August 30, 2013

The Best Season Of Your Life Is About To Begin

With last night's 22-6 win over the execrable Oakland Raiders, another interminably long preseason has come to an end. Once again, the Seahawks finished an exhibition season undefeated. More importantly, the starters largely looked sharp and battle-ready, the back-ups were impressive enough to create some very difficult roster decisions for Pete Carroll, and the team survived four meaningless games without sustaining any season-altering injuries.

I won't pretend to have any informed opinion about who the Seahawks might cut by the 53-man roster deadline on Saturday. History has shown us that Coach Carroll typically makes one or two cuts that leave Twelves slack-jawed and salty, but it's hard to see how PC can go wrong this year. The bigger question for me is what can possibly derail this team?

To win a Super Bowl, you not only need talent but also a nice dollop of good fortune (like the 2012 Ravens). The Seahawks could very well be the best team in the NFL this season, but an unlucky bounce or two might prevent them from winning XLVIII. Thus, when I ask what can possibly derail this team, it's a matter of what could stop Seattle from being a serious championship contender. What could stop us from making a deep playoff run?

2013 isn't like 1985. The 1985 team's Super Bowl expectations rested upon the assumption that if you added Curt Warner to the 12-4 1984 team, that would result in a World Championship. The problem was that Warner wasn't nearly back to 100% in 1985, and many of the Seahawks who had career years in 1984 (*cough* Dave Krieg *cough*) regressed back to the mean. That's not the profile of the 2013 Seahawks, who have a core group of players who haven't reached their career peaks yet.

2013 isn't like 2006. The 2006 team was coming off the travesty of Super Bowl XL, and despite the loss of Steve Hutchinson in free agency, they appeared to have more than enough talent for another championship run. Unfortunately, Shaun Alexander's needle hit "E" and Matt Hasselbeck never fully recovered from a midseason knee injury. More fundamentally, they were Mike Holmgren's Machine of West Coast Football Precision. At their peak in 2005, they reached the Super Bowl by outsmarting and out-executing the enemy. With Hasselbeck and Alexander declining/hobbled in 2006, the machine broke down. The 2013 Seahawks are plenty precise, but they will win MANY games through sheer physical dominance. The 2006 team didn't boast one of the best defenses in the NFL, either.

What could derail us? All I can come up with is a season-ending injury to Russell Wilson (Even if that happened, I still believe Tarvaris Jackson could lead us to the playoffs). Without Wilson, it's hard to come up with a plausible scenario where Seattle wins Super Bowl XLVIII. With him, it's hard to see how the Seahawks don't at least reach the NFC Championship Game.

You're going to want to remember every moment of this season. Document it. Savor it. Start a scrapbook or a journal or your own Seahawks blog. This is going to probably be the best year of your life as a Seahawks fan.

As Coach Carroll would say: "Don't it just feel great?!?"

What do you think, sirs?

August 28, 2013

(Kinda) Off-Topic: My Appearance on the Massive Report Podcast

Hey Twelves. Here's a quick one for you this morning (I promise I'll get back to writing about our Seahawks soon- Having three jobs is kicking my ass right now). I was invited to come talk on the Massive Report podcast, given that the Sounders are visiting Columbus this Saturday, and I have the unique perspective of a Crew supporter who is from the Pacific Northwest.

You can listen to it here. I come on at exactly the 45 minute mark.

I'm really happy with how the podcast went- So much so that I'm considering adding a podcast component to my Seahawks blog. I'm curious about the level of interest that would draw. Feel free to let fly in the comments about that, or with reactions to what I said in the Massive Report podcast.

What do you think, sirs?

August 19, 2013

A Horse Meat Appetizer

As I watched Saturday night's televised humiliation of the Denver Broncos, I had a thought that had never before occurred to me while watching a preseason game...

"Damn. I REALLY wish I was at this game." 

