August 22, 2010

The Expendable Season

2nd Update: Well, Fuck.

UPDATE: Okung appears to only be out 2-4 weeks, so I'm feeling a bit better about things.. but the basic thesis of this post stands: For Seattle to compete for the NFC West title, we need a full, proficient season from our #1 draft choice.

I am well-known as an optimistic Seahawks fan. Even last year, when Mare's FG beat the Niners, I thought the 5-7 Hawks still had a shot at post season play. I'm not known to be a purveyor of gloom and doom...

But...

The Okung injury REALLY casts a dark pall over the Seahawks prospects this season. If he truly does have a high ankle sprain, and could miss two months, our chances of competing for the NFC West title just took a massive hit. Why?

I think it's pretty clear that Seattle's main hope of contending this year largely rested upon a Pro Bowl-level Renaissance for Matthew Hasselbeck. Without Okung there to protect Beck, it's not hard to imagine Patrick Willis fucking up ANOTHER Seahawks season with a blind-side hit in the opener... Even if Beck survives a few weeks of abuse from opposing defenses in Okung's absence, #76's rookie season will likely be stunted and sub-optimal from a developmental standpoint.

The short version of all this? I just went from being CONFIDENT that the Seahawks could win 9 games to HOPING they MIGHT win 9 games. As Liz Lemon might say: Blerg.

In the big picture though, I hope that Seahawks management doesn't succumb to the urge to rush Okung back. It would be idiotic to push one of our franchise's cornerstones back on the field too quickly, particularly in a season where A) the head coach has some degree of job security and B) the franchise QB is 35 and a free agent after this season.

I would never wish ill upon Beck, who is one of my all-time favorite players, but if he goes down we will at least definitively see if Whitehurst can play, and then make a decision about going after a QB in the '11 draft.

Those ESPN bobbleheads like to talk about how NFL coaches break seasons up into "quarters." I think the first quarter of this season will be a fulcrum upon which the future of this franchise pivots... let's look at the realistic best and worst case scenarios:

Best: Hawks take care of SF, Denver and STL and start 3-1. Hasselbeck is protected well, Young Nastyman and Leon: The Professional get the ground game going, and our WR corps plays up to its potential. Even in this rosy (but plausible) scenario, there is no incentive to rush Okung back into action.

Worst: Brutal home loss to the Niners. Road and home beatings from our old AFC West foes. A squeaker of a win at STL. Beck is hurt and/or ineffective. 1-3. Whitehurst takes over under center and starts at Chicago after the bye. With a season already spiraling out of control, it makes sense to wait for Okung's ankle to heal completely.

The bottom line? I'm still hopeful, but I can't shake the fact that my expectations just took a big, crippling blow. Maybe, just maybe, the Seahawks will EXCEED expectations for once?

Please?

5 comments:

JohnDoeAt30Below said...

I trust you wrote this before you saw reports of the severity of Okung's injury.

He sprained his ankle on the first play of the game when Hamilton stumbled and rolled over him and he was able to complete the next two plays with no discomfort. Watch the replays back and you can see no limping, no lack of effort on 2nd and 3rd down. Looks like it tightened up a little after he came off the field and the Hawks - understandably - are being careful and cautious.

I would expect him to be able to play against the SF Singletarys in the opener.

The Hawks have 6 games against the NFC West and 4 against the AFC East. Get 8 wins of those 10, beat the Bucs and Panthers and there's 10 wins.

If we can get a pass rush going, the secondary is going to shine. The offense can score if the defense can hold opposition under 20.

DKSB said...

I feel better after the news he'll only be out 2-4 weeks... but still, this league is about protecting your QB and getting to the opposing QB... I'm not thrilled about our ability to either of these things well right now.

For the record, we play the AFC West, not east this season. I still say nine wins: SF, @DEN, @STL, AZ, @OAK, KC, CAR, @TB and STL.

JohnDoeAt30Below said...

I knew it was the AFC East - duh - and your prediction is close to mine. I think the Hawks sweep SF and STL, split with AZ. That's 5. Then wins @DEN, @OAK and KC. That's 8. Then TB and either NYG or CAR.

10.

JohnDoeAt30Below said...

BTW, I think AZ is going to really struggle and Singletary is going to burn his team to the ground.

bleedshawkblue said...

I think they're protecting the future of that most crucial position by not bringing him back too soon.

What a concept: Try not to destroy your long term future by burning up injured players, so you can squeeze out a few more wins to achieve mediocre.

There's MASS more weapons on both sides of the ball, so even if both lines suck (we will be at least better than suck, folks), plays will be made the likes of which we have not seen in years. Which will win more games than we've seen in years.