The Must Win Games For The Seattle Seahawks

They’re not ALL “Must Win” games, because there are a number of games you CAN lose and still achieve what you’re looking for.  But, that number of acceptable defeats tends to shrink depending on what your goal is, and how hard or easy you want to make it on yourself.

The Seahawks have three losses and it’s not even November.  Unquestionably, the goal for the Seahawks this year is to repeat as world champions.  Now, technically, all the Seahawks have to do is find a way to get in the playoffs.  Even as a 6-seed, all they have to do is win three games on the road before making the Super Bowl.  But, as history teaches us, it’s not easy to advance as a 6-seed (unless you’re the cheating, buttsniffing Pittsburgh Steelers).

Ideally, you want home field advantage.  To get that, the Seahawks WOULD have to win out most likely, and even then they’re going to need some help.  So, in that sense, every game from now on is “Must Win”.

If we’re all ready to forget about home field - because with this schedule it looks nigh on impossible to go undefeated the rest of the way – then the next step would be winning the division.  I don’t THINK the Cardinals will end up with the NFC’s best record, but you never know.  In that sense, again, they’re all “Must Win” games.  Or, at the very least, I would think the Seahawks will need to go 8-1 or 7-2 (in both cases, it would probably help if they swept the Cardinals in the season series).

I’m not ready to give up the dream on the division just yet, but it would fucking be nice if some of these other teams could help us out and steal a game or two against the Cards and 49ers!

To scale back expectations even further, if we want to simply just make the playoffs as a Wild Card team, then we should probably be safe with a 6-3 record the rest of the way (depending on which games you win, to allow for tie-breakers and such).  Going 10-6 isn’t a fool-proof guarantee, of course.  Just last year, Arizona was on the outside looking in with 10 wins.  You’re almost certainly set with an 11-5 record, though.

Let’s take a look at the schedule the rest of the way, knowing what we know now about these teams:

vs. Oakland
vs. NY Giants

These next two games look easy enough.  They’re not very good, plus we’re at home.

@ Kansas City
vs. Arizona
@ Frisco
@ Philly
vs. Frisco
@ Arizona

That’s our impossible 6-game stretch.

vs. St. Louis

That’s our Week 17 game that wasn’t looking all that scary at the beginning of the season, but will probably be all-important when it finally takes place.

If you bank on the Seahawks winning the games they SHOULD win (Raiders, Giants, Rams), that gives us three wins.  If we somehow manage to go 3-3 in that impossible stretch (two home games, plus stealing one on the road), that would get us to 10 wins, and a very good shot at the playoffs.

If we win all our home games and take TWO road games (at the moment, I’m liking our chances at KC and at Philly more than I do at SF and at Zona), that’s almost a lock of making the playoffs.

So, in a sense, this Sunday’s game against Oakland isn’t TECHNICALLY a “must win”.  But, if we blow it somehow, that just means we have to win one more game against a really GOOD team.

Let’s make it easy on ourselves, Seahawks!  Take care of business against one of the worst teams in football and let’s all get our confidence back!

Justin Smoak Is A Toronto Blue Jay

When I started this blog, however many moons ago, one of my primary objectives was to highlight all the ways the city of Seattle has been fucked over by underperforming and incompetent sports teams.  This was prior to the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl, obviously, and since I was born AFTER the Supersonics won the title in ’79, there had been no real champions in my lifetime (caveat:  I was not a Husky fan until I went to the University in 1999).  If this blog is remembered for anything, I would hope it’s for my ongoing collection of Seattle’s Worst Trades, Draft Picks & Free Agent Signings (see the menu bar at the top of the page; you can sort by professional team, as well as view the master list without all of my rambling commentary on each deal).  It is truly my pride and joy.  My muse, my flame.  I certainly don’t give it the attention it deserves; I should really be updating it more as we run across these shitty deals and after these drafts sink in.  But, I try to be fair above all else, and let a deal play out before I deem it a failure.

Today, October 30, 2014, I updated those pages for the first time in over a year.  Again, I certainly could have added this one sooner, but with Justin Smoak this week getting picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays, I officially added The Cliff Lee Deal to the annals of Seattle’s Worst Trades, Draft Picks & Free Agent Signings.

I feel like, at this point in the post, you should be imagining very prosperous music with lots of horns and drums playing loudly for all to hear.

(also, with less fanfare, I finally got around to adding the Michael Pineda Deal; I’m telling you, this page is like my neglected wife whose nether regions I’ve finally tended to for the first time in ages)

What can you say about Justin Smoak?  The term “Of The Future” is bandied about quite a bit around losing baseball clubs.  When you’re rebuilding, you’re really looking to solidify your team one position at a time.  Once you lock something down, then you can move on to other areas of need.  On July 9, 2010, Justin Smoak immediately became the Seattle Mariners’ First Baseman Of The Future.  It was a glorious time to be alive, except not really.

