October 28, 2012

Lions 28, Seahawks 24

Before today's game, I was standing by the Seahawks' tunnel with a bunch of other Twelves. This teenage Hawks fan was standing next to me, and he yelled at Pete Carroll as the Coach ran past us. At the last instant, Coach Carroll chucked the ball around his back toward the kid Chris Paul-style. Unlike a pass from Chris Paul, PC's toss missed the mark- sailing just over us and into the arms of a Lions fan (a little fucker who wouldn't give the damn thing up to us Twelves). 

As Sterling Archer once said, "Hooray for metaphors!" This was SO close to being the win that propelled the Seahawks towards the playoffs. Instead, that process has to start next week. 

I'm not nearly as upset about this loss as I probably should be, and it's not because I'm mellowing or getting old/lame. Obviously, there's plenty of evidence you could use from today's loss to buttress an "Ahh! Let's all freak out" argument: Pete Carroll's inexplicable challenge underlined his still-not-exactly-excellent in-game decision-making. The defense melted like a Notebook fan in the presence of Ryan Gosling- After showing such consistent dominance over the first seven games, their collapse today was deeply unsettling. Their inability to stop the opposition on 3rd down is more than a mere annoyance at this point. Finally, Russell Wilson threw another interception that led to what ultimately were the decisive points for the enemy. 

Despite all of this, I see a clear path to #10winsandaplayoffspot for the Seahawks. I don't think one sub-par performance means that the defense is no longer elite. More importantly, I think we saw tangible growth from Russell Wilson today. That pick aside, he looked like an actual factual GOOD NFL quarterback, leading the Seahawks on two drives that ended in red-zone TD passes. If it wasn't for the defensive near-surrender on Detroit's final possession, Wilson would have led Seattle on a drive for the come-from-behind winning touchdown (that included a clutch 4th and 2 conversion). He's shown me more than enough to convince me that he's our QB of the future and the present- The man who can lead us into the playoffs NOW. 

We've got a quarterback- and from here on out, we have a MUCH more favorable schedule. Five of our last eight games are at home, including the next two games and three of the last four. Given the zaniness we've already seen at Seahawks Stadium this fall, I like our chances in EVERY home game left on the 2012 slate. Next week's game is an absolute must-win for the Hawks- Not only would it bring one of the Wild-Card leaders back into a tie with us, it would also give us tiebreakers over Green Bay AND Minnesota (the two non-NFCW teams ahead of us in the Wild Card race). With this week's results, the Seahawks are only one game of out the NFC's final playoff spot, and it's starting to look like 10-6 will be good enough to make "the tournament." Before Labor Day, I predicted that the Seahawks would be 4-4 at this point, and that they'd make a big leap in the 2nd half to make it to 10 wins, get in the playoffs, and upset the fucking Niners in the Wild Card round. Even after today's aggravating, demoralizing loss, I still completely believe that's what the future holds. 

Up until that crushing conclusion, I had a grand time at the game today. I ran into a loyal reader and his brother outside Ford Field (Scott and... Mike?); They had incredibly nice things to say about this blog, and I am deeply grateful for their support, and the support of everyone who has been reading my blatherings in this space since 2008. My Twitter buddy Evan (pictured above) met me at the game, and there were more Twelves scattered through the crowd than I had anticipated. We rejoiced at Zach Miller's go-ahead TD and sat there dazed after the defense gave the lead away- but we were there, and our numbers are growing. As this team starts stringing wins together, you'll see more and more Twelves in stadiums from coast to coast. 

I'll be there at Seahawks Stadium next week, and I'll scream myself mute to get us a win. What do you think, sirs? Was anyone else at today's game? Anyone have tales to tell? 

October 24, 2012

Going Behind Enemy Lines (Again)

I always get a bit squirmy when I hear Twelves get pissed off about fans of opposing teams taking up seats at Seahawks Stadium. It's not that I LIKE it when enemy fans infest our stadium- Shit, I'll boo them when they start making a racket like anyone else would- It's just that as someone who has been to plenty of Seahawks road games, I want to avoid being a giant fucking hypocrite. I view it as something akin to diplomatic immunity: Yeah, it sucks that foreign diplomats rack up huge parking fines when they are over here, but we don't want our diplomats overseas getting fucked with- Hooray for reciprocity!

