October 31, 2011

Bengals 34, Seahawks 12

In a game that was far closer than the lopsided final score indicated, the Seahawks blew numerous opportunities to defeat a tough Bengals team at home yesterday. The game displayed all of the important qualities of the Seattle Seahawks right now- Both the good and the bad. First... Ugh... The Bad:

-Pete Carroll's Bizarre Decisions
I love Pete Carroll, and I truly believe he is going to lead us to a Super bowl victory someday- But man, did he make some weird decisions yesterday. First there was the decision to hold out an obviously healthy Tarvaris Jackson in favor of Charlie Whitehurst. Then, after it was clear Beef Supreme wasn't playing much better than he had in Cleveland, PC threw T-Jack out there. Jackson was solid, and racked up 300+ yards through the air. However, that leads to this question: If T-Jack was healthy enough to play, why didn't he start? Given the quick TD he led us to in NY, it stands to reason Jackson might have led the offense more effectively in the 1st quarter yesterday than CW did. A productive offensive 1st quarter behind Jackson might have resulted in a victory.

Then there was the debacle at the end of the 1st half- Instead of taking three points, Carroll went for it on 4th down and 2 from the Bengals 3. Even if you agree that going for it was the right call (I don't), the way PC went about it was.. odd. First, he burned our last time out- Which meant that a running play that didn't get into the end zone almost certainly would result in time running out and NO points. What did we do then? We called a running play... that didn't get into the end zone and resulted in no points. The technical term for that entire sequence? A clusterfuck.

It was far too early in the game to go for it out of desperation- A FG would have pulled Seattle to within 17-6, and made the second half play out differently for sure. Beyond that, the decision-making after the decision to go for it was flawed. Carroll owned up to this in the post-game press conference, but it's still troubling. Just like the players, PC needs to be held accountable for his mistakes. Just like the players, PC needs to exercise greater self-discipline.

-Lack of focus and discipline
Yesterday we saw WAY too many dropped passes, penalties, and special teams breakdowns. The good news is that all of those problems are fixable, and to a great extent they are the products of youth and inexperience- But right now this isn't a team that can win games while fucking up that badly and that often.

-The Running Game
Yes, the offensive line is basically still in diapers (so to speak)... but this team cannot win games with a non-existent ground attack. I still think we have a stable of good running backs, but given how young the team is at almost every other position, I'd expect a youth movement in the offensive backfield after this season concludes.

Enough of that negative shit- What was good?

-The Defense and the Twelve Army
Seattle's defense is clearly the best unit the team puts out on the field these days. After allowing 17 points in the 1st half, they tightened up and held Cincy's offense to a lone field goal. They also ramped up the pressure on Andy Dalton and forced him into throwing two interceptions. They didn't play a perfect game by any means, but they did give the offense every opportunity to win the game. The crowd also did its part- I could tell on the CBS broadcast that it was very loud at Seahawks Stadium, and in the 2nd half the Bengals offense looked to be rattled. It's just a damn shame we couldn't capitalize on that.

-Tarvaris Jackson
T-Jack came off the bench and once again showed his quality. Not only is the guy a tough motherfucker, but he once again demonstrated that he's the only actual NFL QB on Seattle's roster. The offense is far from perfect with T-Jack under center, but at least it shows some life- and some ability to move the ball down the field. Our ONLY chance to be competitive over the final 9 games is with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback. He's well on his way to EXCEEDING my "play as well as 1999 Jon Kitna" standard in 2011.

-Offensive Weaponry
The dropped passes REALLY bugged me, but overall I love the weapons we can now roll out in the passing game: Rice, Baldwin, Obo, and Miller are all dangerous as receivers, and I still think BMW can do some serious damage once he gets healthy and builds a rapport with T-Jack.

So where do we stand? It's easier to profess doom and gloom, but there's still way more to like about the direction of the Seahawks than there is to hate. The playoffs seem like a dim possibility, but the fact is that we are only 2 games out of the final NFC Wild Card slot- If they can beat a very vulnerable Dallas team next Sunday, their post-season dreams will survive at least one more week. For now, that's enough for me- I'm not yet ready to go into "let's just hope we see the team show progress" mode. This is a young, but talented team that can rise up and string some wins together... but they need to play (and coach) smart, disciplined football starting NOW, or they are headed for a finish more 1980 than 1990.

What do you think, sirs?

October 27, 2011

Yup. I'm Still Pissed.