After a somewhat successful run in 2009 where the Mariners had a winning record, but fell oh so short of the post-season, we thought we were just a guy or two away from going that extra mile.  Cliff Lee, we hoped, was one of those guys.  After the abject failure of Erik Bedard in 2008 (who was still on the team, as it stood), Cliff Lee was a certainty.  A slam dunk.  A Cy Young candidate to go with our other Cy Young Candidate, Felix Hernandez (who, as chances would have it, went on to WIN that Cy Young award that very same year).

Then, of course, Cliff Lee got hurt in Spring Training and missed a month of 2010.  By the time he returned, we were effectively out of the race; it wasn’t all his fault, the team was flawed from the start.  Nevertheless, by mid-season, we were looking for trading partners to flip our greatest non-Felix asset.  There were many suitors, but there could only be one trade.

When you think of The Cliff Lee Deal, you don’t think of the one we made prior to 2010 to GET him.  Those guys we gave to the Phillies were losers!  Draftees of the prior regime who would go on to do nothing for the teams that acquired them (“teams” being the Mariners, Phillies, and whoever else they would play for).  That was, objectively, a GREAT deal by Jackie Z.  One of his best, if I may be so bold, sir!

No, the Cliff Lee Deal that we all think about is the one that brought in Justin Smoak, among others.  Others being some guy, an alleged date raping reliever, and a AAA starter.  Those guys don’t really matter.  Yes, the reliever was flipped for John Jaso, a useful bat who also played catcher; but he was never appreciated for what he was, so the Mariners ended up giving him away to the A’s where he has gone on to help them to multiple post-season berths.  Jaso begat the return of Mike Morse, who had one injury-filled season with the Mariners before hitting the go-ahead RBI in last night’s Game 7 of the World Series for the San Francisco Giants (he may have done other stuff between those two events, but I don’t care to know what that stuff was).

Justin Smoak was the cheese of The Cliff Lee Deal, and boy did he stink!

Four seasons and change, nearly 2,000 at bats, 158 extra-base hits, a .224/.309/.380 batting line.  Good for a whopping 1.3 WAR.  No, not per season, but in his entire Mariners career.  The only positives he brought to the table were:  his low salary figure, and his pretty-good defense (at a position where defense isn’t really a priority).

Our “First Baseman Of The Future” played in 496 games with the Seattle Mariners.  He earned $4,065,600 ($2.6 million of that coming in 2014, where he played in all of 80 games en route to losing his job to LoMo), and he was set to earn approximately $3.65 million in 2015 in arbitration if the Mariners opted to retain him (with a buy-out of $150,000).

Again, this is how wacky the salary structure is in Major League Baseball:  he was set to get a RAISE for next year, even though he lost his job and played in less than half of the games in 2014 due to injury and ineffectiveness.  Only in fucking America …

Luckily, the Mariners realized the error in their ways and cut ties.  Even luckier still, the Blue Jays decided to claim him, thereby saving the Mariners $150K.

Do I begrudge the Mariners for giving him all of those chances?  No.  I lament the deal in the first place.  You’d like to get a reasonable player in return for someone of Cliff Lee’s calibre.  But, when you’re talking about the Mariners of 2010-2013, you’re talking about teams who were MUCH more than a Justin Smoak away from contending.  This team had so many holes to fill.  Yes, they could have gone out and blew dozens of millions of dollars to try to bring in a first baseman in free agency, but by the time this team was actually ready to contend, that first baseman likely would’ve been on the downside of his career anyway.  Besides, it’s not so easy to just get guys to come here willingly.  Safeco Field SUCKS for hitters.  Seattle is where you go to watch your career die.

So, we HAD to see what Smoak could do.  He’d run into stretches of great competence and we’d always wonder, “Could he keep it up for a full year?  Could THIS be the turning point, where it clicks and he starts to get it?”  Ultimately:  no.  He couldn’t keep it up for a full year.  This was NOT the turning point.  And he never got it.  Maybe, with a better stadium situation in Toronto, where it’s easier to hit for extra bases, he can turn his career around.  But, it was never going to turn around in Seattle.

Ultimately, we’re all going to remember Justin Smoak as the butt of our jokes and scorn.  The few-and-far-between Smoak Bombs.  The Smoakamotive.  That Mariners commercial where he punched down a tree to make his own bat or something.  I’ll always marvel at the sheer volume of Warning Track Fly Balls.  I’ll always shake my head and sigh at the number of times I snookered myself into believing he was ready to turn a corner at any moment.  Taking any positive as a sign of his potential to break out.  I mean, at one time he was a highly-regarded prospect!  You don’t reach that status for no reason!  In the end, he probably doesn’t have what it takes to hack it, and won’t be long for this league.

For the record, I could seriously see him raking over in Japan if he ever decides to go that way.

Justin Smoak was a failure we won’t soon forget.  Hell, he was one of the primary reasons why Jackie Z almost lost his job!  He’s definitely #1 in the All Time Jackie Z Worst Personnel Moves list, even above Figgins and Montero if you can believe it.  But, in the end, he seemed like a good enough guy who tried his hardest to live up to what we all hoped he’d be.  He never struck me as a guy who pouted or was a distraction like some other players I’d rather not point out again.  He was legitimately one of the good guys on this team that has underachieved for so long.  I won’t go so far as say that he will be missed.  I’ll just say that it would’ve been nice if he would’ve lived up to all the hype.