On Sunday, I'll attend my 10th Seahawks road game (and my 2nd at Ford Field in Detroit), and I gotta admit it: I LOVE being the "bad guy." I love being part of a tiny, outnumbered group of hard-core partisans- I'm a contrarian fucker at heart, so rooting for my teams in hostile territory really suites me well. The flip side of this is that I also love rooting for my Red Sox at Safeco, and I plan to catch a Columbus Crew game at Royal Brougham Park the first chance I get... But that's a discussion for another time.

I have a routine I tend to adhere to at these games, and a fairly simple set of rules. I like to get there when the gates open so I can get down to the Seahawks tunnel and see the players and coaches up close. This is what I wrote about that experience at Cleveland a year ago:

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 also have my own personal rules of contact as a road fan:

-No drinking.
-No booing or jeering the other team, just cheering for the Seahawks.
-Don't start shit with opposing fans, but if you have to defend yourself, outsmart them.

I actually stumbled upon a great self-defense strategy at the Cleveland game last year: Sitting in the Family/No alcohol section. Compared to my previous experiences at Cleveland Browns Stadium, I was relatively unmolested sitting in that area last year. As long as I didn't curse around the kids, it was like being surrounded by little human shields- One dude a section over even yelled "If you weren't in the family section, I'd kick your ass." I yelled back "Thank you for validating my decision to sit here!" I'm doing the same thing Sunday up in Detroit. I guess this strategy wouldn't work if you really LOVE getting blitzed at games and letting off long strings of public profanities... But I doubt that many readers of this blog are part of that demographic.

Like I said, this will be my 2nd game in Detroit. Back in 2006 I saw the Hawks win 9-6 (yawn) on a Josh Brown FG as time expired. The environment was fairly sedate for a couple of reasons: First, Ford Field is a deeply odd NFL venue that doesn't give its tenants a big home field advantage. You know how the stands at Seahawks Stadium are RIGHT ON TOP OF the field? Not in Detroit, dude. The field feels miles away from the stands in Ford Field. Second, the Lions were fucking abysmal back then- The stadium was far from full, and the fans that did show up seemed more interested in getting hammered than the action down on the field.

I expect a similar dynamic Sunday, but for different reasons. The Lions' disappointing start won't help, but the bigger factor will be distraction- The Tigers will be playing in Game 4 of the World Series across the street just hours after the Seahawks/Lions game. From experience, we know Rams fans in STL have been particularly distracted/quiet/absent during Cardinals' playoff runs (to the Seahawks' benefit). Hopefully we'll see the same situation on Sunday in Detroit.

What about everyone else? What are your experiences at Seahawks road games? In my experience (going to games at CLE, IND, CIN, NO, DET, STL) Cleveland was by far the WORST place to watch the Seahawks, and St. Louis was the best (in terms of not getting harassed/made to feel like I was in actual physical danger). Anyone else going to the game Sunday? If so, hunt me down- I'll be in a new-school blue Nike Marshawn Lynch jersey (no beard though), and I'll probably be down by the Seahawks tunnel during all the pre-game stuff.

Hope to see you there!

October 19, 2012

Niners 13, Seahawks 6

I hate losing to the 49ers. It makes me sick to my ass (as Mom once said). Jim Harbaugh is The King of All Douchenozzles, and he's built a team of punk-ass nimrods in his craven image. There's no NFL team I hate more than San Francisco (including Pittsburgh, so you know my hatred for SF is steadfast and true). I hate their players, their coaches, their fans, and that rotting, stinking husk of a stadium they all infest.

So why can't I get all that worked up over this loss?

As much as we all hate to admit it, San Francisco is one of the top 2 or 3 teams in the NFL. They routinely blow inferior opposition off the field. They don't just beat their foes- Often, they embarrass them. The Seahawks are no longer inferior opposition. They won't go to Candlestick and get blown out by 3 touchdowns anymore. In fact, for most of last night's game they outplayed the Niners- If just a couple of passes are completed instead of dropped, Seattle is sitting in first place in the NFC West today.