It's pretty irrational for me to still be personally angry at Charlie Whitehurst over his performance on Sunday- But then again, it's pretty irrational to be so emotionally invested in what a fairly random collection of handsomely paid athletes do on a weekly basis thousands of miles away... So off we go again.

I can't shake a deep feeling of disdain and disgust towards Charlie Whitehurst right now, and that's based in a deeply-held conviction that the other 52 Seahawks, all the coaches, and even myself all gave our maximum levels of effort last Sunday. Maybe it's all just appearance and perception, but I don't feel like Whitehurst was adequately invested in or prepared for the game in Cleveland. His approach has always seems pretty lackadaisical, but on Sunday the kid seemed damn-near narcoleptic.

Now you may say that isn't relevant, or you might say that Shaun Alexander infuriated you in the same way- But there's a fairly big difference: Alexander, for whatever his flaws, PRODUCED. Yes, Charlie Whitehurst has performed adequately enough for Seattle to win a couple of games with him at QB- but to say that he has produced commensurate to what we gave up to get him, or to argue that he still deserves any consideration as Seattle's starting QB- is laughable. I truly believe that he has no future as an NFL QB after this season.

It's well-known that I've never been a Whitehurst fan, and I'll admit that part of my anger comes from these simple facts: If he makes ONE fucking play on Sunday, the Seahawks win- and instead of dealing with a gauntlet of smug Cleveland fuck-os, or with a mouth-breathing Dallas fan asking me IF I CRIED after the game (GRRRR), I'd be basking in the afterglow of victory and our team would be 3-3.

For at least one more week, however, I MIGHT have to psyche myself into rooting for Whitehurst again in the event Tarvaris Jackson cannot play. The good news is that at home in Seahawks Stadium he is unlikely to play as badly as he did at Cleveland, and if he simply avoids turnovers Seattle can probably scratch out a victory via dominance on defense and special teams... but I'd be way happier if I never saw Beef Supreme take another snap in a Seahawks uniform.

If CW plays on Sunday, he'll undoubtably have rough moments. At those moments, he might get booed- I don't think Seahawks fans should EVER boo their team, but if anyone who was chanting "CHAR-LIE!" a few weeks ago turns around and boos the poor schmuck now, I would love to tar and feather those stupid motherfuckers.

What do you think, sirs?

October 24, 2011

Browns 6, Seahawks 3

A brief set of pictures from the game

Aside from the horrible, boring, shitty loss I had a great time at the game- Let's get the ugliness out of the way first...

Charlie Whitehurst is getting hammered from all angles right now, so I really don't want to pile on- He stepped up last year against the Rams and got us a divisional title. He will always be able to say he was instrumental in putting that banner in the Seahawks Stadium rafters... But the simple truth is that he should never be given the opportunity to start another NFL game. He was THAT bad yesterday. I typically bemoan the types of fans who pin losses completely on a single player, but make no mistake: If Whitehurst delivers anything better than one of the worst QB performances in franchise history, the Seahawks would be 3-3 today.

Aside from his abysmal stat line, Whitehurst consistently failed to throw to open receivers, failed to hit wide open receivers with passes they could convert into points (from the stands I noticed Sidney Rice's frustrated reactions over and over), and repeatedly held onto the ball too long. Whitehurst was set up to succeed yesterday against a mediocre Cleveland team, but he was unfocused and timid. He simply is not an NFL starting quarterback. Tarvaris Jackson may not be a GREAT starting QB, but he has shown that he can lead an NFL team. Whitehurst has not, and he should only be allowed on the field from here on if the Seahawks have NO other options. Yes, I mean that if Jackson can't go, I'd rather see what we have in Josh Portis. CW is gone after this year, and maybe gone from the NFL. I love PCJS, but trading a 3rd for Whitehurst is probably their worst personnel misstep so far.

Besides the disheartening season-ending injury to Walter Thurmond, the other big story (again) was terrible officiating. This time the main offender was noted attention whore Mike Carey, who threw a befuddling roughing the passer flag on a Seattle sack of Colt McCoy, and erased a Leon Washington touchdown with one of the most ticky-tack block-in-the-back calls of all time. Apparently even Jim Mora was ranting about how terrible that call was on the Fox NFL broadcast.

You also made me look like a total dipwad, Mike Carey- During Leon's punt return I lost my GOD DAMN MIND. I was jumping and screaming like I was on fire, celebrating what looked like Seattle's winning touchdown- Then all the fucksticks around me got the satisfaction of pointing out the laundry on the field. Thanks, asshole.