Part of me hopes he turns it around in Toronto.  He very well could be one of those Change of Scenery guys, but I highly doubt it.  Besides, the rest of me would be quite annoyed if he did turn it around.  Because then, he’d be just another ex-Mariner doing it for someone else when he sure as shit couldn’t do it for us.

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 8

Well, we’re just about at the midway point of the season for most teams.  Either you’ve played 8 games, or you’ve been one of the unlucky teams to have an early BYE.  Time to take a look at the playoff picture and see where we stand.

In the AFC, Denver and New England are running away with the top 2 seeds.  Denver is up 2 games on San Diego in the loss column, with an edge in the tie-breaker after having beaten them last week.  Cincy and Indy round out the division leaders (with Baltimore hot on the Bengals’ heels, and no one hot on the Colts’).  The Chargers and Bills currently round out the Wild Card teams, but raise your hand if you believe the Bills have what it takes to last the full season.

I thought so.

Baltimore, Pittsburgh, KC, Miami, and Cleveland all have three losses to go with Buffalo and San Diego, so really the AFC Wild Card spots are wide open.  Should be fun.

On to the NFC (because who gives a damn about what happens in the AFC; the Broncos are going to charge through to the Super Bowl anyway).

Arizona:  6-1, Detroit:  6-2, Dallas:  6-2, Philly:  5-2.  Those are your best teams, in order (you’ve also got to throw the NFC South winner in there as the 4th seed, hosting a playoff game; Carolina currently has the tie-breaker edge on that race by their tie game).

From a Seahawks perspective, there are three things on our minds:  will we make the playoffs at all, will we win our division, and will we get a top 2 seed?

Right now, we’re tied for second with San Francisco at 4-3.  Both teams are two games behind the Cards.  The 49ers already lost one game to the Cards; the Seahawks play them twice.  The Seahawks also play the 49ers twice, so you know right away which four games are the most important four games of the season.

The Seahawks are 0-1 in the division.  Frisco is 1-1 and Zona is 1-0.  The Seahawks currently hold their destiny in their hands, so it’s all about winning those four games.

From a conference perspective, the Seahawks are 3-2 in the NFC.  Dallas is 4-2 (that loss to the Redskins really helped the Seahawks), Philly is 3-2 and we play them later in the year, Detroit is 5-1 and has a REALLY good shot at one of the top two seeds.  And, of course, Arizona is 4-0 (interestingly, the Packers are 3-3 in conference, and we have the tiebreaker over them, so if Detroit keeps rolling, things won’t look too good for the Pack).

At some point, you’d think the other shoe will drop with the Cards, but I dunno.  They could keep rolling and sticking it to me every step of the way.  The Seahawks just need to figure out ways to keep winning.  The teeth of the schedule starts on November 16th and it looks like this:

  • @ Kansas City
  • vs. Arizona
  • @ San Francisco
  • @ Philadelphia
  • vs. San Francisco
  • @ Arizona

There might not be a more difficult 6-game stretch in all of football this year.

Whatever happens, if I’m sitting there lamenting that Rams defeat at the end of the season, I’m going to be VERY depressed.