There aren't moral victories in the NFL, but losses can still indicate the growth and maturation of a franchise. In less than three years under Pete Carroll, we've evolved from a squad that dropped most of its games via double-digit obliteration to one that wins more often against the NFL's elite teams than it loses. Did Frank Gore trample all over our defense in the 2nd half? Yeah. But our defense also held the Niners to 13 points- Even on an off night, and against a great team, they did their job. On most nights, if your defense only gives up 13 points, your team is going to win the game.

There's been a sadly predictable knee-jerk reaction to Russell Wilson's (statistically) poor performance last night: FLYNNNNNNN! I think that I've built up substantial credentials as a Pro-Flynn Twelve (or at least as a Wilson skeptic), but I think any talk of a QB change at this point is absolute lunacy. We saw a glimpse of the quarterback Russell Wilson could become against the Patriots, and even last night he was largely sharp (especially in the first half). I don't see how Flynn starts a game in 2012 short of Wilson getting injured, and that is absolutely the right path for Pete Carroll to take.

Wilson has room to grow as a quarterback, but his receivers didn't do him any favors last night. Golden Tate in particular had an awful game- Hopefully last night's spasm of dropsies was an isolated incident, not the start of some horrifying flashback to 2004. There were bright spots- The offensive line did a great job in terms of both blowing open running lanes and protecting Wilson. Marshawn Lynch once again proved that he is the toughest (and perhaps the best) running back in the NFL, racking up over 100 yards against the best rushing defense he'll face all season.

Now Seattle sits at 4-3. Realistically, they have a better shot at making the playoffs as a Wild Card than by winning the NFC West. This fact makes our upcoming games against Detroit and Minnesota doubly crucial in terms of playoff tie-breakers. The Seahawks SHOULD be able to beat the flaky Lions on the road after a 10-day rest, and with all due respect to the Vikings, I don't think ANY enemy squad is beating us at Seahawks Stadium this season.

Back in August, many Twelves were bemoaning our borderline-sadistic early schedule. 2-5 was a common prediction for where Seattle would stand after seven games. I said we'd be 4-3 (obviously winning an entirely different combination of games), and here we are at 4-3. The remaining schedule is festooned with winnable games, so I'm still completely comfortable with my other big August predictions: 10-6, a Wild Card berth, and an upset win over the 49ers at Candlestick in the Wild Card round. Does anyone doubt that this team will be significantly better in January than it is now? Given the recent history of 10-6 or 9-7 teams winning the Super Bowl (3 of the last 5 Champions), these Seahawks would have a decent shot at XLVII if they can just "get in the tournament."

Next time we face those dog-faced cretins from down the coast, the results will be different. Hopefully, we'll get the chance to beat them TWICE this winter.

What do you think, sirs?

October 14, 2012

Seahawks 24, Patriots 23

I had to watch today's game in a sports bar. I HATE watching Seahawks games at sports bars. The food and the drinks are too expensive, and I lack control over my environment- I have to deal with fans of opposing teams (who spout absolute drunken gibberish most of the time), and I can't express myself freely. I was watching the Seahawks/Patriots game at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Bowling Green, Ohio, and one table over was a young woman in an Aaron Curry Seahawks jersey (Eww). I was tempted to say something to her, but her boyfriend was a boorish, douchetacular New England fan- He taunted her mercilessly throughout the game and she silently endured it.

As the afternoon went on, he crowed and brayed about the mighty Patriots- The New England victory was preordained in his mind, and for 3 and a half quarters, it looked like he would be right. Tom Brady used a scalpel to cut through the vaunted Seattle defense, and the Hawks served up a long string of physical and mental mistakes. I spent most of the game silently fuming, with my loudest expressions being cries of "God DAMN it!" after Seattle mistakes. I didn't abandon hope, but I also mentally prepared myself for a loss- I started writing a very different version of this blog post in my head.

