January 21, 2011

Ranking the Squads #10: 2010 (with updated all-time rankings)

10. 2010
Record: 7-9
Postseason: NFC West Champions, defeated New Orleans in Wild Card Round, lost to Chicago in Divisional Playoffs
Offensive Rank: 23th out of 32 teams
Defensive Rank: 25th out of 32
Turnover Ratio Rank: 27th out of 32
Team MVP: Mike Williams
High Point: Seahawks 41, Saints 36
Low Point: Giants 41, Seahawks 7

The Seattle Seahawks have fielded 35 squads in franchise history, and without a doubt the 2010 version is the strangest. Through 16 games, they were most similar to the sub-mediocre 1989 and 1996 teams. It was only through happenstance that their 7-9 record was good enough to qualify for post-season play.

You might argue that rocketing this team from the mid-20s in the rankings to the top 10 based on one game is too generous- I'd retort that pulling off the biggest upset in NFL playoff history makes the 2010 Seahawks worthy of a higher ranking than outfits like the 1999 and 2004 teams, but not equal to the playoff teams of the 1980s, for example.

While the '10s took an amazing number of severe beatings, they pulled it together to win two of their biggest games of the season (both on NBC, coincidentally... can we get more games on the Peacock Network next season?). The candidates for team MVP were almost exclusively new Pete Carroll acquisitions, with me giving a slight edge to Mike Williams over Leon Washington, Chris Clemons, Raheem Brock, Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, and Marshawn Lynch.

Despite an extremely uneven, mostly sub-par campaign, the '10s ended up as only the 7th team in team history to reach the divisional playoffs, and only the 6th to win a playoff game (along with 1983, 1984, 2005, 2006, and 2007). That's enough for the '10s to edge past the '79s into the Top 10.

Here's the updated all-time rankings- Enjoy!

1. 2005
2. 1984
3. 1983
4. 2007
5. 1986
6. 2003
7. 2006
8. 1988
9. 1987
10. 2010
11. 1979
12. 1990
13. 1978
14. 2001
15. 1999
16. 2004
17. 1998
18. 1985
19. 1997
20. 1995
21. 2002
22. 1991
23. 1996
24. 1989
25. 1982
26. 1977
27. 1981
28. 1993
29. 1994
30. 2000
31. 2008
32. 1980
33. 1976
34. 1992
35. 2009

January 17, 2011

All I Need

It was hard to motivate myself to write today- My wife finally got out of the hospital (stupid pneumonia)- but I'm also fighting the paralyzing desolation and sadness I feel at the end of any Seahawks season. Part of the price of emotional investment in a sports team is spectacular emptiness when the months-long struggle of a season finally ends, and this time around the end, while not unexpected, still hit me like an Earl Thomas safety blitz. I had convinced myself that the impossible dream was within reach- That our ragtag 7-9 crew could beat the odds and make it all the way to the Super Bowl. Reality mashed my face into the shredded turf of Soldier Field yesterday- The 2010 Seahawks gave us everything they had, but it wasn't enough.

The good news is that when we look back on 2010, we won't remember the particulars of the 10 losses- They'll sort of just fade into a dull blur over time. But what will remain crystal clear? Punking out the Niners on Kickoff Weekend... Leon Washington sailing into the end zone and helping us upset the Chargers... Mike Williams stabbing the ball out of midair over and over... Earl Thomas and Russell Okung kick-starting long, productive Seattle careers... A sunny fall day in Chicago that ended in unexpected triumph... A sweep of the two-time defending division champion Cardinals... Lofa streaking into the end zone against Carolina... Charlie Whitehurst leading us to an unlikely division-title-clinching win... and then...

One glorious January afternoon that saw The Hasselbeck Renaissance, the massive, earth-rattling roar of the Twelve Army, and Marshawn Lynch obliterating every fucking New Orleans Saint foolish enough to get in his way. In the process, the Seahawks pulled off the biggest upset in NFL postseason history and dignified what was easily the strangest seasons in franchise history. Instead of going down as a weird footnote that happened to be the best of a weak NFC West field, the Seahawks knocked out the World Champs and reached the divisional playoffs for only the 7th time in team history. These Seahawks weren't of elite talent, but they fought til they were burger. After the humiliating surrender of the MoraHawks, that was more than enough for this Soldier of Twelve.

