Year 2 of Carroll brings plenty of Seattle changes

They became the faces everyone in Seattle recognized, the

spokesmen for the franchise and the two players fans connected with

quickest.

Matt Hasselbeck and Lofa Tatupu were the heartbeat of the

Seahawks – one the quarterback for the last decade, the other the

fiery defensive captain, both linked to Seattle’s only Super Bowl

appearance a half-dozen seasons ago.

They were two successful, proven veterans and among the few

constants in a wave of change.

And now the 2011 season begins and both are gone.

”You get those relationships with guys and you’ve been playing

with them for a number of years and they’re not here, it’s tough,”

said Marcus Trufant, the longest standing Seahawk left on the

roster.

Pete Carroll’s second season back in the NFL features a team

that is a younger, larger and possibly more talented team than the

7-9 squad that won the NFC West a year ago and pulled one of the

biggest upsets in playoff history. Yet there are bigger questions

looming than last season.

Carroll’s quarterback situation is a big question with unproven

Tarvaris Jackson handed the starting nod because of familiarity.

His offensive line features three starters with a combined 10 games

of NFL experience. And there were no fixes to a secondary that was

gouged throughout last season.

Also, there’s little veteran presence.

”The experienced players do carry something with their value, I

totally see it, but in our time in what we’ve done here to make the

moves that we’ve had to make, that’s just the situation we’re in

right now,” Carroll said. ”One of those is that maybe we’re a

little bit younger and a little bit newer.”

When the decision was made that Hasselbeck wouldn’t return,

Seattle did so with Jackson at the top of its agenda. His

attraction came from Jackson knowing the system offensive

coordinator Darrell Bevell would be implementing from his time

playing for Bevell in Minnesota, and his athleticism to get out of

the pocket and run.

But Jackson’s rocky career has been based around inconsistency.

His most telling stat is a 10-11 career record. Bevell says Jackson

just needs a chance to play regularly, and while he’ll be the

starter against San Francisco on Sept. 11, there’s no guarantee

it’s Jackson’s job in the long term.

”Those guys,” Jackson said about Carroll and Seattle GM John

Schneider, ”seemed very excited about me and that was important to

me. I was trying to be somewhere where I was wanted and it seemed

like they really wanted me here so it was a no-brainer for me to

come here.”

If there is reason to believe Jackson can succeed, it’s due to

the stable of skill players around him. His favorite target from

Minnesota, Sidney Rice, joined Jackson in Seattle, along with a

second-year of a renewed Mike Williams. Seattle added a second pass

catching tight end in Pro Bowler Zach Miller.

Marshawn Lynch, whose memorable playoff run capped Seattle’s

41-36 upset of New Orleans, is with the Seahawks from the start. He

hopes to find solutions for an anemic running game from last

season, along with backfield mates Leon Washington and Justin

Forsett.

A successful ground game will be the biggest reason Jackson

succeeds, and that also depends on a remodeled offensive line with

rookies James Carpenter and John Moffitt, and free agent guard

Robert Gallery learning the schemes of line coach Tom Cable.

But the line is already an issue, struggling to give Jackson

adequate protection during the preseason and yet another ankle

injury landing left tackle Russell Okung on the bench.

”We’re learning together and we’re growing together. It’s a big

growing process, but it’s good,” Moffitt said. ”James has so much

talent. I really like playing with James, he’s very gifted. But

once we get on the same page and really learn each other it’s going

to make my job a lot easier.”

With Tatupu gone, David Hawthorne moves into the middle of

Seattle’s defense where he spent most of the 2009 season when

Tatupu was injured. The return of a healthy Leroy Hill made it

possible for Hawthorne to move inside.

The defensive line was a primary focus with Seattle bringing

back Brandon Mebane, Raheem Brock and Junior Siavii, and added Alan

Branch and Jimmy. Defensive end Red Bryant also is back from a

serious knee injury.

The secondary remains a concern. Seattle ranked 27th in pass

defense a year ago and made no moves to provide immediate help. The

Seahawks are talented at safety with Earl Thomas and Kam

Chancellor, but they are young. This is the group Carroll plans to

move forward with. He says it won’t be like last year when Seattle

pulled off nearly 300 player transactions, all fueling his belief

that competition is the best motivator.

”It’s not going to be the 200 moves or whatever the heck it

was. I can’t imagine that would happen this year,” Carroll said.

”We don’t even want to be in that mentality now, but it took all

of that to get here. It took two solid drafts and taking advantage

of free agency and everything that’s happened to get here. We’ve

been as competitive as we could think to be at every one of those

challenges and there are still more of those coming.”

Follow Tim Booth on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ByTimBooth