But it was only 23-10. Despite the dropped interceptions, the fumbles, the mangled punt attempt, the roughing calls, and the lack of a rushing attack, it was only 23-10. Then Russell Wilson hit on a deep ball to Golden Tate... Then on 4th and Goal he threw a perfect pass to Braylon Edwards (who made a spectacular catch). I let out a yelp and a few fist pumps. The Patri-douche reminded me that it was futile. TWICE the defense stopped Tom Brady (one of the top 5 QBs to ever play the game) and gave the ball back to Seattle's offense. First, a flaccid 3-and-out. The Pats then seemed largely content to let their defense win the game. Russell Wilson wasn't going to beat them, right? King Jackass of Greater Massachusetts reminded me of that at maximum volume.

Play-action. Half-roll-out. Perfect rainbow dropped right into Sidney Rice's mitts. Touchdown.

I snapped. All inhibitions were sloughed off in an instant. The Social Contract was shredded. I was 8 years old. It was 1983. I was watching the Seahawks beat the Patriots in the Kingdome to clinch their first playoff spot ever. I screamed at the top of my lungs. I jumped and spun around like Oprah had just given me a new car. It was pure, uncut delirium- The joy that only comes from an unexpected victory. Diamond Joe Assmunch yelled "Too much time!" In my heart, I knew he was right. Over a minute on the clock, and Brady just needed a field goal. We all knew how this one was supposed to end.

Then Tom Brady found out the same thing Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton already learned via bitter experience this season: When the Seattle Seahawks absolutely, positively need to stop you, they don't check your resume first. They will simply brutalize you and your teammates and let you sort through the wreckage. As we stopped the Patriots on 4th down, Mr. Douche England BOLTED for the exit. He wanted NO part of my celebration. It was only then that it hit me...

This is what 2005 felt like. This is how I felt after Babs picked off Bledsoe and Josh Brown banged home the kick to beat Dallas. This is how I felt after Jay Feeley missed all those field goals. This is how I felt when Matt Hasselbeck beat Shawn Springs to the pylon... or when Lofa picked off Delhomme. That team was built to outsmart and outwork the enemy, and that got us all the way to the Super Bowl. This team? This team is built beat the fucking shit out of you.

Even as New England built a lead, they were getting beaten to a bloody pulp. Finally, in the game's waning moments, it paid the greatest of dividends. Terrific Tom Brady seemed jittery in the face of Seattle's relentless pass rush. Their superstar WRs and TEs racked up some nice fantasy numbers, but couldn't make the plays that would have put the game out of Russell Wilson's reach.

Russell Wilson? All that kid did today was outplay Tom Brady. I am rapturously happy to be wrong about him. I am overjoyed that everything I've written about him now looks laughably obtuse, like those articles from the 1930s telling pregnant women they should smoke in order to relax. He's already a valuable asset only 6 games into his career, able to win games with his arm and his legs when given the chance, and the limit to his potential isn't even visible yet. Go ahead, Twelves. Embrace this. Go buy a Wilson jersey, dagnabit!

Pete Carroll deserves special recognition today. He stuck with his rookie QB when legions of us were HOWLING for Matt Flynn, and now it's paying off earlier than anyone could have imagined. On this day, up against the team that cast him aside 13 years ago, he outcoached Bill Belichick (whose bold, aggressive style probably cost his team three potentially decisive points at the end of the 1st Half). He inherited one of the worst rosters in pro football, a team led into the wilderness by a blowhard who blathered about "dirtbags," and has remade it into a legion of Cassius Clays: Young, brash, and brutal.

It's time to stop thinking about "next year." 2012 can be 2005, but even bigger, badder, and bloodier. The roof has been torn off, and it's no longer delusional to think the Seahawks could have a rematch with New England in XLVII.

Hell, maybe the Patriots won't even make it to New Orleans for Round 2...

What do you think, sirs?

October 10, 2012

Top 5: Seahawks Beat (or almost beat) Patriots!

This Sunday the New England Patriots visit Seattle for only the 3rd time in 22 years. I've been to Boston twice in the last 12 years, and that was as an impoverished graduate student (side note: before realignment in 2002, the NFL's scheduling formula was a byzantine clusterfuck- We played the Pats twice in the REGULAR SEASON in 1993.. How the fuck did that happen?). When Ken Behring packed up the team in the Spring of 1996 and tried to hold mini-camp in Southern California, I decided I would become a Patriots fan if it all went nuclear and the Seahawks skipped town. I was already a Red Sox fan, and Drew Bledsoe was my favorite non-Seahawks player- That plan went poof when the Patriots reached Super Bowl XXXI that season... I wasn't going to be anyone's bandwagon fan, yo.

