January 16, 2017
Offensive Rank: 18th out of 32 teams
Defensive Rank: 3rd out of 32
Turnover Ratio Rank: 16th out of 32
Team MVP: Bobby Wagner
High Point: Seahawks 31, Patriots 24
Low Point: Cardinals 34, Seahawks 31
Over the last 33 years, I've watched 572 Seahawks games. I have no specific recollection of the vast majority of those contests. For a good chunk of them, if you gave me some sort of prompt, it might shake a half-remembered collage of plays out of a dusty corner of my brainpan. In any given season, a handful of games might stick in my memory forever, as will a smattering of plays. When I reflect upon 2016 years from now, what will I remember?
I don't think I'll soon shake the nauseous feeling I got when Earl Thomas went down after colliding with Kam Chancellor on SNF in early December, or the dawning horror when ETIII (prematurely) tweeted about his possible retirement. As valiantly as the team fought on after that gut-churning moment, they were fundamentally hobbled without the former Longhorn patrolling "Area 29" and quarterbacking the defense.
Oddly, that gives me a little bit of mental cushion when it comes to the other negative memories of 2016. If I really wanted to torture myself, I could dwell upon the fact that a tiny handful of plays in two games against Arizona kept us from hosting the NFC Championship Game next Sunday. What if Hauschka made that short kick in OT down in Glendale? What if he had made that extra point at home against Arians' minions in December? And so on...
That December loss was the 2016 Seahawks in miniature. The offensive line couldn't open running lanes or protect Russell Wilson. The defense, without Earl Thomas, was suddenly vulnerable to big plays. The special teams, which has for so long been a point of pride for this franchise, collapsed like a termite-rotted gazebo. But somehow, down 31-18 late in the 4th quarter, Russell Wilson conjured up some legitimate magic. All of the sudden, Baldwin, Graham, and Richardson were getting free and the Wolfbadger was finding them for big gains and touchdowns. Wilson's late TD to Preach filled every 12's heart with elation - This was classic Pete Carroll Seahawks late-game drama. They once again, somehow, found a way to steal a victory. The #2 seed and a first-round bye beckoned...
Then that errant extra point attempt... then one last infuriating defensive meltdown... and it was gone. That championship mettle hadn't dissolved, but the injuries and mistakes piled up too high to be overcome.
We saw the Seahawks do things that felt like they had been poorly copied from the most aggravating days of the Holmgren era, like the return of a stark divide between the team's performance at home (8-1) versus on the road (3-5-1, with only one victory against a team that finished with more than five wins). Distressingly, we saw the offense held to 10 points or less four times, and we saw the defense allow more than 34 points three times. The turnover ratio? Just plus one, good enough to land Seattle exactly in the middle of the pack in 2016.
If you wanted to be a clarion of doom, these Seahawks gave you plenty of ammunition. The core players on defense are aging and spending more time rehabbing from injuries than they ever have in the Carroll era. Russell Wilson posted the lowest single-season passer rating of his career, and threw more interceptions than he did in his rookie campaign. The running game disappeared for long stretches of the season, and the offensive line often appeared to be falling far short of basic competence, let alone any standard of Super-Bowl-level excellence. If you wanted to pen a hot take about Seattle heading straight for the jagged rocks at the bottom of the ravine, I bet you could get that shit to go live on Bleacher Report and get an assload of clicks.
That doesn't make it true, though. These Seahawks gave us (all too brief) glimpses of what could be an incandescent future. At Foxboro in November, with the team operating at something resembling full strength, they handed Tom Brady his only defeat of the season thus far. The defense was a swarm of unchecked fury. Russell Wilson outplayed Brady. C.J. Prosise did his best peak Ricky Watters impression. New England couldn't cover Doug Baldwin. That defense? They made one of the most impressive goal-line stands you'll ever see to secure the victory. THAT could be the future of this team, and I'd argue it's more likely than Januarys on the couch watching the Rams, Niners, or Cardinals host playoff games.