***

  1. Denver Broncos (6-1) – They look like the most unstoppable killing machine we’ve ever seen right now.  But, just wait until December when the weather gets cold and Peyton Manning turns back into a pumpkin.
  2. Arizona Cardinals (6-1) – Look, I just can’t deny it anymore.  This team is very, very good; and I am very, very bad at power rankings.  THERE, ARE YOU HAPPY???
  3. Detroit Lions (6-2) – They’ve had the same talent for the last couple years, but are only now starting to put it together (unless they fall apart like they always do).  So, you can’t tell me the coaching staff isn’t having SOME sort of positive influence.
  4. San Diego Chargers (5-3) – If you’re like me and you believe that Buffalo is kind of a joke, then the Chargers have really only beaten one good team (the Seahawks).  Don’t get me wrong, I still like the Chargers, and I still think they’re going to be a playoff team, but if they don’t win down in Miami this week, they’re going to be tumbling down my rankings.
  5. New England Patriots (6-2) – This team has a MASSIVELY tough schedule over the next six games:  Den, @Ind, Det, @GB, @SD, Mia.  I hope they brought enough offense to share with the rest of the class, because they’re going to need it.
  6. Philadelphia Eagles (5-2) – Totally let me down last week by blowing that game against the Cards.
  7. Dallas Cowboys (6-2) – That Monday night game hurt the Cowboys in more ways than one, but my favorite way was how embarrassing it was to Jerry Jones.
  8. Indianapolis Colts (5-3) – The Colts will be cruising along, and then all of a sudden, they have one of these games where they lose and you can’t figure out why.  That Steelers game was a prime example.
  9. Green Bay Packers (5-3) – They get their BYE week smack dab in the middle of the season, which is ideal.  Then, they have only three road games remaining.  Detroit better watch out.
  10. San Francisco 49ers (4-3) – Not for nothing, but aside from two games against the Seahawks in a three-week period, the 49ers have a pretty easy schedule the rest of the way.
  11. Baltimore Ravens (5-3) – Well, it’s like I said last week, the Ravens are behind the 8-ball now when it comes to their division.  2-2 record, with both losses coming to the Bengals.  It won’t be the easiest road the rest of the way.
  12. Kansas City Chiefs (4-3) – Seems to me all you need to do is stop their running game and force Alex Smith to beat you, right?  Am I the first person in the world to think of that?
  13. Seattle Seahawks (4-3) – There’s a trust that’s been broken, Seahawks.  You’ve played shitty football, so here you remain outside of the top 10.  I’m going to need to see some real ass-whompings in the next two games against the Raiders and Giants before I feel comfortable around you again.
  14. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2-1) – Why are they still ranked behind the Ravens?  Because they suck in big games.  I don’t care how good they are, you can’t get shut out by the Colts; that sour taste won’t quickly leave my mouth.
  15. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3) – I mean, shit, the Steelers dropped five dimes on the Colts!  It can’t be THAT hard to score on them.  My sour taste with the Steelers comes in the form of that loss to Cleveland a few weeks ago.
  16. Miami Dolphins (4-3) – This game against the Chargers this week is HUGE.  It’s got all the tie-breaker potential in the world.  Loser of this game might be eliminated from the playoffs, the way the AFC is looking.  Think about it:  the Dolphins aren’t catching the Patriots, just like the Chargers aren’t catching the Broncos.  That leaves both up for two Wild Card spots, with teams like Kansas City, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh all lurking (not to mention Buffalo and Houston with outside shots).
  17. Carolina Panthers (3-4-1) – Considering all that they’ve lost, it’s pretty impressive they’re as good as they are.
  18. New York Giants (3-4) – If they’re not 8-8 by season’s end, I’ll eat my hat.  They’re the consummate Good Bad Team.  So, they’ll beat all the teams below them, and lose to all the teams better than them.  They do nothing well, but pretty much everything adequate.
  19. Houston Texans (4-4) – They’re like the AFC’s version of the New York Giants.
  20. New Orleans Saints (3-4) – This would be a good time for the Saints to go on a little winning streak, considering they play the 49ers in a couple weeks.
  21. Chicago Bears (3-5) – Mike Singletary and Mike Ditka must be rolling over in their graves at how terrible this defense is.
  22. Buffalo Bills (5-3) – Get the fuck out of here!  You’re telling me this team is 3-1 with Kyle Orton at the helm?  Don’t even think about being a good team that I’m forced to pick on a weekly basis!
  23. Cleveland Browns (4-3) – Five of their final eight games are on the road, so watch out for that.
  24. St. Louis Rams (2-5) – We lost to a team that got trounced by the Chiefs a week later.  If I shake my head any harder, it’s going to fall off.
  25. Atlanta Falcons (2-6) – Remember when injuries killed this team’s 2013 season?  Well, consider this the Hangover Part 2 of Atlanta Falcons seasons.
  26. Washington Redskins (3-5) – In all honesty, that Monday night game was as feel-good of a story for Colt McCoy as it gets.  It’ll probably be his last hurrah, but what a way to go.
  27. Minnesota Vikings (3-5) – They’re in the softer part of their schedule right now.  Even if they don’t rack up a ton of wins, it would be good to get Bridgewater some confidence through the end of the season and on into next year.
  28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-6) – It must be tough to be a long-time Bucs fan, dating back to the team’s inception.  Aside from that Super Bowl season, it’s been a lot of dreck like this.
  29. New York Jets (1-7) – The bottom of this league is REALLY bad right now.
  30. Tennessee Titans (2-6) – If these teams didn’t play one another …
  31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7) – I’d wager they might not win a game …
  32. Oakland Raiders (0-7) – The rest of the way.

Neutered Huskies Can’t Get Much Going Against ASU

Oh, did the Huskies play a football game on Saturday?  You’ll have to forgive me if eight straight hours of tailgating left me a little browned out for the majority of the first half.

The defense is doing the lord’s work!  What else can you say?  They scored our only touchdown and gave us every opportunity to take control of this game.  This has to be, without question, the best defensive line since the turn of the century, and it has to rival some of the best D-Lines in Husky football history.  Absolutely unreal.  Hau’oli Kikaha would look MIGHTY good as the Seahawks’ LEO defensive end next year, that’s all I’m gonna say.

This game boils down to pretty much what our team has been about all season:  we don’t have a quarterback.  Troy Williams got his shot on Saturday, because honestly, why the hell not?  Can he be any worse than Cyler Miles has looked at times, and than how Jeff Lindquist looked in the game against Hawaii?  The answer, of course, is yes.  He can be worse.  And on Saturday, he was.  139 yards on 26 attempts for a pathetic 5.3-yard average, to go along with two picks (one of them returned for the game-clinching touchdown).