Thankfully, Mr. Allen swooped in to save the day and it never came to that- But I think it's important to remember that until about a decade ago New England was an absolutely forlorn franchise.They went from an absolute afterthought on the NFL landscape to a multiple-championship-winning juggernaut- It just took the right owner, coach and quarterback. They're where we want to be, and there's NOTHING that says we can't get there. So here goes- Our top 4 victories (and one near-victory) over the New England Patriots.

5.  12/7/08 Patriots 24 @ Seahawks 21
The 2008 Seahawks were an awful team, but they didn't lay down and die like their 2009 Mora-"led" successors. Facing a Patriots team fighting for the playoffs (and in the middle of an 8-game winning streak), Seattle held leads of 14-3 and 21-13. Seneca Wallace had the best game of his career, throwing for three touchdowns with zero interceptions. Marcus Trufant shut down a still-All-Pro Randy Moss, but it wasn't enough. Matt Cassel led New England to the winning score late in the 4th, and Holmgren's farewell tour/death march continued unabated- But at least we put a scare into the Bostonians.

4. 9/19/93 Seahawks 17 @ Patriots 14
3.10/24/93 Seahawks 10, Patriots 9
Like I said above, I have no idea why we played a non-divisional foe twice in the 1993 regular season. Was that a common practice then? Did I just blank on this? 1993 was also one of those weird-ass seasons where everyone had TWO bye weeks- maybe that had something to do with it? In any case, the NFL saw fit to have the two worst teams from 1992 grapple twice the following season- They must have REALLY wanted to see Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer go at it, huh?

Both these games are particularly vivid for me personally. The September match-up at Foxboro happened on the day I moved into my dorm at Western. My new roommate was fairly aghast to see that the first thing I did was hook up the TV and yell at it for three hours. Then again, he once made everyone who shared the Fairhaven Stack 8, Floor 3 bathroom come look at a particularly gigantic deuce he dropped... So he wasn't exactly a great exemplar of social grace himself. Chris Warren pulverized the Patriots defense for 174 yards on 36 carries and helped the Hawks build a 17-0 lead... Which the defense tried to crap away, of course. Bledsoe led two 4th-quarter TD drives for the Pats, but Seattle held on to win 17-14.

A month later, I attended the rematch with a girl- she was my "best friend," but I was madly in love with her... As I wrote in this space before:

Being an 18-year-old dipshit, I had some weird ways of trying to woo her, like taking her to a Seahawks game. Kurt Cobain was still alive (in fact, Nirvana had released the amazing In Utero just a month before... it would become the soundtrack of my freshman year), as were the Seahawks chances of a competitive season.

Drew Bledsoe's homecoming wasn't to be... With #11 out with an injury, Scott Zolak faced the Seahawks. But even with that advantage, the Hawks trailed 9-3 late in a very boring game. I was in a near-panic that she wasn't having a good time, and this whole thing was a very bad idea.

Suddenly, Rick Mirer was doing his best Joe Montana impression. He drove us down the field, and with only seconds to play, threw the winning touchdown pass. The crowd went batshit crazy... even my lady friend got into it, and I got a nice prolonged, semi-passionate hug out of it. At that moment, the future was ablaze with possibilities, both for the Seahawks and my personal life. The Hawks were 4-3, and Rick Mirer was going to lead Seattle to football glory.

That 4-3 start turned into a 6-10 lead turd of a season. That game was the high point of Mirer's career... It was all downhill after that. A couple of months later, my best friend started dating someone. I told her I was in love with her. Crash. Burn. Despair. 