The bright spots weren't limited to one night in Massachusetts, though. Bobby Wagner was a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year contender. Jimmy Graham fully recovered from his horrific 2015 injury to reassert his status as one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in football. Frank Clark began filling his great potential, as did Paul Richardson. Cliff Avril had the best season of his distinguished career. Thomas Rawls proved that, when healthy, he is a worthy successor to Marshawn Lynch.
The Hawks bullied the Lions to reach the Divisional Round for the 5th consecutive season. They had a dramatic, entertaining win over the Bills on MNF. Victories over playoff teams from Miami and Atlanta went down to the dying seconds, with Seattle prevailing with flair.
The core talent of this team is locked down at least for the next couple of years, and the team's cap situation is favorable. Despite an injury-marred 2016, the Hawks are fortunate to have found a franchise quarterback in Russell Wilson who will keep them in the Super Bowl conversation for the next decade or so. They sit atop a division with two teams in utter disarray, and another with a cornerstone QB near the end of his shelf-life.
Take a quick look at the rankings below... How many of the top 10 seasons in franchise history have happened on Pete Carroll's watch? Five. Look around the league, too. Outside of whatever deal Belichick, Brady and that crew have made with Lucifer, it's VERY DIFFICULT to win consistently in this league. The fact that our expectations have shifted to making it to (and winning) Super Bowls, away from merely having a winning record and sneaking into the postseason, tells how how fortunate we are to be rooting for this team and enjoying this historical moment.
I've been doing this ranking the squads thing for nine years now... Here's the updated list, with links to the original articles I wrote. I'm eager to hear what y'all think. Once again, thanks for reading this season. I'll be posting sporadically during the offseason whenever I get a good idea for a blog post. Until then, GO HAWKS!
January 8, 2017
2016 seemed like a bizarre inversion of the regular seasons we've grown accustomed to seeing from the CarrollHawks. In 2012, 2014, and 2015, the Seahawks started slow before delivering lethal finishing kicks into the playoffs in November/December. This season, Seattle started 7-2-1, including wins over Atlanta and New England. The offense seemed to find a punishing and explosive groove, and the defense displayed its typical bludgeoning dominance. Over the final six weeks of the season, injuries piled up and the offensive line regressed into rank incompetence. Future Hall of Famer Earl Thomas was lost for the season, and later on so was the incendiary talent of Tyler Lockett.
The struggling offensive line couldn't open running lanes or give Russell Wilson time to throw. Wilson himself seemed mis-calibrated on his passes and no longer quite fast enough to escape from the grasp of enemy defenders. The defense became wildly inconsistent, giving up 14, 7, 38, 3, 34, and 23 points over the last six frames of the regular season. Seattle secured the 3rd seed in the NFC playoffs, but the downward trajectory late in the campaign made 2016 feel more like 1999 or 2004 than 2013. The fading Lions seemed like a team even these Hawks should beat, but given Seattle's ragged December, allowing Detroit its first road playoff win since the Eisenhower Administration felt all too possible.
The hallmarks of playoff football for the Seahawks under Pete Carroll have been a punishing running game, a suffocating defense, and, frankly, bizarre shit and huge performances from seemingly random players. After disappearing for most of the season, the ground game re-emerged for Seattle. Thomas Rawls erupted for a franchise-playoff-record 161 rushing yards, including nine carries for 52 yards on the Seahawks' first TD drive. In all, the Hawks gained 177 yards on 38 running plays behind an offensive line that tore open jagged gashes in Detroit's defense. If Seattle keeps running the ball like this, they can win it all, even without Marshawn Lynch.
The Hawks defense held Detroit to a season-low 231 yards of offense. Defensive Player of the Year candidate Bobby Wagner wrestled Lions ball-carriers to the ground 10 times, Cliff Avril notched a pair of sacks, and Richard Sherman erased a third of the field for Matthew Stafford. DeShawn Shead chipped in with three passes defensed and no completions allowed on eight targets. The best run defense in football held the Lions to a minuscule 49 yards on the ground. If the defense keeps playing like this, they can win it all, even without Earl Thomas.