Good stuff? The defense was spectacular- I can't fault them for allowing nothing but two 53-yard field goals, and they are creating an identity as a hard-hitting, extremely violent crew. Thurmond's injury is terrible news, but not necessarily crippling for this young, developing defense. Special teams also deserve recognition for two blocked field goals, Washington's nullified TD, and for keeping Joshua Cribbs in check all day.

It also turned out that sitting in the No Alcohol/Family Section was a BRILLIANT move. There were lots of empty seats, and lots of little kids around. As long as I didn't curse, I was golden. The strategy was vindicated after Washington's TD got called back, when a dude yelled at me "If we weren't in the family section I'd kick your ass." Well, yeah... but here we are, moron.

I should take a second to be a snob about the in-stadium experience. It didn't come anywhere close to the exciting atmosphere we have at Seahawks Stadium. Stuff like raising the 12th Man Flag or fireworks during the introductions may seem cheesy to some folks, but it makes a HUGE difference in creating a fun experience for fans. They do exactly JACK SHIT in Cleveland. The attitude seems to be: "here's a football game: take it or leave it, schmucks."

The stadium was probably about 80% full, and the only times any real efforts were made to make noise to impede the Seahawks offense were on 3rd downs... Even then, it was like soothing white noise compared to the 747-taking-off wall of decibels at Seahawks Stadium. We are VERY lucky to have the amazing in-game atmosphere and home-field advantage the Seahawks enjoy in Seattle.

The Awesome stuff? I got to weasel my way down to the Seahawks tunnel, and the Hawks seemed way more interested in coming over and talking to us fans in Cleveland than they seem to be back at home games. I don't blame them- I want them focused and ready for battle... but it really seemed to excite them to see so many Seahawks fans come out to support them. I got to shake hands with and monosyllabic-ally talk at Sidney Rice and Pete Carroll, but the COOLEST moment was when Earl Thomas noticed I was wearing his jersey. His eyes lit up, he ran over and gave me an ENTHUSIASTIC handshake (almost to the point of hurting me). I was just overwhelmed by the experience. Seriously, if you are a Seahawks fan, find a way to get down to the tunnel during warm-ups... It can be mind-blowing.

I hesitate to talk about this, because it seems so masturbatory and self-congratulating, but I was extremely humbled to meet so many fans of this blog at the game. There was the couple from Toronto that I hung out with for a good 45 minutes before the gates opened, the fellow Twelve who hooked me up with Sunday Ticket last season, the husband of the woman I ran into at the Toledo Zoo on Friday, and a few others (I'm hesitant to name names, because I don't know if these people want the extra exposure). My apologies to the nice lady who was yelling at me from across the Seahawks tunnel before the game- It took me forever to realize she was talking to me, and then even longer to realize she was a fan of the blog. I must have looked like a complete idiot... Sorry! Your support means a lot to me, everyone. I'd do this even if no one was reading, but knowing that there are people out there who enjoy reading my thoughts about the Seahawks is deeply satisfying and encouraging.

Don't despair about the loss, Twelves. We are only one game in the loss column out of the last NFC Wild Card slot, and once T-Jack is healthy I truly believe we can start going on a tear through our schedule. This team is still on an upward trajectory, despite yesterday's craptacular shit-fest.

What do you think, sirs? Does anyone else who was at the game have a tale to tell?

October 19, 2011

Defend My Honor, Seahawks!

Let me say this up front: I LIKE Ohio. I came out here for graduate school over a decade ago, and I've settled here permanently. The people here are generally warm and friendly, and Columbus in particular is an awesome, fun, underrated city. Ohio has produced awesome bands like Guided By Voices, Devo and Afghan Whigs, American heroes like John Glenn & Neil Armstrong, and many bearded US Presidents. Our NHL team isn't very good, but at least they celebrate Ohio's proud Civil War history (from the side that wasn't, you know, fighting for treason and slavery).

So yeah, I dig Ohio- Just not Ohio's football fans. In this space over the years I've talked numerous times about how Ohio fans (mainly those of the Buckeyes and Browns) are passionate, but not exactly gracious or well-informed- and that they have a mean, nasty streak that is slightly horrifying.