In 30 years of watching the Seahawks, I have exactly TWO vivid memories of preseason football. Strangely enough, they both involve the Indianapolis Colts. In 1998, I was at the Hawks/Colts match-up in the Kingdome, and that was memorable for two reasons. First, Peyton Manning threw a touchdown pass on his first NFL snap. Secondly, the halftime entertainment (from a dog-and-Frisbee outfit called Team Zulu) quickly took on a vibe of uncontrolled chaos when the canine performers got... well... amorous. In 2006, I caught a Seahawks preseason game at the old RCA Dome (pics here), and my main memory of that one was heckling Jerome Bettis as he prepped for the NBC pregame show.

To the extent that ANY preseason game can have a lasting impact, Saturday night's Hawks victory was the closest you'll ever get. Seahawks Stadium was packed and the Twelve Army was boisterous, Seattle was facing a top XLVIII contender from the AFC, and (for a half, at least) both teams approached the game with a regular-season level of intensity. When both sets of starters headed to the locker room, it was 33-7 Seahawks. Even the most optimistic Twelve (raises hand) couldn't have predicted that level of domination, but that's what we got, and it left me in a state of blissful delirium.

Of course, there are things to criticize about Seattle's performance. Peyton Manning and the Denver starting offense moved the ball up and down the field with ease, and our pass rush still seems to be one of the team's few obvious weaknesses (for the time being). Other than that, Saturday's outing was an untrammeled triumph for the blue, silver and green.

The defense atoned for surrendering too many yards by forcing turnovers at key moments (including Brandon Browner's scintillating 106-yard scoop-and score), and Seattle's special teams easily outclassed their Denver counterparts. Russell Wilson looked regular-season sharp in limited action, and Jermaine Kearse's brace of scores highlighted the progress he's made over the past year into a potentially dangerous playmaker. Golden Tate also seems ready for a big year as he plays for a new contract, mixing in a shift 33-yard punt return with his pair of catches for 42 yards. Back on the defensive side of the ball, Kam Chancellor impressed with 11 tackles and a fumble recovery. The Seattle D forced four turnovers, and once the regular season starts, they are likely to transmogrify a healthy number of those takaways into touchdowns.

Preseason caveats aside, the Seahawks have spectacularly exceeded expectations thus far, routing their first two opponents by an aggregate score of 71-20. Once these games have turned into matchups of back-ups, Seattle's reserves have obliterated the opposition. This is a testament to the vast amount of talent PCJS have accumulated, and other teams will attack our castoffs with the fervor of Finding Nemo's gulls (MINE! MINE! MINE! shouts Gus Bradley).

Have any of you ever had that much fun watching a preseason game? I know I haven't. In three weeks, we start a regular season that will make us Twelves feel like children on a four-month tour of Disneyland, Space Camp, Hogwart's and Jurassic Park. September 8th can't get here quickly enough, can it?

What do you think, sirs?

August 13, 2013

The Rocket Sled To Chickville

Alright. If you're not a regular reader of my blog, go read this first, then come back. 

Since I came out as transgender here on the blog back in June, a LOT has been happening in my life. I'm working three jobs, I'm making new friends, and most importantly, I'm achieving serious progress in my transition. I've finally started venturing out in public occasionally presenting as my target gender, and those outings have been far more successful than I would have imagined. Now I'm on the verge of moving into a new place with someone who is a trans ally, and if I can make that happen, I'm going to be on the Rocket Sled to Chickville.

Just a few weeks ago, I never would have thought that I'd be presenting as a woman when I visit Seattle in October. Now? I might look more like this when I come to the Seahawks/Titans game October 13:

As I've written before, the thought of coming to a Seahawks game dressed as a woman is somewhat terrifying (especially if I have to use the restrooms), but it might be time to do it. The Seahawks have been a major part of my life since I was 8 years old, and I'm itching to enjoy them as my authentic self. I KNOW my next jersey purchase is going to be a women's cut blue Wilson, and I plan to snag one in October if I have the necessary means.