Paul Richardson has struggled with injuries throughout his career, but Tyler Lockett's injury against Arizona gave him a new opportunity to prove his quality. On a 4th down and goal play in the second quarter, Preach made one of the most unbelievable catches you will ever see, reaching around a Lions defender to catch a touchdown with one mitt while being violently interfered with. He'd go on to make two more spectacular Largent-esque catches, and Doug Baldwin contributed one of his own, pinning the ball against his own ass to keep it from hitting the ground. Angry Doug would haul in ten more catches, including the theft of a TD pass intended for Jermaine Kearse. If Seahawks receivers keep balling out like this, they can win it all, even without Tyler Lockett.
It was a total team effort to snuff out the Lions, and they'll have to play even better to defeat the Falcons next Saturday. Four years ago, the Seahawks went to Atlanta and left after one of the most painful defeats in franchise history. Our old friend Dan Quinn and his charges think they are a Super Bowl caliber team. Unfortunately for them, so are the Seahawks. They are battle-hardened and itching to prove that their championship window is still wide-open.
They also have a quarterback who is used to playing superlatively and winning on the biggest of stages. Matt Ryan is an excellent quarterback, but he's also only 1-4 in the playoffs, while Russell Wilson is 8-3. Seattle will be underdogs next week, but they will surprise the football world and emerge victorious. If the Packers upset Dallas, they'll have to come out to Seattle for another NFC Championship tilt. If that goes down, I'll be in the house to watch our boys punch their 4th Super Bowl ticket.
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November 17, 2016
If you voted for Donald Trump, you may want to stop reading here. Hell, if you voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or no one, you might want to find another source of overly personal Seahawks commentary peppered with dorky pop culture references.
OK, you've been given fair warning. I don't write this blog for clicks or for profit. That train sailed off looong ago. I really don't care if conservatives, misogynists, racists, homophobes, transphobes or white nationalists stop reading my blog. A Seahawks blog written by a leftist, polyamorous, queer, atheist trans woman? I'm guessing if you had an inkling to vote for Tangerine Mussolini, you already stopped reading my stuff back in like 2012 at the latest.
(I will say this - I do believe that we on the left should partner with Republicans who are willing to join us in opposing Trump and his agenda. If we join together to cause his nefarious strategy to fail, we can sort things out amongst ourselves later.)
On that Monday night before election day, after we pulled out that win against the Bills, I went to sleep believing that I lived in a country that respected my basic dignity and personhood. Sure, there were swaths of the nation still marinating in ignorance about and hatred towards trans folks. Of course there were forces plotting against us. However, under the Obama administration, we made great strides on many fronts in the fight for trans rights. Trans people enjoyed increasing (and increasingly positive) public visibility, and the future looked bright for us. A Clinton administration would have consolidated the gains we've already made, and would have entrenched justices who would have been friendly to my community.
By Tuesday night, it was all gone. The country I thought I lived in felt like it had never really existed. In late January, Donald Trump can follow through on his pledge to repeal all of Obama's executive orders. After he is sworn in, he can nominate judges that not only will stop Federal progress on trans rights in its tracks, but who could also use "religious freedom" as a pretext to gut laws that protect trans rights on the local and state levels nationwide.
Trans folks are TERRIFIED right now. Not only is the policy environment about to pivot into overt hostility toward us, but we are already seeing an increase in hate crimes towards trans and gender non-conforming people sea to jittery, trigger-happy sea. I was the subject of a brutal, coordinated attack on twitter led by Trump-supporting transphobic white nationalists just days ago. Oh boy, did my block button get a workout!
I never felt like I needed to get the gender marker on my Washington State birth certificate changed. Now I do. I never felt like I needed a passport before. Now I do. I never thought I would need to pack a "go bag" for if the shit hit the fan. Now I do. I don't want to leave Columbus. I love it here. I love my city and my country, but I have to be prepared for the possible moment when I have to flee to avoid living in the Berlin plotline from season 2 of Transparent.
So what's the game plan? Resist. Obstruct. Organize. Be seen. Be heard. Agitate. I'm optimistic that we can survive a few years of Trump and save the Republic. But I'm mindful that I still need to work, that I still need to tend to my family, my relationships, and my friends, and that I need to engage in self-care.
For me, Twelving the Fuck Out is a great coping mechanism.