I want to say that the Huskies would be SO GOOD if we just had a quarterback capable of running the offense, but I’m not sure that’s the case.  At least in the last 5-6 years, we’ve had a dominant running game to take the pressure off.  But, without our top two running backs (Coleman and Washington out with injuries), we were left with Cooper and Shaq Thompson carrying the mail.

Indeed, Shaq led the way with 21 carries and 98 yards, which is pretty impressive considering he hasn’t had a ton of play on the offensive side of the ball this year.  To the Huskies’ credit, they didn’t bring Shaq out to make him a decoy.  When he was in the game, he usually got the ball, and did his best to make the most of it.  The only problem was, the Huskies tended to be a little predictable whenever Shaq was on the field.  It felt like everyone in the stadium knew exactly what was going to happen when they saw #7 back there.

I’ll pick up the action in the fourth quarter, when I finally started sobering up enough to remember what the fuck was going on.  The Huskies had one good drive all day and it happened when we were down 10-7.  We managed to chew up almost six minutes of clock on 15 plays, driving deep into ASU territory.  The bulk of the drive consisted of being in something of a hurry-up mode, with lots of short runs and lots of third down conversions.  We got it to 3rd & Goal at the 2 yard line and ran some dumb bullshit sweep play that ended up losing us yards.  We’d been shoving it down their throats up the gut the whole drive!  Just pound it two more times and get that touchdown!

Once we had to settle for the field goal, the game was pretty much decided.  ASU immediately marched right down the field and scored a TD to take the lead for good.  As soon as we were down seven, it was all over.  With only three minutes to go in the game, there wasn’t enough time for another pound-it-out rushing drive.  We had to rely on the arm of Troy Williams, and that just wasn’t happening.  Not in those nasty weather conditions.  Not with a quarterback making his first college start.  Not against a very good ASU defense.

The Huskies put up a good fight, but in the end this game boiled down to quarterback play.  It’s going to continue coming down to quarterback play until someone finally steps up.  Here’s to hoping whoever is red-shirting this year ends up being the savior this program needs.

Amid Reports Of Falling Apart, The Seahawks Somehow Found A Way To Win In Carolina

I don’t know if you guys are aware or not, but Russell Wilson isn’t “black enough.”  Apparently the Seahawks are “tired” of Marshawn Lynch and have all but confirmed off the record that he won’t be back in 2015.  As soon as the Percy Harvin domino fell, all media eyes have been on Seattle, sifting through the Seahawks’ dirty laundry like so many metaphorical perverts.  It makes for interesting copy, to be sure, but we should probably take a step back and put things in perspective a little bit.

Team Chemistry, by and large, is overrated.  When that team’s fortunes on the field start to falter, everyone blames the toxic locker room.  The Coach Has Lost Control Of His Team!  The Players Gave Up!  Nevermind that a lot of great teams will also have locker room issues that get swept under the rug.  Shit, Percy Harvin slugged Golden Tate in the face right before the Super Bowl and look at how that turned out!

I’ve been on here for the last week or so talking about how Harvin is a cancer and how I’m glad he’s gone.  That’s because there’s a difference between some unhappy players and a guy who will actively try to tear everything down for his own selfish gains.  If Percy Harvin doesn’t get exactly what he wants, exactly when he wants it, then he’ll do everything in his power to ruin everything.  By fighting with players.  By pitting players against one another.  By pitting players against the coaches.  By holding the coaches hostage with his refusal to go into games, or practice.  How are we supposed to build an offense around his unique talents when he won’t take the time to actually practice with the fucking team?

Here’s the thing, though.  Percy Harvin is one thing.  But, all these other stories are something else entirely.  Think about it:  do you get along with everyone at your work?  I’m sure everyone has someone they don’t like, or who gets under their skin.  Does that affect how you do your work?  Of course not.  You’re still going to do your job; you’re just going to avoid the people you don’t like while you do it.

The point is:  the Seahawks are fully capable of turning this season around.  I don’t need them all sitting cross-legged around a fire singing Kumbaya.  I just need them to rediscover their passion for the game when they’re on the field on Sundays.  That’s it.

This game against the Panthers yesterday was a nice little throwback.  Getting back to “Seahawks Football”.  Honestly, it never really feels like your season has started until you’ve gone into Carolina and won an ugly, hard-fought game.

On the positive side, the defense finally got a couple of turnovers, to go along with three sacks.  Gotta like that, especially against a mobile, near-elite quarterback.  On the downside, there were – once again – too many penalties, to go along with missed receivers and flat out drops.  Nevertheless, when it mattered most and the game was on the line, the offense was able to drive for the go-ahead touchdown, and the defense was able to put the game away when Carolina had one final chance.

I noticed that Richard Sherman was shadowing Kelvin Benjamin for most of the game.  Smart move.  Frankly, as long as Byron Maxwell is out, we’ve got to mitigate as much risk as we can, so taking out the other team’s best receiver is really the way to go.  Of course, Benjamin ended up with 4 catches for 94 yards, which just goes to show you that Richard Sherman isn’t Superman.