To a lot of people this is going to sound bugfuck crazy, but it's the truth: I'm hoping to be living full time as a woman by January 2014. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I have to admit a big one is my desire to celebrate our Super Bowl XLVIII victory as a woman. The day the Seahawks win the Super Bowl will be the 3rd best day of my life, and if I can celebrate as Johnnie rather than Johnny, that triumph will feel even sweeter.

Soooo... that's what's going on with me these days :)

Back On The River

Yesterday I went kayaking for the first time ever (I know, that's pretty lame for a 38-year-old). I've always been an indoors-y person, so I didn't really expect to hit the Big Darby Creek and navigate the river like Tao Berman (thanks, Google!). But even for a beginner, I SUCKED. I had trouble getting the hang of steering, and I somehow managed to capsize FOUR times (which, unless you're Lucille Austero, is probably a tough feat to pull off). I also scraped the shit out of my leg, which is extra-sucky because now I'm starting to actually care how my legs look. On top of all that, my friend was stuck with a leaky kayak, which turned our pleasant kayaking trip into a nerve-wracking quest to simply make it back to Trapper John's.

Despite all that, there were stretches where I had fun and felt somewhat competent. I made it back in one piece. I didn't end up seriously injured, sunburned, or devoured by bugs, and at some point I plan to get back on the river and conquer that bastard. My kayaking trip was pretty much a metaphor for Tarvaris Jackson's NFL career.

You all know the story. Jackson was a stunning 2nd-round pick out of Alabama State by the Vikings in 2006, and flashed some skills in his brief stint as Minnesota's starting QB. He led the Vikings to the playoffs in 2008, but was replaced by Brett Favre in 2009 and left for a shot at a starting job in Seattle in 2011. Long-time readers know that I've always been one of Jackson's staunchest defenders, and I've always argued that while he was never going to lead the Seahawks to the Super Bowl, he has the skill set to be a competent NFL QB. In 2011, he had obvious problems (mainly his tendency to hold onto the ball far too long), but he also showed potential for brilliance in spurts (particularly in his ability to throw beautiful, accurate deep balls).

Jackson was cut during 2012 training camp after the acquisitions of Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson, and T-Jack languished on the bench in Buffalo last season. With Buffalo's signing of Kevin Kolb, and Seattle's trade of Flynn to Oakland, the path was cleared for Jackson's return to the Seahawks.

Despite some of the deficiencies in his game, Jackson was a locker-room leader for the Seahawks in 2011. He led by example, fighting through injuries and playing through pain most of the season. His return to Seattle this offseason made sense, given his familiarity with the Bevell's offense and his popularity among his fellow players. My gut feeling was that he'd thrive in a back-up role, free from the pressure of being the "franchise quarterback."

Through one preseason game, Jackson appears to be proving me right. Against San Diego T-Jack went 8-for-9 for 128 yards, 2 TDs, no interceptions and a 158.3 passer rating. His 42-yard scoring strike to Stephen Williams was one of the prettiest deep passes you are likely to ever see, and he seems to have seized a clear lead over Brady Quinn in the race to be Russell Wilson's understudy this season.

If everything goes to plan, Tarvaris Jackson won't take a regular-season snap for anything but the victory formation this year. But as the rash of preseason injuries around the NFL has shown us, things rarely go according to plan in this league. It's LIKELY that Wilson will get dinged at some point this season. That's a terrifying thought for Twelves, but I'm here to tell you that Tarvaris Jackson can lead this team for a few weeks if The WolfBadger goes down.

I really think that the story of Seattle's glorious march to Super Bowl XLVIII is going to include a chapter where Tarvaris Jackson is the protagonist, and that's OK with me. T-Jack has capsized more than once, and he's got the scars to prove it... But he's back in the kayak, and he'll get to shore safely.

What do you think, sirs?