At so many points in my life, the Seahawks have provided me with joy, with a feeling of community, and with a comforting sense of continuity while it felt like change was beating the god damn shit outta me.
In my childhood, when I felt like an alien, rooting for the Seahawks helped me relate to my family and find my own voice. In college, 12ing was an act of defiance and a scream of independence. After the 9/11 attacks and through the Bush years, the team was a welcome distraction from the grind of graduate school and an era of torture, darkness, and venality. The realization that I could transition and still write this blog, and continue waving my 12th Man Flag changed my life forever, and for the better.
So on Sunday night, I had never needed the Seahawks to win a regular-season game so badly. Not only because of the scars of XLIX, but also because New England's coach and quarterback supported the candidate who wants to make my life immensely more difficult and dangerous.
Arrayed against New England? Our stalwart side. Our quarterback who supports trans rights. Our coach whose worldview couldn't possibly be more Californian. Our Democratic-donating owner. Our outspoken cornerback reviled by conservatives, and so on.
Obviously, some Patriots supported Clinton, and some Seahawks probably backed Trump. And even if the Seahawks were arch-conservative, I'd still root for the team unless they started spouting out blatantly transphobic bile. But the symbolism was powerful nonetheless, and beyond that, the Hawks assumed the role of heavy underdogs. Very few people expected them to emerge from Foxborough victorious.
On the biggest stage you can possibly imagine in the regular season, the Seahawks played their best game of the year. Russell Wilson outplayed Tom Brady. Doug Baldwin TORCHED the New England secondary. C.J. Prosise went supernova in his first extended action. But the story, as usual, was that defense.
That defense that hit Gronk so hard his soul escaped out through his word-hole. That defense that harassed the Golden Brady over and over and over. That defense that was once again asked to save the day. ONCE AGAIN asked to defend every blade of grass, every inch of turf, to preserve a victory.
First and goal from the one. New England needed ONE YARD to tie the game. One yard to force an overtime period where they could once again crush the dreams of every 12 from Anchorage to Boise. Somehow, the Legion held its ground. On four plays in a row, they prevented one of the most powerful offensive attacks of all time from gaining that single crucial yard.
After the win. I was too emotionally exhausted to even cry, but I can't think of a more meaningful or important regular season win in franchise history (obviously, the historical significance of the victory will be tied to how successful the Hawks are in the playoffs). I'm 41 years old. I'm a grown woman. I have boring but daunting adult-style problems surrounding me at all times. But I can honestly say that I've never been more proud of the Seahawks than I am right now. I've never been this filled with adoration or love for our boys, either. The values they represent are MY values. The people they play for are MY people. I want to savor every moment I have the privilege of watching them and wearing their colors.
Hard times lay ahead. Our future is struggle. But for me, one thing that will sustain me and keep me going is this amazing, indomitable football team. In January, an ignorant, unqualified, hateful bully will start leading this country. Sometime next spring, I have a gut feeling many of the World Champion Seattle Seahawks will skip the trip to meet Trump at the White House.
Don't lose hope. I'm not going anywhere. Like Kate McKinnon said - "I'm not giving up, and neither should you."
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October 24, 2016
How do you choose to feel? I've been thinking about that a lot lately. In a lot of situations, it doesn't seem like that's something one can control. I certainly can't most of the time. But when you can muster the focus, choosing how to feel can make a big difference in how you see the world around you.
I've been thinking about the election. As a long-standing member of the Democratic Party and as someone who believes Barack Obama is the best President of my lifetime (and if you are LGBTQ, he obviously is more or less our FDR), I wanted someone like Joe Biden to Elizabeth Warren to take office in January and consolidate/expand upon the progress we've made over the last eight years. Hillary Clinton wouldn't have been my first (or second) choice, but compared to the Tangerine Mussolini she is running against, she's the VASTLY more palatable alternative.
Imagine the election as a choice between two options for dinner. Hillary Clinton is Chipotle. It's not the BEST option one can imagine, but it's alright. Trump is the other choice, which is a plate of steaming dog shit topped with shards of broken glass. Like most people, I think a fairly "meh" burrito is an easy choice over mouth-shredding animal feces. Inexplicably, I know far too many people whose reaction to this choice seems to be "WHAT??? I can't have lobster??? Well I hope all you fuckers like razor-sharp glass encrusted with turd nuggets, because you deserve it!"