What of the future? I don't think there will be a significant work stoppage, but there will be plenty of aggravating uncertainty before a new CBA is reached. The Seahawks are pointed in the right direction, but the brutal truth is that the team could improve next fall and miss the playoffs, or it could even take a step back in year two of the Carroll era. Eventually though, I sincerely believe that Pete Carroll will bring a Vince Lombardi Trophy back to the VMAC.

Thank you for an amazing season, Seahawks... and thank YOU for reading this year. Don't worry, I'll still be posting regularly- My obsession doesn't abate much when the season ends.

January 11, 2011

Shocker in Gloomtown

Over the last few days, I've been reminded how helpful sports can be as a distraction from the crappiness of actual, real life. On top of the tragic shootings in Arizona (I'll spare you my political rantings about that), my wife is in the hospital with pneumonia, and my 15-month old has two ear infections. I've been running on little sleep and been racked by fear and anxiety, but I can't tell you how soothing it is to just think to myself:


I've worn nothing but Seahawks gear since Saturday (which is fairly normal, but I usually mix in a Red Sox cap with my Seahawk apparel), and I haven't gone more than a few hours without some total stranger remarking on how amazing the game was, or how loud the crowd was, or how Lynch's TD was the craziest run they'd ever seen. I've always worn my Seahawks fandom on my sleeve, and most of the time I have a "fuck you" attitude about it (because the most common reaction is usually "why are you a Seahawks fan?"), but since Saturday I've just been BEAMING with pride.

There is such an intense sense of vindication right now for those of us who endured and stood by this team through the first 15 frustrating games of this season. For those of us who wished fervently for THIS team to prove the haters wrong, for those who never got fixated on next year's draft position, these have been a thoroughly satisfying few days.

Has any Seahawks squad transformed its legacy in two weeks more than the 2010 version? On Boxing Day, you could credibly argue that they were one of the 5 or 6 WORST teams the franchise has fielded. Now? They're one of only SIX squads in franchise history to win a playoff game (1983, 1984, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010)! The legacy of Matt Hasselbeck was burnished, and Marshawn Lynch became a Seahawks legend based on a single, unbelievable play. No matter what happens in Chicago on Sunday, the Seahawks have reached the divisional playoffs four out of the last six years. Who else has made it to the NFL's "elite eight" four or more times since 2005? Baltimore, Indianapolis, New England and San Diego.

We're already hearing the chorus of blowhards declaring Seattle has no chance in Chicago this Sunday, which is pretty fucking laughable- it makes me want to quote Homer from that episode where the Simpsons go to Africa: "What did you JUST SEE, Lisa???" Their disrespect does nothing but fuel us and de-motivate the Bears and their flunkies, so I say keep it up, boys!

Obviously, I'm jealous of those that were there at Qwest causing LynchQuakes Saturday, but given my family's health problems it's a good thing I stayed out here in Ohio. If we end up hosting Green Bay in the NFC Championship, I vow to be there at Qwest in Section 325, screaming 'til I cough up blood.

Thank you for being a beacon of joy and triumph in my time of dank sickness and worry, Seahawks. It has really helped me keep my sanity, and a few more wins wouldn't hurt either.

January 8, 2011

Seahawks 41, Saints 36

Evolution is a messy process, and never follows a neat, simple, direct path. In just three hours of football, the 2010 Seattle Seahawks crawled out of the primordial ooze of the NFC West, shed the skin of a 7-9 regular season, brandished their new-found talons, and took down the predators at the top of the food chain.

In just three hours of football, the reputation of these Seahawks morphed from weird, sub-par NFL triva question to FUCKING BAD ASS SLAYERS OF CHAMPIONS. All those regular season blowout losses, Hasselbeck interceptions and 3rd-and-short failures were rendered moot. Chicago or Atlanta can delude themselves into a false sense of security by falling back on the ancient history of 2 or more weeks ago, but this is the truth: The REAL Seahawks are the ones who just beat the Saints. All those tribulations from September to Boxing Day? As Liz Phair once sang: "All those other bastards were only practice."