2. 9/21/86 Seahawks 38 @ Patriots 31 
The Seahawks visited the defending AFC Champs, but the defense evidently decided to chill out at the hotel rather than face the Pats. Tony Eason torched the Hawks for 414 yards passing and three TDs, and New England held a seemingly secure 10-point lead with less than three minutes left to play. A Norm Johnson FG cut the lead to 7, and after a three-and-out Patrick Hunter blocked a punt that Paul Moyer scooped up in the end zone for the tying touchdown. After another Patriots three-and-out, Dave Krieg hit Ray Butler on a 67-yard rainbow for the winning margin. Krieg would only complete 9 out of his 20 pass attempts, but two were long TDs to Butler (54 & 67 yards). Take that, Tony Eason! There were 38 points scored in the 4th quarter, and this was also the first time I blurted out a curse word during a Seahawks game in front of my parents (I was 11).

1. 12/18/83 Seahawks 24, Patriots 6
The 8-7 Seahawks found themselves needing a home win against the 8-7 Patriots to clinch the franchise's first-ever playoff berth. My Dad took me to that game (my 1st ever, at age 8), and EVERYTHING about it was awe-inspiring; from the first moment I saw the Kingdome driving in from I-90, to the dizzying cavernous grandeur of the Dome's interior. Of course, as I grew older I began to consider King County Stadium more or less a shithole, but on that day, it was the Louvre to me.

I screamed for what seemed like 4 hours straight, starting with a shrieking series of boos aimed at the Patriots as they took the field for warm-ups. We were in the 300 level, and there was no way they could possibly have heard me, but I still roared until my voice was gone. What an annoying little shit, huh?

The game itself was perfect: The deafening roar of the 12th Man, a Largent touchdown, and an easy blowout victory. Famously, the Seahawks came out of the locker room after the game to mingle with the remaining Soldiers of Twelve left in the Dome. If I wasn't already hooked for life, this game sealed the deal.

What do you think, sirs? 

October 8, 2012

Seahawks 16, Panthers 12

Somewhere there's a J.J. Abrams-esque alternate universe where the Seahawks defense couldn't keep the Carolina Panthers out of the end zone in the 4th quarter yesterday. Seattle lost 17-16 and that version of the Twelve Army is tearing itself apart- half demanding fealty to Russell Wilson, half demanding that Matt Flynn start against New England in a desperate effort to save a season spinning out of control. The national media bobbleheads fawn over Cam Newton's ability to "get it done" in the 4th quarter and keep the Panthers' season alive. Pete Carroll is on the "hot seat," and his entire rebuilding project in Seattle falls under withering criticism- "Well, you know they're a bad call from a replacement ref away from being 1-4. Pete Carroll is finding out the NFL isn't the Pac-10!" Today, those goateed alt-Twelves are living in a World of Shit.

Here in our reality, Carolina's season absorbed a death blow yesterday. Here in our reality, The Best Defense in The NFL WILLED the Seahawks to victory, highlighted by a goal-line stand that will become folklore- A tale spoken of as part of the Legend of 2012. With their season on the line in a very tangible sense, The Best Defense in The NFL stopped football's best red zone offense on FOUR tries inside the 5-yard-line. Before that, a superlative individual play by Brandon Browner set up Seattle's lone offensive touchdown. After that, rookie stud Bruce Irvin sealed the victory with a strip-sack of Newton (who was VASTLY outplayed by Russell Wilson). All day the Seattle defense pummeled the Panthers. Make no mistake- Many Carolina offensive players woke up pissing blood this morning. Future Hall-of-Famer Steve Smith tussled with Richard Sherman all day and lost- his pint-sized bravado was no match for a supremely talented NERD.

Through the first five games, this is the best defense the Seattle Seahawks have ever put on the field. Right now they are #1 in total defense, #3 in rushing defense, #5 in passing defense, #5 in sacks, and #3 in scoring defense in the NFL. If they keep this up, they'll eclipse the vaunted 1984 Seahawks defense. The ONLY category where we could stand to see marked improvement is in terms of takeaways- but yesterday the Seattle D did notch two key game-changing takeaways. I've said it before, but this is a Championship Defense- possibly on the level of the 2000 Ravens or 2002 Buccaneers. The big question is: Can Russell Wilson play Trent Dilfer/Brad Johnson and lead us on a deep playoff run?