Some people can't help letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.
I also think about my life as a trans woman. Do I sometimes think that my life might have been better if I had transitioned, say, back in high school rather than in my late 30s? Not really. All those experiences made me who I am today. But it would be really easy to let myself get eaten up by regret and "what ifs." It takes WORK to stay positive and focused on the present and the possible. It takes effort to not react to getting misgendered and disrespected by filling up a mental compartment of bitterness and recrimination. When you live in a society that treats you with mockery and hostility, you can get poisoned by it.
What I'm going to say next will sound downright silly, crazy and frivolous to anyone who isn't a rabid 12... But rooting for this team has made me a better person- Specifically, seeing what this team has evolved into under Pete Carroll has made me think harder about how I want to approach my life.
At the VMAC this week, they'll focus on what the team needs to correct- As they should. They'll do their best to fix the offensive line issues that have been exposed when that unit has gone up against fierce front fours like those from Miami, Los Angeles and Arizona. Stephen Hauschka will work his ass off to get his season back on track. Russell Wilson and Thomas Rawls will keep diligently rehabbing to get back to 100% and get back on the field, respectively. In Renton this week, they'll focus on the team's shortcomings to get ready for their upcoming trip to New Orleans and for the rest of this season.
I don't want to dwell on any of that. I want to talk about two things: A defense that, without hyperbole, delivered one of the best performances of all time - And a collective refusal to relent, to give up as much as millimeter without a vicious fight, when the temptation to roll over and get 'em next time must have been irresistible.
The next time someone misgenders me, I'm going to think about Kelcie McCray - He was on the field for 108(!) plays last night. Most importantly, in overtime, exhausted, lungs burning, he ran down J.J. Nelson and prevented him from scoring the game-winning TD for the Cardinals. He didn't give up, and neither should I.
The next time I don't feel like hitting the gym, I'll think about what that defense did when they were on the field for 90 PLAYS and over 46 of the game's 75 minutes. They only allowed 4.9 yards per play. They only allowed 6 points. If they can do that, I can drive to Planet Fitness and pump my legs on the Hamster Wheel for an hour.
When I don't feel like giving people rides to the polls between now and November 8th, I'm going to think about Bobby Wagner's 13 tackles and his blocked field goal. I'm going to think about Cliff Avril's 2.5 sacks and six hits on Carson Palmer, I'm going to think about that epic goal line stand in overtime, where Earl Thomas and then Bobby Wagner stopped David Johnson INCHES from the winning TD on successive plays before Bwagz spooked Catanzaro into clanging a 24-yard kick off the upright. The Seattle defense has shown us over and over again that every fucking inch of that turf is precious- And I'm going to do my best to make sure Ohio avoids the taint of Trump in the history books.
The next time I don't feel like I have anything interesting to blog about, I'm going to think about how the Seahawks CONSTANTLY are showing us things that no one has ever seen before. The first tie in franchise history. 75 minutes of indomitable willpower. The 4th game out of six thus far this season where the outcome wasn't decided until the final moments. The Seattle Seahawks are boundlessly frustrating but also relentlessly compelling.
Last night will be a game we remember forever. It somehow morphed from a shitshow into some weird master class on Seattle grit. Also, the tie perhaps mortally wounded Arizona's hopes of winning the NFC West. 4-1-1 > 3-3-1, obviously. Which is great, because fuck Bruce Arians. That mother fucker can bite shit and pound sand. He's approaching Jim Harbaugh levels of hate in my book with his fake-ass football hipster crap.
When we look back in January 2017, that OT goal line stand could end up delivering the Hawks the division title, a first round bye, or even home field in the NFC playoffs. This might seem bizarre for me to say this after last night - but I'm more convinced than ever that these Seahawks are going to win the Super Bowl.
We won't have to wonder how to feel in Houston on February 5, Twelves.
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October 2, 2016
Ryan Fitzpatrick was having nice afternoon.