In an odd scheduling quirk, our games against Ohio's NFL teams are back-to-back over the next two Sundays- Given the absolute MOUNTAIN of crap I have put up with as a Seahawks fan out here, and given that I'm going to the game on Sunday in Cleveland, I NEED the Seahawks to end up 4-3 11 days from now. I've put myself on the line for the Seahawks as a lone voice of support out here in the wilderness. I've been wearing Seahawks gear to class all week, and I know I have plenty of students who would love to rub my face in a Seattle defeat either (or both) of the next two Mondays.

I'm excited about the game Sunday, but also a bit nervous- I know Browns fans, and right now they are a SURLY bunch. They're pissed about how their season is going (and who could blame them?), and I'm afraid things could get ugly if the Seahawks start kicking the shit out of their Brownies. Mainly, I could have that ugliness directed AT ME. I've been to games in Cleveland twice before, and both days were profanity-filled marathons of insults and crap being thrown at me. They won't treat me much better if the Browns win, plus I'd be depressed, so obviously I'd rather deal with angry, defeated Cleveland fans. I'm hoping that sitting in a "No Alcohol" section will lead to more comity between myself and the woofing hordes, but by no means am I banking on that... Shit, I had LITTLE KIDS giving me the finger last time I went to a game there.

Browns fans are more numerous (and aggravating) than Bengals fans out here, but after the 4-2 start and the Carson Palmer trade the Cincy fans are a bit full of themselves- Beating us on the road would ramp that all the way up to "insufferable."

It's us against Ohio, Seahawks- Let's show these Buckeyes how we play (and cheer about) football in the Great Northwest.

PLEASE win. For fuck's sake, PLEASE win.

What do you think, sirs? Anyone else going to the game this Sunday?

October 18, 2011

Closing the Book on the Holmgren Era

With the move sending Marcus Trufant to IR (and almost certainly ending his tenure with the Seahawks), and with Seattle preparing to meet the Browns on Sunday, now is a perfect time to take a look back at Mike Holmgren's Seahawks legacy.

Trufant was the last really significant Holmgren-era contributor left on the Seattle roster (with the possible exception of Leroy Hill)- With his departure, an era defined by "The Big Show" is clearly confined to our memories, and to history. Let's look at some of the raw numbers...

In ten years coaching the Seahawks, the team went 90-80 under Holmgren (including the playoffs). In addition to the only Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, on Holmgren's watch the Hawks accumulated 5 of their 7 divisonal titles, 6 of their 11 playoff appearances, and 4 of their 8 playoff victories. At the moment, he is CLEARLY the greatest coach in team history, and a lock for the Ring of Honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame- If not for the incompetence of Leavy and Company, he'd probably be the only head coach in NFL history to lead two different teams to Super Bowl victories.

Outside of the Pacific Northwest, Holmgren is remembered for his time with the Packers, but he actually coached (and won) more games with Seattle. In addition, while he's unquestionably the #1 coach in Seahawks history, he's at best #2 behind Lombardi in Packers lore (and might fall to 3rd by the time Mike McCarthy retires). Without his successful run in Seattle, Holmgren wouldn't be the sure-fire Hall-of-Famer he is today.

Holmgren and Walter Jones are the two Seahawks from this era that seem bound for Canton eventually- Hasselbeck, Alexander, Strong, Trufant and Tatupu will probably all join them in the Seahawks Ring of Honor someday as well (and probably in that order). Coach Holmgren's legacy is one of success on the field and class, charity and grace off of it- Nothing he does in Cleveland (or anywhere else) can tarnish that legacy. He didn't just win in Seattle- If such a thing is possible, he won the "right" way.

Holmgren was less successful in Seattle as a GM/Coach than as strictly the Head Coach, and while I wish him luck in reviving the moribund Browns, that sentiment is on hold until next week. Even though I'm sure he'd love to see Cleveland blow the Hawks out of the building, if I got the chance this Sunday I would personally thank him for the joy he brought to my life over a decade leading my Seahawks- As every Twelve should if they ever get the opportunity.

October 13, 2011

Wild Card, Bitches!

One of the few things putting a bit of a damper on the Seahawks' bye week is the fact that the Niners are 4-1. Given recent history, it's understandable to think that if the Niners don't stop winning soon, the Seattle's playoff chances are kaput no matter how many wins the Hawks string together. Of course we should all root for the 49ers to start losing (getting beaten down in Detroit Sunday would be a nice start), but even if they don't, the Seahawks' playoff hopes won't die any time soon.

