was the changing of the guard at offensive coordinator. The Seahawks have never quite looked like other NFL teams offensively, and while that difference often worked for them, it became clear last year that something wasn’t right. We know Russ wants to cook, to throw, to have more easy completions. We know Pete wants balance. And while the scales tipped towards Russ in the first half of last season, a few shaky games caused Pete to bring in the reins.

Enter Shane Waldron.

Can he keep both happy? He’s stuck in the middle of the two most powerful figures in this town, and he’ll need a creative and successful approach to keep both happy.

2. What can we expect from Jamal Adams?

What can expect with his contract? His leadership? His health? His performance on the field?

The Seahawks gave up more to get this guy than anyone in Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider’s tenure. They had to know this contract fight was coming. They had to know he was going to want to get paid with a capital ‘P.’ So this is all expected. If they don’t sign him to an extension, someone should be fired.

But in this case, an extended holdout of any sort wastes part of the reason he was acquired to begin with. They want his voice, leadership and intensity to factor into practice. Brock Huard says that you should hear a great defense before you see and feel them. If that’s what he brings to the team, then having him unhappy or sitting out is a waste. They should get this done ASAP.

Assuming they reach a deal, the questions continue. How will he react to teams game-planning for him rushing the passer? Can he cover? Can he stay healthy? Can he force turnovers? He is such a unique talent that I’m willing to bet on some positive answers here – and so are the Seahawks. That’s why they gave up the farm for him!

3. Are any of the young draft picks going to become something beyond their draft day expectations?

Other than breakout star DK Metcalf, the Seahawks’ hit rate with early picks has been rough for a while. Defensively, they are waiting on Jordyn Brooks, Darrell Taylor, L.J. Collier, Marquise Blair and Rasheem Green to reach their potential. All five were drafted in the first, second or third rounds. Add in first-rounder Rashaad Penny and you have six young players of whom much was expected. All of them (besides Taylor) have flashed their potential. None have become consistent starters that make a consistent difference… yet. Who is going to break out and not just flash? A deep playoff run may depend on the answer.

4. Can they dominate the line of scrimmage?

Why did the Seahawks make an early playoff exit in 2020? Because they got beat up front (and lost the turnover battle). The popular narrative is that their offensive line just couldn’t protect Russell Wilson. It’s 100% accurate. But it lets the defense off the hook. The front seven was ineffective and never pressured the Rams into making mistakes. If they want to get back to being a dominant team, that quest starts and ends up front.

Has either line significantly improved? Can they block four with five on offense? Can their four defensive linemen beat five?

Gabe Jackson and Kerry Hyder were the Seahawks’ biggest additions. Was that enough?

5. How will Russell be received by his coaches, teammates and fans?

This offseason was rough. Russell tried to pull a wrestling heel turn, then doubled back in the middle of it. It was like he was trying to join his peers like Aaron Rodgers in fighting for more power but didn’t have the stomach to go all the way. In the end, he is still here and now he needs to work with some folks who may have gotten their feathers ruffled in the process.

We know there is no one more forgiving than Pete, so I expect that relationship will be just fine. Fans are generally fickle and will react to how he plays, so Russ can win them back easily (if any have actually left). But teammates? That may be more complicated (and harder to gauge). Duane Brown is a proud and respected man that wouldn’t be out of line in being hurt by Russell’s comments about the offensive line. Can Russell get on the same page with them and truly lead this team? It’s part of the job of a franchise quarterback.

Bonus: What is Bobby Wagner’s future?

This is a quiet, under-the-radar question. The Seahawks committed to Bobby in a big way. In the wake of the departures of the huge Legion of Boom personalities, they made him the face and voice of the defense. And they paid him accordingly. He is getting huge money and playing… well. But is he playing at the level that contract demands? If he doesn’t have a monster year (without his buddy K.J. Wright next to him), could his Seahawks future be in doubt? They need impactful plays that get the defense off the field and they need those plays to come from their star in the middle.

Follow Mike Salk on Twitter.

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Salk: The top 5 Seahawks storylines as training camp begins