Bruce Irvin had two sacks on that final drive, which is VERY encouraging.  The defense as a whole looked much more focused and on point, which I’m always glad to see.  The grass is always greener when you hold them to 2 of 10 on third downs.

It just feels like the Seahawks are SO CLOSE to putting it all together.  A lot of these mistakes are correctable.  I mean, you’re not going to continue seeing Russell Wilson missing wide open receivers very often, for instance.  I can’t imagine Marshawn Lynch or some of these other guys dropping too many more sure touchdowns in the future.  It will just take a little extra focus and I’m sure we can put it all together.  It speaks to the talent of some of our key guys that we’ve played so poorly and yet have been in a position to win all of these games.  Nevertheless, we can make it A LOT easier on ourselves by focusing on the little things.  Once we get a handle on the little things, the bigger plays should come.

You know how they have Win Expectancy, and various big plays can alter a team’s win expectancy in staggering ways?  Well, if there was a way to calculate Fan Optimism, that Carolina game had probably the biggest swing of any game we’ll play all year.  Had we lost yesterday, EVERYONE would be writing this team off.  There’d be 12′s jumping out of office buildings and hanging themselves with extension cords.  But, winning yesterday has us almost back to where we should be.  I’d say there’s definitely some cautious optimism at play here, but at the very least you can see how this team might improve going forward.

The Seahawks aren’t like the 49ers or Cardinals, we won’t have too many high-impact players returning from injury/suspension towards the end of the season (depending on how strongly you feel about Jeremy Lane, I guess).  So, it can be easy to see how the Seahawks have struggled of late and think that it won’t get any better.  Unless the Seahawks make another surprise trade in the next couple days, this is the team we’ve got.  It’s a team that doesn’t really hold a candle to 2013′s Seahawks, but it’s still a good team that should have a chance to do some damage.  And, while reinforcements probably aren’t on the way (and, while there will obviously still be injuries to guys that haven’t happened yet), the players we have now can still play BETTER than they have been.  If we just get that, it will FEEL like we’ve got reinforcements.

And, if the Seahawks want to go out and trade a low-round pick for Chris Clemons this afternoon, who am I to complain?

Adversity Will Either Crush These Seahawks Or Make Them Better Than Ever

The 2013 Seahawks had quite a large number of things going against them.  Playing in the toughest division in the NFL primary among them.  There were also injuries/suspensions:  Unger, Okung, Giacomini, Irvin, Browner, Thurmond, Wagner, Wright, Rice, Harvin, and I’m sure a number of others that I’m forgetting all missed various amounts of time last year, and yet somehow the Seahawks overcame.  It can be argued that a difficult schedule will actually make you a more formidable opponent come playoff time.  The caveat, of course, is that you still have to be good enough to MAKE the playoffs.

I’m in no position to comment on the locker room environment of that 2013 squad; while there are reports that Harvin was a problem last year in addition to being a cancer this year, it seems pretty obvious to me that the locker room environment is probably worse this time around.  Guys getting paid, other guys being jealous of those guys getting paid, disgruntled stars not getting enough touches or making enough plays, it can all come to a head and boil over if the team isn’t winning.  When you factor that in, along with the NFC West being just as tough – if not moreso – than last year, and the injuries that are currently piling up (Okung, Unger, Wagner, Maxwell, Lane, Marsh, Coleman, Miller, Willson, Chancellor, etc.), it can be argued that the adversity the Seahawks are facing now is the greatest it’s ever been.

The expectations for this team were off-the-charts when the season started.  Now, seven weeks in, the Seahawks are 3-3 and in third place in the NFC West.  If the season ended today, the Seahawks would have to leapfrog TWO teams just to crack a Wild Card spot.  It may be time to temper our expectations as our world seemingly crumbles down around us.

But, here’s the truth:  the Seahawks do have a chance to not only get back into the divisional race, but even the race toward the top two seeds (who get a first round BYE).  When you think about the best teams, it boils down to your overall record, your record within your conference, and your record within your own division.  Obviously, losing to the Cowboys and Rams is less than ideal.  To have a realistic shot at winning the division, the Seahawks are probably going to have to win the rest of their divisional games.  Thankfully, they get to play the 49ers and Cardinals twice each, and the Rams at home in Week 17.  The possibilities are limitless, as long as we’re able to take care of business.

As for the rest of the conference, it might be a tougher road.  The victory over Green Bay is perfect.  If they happen to lose their division to the Lions, that gives us a little security, if we manage to have the same record as the Packers at season’s end.  The defeat to Dallas hurts just as bad as the Packers game helps, of course.  At this point, we’re either rooting for the Cowboys to fall apart (like they usually do), or win their division running away (we do, after all, play the Eagles later this year, which could give us a tie-breaker over them if we win).

