Before I begin this article, let me make a few points clear:
1) I am a huge fan of Russell Wilson. What he did in the regular season AND the postseason are feats that can not be ignored.
He is a rare talent and I believe he will have long-term success in the NFL.
2) I love the environment that CenturyLink Field brings to the NFL. It is a stadium you must visit if you are a die-hard NFL fan.
The crowd is deafening and the atmosphere is electric. Playing in a stadium like that will guarantee you six to seven wins a year.
3) I believe that the Seahawks do indeed have a great, young roster and that they will be competitive for the next six to seven years.
That being said, these are the reasons why I believe that the Seattle Seahawks will not make the playoffs next season.
It all starts with the quarterback. Don't get me wrong, what Russell Wilson did in his rookie year was nothing short of amazing.
The third round pick from Wisconsin ranked fourth overall in passer rating - he was better than Matt Ryan, Drew Brees AND Tom Brady. He also threw for 26 touchdowns, leading all rookies. Add almost 500 yards rushing with four touchdowns and you have the complete package.
He has a cannon for an arm and has tremendous vision for being a shorter quarterback at 5'10". His decision-making is very good and he has one of the better deep balls in the game. He is going to be a very good quarterback over the next few years.
However, despite all of the statistics and accomplishments I believe Wilson will struggle in his sophomore year.
The evidence is there if you just look closely. Out of all second-year quarterbacks since 2002, only a handful of quarterbacks have made it to the playoffs in their second season and only one has won a playoff game - Ben Roethlisberger when he won the Super Bowl in 2005. And I believe that the Steelers actually won that game despite him.
It's tough for quarterbacks of Russell's style to excel after their first year in the league. Teams now have tape - they can learn his tendencies and use those against them. The fact that defenses now know what is coming will force him to make adjustments and alter his game in order to be successful.
It doesn't even have to be quarterbacks of Wilson's style. Every quarterback goes through growing pains in the NFL. There all kinds of recent examples of one-year wonders at the position recently - Ryan Fitzpatrick, Michael Vick, Matt Cassel - just to name a few.
It also doesn't help that he will have to play against three of the league's best defense six times a year either. The NFC West can now be considered one of the tougher divisions in the league after being a bottom-feeder for so long. I don't know if many people realize that the Hawks lost to both the Rams and the Cardinals last year.
Look for Wilson to have an up and down season but it won't be a Mark Sanchez style regression. I like Wilson too much to turn him into a butt fumbler.
Wilson excelled last season by running the read option very efficiently and relying on heavy doses of Marshawn Lynch and with the trade for Percy Harvin this offseason, the Seahawks' offense seems as potent as ever.
However, don't be so sold on the Harvin trade just yet. Harvin brings a lot of talent and play-making to the receiver position, but he has played only one complete season and has never hit 1,000 yards receiving in his career.
He also brings some character concerns and his issues with migraines have always been bothersome. He's known to throw fits and let his anger get the best of him. That could be a dangerous mix with teammate Marshawn Lynch, who has been known to be a little excessive sometimes as well.
Future Hall-of-Famer Cris Carter himself was quoted saying that Vikings were better off without Harvin. The price that the Seahawks had to pay was too high. A first-rounder and two other selections are too much for a team that has drafted four Pro Bowlers over the last three years. Add that to the humongous contract they gave him (six-year, $67 million with $25.5 guaranteed) and that is a very lofty price for a player of his caliber.
Although Harvin is dynamic and will receive most of the balls from Wilson, the Seahawks will still need major production from opposite receiver Sidney Rice.
Both players played under offensive coordinator Darrel Bevel when he held the same position in Minnesota from 2006-2010, so there should be a lot of familiarity.
In the end, I don't think Harvin will be worth the arm and leg that the Hawks paid up.
The Loss of Gus Bradley
This one is going to hurt a lot more than people realize. When Bradley took over the defense in 2009, the unit was nothing but sub-par to say the least.
In his last two seasons the Seahawks ranked in the top ten of most defensive categories those two seasons.
He also played a major role in the drafting of certain players such as Bruce Irvin and Earl Thomas.
Bradley is now running the show in Jacksonville and his replacement is Dan Quinn, former defensive coordinator the past two seasons at Florida.
He actually coached the defensive line in Seattle a few years before and is a guru when it comes to the defensive line.
He was quickly hired after Bradley left because of his familiarity with the defense and the hope is he can revamp a defensive line that struggled with rushing the passer and stopping the run. Seattle notched 36 sacks last season - only three more than in 2011. Eight of those 35 came in one game, too.
Quinn's teams have averaged around 36 sacks a season from 2003-2010. His teams ranked in the top five of that category four times during that span. Quinn was responsible for a Florida defense that notched 58 sacks in 26 games - and they rarely blitzed.
He also helped head coach Pete Carroll create the unorthodox 4-3 the Seahawks run that uses a 6'4", 320-pound defensive tackle as an end.
However, Quinn is working with a lot of new faces and there is word that he is already wanting to make significant changes to the system. Which leads to my next point...
The Influx of Free Agents
Many teams have tried to overhaul their teams via free agency and almost none have succeeded. The Seahawks have not been the most active team, but they made some pretty big deals. They brought in the top defensive ends on the market and made the move for Harvin.
However, with the new system that Quinn will try to run I don't really see Michael Bennet and Cliff Avril having major success in their first season with the team. The duo combined for 18.5 sacks last season, over half of Seattle's team total.
That doesn't necessarily mean that they will have immediate success in the Northwest. Bennett was a late bloomer in Tampa Bay - he had seven total sacks in his career before last year. He also became a non-factor down the stretch last year, failing to get to the quarterback in five of his last six games.
The defense Seattle runs is not a simple one. They run one that combines some parts of a 3-4 and 4-3 together. End can play tackle, tackle can play end - it's a nightmare for opponents and the actual players to learn, too.
It will take the newcomers a couple of years to get comfortable in the new system but when they do, it's game on.
The NFC West is a Lot, Lot Tougher
Although the Seahawks made the playoffs last year not many people know that they split the division 3-3. They lost their opening game to the Cardinals and lost to the 49ers and Rams on the road. It's only going to get tougher in 2013.
Seattle has to learn to win on the road if they want to have improved success this year. All three division losses were on the road in 2012. If they want to win the division they have to win away from home.
I actually thought the Rams were going to win the division before the start of the 2012 season. Even though they didn't they were vastly improved under Jeff Fisher and will only get better this year. Colin Kaepernick and the Niners are looking as strong as ever. Especially if they get Nnamdi Asomugha or Darrelle Revis.
My wild-card is the Cardinals. With Bruce Arians at the helm I believe this team is going to surprise a lot of people next year. Arians did a stellar job when Chuck Pagano went down in 2012 and helped guide the Indianapolis Colts to an 11-5 record and a top 10 offense with a rookie quarterback.
Their defense is nasty and if they can get even a serviceable quarterback then this team will be very dangerous.
St. Louis lost Steven Jackson to the Falcons, but watch out for backup Daryl Richardson. He showed some flashes last year when Jackson was hurt and could be a surprise in 2013. Jared Cook will be an underrated addition until he catches about 10 touchdowns this year.
Expect the Rams to pick up right where they left off. If Bradford continues to develop, then this team could be the ones who replace the Seahawks next season.