January 14, 2013

Ranking The Squads #4: 2012 (With Updated All-Time Rankings)

4. 2012
Record: 11-5
Offensive Rank: 9th out of 32 teams
Defensive Rank: 1st out of 32
Turnover Ratio Rank: 5th out of 32
Team MVP: Russell Wilson
High Point: Seahawks 42, Niners 13
Low Point: Falcons 30, Seahawks 28

There have been better squads in franchise history than the 2012 Seattle Seahawks, but in terms of sheer entertainment value, this year's team might have given fans more memorable moments than any other since '76. Obviously the 2005 team was better than this season's, but how many truly memorable games did they play? Four? Five, maybe? The 2012 Seahawks packed what seemed like a decade of drama into a single season, and they delivered much of that drama on the biggest of stages.

On a Monday Night in September, the defense sacked Aaron Rodgers EIGHT times in front of a raucous Seahawks Stadium crowd and Seattle won the game with a controversial Hail Mary on the game's final play. Three months later, they'd stun the football-watching public by blowing the mighty 49ers off the field in a 42-13 SNF eviseration, closing out a three-week stretch of dominance previously alien to the modern-day NFL.   That victory was so cathartic that it somewhat overshadows Seattle's first road playoff win since New Year's Eve 1983: A 24-14 victory in DC that settled the issue of who SHOULD be the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year.

The list of fond memories from 2012 goes on and on:

-The Overtime win at Chicago that started a 6-game winning streak and proved to Pete Carroll that Russell Wilson Unchained could WIN games, rather than simply not lose them.
-A dramatic 4th quarter comeback to beat the August and Majestic New England Patriots, capped by a perfect deep strike from Wilson to Sidney Rice and one last stop by Richard Sherman and the league's best scoring defense.
-That three-week span where Seattle erased the enemy by a combined score of 150-30... The football equivalent of Shock & Awe.
-Even the losses were dramatic! All six of them were decided in the final five minutes or in Overtime, including The 2nd Most Painful Loss in Franchise History (more on that in an upcoming post).

For only the sixth time in team history, the Seahawks reached the double-digit win plateau in the regular season. They developed a reputation as an aggressive, brutally physical team- If you were playing the 2012 Seahawks, you quickly realized that you had signed up for a three-hour long MMA brawl. They played with an attitude of arrogance and aggression never seen before in franchise history- At their peak, the Ground Chuck teams of the '80s had a similar style of play, but they never intimidated the enemy like these 2012 Hawks did.

The defense was the NFL's best in terms of points allowed, despite lacking a pass rush for long stretches during the 2012 campaign. They were led by their secondary (the already semi-mythical Legion of Boom): All-Pro selections Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas and the also-dominant Kam Chancellor and Brandon Browner. The ultra-young linebacking corps also made life miserable for Seattle's foes, led by Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate Bobby Wagner. The defensive line was stout against the run for most of the season, and even though the lack of a pass rush from the front four ultimately doomed the 2012 Hawks, Chris Clemons and rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin combined for 19.5 sacks.

In almost any other year, the big story on offense would have been the performance of Marshawn Lynch. Beast Mode was in full effect in 2012, with Lynch piling up 1590 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns in the regular season. In our playoff win at DC, Lynch was the MVP, scoring the winning touchdown on an electrifying, tackle-and-ankle-breaking 27 yard scamper. Barring injury, he's well on his way to being remembered as the greatest running back in team history- On a team that has its history book stuffed with backs like Shaun Alexander, Curt Warner, Chris Warren, Ricky Watters, John L. Williams, and Mack Strong, that's HIGH praise.

The offensive line boasted standout performances from Max Unger and Russell Okung, and while our run-first philosophy led to the fewest pass attempts in the NFL, Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin all contributed HUGE plays at different points throughout the season. Once the playoffs hit, Zach Miller EXPLODED with 12 catches for 190 yards and a touchdown. But that's all preamble. The real story of the 2012 Seahawks is, of course, Russell Wilson.

The historical record will preserve my retrospectively embarrassing objections to Russell Wilson being named the starter back in August. Here's a particularly rancid passage I wrote back then:

I've seen legions of them (Twelves) pointing at Russell Wilson and screaming "NOW! NOW! NOW!" like they were Veruca Fucking Salt and RW was a Oompa-Loopa. Why? Because he went all Madden Rookie Mode on a bunch of Titans defenders destined for jobs in the CFL or various Arena Leagues? Because he's a better "story" than Flynn? Because (holy shit I've actually seen people say this) he reminds you of Tim Tebow somehow? BARF. Stop it. For the love of fuck, STOP IT.

I think the lesson is clear: Never listen to me, and thank the maker that I'll never ever be allowed to run our beloved Seahawks into the ground. I'd be worse than Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones combined, y'all.

Pete Carroll should have won NFL Coach of The Year (trust me, he won't) almost solely on the basis of his decision to start the third-rounder Wilson in week 1 over free-agent-acquisition Matt Flynn. He was right: A year of experience gained now would pay off, and that reward was apparent by mid-season. Wilson might not win the actual hardware, but he was CLEARLY the best rookie in the NFL this season. He tied Peyton Manning's rookie record of 26 TD passes, while only throwing 10 interception (with the vast majority of those coming early in the season). He put up the best single-season quarterback rating in Seahawks history AND the best single-season rushing totals for any Seattle QB ever- All as a rookie. He also showed a knack for bringing the team from behind in the 4th quarter, and he's also developed a reputation as a tireless worker and excellent locker-room leader. As the kid says, the separation is in the preparation. His preparation separated him from almost every other rookie quarterback in NFL history, and he capped his first campaign by throwing for 385 yards in a road playoff game. For all those reasons, and more, that's why Russell Wilson is the MVP of the 2012 Seattle Seahawks.

Here's the updated all-time rankings of every team in franchise history- Enjoy!

1. 2005
2. 1984
3. 1983
4. 2012
5. 2007
6. 1986
7. 2003
8. 2006
9. 1988
10. 1987
11. 2010
12. 1979
13. 1990
14. 1978
15. 2001
16. 1999
17. 2004
18. 1998
19. 1985
20. 1997
21. 1995
22. 2011
23. 2002
24. 1991
25. 1996
26. 1989
27. 1982
28. 1977
29. 1981
30. 1993
31. 1994
32. 2000
33. 2008
34. 1980
35. 1976
36. 1992
37. 2009

1 comment:

Lance said...

I know the 1983 squad made it to the AFC Championship game, but I truly feel that this year's team should be ranked at least #2. The thing that made the loss to the Falcons so tough, was knowing that this team could hang with anybody and could have won the Super Bowl. We could have beat the Niners today and we could of beat the Ravens in New Orleans.

Russell Wilson should be around for a long time and you just gotta know he will bring the Lombardi to Seattle at least once!