This one instantly goes down as the 2nd biggest win in franchise history, bested only by the 2005 NFC Championship Game. This was better than the divisional playoff upset at Miami back on New Year's Eve 1983, better than the wins over DC in 05 and 07, better even than the "Romo game." In terms of joyous surprise, NOTHING tops this. Even in the '05 NFC Title Game, roughly half of observers thought Seattle would win. This week? Me, a few of my readers, and a smattering of other die-hard Twelves were the only ones giving Seattle a chance.

The two most gratifying parts of this win? The return to relevance of Matthew Hasselbeck and the Twelve Army. Even I was saying Beck was on the way out after this season... After coming up with a career-best sort of day against NOLA, does anyone doubt Hass is back next fall? Yeah, draft the QB of the future- but don't let Matthew end up playing against us for Arizona or San Francisco next season.

There were a LOT of whispers and more about how, just maybe, the atmosphere at Qwest Field wasn't quite as intimidating as it used to be.... Go ask the Saints what they think about that. I wasn't lucky enough to be at this game, but even on the NBC broadcast you could tell the Twelve Army was in post-season form. Just maybe, Seahawks fans will get one more chance to influence a playoff game in two weeks (GO PACKERS!).

Obviously, the play everyone will talk about forever is Marshawn Lynch's 67-yard, 8-tackle-breaking, electrifying, game-clinching TD run. It was a vindication of one of Pete Carroll's HUNDREDS of roster moves this year, just like the standout performances of Raheem Brock, Brandon Stokely, and Mike Williams (among others). It's a shame that NFL Coach of the Year is a regular season award, because Pete Carroll deserves STRONG consideration based solely on today's win.

Y'all know I'm also a Red Sox fan- All I can think about right now is the 2004 BoSox mantra of "Why Not Us?" Why can't the Seahawks win two more games and make it to XLV? Why can't they build on this and beat a vulnerable Atlanta or Chicago team? You might say "yeah, but that's on the road." Who gives a fuck? Everyone said the Saints would win today, and EVERYONE WAS DEAD FUCKING WRONG.

I've never been prouder to be a Seahawks fan, and I've never been prouder of the men and women who make up the organization from Paul Allen down the workers at Qwest and the VMAC. If anyone ever asks you "Why are you a Seahawks fan?"... You show them this game. THAT is why we are fans. This Seahawks thing is our little secret, and oh man... it is a glorious thing to have in your life, isn't it?

And to all the new fans we made today: Welcome! You're in for a helluva fuckin' ride.


I'll be tweeting for a bit, a proper post in this space later.

How does it feel, Twelves? Unleash your joy here!

January 4, 2011

An Abundance of Feeling

One of the frustrations of growing up and being an adult for me has always been the constant pressure to modulate the expression of my emotions. I've always been an emotional, sensitive person who tends to assume the best in others- This has made me vulnerable to sarcasm, teasing, and a constant drumbeat that I need to "toughen up," etc.

I intellectually understand that to survive in society, I can't express my feelings exactly how I'd like to all the time- and I do my best to pass as a "normal" sort of person out there in the world... But I'd be lying if I told you I didn't feel stifled a LOT of the time.

Thankfully, it's more socially acceptable for me to nakedly express how I feel about a sports team- In this case, our Seattle Seahawks. Yeah, for the sake of my marriage I can't get away with screaming throughout the game or crying after a loss at our house, but I still feel freer to embrace my true nature in regards to the Seahawks than I do in my "regular" day-to-day life about almost everything else.

Football in particular is a game heavily influenced by intense emotions, and from the first time I stood for three hours cheering on the Seahawks in the Kingdome as an 8-year-old decades ago, I've felt a magnetic bond with this team. I've never been good at distancing or disconnecting myself from the Hawks, even when it might be in my best interest to do so. The romantic in me embraced this deeply flawed 2010 version of the Seahawks more and more as they've been swamped by an ever-growing tidal wave of disrespect from the national sports press, the NFL-watching public, and even many of their own fans.

Now that they are The Worst Playoff Team of All-Time (TM), I couldn't possibly love them more. From Raheem Brock to Mike Williams, I adore this roster of discarded, disregarded men. Others have already written about how the Seahawks are playing with "house money" and many fans go into this game with a serene sense of calm- There is absolutely NO expectation that Seattle will win, so anything positive the Seahawks accomplish will be a pleasant surprise.