Seattle hasn't qualified for the post-season as a Wild Card team since 2003, and the NFC West hasn't sent multiple teams to the playoffs since 2004, but this is starting to look like a year where the Hawks have more than one path to post-season play. At 2-3, Seattle is only one game out of the final playoff spot in the NFC. In terms of possible tiebreakers, they've lost to Atlanta and beaten NYG- Coming up they will play a TON of other possible Wild Card competitors including Dallas, DC, and Chicago (honestly, I think Philly will be left for dead by the time we get a shot at them).

If you look across the conference, the Packers, Lions, Saints and Niners look like good bets to take four of the six playoff spots, which leaves the Seahawks to (realistically) fight with Dallas, DC, NYG, TB, ATL, and Chicago for the last Wild Card slot (One NFC East team will get in by winning that division). So what do Seahawks fans want to root for (besides a shit-ton of Seattle wins and SF losses)?

1. Root for Green Bay and Detroit to rampage like Sterling Archer with Breast Cancer
Seattle doesn't play either team, so both of them whomping on the rest of their NFC opposition is good for us- Ideally, we'd see them both go something like 14-2 and 13-3, locking down the 1st and 5th seeds in the NFC.

2. Root for Seattle to finish one game ahead of Atlanta and Tampa Bay
We lose the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Falcons, and we don't play the Bucs this season. It would help us out immeasurably if, say, both teams finished 8-8 while the Hawks got to 9-7.

3. When NFC teams play AFC teams, root for the AFC team (yes, even the fucking Steelers)
One way Seattle can gain an advantage over their Wild Card competition is to win inter-conference games while they lose those same games on their schedules. It's highly unlikely for an AFC team beating an NFC team to hurt the Seahawks (unless we get down to weird tiebreakers like strength of victory, etc)- Almost always, NFC teams losing will help us (even if they are losing to the god damned Steelers).

Right now, the final NFC Wild Card team is only 1 game over .500 (3-2), so at this point it appears that 10-6 will get you in the playoffs (either as a division champ or a wild card)- 9-7 MIGHT get the Hawks in as that 6th seed, but the tiebreakers would have to break Seattle's way.

Imagine this- The Niners win the NFC West, but draw 13-3 Detroit in the first round of the playoffs... While Seattle gets to travel to Dallas, DC, or New York (hopefully after already beating all three teams in the regular season). Being the 6th seed doesn't look too bad then, does it (not to mention the fact that 3 of the last 6 Super Bowl Champions qualified for postseason as a 6th seed)?

So yes, it would be great if the Niners started losing- But if they don't it's far from The End of All Things.

What do you think, sirs?

October 9, 2011

Seahawks 36, Giants 25

(Photo from @rodmarphoto)

I spend too much time writing rough drafts of blog posts in my head, and even though I publicly picked the Seahawks to win this week, I spent a lot of time mentally composing what I'd write if Seattle lost at the New Meadowlands.

"At 1-4, the Seahawks playoff hopes appear to be dead- But that doesn't mean that we can't salvage value out of the final 11 games of the season. 8-8 is still an important and reachable goal- It would be great to avoid a 4th consecutive losing season, and show measurable progress from 2010 (even if that progress doesn't include another trip to the playoffs). I still think this season feels a lot more like 2002 than 1992- The beginnings of a glorious ascent, rather than a spirit-shredding lost season."

(Imaginary paper crumpling)

Fuck all that, obviously...

With a stunning 36-25 victory, the Seahawks overcame the 10 A.M. East Coast Thing and defeated the Giants in New Jersey for the first time since 1983 (a crucial win for THAT season's playoff hopes as well). They overcame a hostile crowd, a talented NFC East opponent, and multiple key injuries. The winning touchdown drive was led by a much-maligned back-up Quarterback who THREW that winning TD to an undrafted free agent who is making a strong case to be the NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year.

More than all that, Seattle overcame DECADES of "Same old Seahawks" mental conditioning- How many Seahawks teams have played well on the road in a first half, only to squander multiple opportunities to put a vulnerable foe away, and wilt in a 2nd half? How many times have we seen a miracle play like that Victor Cruz TD catch early in the 4th break the will of previous Seahawks teams? I am sure MILLIONS of Seahawks fans thought at that point: "Well, game over- Guess the football gods just hate us."

We found out today that when it comes to the "football gods," these Seahawks are Richard Dawkins-level Atheists. They are playing football unbound to expectations, unchained from history. Pete Carroll has torn down the crumbling edifice that was rotting when he arrived, and now we can start to see what he is building in its place: Something beautiful and fearsome- Something designed to endure and excel.