Want to look at another potential tie-breaker opportunity?  Look no further than this Sunday in Carolina.  Yes, they’re leading their division now, but that’s not guaranteed.  I could see the Saints or even the Falcons go on a second-half run to overtake the Panthers.  If that happens, we’ll want to have this win on Sunday to ensure an edge over another potent NFC club (of course, the Panthers DO have that tie on their record, so it’s probably a moot point, as we likely won’t have the same record as they do at season’s end; nevertheless, beating the Panthers helps our overall conference record, and that’s what’s REALLY important at this point.  That, and not falling too far behind the other teams ahead of us).

No one said repeating as champions would be easy.  Nevertheless, I think this is more difficult than any of us imagined.  We play 10 more games over the next 10 weeks.  We’re on the edge of making a big run, but we’re also on the edge of falling completely apart.  You’d like to think the worst is behind us.  With the tumor removed, maybe we can Fresh Slate this thing and start anew.

You know what will go a long way in determining the Seahawks’ fate?  Altering our expectations and adjusting accordingly.  The 2014 Seahawks aren’t what we thought they’d be.  They’re not the 2013 Seahawks by damn sight.  We’re not going to step onto the field and blow you away like we did in the Super Bowl.  Our defense isn’t going to wear you down and create multiple turnovers per game.  Our crowd isn’t going to affect opposing offenses like it used to.  And, we’re not going to utilize Percy Harvin and his big-play potential like we thought.

It’s a new team, and we all need to realize that.  Not just the fans, but the coaches and the players as well.  The coaches need to realize that the OFFENSE is ahead of the defense, and not the other way around.  It’s going to require more precision in our offensive execution.  It’s also probably going to require a little more hurry-up, and not just when the chips are down and we’re losing by three scores.  The offense is going to need to get out to fast starts, especially on the road.  We’re going to have to help out our defense a little bit.

Obviously, the defense isn’t living up to its reputation.  The sacks aren’t there, the pressure isn’t there, and that means the turnovers aren’t there.  How do we remedy that?  I think it DOES mean we have to blitz more.  We can’t just stay back, play zone all game, and rely on the talent of our superstars.  They’re not producing like we expect, which means we have to make adjustments.  Manufacture pressure any way possible, even if that means taking guys out of coverage and throwing them headfirst into the quarterback (not literally, of course).  Will that mean possibly allowing extra big plays here and there?  It might.  But, look at what’s happening now, without all the blitzing I’m advocating!  They’re getting those big plays anyway, and they’re KILLING us in the red zone!

Blitzing should help.  Scoring early should help (with the thought being:  you take a big lead, you force the other team to pass more to catch up).  We can’t remain stubborn and do only what worked in 2013.  We have to adapt to what other teams are doing to us.  If our defense is struggling because other teams are playing hurry-up and not allowing us to substitute players, then flip it on them and have OUR offense play hurry-up for the same reasons.  It’s not rocket science, it’s just football.

Yeah, we’re getting the best effort out of everyone we play.  But, that’s no excuse for us not giving OUR best effort.  If we can improve upon that – knowing that we can’t afford to lose too many more games, or else our season will be over before we know it – then we might make it through the fire tougher than ever before.  The kind of adversity that comes from a mediocre start after a Super Bowl-winning season is what determines whether or not you’re truly destined for greatness.  Either the Seahawks start picking each other up and showing the rest of football WHY they’re the defending champions, or they become just another statistic.

Just another Super Bowl participant who fails to make the playoffs the following year.

I don’t want to hear any more excuses.  I don’t want to hear about injuries, I don’t want to hear about the refs, and I don’t want to hear about locker room chemistry.  Are you a championship football team or aren’t you?  That’s what I want to know.  It starts this week.  This game against Carolina is as “must win” as a game in October gets.  Because you know what happens when the Seahawks aren’t good enough to win a game on the road against a mediocre Panthers team?  You give up on the Seahawks being a legitimate threat in 2014 and you seriously start to wonder about their prospects going forward.

I don’t want to think about that right now.  I don’t want to think about all the holes we have on this team and all the potential holes we’ll have after a loss to the Panthers.  I don’t want to think about how Russell Wilson is literally the ONLY good thing about this team in the coming seasons, because for as fabulous as he is, he can’t do it all.

Looking Back On The Bright Side Of The 2014 Seattle Mariners

As I grow older, I find that for the most part I’m capable of only two emotions:  apathetic and surly.  This certainly describes my disposition when it comes to the Mariners.  In my surlier moods, I’ll take a hard line and let everyone know that there are NO MORAL VICTORIES.  Either you win or you don’t; either you make the playoffs or you fail.  Those opinions are no less valid just because at times I find myself waffling over to the other side.

The fact of the matter is, when I sit back and apathetically look at The Season That Was, I can see the ways in which 2014 was a success.  Everyone needed this season.  The organization needed it, just to get everyone to stop breathing down their necks.  The players needed it, to show that it IS possible to be a winning ballclub and still play half your games in Seattle.  And, quite frankly, the fans needed it more than anyone.

