I see a lot of Offensive Coordinator's and Head Coaches losing a ton of sleep over the Hawks defense this season. Over the course of the past 2 seasons, this has been one of the league's youngest and toughest defenses. After the "surprise" (not to us) success the D had in 2011, teams adjusted to the Hawks D and while it was still a great unit, it had it's weaknesses. This offseason though, the Hawks have countered the league and gone all in on making their defense the most complete defense in the NFL. Nothing sums it up better than the addition of Winfield.
His versatility and ability to play the run/pass at a high level makes it a nightmare having to draw up a plan to defeat them. The Hawks now have the ability to be stout against the run even when they're in the Nickel, a rare ability. Keep in mind as the OC you probably know that it's going to be tough for your team's defense to stop the Hawks O, adding even more pressure to your job. What do you do? If Jesse Williams is legit then just rushing up the middle and trying to wear em out is even less of an option. I'm guessing we'll see a lot of teams trying to run left on us, away from Mebane, Red, and KJ. If Clem is on the PUP to start the season then probably even more so. Teams might try and attack the trio of Williams/Hill, Avril, and Malcolm Smith (or whoever wins the WLB job). Hell, you might even be more stout against the run with Winfield in instead of Smith at that point and just running the Nickel as the base defense. If he isn't a year too late like bestfightstory says, and that's my only legit concern with Winfield but it becomes negligible because he came to Seattle for such little dough/only one year. It's worth the gamble, if you can even call it that.
That's going to be something to look at during camp. Does Malcolm Smith (or Korey Toomer!, or others) elevate his game to the point where the team is more confident with him getting more snaps than Antoine Winfield. At this point, going off of last season and historically, I'd say I'm more confident with Winfield getting more snaps, but who knows what the two will look like when it comes time for camp. That's the thing with this squad and the beauty of how it's been constructed. I think I've heard the players use the word "Compete" and reference the phrase "Always Competing" this offseason more than I ever have before. Even the new guys that have been brought in were talking about it and still are on the Real Rob Report and in interviews. You just never know who might surprise and come in to camp and make 2013 his breakout campaign. It could be Malcolm Smith, Korey Toomer, Allen Bradford, or Mike Morgan, could be any one of them. It's gonna be fun to watch it all unfold.