Nothing the Giants threw at the Hawks broke their fighting spirit, and that is the BIGGEST culture shift we've seen since Carroll's arrival. T-Jack gets injured? Whitehurst wobbles, but eventually leads the team to victory (but no, he shouldn't start unless Jackson is unable to play due to injury). Eli Manning throws for 420 yards? The defense neutralizes that by forcing him into FOUR turnovers. Marshawn Lynch fumbles in the red zone? He bounces back with a TD and 98 yards on only 12 carries. We are seeing this team take developmental LEAPS every week, and it's a delirious joy to behold.

At 2-3, the Seahawks are where I thought they would need to be back in August to still have a shot at the playoffs going into their bye week. Surprisingly, they have a better shot at an NFC Wild Card spot than an NFC West title (at the moment, at least). In two weeks they should emerge as a healthier group, and now one with the growing confidence that comes with battle-tested success. I wouldn't want to be ANY of the teams playing Seattle after the bye, because we might just be on the verge of marauding through a meaty chunk of our upcoming schedule.

Your Seahawks aren't just "rebuilding," my fellow Twelves- Right now, TODAY, they are a dangerous team learning how to be lethal. Enjoy this, my friends. Enjoy it.

UPDATE- Forgot about this one... Anthony Carvalho posted this on his twitter account- A photo from a Sports Book in Las Vegas:

I say we OWN this- EMBRACE this! These Seahawks are, indeed, NO JOKE. Spread that word, Twelves!

October 7, 2011

See You in Cleveland

Section 542, Row 23: That's where I'll be sitting in Cleveland Browns Stadium when the Seahawks put the boots to Mike Holmgren's current employees on October 23. This will be my 3rd trip to see the Hawks in Cleveland- I got to see a boring 9-6 win (with a dramatic finish) in 2001, and an exciting 33-30 OT loss in 2007. I'll take the boring win over the exciting loss 100 times out of 100. Those were also the top two games in terms of the most abuse I've ever absorbed as a visiting fan- Most Cleveland fans, at least when they are at that Stadium and get some booze in them, are NASTY, vile fuckers. To other Seattle fans who might be headed there for the first time, be prepared: You WILL take profane verbal abuse for 3+ hours, and you will probably get shit thrown at you as well. For some unfathomable reason, in my experience Browns fans are inexplicably, openly hostile towards the Seahawks...

On a certain level, it makes sense: No NFL fan base has more pent-up frustration than Browns backers. They live in the only NFL city that has never hosted OR played in a Super Bowl. In the 1990s their team was stolen from them, and then replaced with an expansion doppelganger franchise that has had exactly one playoff appearance and two winning seasons since their birth in 1999. They are basically the Houston Texans North, but wrapped in an ancient franchise's clothes and lacking the Texans' current level of talent. So yeah, I get why they are surly, even if that doesn't excuse their boorish behavior.

Remember this well, though: NO Browns fan has ANY excuse to feel superior to a Seahawks fan. First of all, I'm not going to let any Browns fan try to lord their "history" or "tradition" over me- THAT team is in Baltimore now (and won a Super Bowl after leaving Cleveland). Like I said, they root for an expansion team cross-dressing in those old Browns' unis. Even if I was inclined to allow a Dawg Pounder to count the Old Browns, guess what? They weren't for shit either. Unless you are 47 or older, the Browns haven't won jack fucking squat IN YOUR LIFETIME (which also means you'd have to be eligible for the AARP to REMEMBER that last Browns World Championship). Our weird little South Alaskan franchise has been more successful than the Browns, at least since black folks have been able to vote.

I'm going to the game solo, which is a bit scary, but I've done it before... I also got a ticket in a Family/No Alcohol section, and I'm hoping that will increase my chances of surviving the game intact. I will TRY to defuse situations by pointing out our common affinity for Mike Holmgren and raw visceral hatred for the Steelers... but I doubt that will sway the type of folks that chanted "asshole" at me both times I went to Hawks games by the Lake before.

What do you think, sirs? Anyone else heading to this one?