Obviously, I'm a Wilson skeptic- One atrocious mistake led to a Carolina pick-6 and nearly cost us the game- but he showed real progress yesterday, and it's impossible to rationally argue that he should be benched in favor of Matt Flynn at this point. He radically improved his performance on 3rd down, and flashed the skill set that made Pete Carroll and millions of Twelves swoon back in August. Could he take a step backwards and force Matt Flynn onto the field at some later point this season? Sure- But I think there's a greater chance that he will continue to improve, and be ready to help us win playoff games by January. I'm VERY happy to have almost everything I wrote last week immediately look hysterical and stupid. Good job, kid- Keep it up.

Other random notes? Marshawn Lynch didn't have a monster game in terms of stats, but he ground out yards when we needed them against a defense STACKED up to stop him. Golden Tate is a villain everywhere outside Seattle, but his toughness is quickly making him a fan favorite among Twelves- For the 2nd time in three weeks, he scored the winning TD for the Hawks. Special Teams got back on track, and the decision to take the intentional safety in the waning minutes was a bold, savvy decision by Pete Carroll.

The New Fucking England Goddamn Patriots are coming to Seahawks Stadium next week- It's an incredible challenge for these young Hawks, but one I think they are up to. We've reached a point where we don't just have to worry about Tom Brady- Dude has to worry about us, too. We'll give Belichick and his minions all they can handle. These are great times to be a Seahawks fan- Rejoice, Twelves!

What do you think, sirs?

October 3, 2012

Condemning The Future To Death So It Can Match The Past

Everywhere I turn, I hear Seahawks fans (particularly the really enthusiastic Russell Wilson fans) say some variation of "Well, we need to stick it out with Russell Wilson this year- He's obviously the future of the franchise and Matt Flynn isn't."

Wait- What?

What exactly is that based on? Did too many of us take that Bill Simmons article on Wilson as gospel? Did we swallow all of Jon Gruden's fawning praise uncritically? Did we fall in love with the seductive tale of a QB lacking in height but brimming with confidence and "intangibles?" Wilson CAN become our long-term answer at QB, but nothing about that is settled after only a handful of preseason games and one quarter of a season.

Our organization's investment in Russell Wilson is MINIMAL. This is not a high first round pick that a bottom-feeding, rebuilding team needs to build around. He is a 3rd round pick who has joined a squad already on an upward trajectory. If he cannot produce, if he becomes an anchor weighing down an elite running game and a transcendent defense, he must be replaced. Every season is precious. EVERY chance to get into the "tournament" and compete for a Super Bowl title is an opportunity at immortality. Wilson simply lacks the level of investment in terms of money or draft picks to justify sacrificing a playoff run to his development. The EMOTIONAL investment by fans (and maybe even from Pete Carroll) in Wilson is very high, but let's remember: If he just grows into a solid back-up QB, he's still a valuable asset.

So the assumption that it's "QBOF or bust" for Wilson is easily dismantled. What about the converse? That Matt Flynn is already some sort of odd zombie QB, just hanging around until he can be cut loose without a huge cap hit? That reasoning is specious as well. Part of it is Flynn's age- He's 27, which seems "old" for a Franchise Quarterback. However, it's important to remember that Matt Hasselbeck was 27 when he became the Seahawks' full-time starter, and Dave Krieg wasn't much younger when he took over from Jim Zorn for good (25). Both QBs led the Seahawks for a decade and to LONG runs of playoff contention.

There's also been this weird revisionism about Flynn's preseason performance going around, like he somehow "sucked" in August. This is not accurate. There was no indication that Flynn lacked the ability to move the Seattle offense up and down the field- His performance was simply overshadowed by the Madden-set-to-Rookie brilliance of Russell Wilson (against vanilla preseason defenses). There's no reason to think that Flynn wouldn't play well given the chance, lead Seattle into the playoffs, and then hold onto the starting job for a number of years.

Is that the real issue? Are there just a ton of Twelves already so invested in the IDEA of Russell Wilson that the notion of him being benched and Flynn seizing QB1 for good is psychologically uncomfortable? It was unconventional to start a rookie 3rd round pick at QB. Why is it the case that so many are now saying "Oh no! Once you start him, you can't bench him.. That's just not how it's done!"? That's... Weird.