He was coming off a 6-interception disaster at Arrowhead, but through 3 quarters against one of the league's toughest defenses he not only had been effective, but he was doing something not even the most elite quarterbacks could do - He was picking on Richard Sherman.
Fitzpatrick had challenged Sherman, and had completed four passes to Brandon Marshall, including a gorgeous touchdown strike late in the first half. Was Sherman just having a bad day? Was Brandon Marshall just playing out of his mind? Was Fitzpatrick having a career day? Was Sherm... GASP... Slipping?
Early in the 4th quarter, the Seahawks were holding onto a 17-10 lead, but it felt tenuous. It felt like the game was trending towards New York. In three-plus decades as a 12, I hadn't seen a road victory over the Jets since I was eight years old. I had seen crushing defeats in '85, in '87 (a humiliating loss on MNF), in '98 (I don't need to explain that one), in '99 (when a win would have clinched the AFC West - We had root for Oakland in order to back in... Barf) and in '04 (one of the low points in the most frustrating division-winning season anyone could imagine).
The Jets had the ball near midfield. Marshall blatantly pushed off Sherman, but the pass interference flag flew against Seattle, not New York. It was just one of many questionable calls against the Seahawks by a shaky officiating crew. Even the FOX broadcast team was stunned. If at that point, the Hawks lost their grip on the game, it would have fit a painful but familiar narrative. Not a great road team. Hard for them to win those 10 am pacific east coast games. And so on.
Maybe for a moment, after he was gifted an ill-gotten PI flag, Ryan Fitzpatrick thought that he could do no wrong. Maybe he thought that he could keep picking on Richard Sherman.
But he forgot that he was just a guy. He forgot that the most notable Jets quarterback since Joe Namath has been Flash Gordon. He forgot that he was up against the best corner in the game. He once again threw it in Marshall's direction- Only to have it snared out of the New Jersey sky by Richard Sherman.
In my Columbus apartment, I went WWE-interview-level apeshit - Pumping my first and shouting "Fuck yeah!" at least a dozen times. It was instantly one of my favorite moments in Sherman's Canton-bound career, and the Hawks immediately capitalized and took complete control of the game.
Why did they do that? Because OUR quarterback is ANYTHING but "just a guy." Russell Carrington Wilson is incessantly maligned. He is consistently underrated. Pundits and bobbleheads find nothing more enjoyable than informing the world that he is "good but not elite." The WolfBadger was playing with a high ankle sprain and a strained MCL. Those injuries would send most players to the inactive list, at least for a few weeks... But RW3 was playing. Surely though, he was in trouble. He wouldn't be able to run away from that fearsome New York pass rush. Good, but not elite.
309 yards and three touchdowns later, the conventional wisdom was shredded. Yes, Wilson could slay you with his arm alone. Give him weapons like Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin and it didn't matter that he was short or anchored to the pocket. He would just bleed you all day long, because Angry Doug aint gonna drop the ball and Graham is like The Incredible Hulk with tackified gloves. We are witnessing something glorious - The Leveling Up of Russell Wilson. After a performance like the one he delivered at MetLife Stadium today, no fair-minded observer can deny that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the game.
Of course he didn't do it alone - Graham had another 100-yard day, and Christine "The Awakening" Michael had 90 yards and a TD on 23 touches. The defense absolutely strangled New York in the second half - The Jets' only score after halftime was on a bizarre fumble recovery after a Seattle strip-sack. Sherman got a second interception later in the 4th quarter, and Earl Thomas got another pick of his own, too.
The Seahawks go into their bye week tied for first in the NFC West with the surprising Los Angeles Rams (and with a 2-game lead over the Cardinals and Niners). They'll come back in two weeks spry, rested, and healthy - and ready to lay waste to the rest of the NFL. This is the best defense in football, and now they are starting to rack up the takeaways. A healthy Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham will terrorize opposing defenses, and Seattle will make a run at securing home field advantage in the NFC playoffs.
Enjoy the bye week, 12s, Kick back and watch some Red Zone Channel next Sunday, root against the Rams, etc. When our boys come back on October 16, it'll be the start of a 4-month march to Houston. It will be wonderful, and violent, and glorious.
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