October 4, 2011

Bleed With Tarvaris

"You have bled with Wallace, now bleed with me." - Robert the Bruce, Braveheart

Seahawks fans have historically provided REAMS of evidence for the notion that "the most popular player on a team is the back-up quarterback." As a kid, I remember a constant drumbeat among Twelves that short, small-handed, inconsistent Dave Krieg needed to be replaced. Revisionist history aside, Matt Hasselbeck heard plenty of boos from the Seahawks Stadium crowd in 2001 and near the end of his Seattle career. The people that screamed from the mountaintops for Trent Dilfer to start gave way to those howling for Seneca Wallace and then Charlie Whitehurst to replace Hasselbeck.

If the two best QBs in franchise history got treated like that, it shouldn't be a surprise that Tarvaris Jackson is getting treated like absolute garbage by legions of Seahawks fans right now. I can't really pretend to understand why at this point.

The simple truth is that Tarvaris Jackson, barring injury or absolute implosion, will be Seattle's starting quarterback the rest of this season and most (if not all) of next season. Pete Carroll will not want to start his prized rookie QB unless he absolutely has to, which means the T-Jack era will probably last two full seasons. Particularly after last Sunday's performance, there is NO reason to think that Charlie Whitehurst is a better option than Jackson at QB. So why is Tarvaris still treated with such disdain by so many fans?

Shouldn't we embrace this kid? Isn't this a classic underdog story? This is a guy who didn't even play major college football, who survived four years of being jerked around by Brad Childress, and is by all accounts a leader in the Seahawks locker room. He's displayed toughness on the field, absorbing brutal punishment and showing his mettle by diving for the end zone to score the decisive touchdown against Arizona two weeks ago. He's never been involved in anything nefarious off-the-field, and looks to be about as close to a model citizen as you'd find in the NFL. So why do so many fans boo him and chant for him to be replaced by a mediocrity like Charlie Whitehurst?

When we acquired Jackson, I said that I'd consider him a success if he matched or exceeded the performance of Jon Kitna in 1999. At the quarter-pole of the season, he's doing just that: Kitna's 1999 QB rating was 77.7, while Jackson's through four games is 80.0. Hell, Jackson is so far outperforming every Matt Hasselbeck season since 2007. He isn't the QB of the future, but as he showed us last week he can be the QB who keeps us competitive until The Savior arrives (particularly if he is given decent pass protection).

I'm still flummoxed with the hostility directed at the man- Matt Hasselbeck isn't walking back into that locker room. For the rest of this season, our choices are Jackson, Whitehurst or Josh Portis, and there is no rational basis to think that either of our other two QBs would magically outperform Tarvaris. So why is the first impulse of so many fans to childishly boo him rather than support him?

We knew what we were getting with Tarvaris Jackson, and now it looks like he might just be able to pull off what he was hired to achieve: provide Seattle with a competent, cheap QB to bridge the gap between Matt Hasselbeck and the Glorious Franchise Quarterback we will draft next Spring.

So why the fuck are so many fans still shitting all over him?

October 2, 2011

Falcons 30, Seahawks 28

Every Seahawks loss is a gut punch to me- But I bounce back quicker from certain losses, and my emotions evolved from crushing disappointment to hopeful optimism within minutes after Hauschka's 61-yard attempt fell short. Why am I going to go through the next week without the usual fog of despair that typically overcomes me after a Seahawks loss?

1. They fought.
Yes, the Seahawks need to start NOT putting themselves in these huge holes at half-time- But Pete Carroll's attitude has rubbed off on this team: At no point did you get the feeling those guys stopped giving less than 100% effort. Sometimes they win, a lot of times they lose, but these Seahawks are building a reputation for fighting for a full 60 minutes every week.

2. Tarvaris Jackson
I said in the pre-season that for the Seahawks to succeed in 2011, Jackson had to perform as well or better than 1999 Jon Kitna. Today he exceeded those expectations for the first time, and if he can keep it up the Seahawks still have a great shot at stealing another NFC West crown (even after a 1-3 start). Particularly in the 2nd half, he looked like -GASP- an above-average NFL QB... and he snuffed any whiff of a QB controversy, at least for the next month or so.

If you STILL think Whitehurst should start, you just don't like Tarvaris Jackson. It's that simple.

3. Doug Baldwin and Sidney Rice
The undrafted free agent made big catches and took even bigger hits today- He's going to have an important role in this offense going forward. Sidney Rice made a couple of regrettable mistakes, but Seattle's offense is a completely different, far more dangerous entity when he is on the field. That kid is going to be worth every penny of the millions we are paying him.