I hope Russell Wilson SHREDS the Carolina defense Sunday. I hope that's the start of a 2005-like winning streak behind RW that forces Matt Flynn to keep on rockin' a ball cap and a clipboard for a looooong time. But if Wilson keeps bailing out early- If he keeps missing (or not seeing) open receivers- If he simply can't get the ball in the end zone... In that case, facing a must win against The New Fucking England God Damn Patriots, I want a QB out there that gives Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Marshawn Lynch, Chris Clemons, and the rest of the team a fighting chance at victory.

Skate or die, Russell Wilson. What do you think, sirs?

October 1, 2012

Backdrifts (Honeymoon is Over)

"One burst and we'll probably crumble" - Radiohead 

In the classes I teach, exams are coming up. Every time I assign essay questions, I instruct them to make sure they answer EVERY question, even if they feel like they don't know the answer. They're never pressed for time, and I give partial credit, so I encourage them to write something- ANYTHING- even if it's "bullshit." I tell them that if they write something, I'll give them something. If they write nothing, I have to give them nothing. Pretty simple, right?

On EVERY exam, a handful of students leave some answers blank anyway, and it infuriates me. Why do they do it? My best guess? Pride. They don't want to admit they might not have the answer, and they're afraid of writing something "dumb," so they leave it blank. They choose inaction over action. 

The Seattle Seahawks are rapidly approaching the point where they will have to make a very tough decision about the quarterback position. After four games, Seattle has the weakest passing game in the NFL. They are on pace to BARELY pass for more yards than the historically awful 1992 Gelbaugh/Stouffer/McGwire-led "attack." Yes, it's not all on Russell Wilson. Yes, the receivers could be better. Yes, Bevell is massively underperforming as a play-caller. But the bottom line is that even on a run-first team, a contemporary NFL offense MUST produce far more yards through the air than Seattle is right now behind Russell Wilson. 

Pete Carroll tried to defuse the issue Monday by saying that Matt Flynn is not healthy enough to play right now, but while that may buy Wilson another week or two, it raises other troubling questions: Why hasn't Flynn appeared on any injury reports? Do we need to acquire a 3rd QB given Flynn's injury? When will he be ready to play? Will this be a recurring issue for him? Is Carroll overplaying the injury to turn down the heat on himself and Russell Wilson?

Wilson will start at Carolina, but we have reached a point of absolute crisis. A win will keep the Seahawks in decent playoff position- And this is a game Seattle SHOULD win. Even on the road, the Hawks should be able to defeat a mentally unstable 1-3 Panthers squad (hell, it's even a 1 pm Seattle-time kickoff). But a loss, with games against New England and San Francisco looming? At that point, PC better show us a note from Matt Flynn's doctor if Carroll wants to keep MF in a baseball cap.

Why am I in a state of complete panic about this? Because I truly believe this team can make a run at a championship THIS SEASON. Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin give Seattle one of the league's most physical, demoralizing ground games. They absolutely broke the will of STL's defense yesterday. The defense has allowed only two touchdowns in the last three games- On an "off" day, they only allowed four field goals (two of which were 58 and 60 yarders). It would be a shame to neutralize these advantages by continuing to field what is, frankly, a non-competitive passing attack. For at least another week, that burden falls on Wilson. And Bevell. And our WR corps. ALL of them must improve on their pooptastic performances in St. Louis.

The formula for Seattle victories is clear right now: Smothering Defense + Punishing Ground Attack + Ball Security + Dominance on Special Teams. We only got two of those four things yesterday, and it still took two ridiculously long kicks and a TD on a fake field goal attempt to beat us. This is still a team that can win 10 games and make the playoffs... IF they can get QB play that is simply decent. I hope that this post looks fucking stupid in a few weeks. I hope that I have to write "Man, it's a good thing I'm not running this team, because I would have benched Russell Wilson before he turned the corner!"

I hope that Pete Carroll doesn't have to make another decision at QB. But if he is forced to, I hope he writes something down, even if he risks looking foolish. Keeping Flynn anchored to the bench while Wilson struggles and the team keeps losing is equivalent to writing down nothing.

What do you think, sirs?