Not for me. Even with the Hawks pegged as 11-point home underdogs, I'll be devastated if we lose Saturday and the season ends. I'll feel forlorn; My mind will be a desert. The promise of an improved roster in the offseason will grant me no comfort. The 2010 Seattle Seahawks will cease to be a living, breathing, fighting entity and enter the realms of history and memory.

I'm far from convinced it will all end Saturday though. Last Sunday the Seahawks brought more intensity and emotion to the field than St. Louis, and created a feedback loop with the Qwest Field crowd. This week, Pete Carroll will have the easiest motivational task of his coaching career- After a week of insults and abuse, of dismissal and disdain, the Seahawks will be out to prove that they belong in the NFL playoffs. The atmosphere at Qwest this Saturday will be absolutely suffocating for the World Champion Saints.

What of the Saints? They are clearly a more talented squad than Seattle, but how can they possibly get "up" for this game? They're hurting, they have to fly cross country, and they have to play outside in the elements in front of 67,000 fucking lunatics. On top of all that, all they've heard (and will hear) this week is how their opponents are unworthy to step onto the field with them.

That's not an NFL playoff game. That's a fucking CHORE. If the Saints treat this game like they are taking out the recycling, and bring that lack of intensity, their reign as World Champions ends Saturday afternoon.

Raw emotion. Intensity. These are the things that might just keep Seattle's season alive into next week. An abundance of feeling isn't just acceptable this week- It's abso-fucking-lutely necessary.

What do you think, sirs?

January 3, 2011

Seahawks 16, Rams 6

Think back to September- This is what you wanted. You wanted the Seahawks to beat our detestable divisional foes (we beat all three and went 4-2 in the division), and you wanted them to win the NFC West and make the playoffs.

Think back to September- This is what you wanted. You wanted Charlie Whitehurst to show us he could be a competent NFL quarterback. You wanted rookies Russell Okung and Earl Thomas to justify their 1st-round selections. You wanted street guys like Mike Williams and Raheem Brock to show their old teams it was stupid to cut them loose.

Think back to September- This is what you wanted. You wanted the Seahawks to have a huge game in the national spotlight, so they could show their quality. You wanted Pete Carroll to outcoach his opponent in a must-win game. You wanted your team to show the guts and guile that disappeared in December of 2009 under Jim Mora.

They've delivered. Yes, that 7-9 record is ugly, and we had to endure more than a whole calendar day (what, 27-30 hours of real time?) watching the team absorb blowout losses... but we've seen real progress and development in this 2010 season. Seahawks fans should offer no apologies, and can go ahead and invite the entire NFL nation outside of South Alaska to suck it... To suck it long, hard and dry.

I'm still sort of delirious with joy. I was shocked that Whitehurst got the starting nod from Coach Carroll.. When he announced that news to Andrea Kremer right before kickoff, my heart sank and my confidence dissolved. Softly, because my kids were in earshot, I muttered "fuck." I've never been more happy to be proven wrong! While I still think Hasselbeck should start against the Saints, and that CW is NOT the long-term answer at quarterback, Charlie deserves all the huzzahs the Twelve Army can utter. After an absolute fucking disaster of a performance in relief at Tampa, Whitehurst avoided turnovers, and made enough plays with his arm and his legs to put us in a position to win.

CW got a huge assist from Seattle's maligned offensive line and defense- The O-line largely kept Whitehurst clean, and FINALLY generated some push for Lynch, Forsett, and Washington. Defensively, the Hawks crashed The Sam Bradford Coronation Party, spiked the punch, smashed the ice sculptures, and ate all the bacon-wrapped shrimp. Steven Jackson was held to 45 yards rushing, and the only points STL could muster were two field goals by The Traitor Josh Brown.

Now we turn towards the playoffs- Beating the World Champion Saints is a very difficult task, but not an impossible one. New Orleans must come back out to the Pacific Time Zone, where they've lost at Glendale and needed OT to win at Candlestick this season. NOLA will have to prep for two quarterbacks, and overcome some injuries of their own to win their first road playoff game in franchise history (ok, not counting XLIV.. ha ha).

It's been a frustrating journey, but we've arrived where we wanted to go when we departed four months ago- Isn't that what's important?


January 2, 2011

Your Seattle Seahawks: 2010 NFC West Champions!

I'll have an actual post tomorrow after I've digested this a bit- For now I'll leave it at WOOOOOOOO! (and open it up for your comments)