4. The Offensive Line
We didn't even really TRY running the ball much today, but in pass protection this extremely young and inexperienced unit took a HUGE step forward. Jackson wasn't sacked, and was barely touched all day- allowing him to show his quality when kept "clean."

5. Still, the Defense
Yes, they allowed 30 points- but only a pair of field goals in the 2nd half. They gave us every chance to come back and win the game. My big concern? The continuing lack of takeaways from the D.

Seattle has a tough (but winnable) game at NYG next week. Even if we hit the bye at 1-4, we return with games we SHOULD win against the NFL's relatively weak Ohio clubs. I still see 7 VERY plausible wins on Seattle's remaining schedule (@CLE, CIN, @STL, DC, STL, SF, @AZ), and games like the ones at Dallas and against Philly at home don't seem nearly as daunting as they did just a few hours ago.

Every loss is terrible, but today's defeat shows the forward momentum Pete Carroll is generating for this franchise. VERY soon, games like today's will be victories rather than defeats, and vindication will be ours.

What do you think, sirs?

October 1, 2011


Over on the Ultimate Seahawks Fan blog, there was a contest to decide the top 5 Seahawks blogs on the internet- And this humble site came in a very respectable 3rd.

I want to thank all the readers out there who have supported this thing- From those who have been following along since I started back in January 2008, to new readers who might be here for the first time. I would still do this if no one was reading (I have to), but knowing that there are like-minded people out there who enjoy reading my stuff and (sometimes) agree with my point of view is unbelievably gratifying.

I started this blog mainly out of anger and frustration. I used to contribute regularly on a Seahawks message board, but was kicked off for what I thought was a trifling offense. Once I got over my hurt feelings... OK, I DIDN'T get over my hurt feelings- I just channeled them into "I'll show those fuckers! I'll start my own Seahawks blog!" Thus, Dave Krieg's Strike Beard was born.

I was very fortunate to catch the attention of John Morgan over at Field Gulls in the blog's early days. Morgan liked my stuff, prominently linked me on his much more popular blog, and even allowed me to contribute content on FG until he left for greener pastures.

This blog was born as an outlet for my Seahawks passion and for my desire to write regularly- Thankfully, from spending 28 years closely, obsessively following this team I've built up a reservoir of knowledge and experience that others have found useful and interesting. I'm 36 now, but I'm still that 11-year-old back in the Tri-Cities defending my Seahawks from schoolyard taunts and insults during recess. On a DEEP level, I take criticism of the Seahawks as PERSONAL criticism, so I have always venomously attacked those who attack the Seahawks. This blog is an extension of that impulse- I am fortunate to be intelligent and knowledgeable enough to skillfully destroy your typical knee-jerk Seahawk hater, and that is something I never tire of doing.

Just this past week a student of mine went "PFFT" when he realized I liked the Seahawks. I asked him why he reacted like that, and replied "because they're terrible." I asked him what team HE liked and he said "Cowboys."

Then I LAUNCHED into this exaggerated, childish pantomime of Tony Romo dropping the snap in the 2006 Wild Card game, which made him reply "that kinda pisses me off." I simply said "well, it kinda pisses me off when you tell me my team is terrible."

Professional? Um, no. But THAT'S how much I love this team.

I see my role in the Twelve Army as part Seahawks Historian, part Seahawks Propagandist. That has a negative connotation (for obvious reasons), but in this context I think it's something we need- I won't just make shit up about the Seahawks, but I will take all the information available and give it the biggest pro-Seattle spin I possibly can. We are the fans of a team consistently treated with neglect, ignorance and hostility by outsiders- We also have to deal with having a cancerous fifth column of negative, defeatist, cynical "fans" in our midst. So yeah, I feel like part of my job is boosting the morale of the Twelve Army to something above a suicidal level.

The great thing now is that we have this vibrant, healthy, growing community of Seahawks bloggers- They're ALL over there in the blog roll, but I want to give special recognition to Hawkblogger, Field Gulls, and Seahawks Draft Blog. Those are the ones I read most frequently, and worry the most about differentiating myself from. In addition to the all blogs, we also have such a great horde of Seahawks fans on twitter- That has really enhanced MY experience as a Seahawks blogger and fan more than anything over the last year or so.

I'm going to keep doing this indefinitely- It's turned out to be a big enhancement to MY overall experience as a Seahawks fan, and I hope some of y'all feel the same way about this little blog. Thank you for reading, and spread the word.

What do you think, sirs?