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Originally published April 29, 2012 at 4:40 PM | Page modified April 30, 2012 at 5:59 PM

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Someone needs to tell Seahawks they play in a pass-and-catch league

Seattle hurt itself by not going after any receivers

Seattle Times staff columnist

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I wish the Seahawks had more seriously addressed their passing game in this draft, wish they had picked at least one wide receiver.

Last season, NFL scoreboards spun like dials on a slot machine.

The Green Bay Packers had the worst defense in the league. They lost once. The New England Patriots were the second-worst defense. They went to the Super Bowl.

With the exception of the Baltimore Ravens, who have decided they don't need wide receivers to win division titles, the teams with the most productive, most dynamic, most dizzying offenses won the most games.

More and more it seems, the NFL has become a pass-and-catch league. Aaron Rodgers was otherworldly for the Packers. Eli Manning led the New York Giants to a Super Bowl title. New England's Tom Brady was Tom Brady again. Drew Brees passed New Orleans into the playoffs. Matthew Stafford arrived in Detroit.

And San Francisco's renaissance was inspired in part by the dramatic improvement of its passing game.

You have to throw often and score big to win big in the new-age NFL, which brings us to the Seattle Seahawks and the 2012 draft.

In the second half of last season, even with a patchwork offensive line, the Seahawks ran exceedingly well. Marshawn Lynch was a beast and a group of relatively anonymous, but undeniably hardworking linemen opened holes for him.

But in this pass-and-catch league, the Hawks, who were not particularly good at passing or catching, finished at 7-9.

So where did they focus most of their attention in the draft this year? The defense. Their very good defense got faster and better.

This season, when they face Rodgers and Brady and Tony Romo at home, the Hawks should put even more pressure on the quarterbacks. They should take even greater advantage of that slight hesitation tackles have when they can't hear the snap count because of the cacophonous crowd.

Rebuilding a football team is a little like rehabbing a golf handicap.

With a few lessons and a little practice, a golfer can cut his handicap from 25 to 20. The monumental challenge is going from 20 to 15 or 20 to 10.

With a few savvy trades, a good draft and smart free-agent signings, a foundering football franchise can go from three or four, to seven or eight victories relatively quickly. The trick is to take the next step and become a championship contender.

Two years of shrewd, smart, well-researched moves by the team of John Schneider and Pete Carroll have given the Seahawks hope. They've cut their metaphorical handicap from 30 to 20. Now they're trying to get into single digits.

To get there, they have to get more dangerous on offense. Their defense created plenty of opportunities in 2011, but the Hawks were 23rd in points scored.

They need more pass catchers.

To make the playoffs, to make a run in the playoffs, they need more offensive playmakers.

To that end, the Seahawks should have drafted at least one wide receiver. There were plenty of good ones available. Thirty-three were taken in the draft, including Mohamed Sanu, Nick Toon, Chris Givens, Ryan Broyles, DeVier Posey and Juron Criner, all of whom, I believe, could help.

The Hawks did well last spring, signing undrafted free agents Doug Baldwin and Ricardo Lockette and drafting Kris Durham. But their passing game still is loaded with ifs.

If new quarterback Matt Flynn is the second coming of Matt Hasselbeck; if tight end Zach Miller is allowed to be more receiver and less blocker; if Sidney Rice can stay healthy; if Mike Williams is repaired; if Durham is healthy and plays to the promise of the scouting reports; if Lockette really is as good as he looked late last season, and if Baldwin plays again like the next incarnation of Bobby Engram, then maybe that will be enough.

But that's a load of ifs.

Williams, for instance, is 28 and has had only one season of 30 or more receptions. Durham and Lockette combined for only five catches in their cameo rookie years.

The Seahawks' defense will keep them in games. But in the new-age NFL, teams have to be pass crazy and score big to stay alive in January.

And Seattle still is waiting for the aerial circus to hit town.

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists

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About Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
skelley@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2176

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