Let’s face it, there has been a gloomy, dark cloud hanging over the Seattle Mariners for over a decade.  Obviously, everyone knows the last playoff appearance was in 2001.  Since that time – including 2014 – there have been five seasons where the Mariners finished with a winning record.  In 2002 & 2003, the Mariners were still really good, but they were surrounded by teams who were even better, and thus failed to make the playoffs.  Then, the Mariners fell off the cliff, but looked to make something of a comeback in 2007, when they were 88-74.  Of course, you were looking at a team that was 14 games over .500 with a negative run differential, who did remarkably well in 1-run games.  2007 proved to be a fluke, and as the Mariners went all-in with the Erik Bedard deal, everything fell apart in 2008 (and would continue to more-or-less fall apart for many years to come).

2009 would prove to be another even-flukier season, where the Mariners went 85-77, but had a much worse run differential.  Undoubtedly, the Mariners fell into a sinkhole of despair in 2010, from which they are only NOW climbing out of.

Ever since the end of that 2010 season - where we sort of went all-in again with the Cliff Lee deal and the Chone Figgins signing – this organization has been in the tank.  We were able to flip Cliff Lee mid-season, but that deal turned out to be the Justin Smoak disaster.  We would go on to flip Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero after the 2011 season, and from then on it’s been all about Building From Within.  Which, quite honestly, is what you have to do if you’re a losing ballclub and you’re not ready to spend New York Yankees-type money in free agency.

And, it hasn’t been easy!  Many of our first-wave youngsters have come up and failed miserably.  Smoak and Montero and Ackley have largely been disappointing (until Ackley’s second half this past season).  For every Kyle Seager that we’ve hit upon, there have been dozens of Carlos Pegueros.

Finally, as the 2013 season ended (with the Mariners finishing 71-91), the organization had apparently seen enough to finally open up their wallets.

There have been rumors of the Mariners being “in on” any number of big-money free agents over the last several seasons, from Josh Hamilton to Prince Fielder, but they finally settled on Robinson Cano (who, really, has the highest floor of any of these guys).  Why this was the right time, or he was the right player, only the Mariners can say, but it turned out to be a huge success in the first year.  At the time of signing, Cano instantly became the best position player on the team.  His performance in the 2014 season was right in line with those expectations.  He was our 3-hole hitter and he never let us down.

On top of that, Kyle Seager took that next step in his progression, finally becoming an All Star (and deservedly so).  His defense is stellar, the pop is still in his bat, his batting average isn’t ideal, but he’s becoming more consistent and less streaky.

Then, we had a number of smaller players picking up the slack at times.  Logan Morrison was a positive, once he got healthy and was placed in the everyday lineup at first base.  Dustin Ackley – as I mentioned before – had that torrid second half to cement his status as our 2-hole hitter.  Mike Zunino surpassed 20 homers and played quality defense.  Role players like Endy Chavez, Michael Saunders, and Chris Taylor all made big impacts.  While, at the same time, the bullpen was a force to be reckoned with; and for most of the year we had four really good starting pitchers with Felix, Kuma, Young, and Elias.  The hitting, for the most part, did just enough to get the job done; and our bullpen locked it down in the later innings.  That’s a recipe for winning baseball.  Specifically, a team that finished 87-75, a single game out of the Wild Card.

And, not for nothing, but a team that also had a +80 run differential.  With that run differential, you should theoretically be looking at a 91-win ballclub, so it can be argued that the Mariners were, in fact, a little UNLUCKY.

***

This is the part where I’m supposed to shift gears and tell you all the things that were wrong with the 2014 Mariners, but I don’t really have it in me.  We all know where the Mariners need to improve before 2015:

  • DH
  • Right Field

Beyond that, it’s a matter of the younger players continuing to improve.  It’s Ackley building off of his second half.  It’s one of the two short stops (Miller or Taylor) winning that job and not looking back.  It’s Austin Jackson figuring out how to hit again.  It’s LoMo staying healthy.  It’s the bullpen not regressing too far.  And, it’s leaning on our starting pitching once again to keep us in ballgames.

It’s consistency in all three phases.  Fewer times being shut out.  And, if we have to make trades to get the pieces we want, it’s all about not giving up too much from our areas of strength.  And, of course, it’s about the right kind of luck.

Like 2008 and 2010, the 2015 season could see the Mariners go right back into the tank if things go horribly wrong.  The difference between now and those last two winning seasons is:  we’ve got a better foundation.  We’re not coming off of a smoke & mirrors season where the Mariners SOMEHOW generated a winning record despite a negative run differential.  And, the only players we’re losing to free agency are players we probably won’t miss too much (I’m looking at you, Kendrys Morales).

As we watch the Royals return from the doldrums to make the World Series for the first time in almost 30 years, this offseason will surely bring about feelings of, “Why Not Us?”  Hell, if the Seahawks can win the Super Bowl, why can’t the Mariners get back to the fucking playoffs?

Now is the time for the Best Offseason Ever.  The buzz is starting to return to this team.  2014 saw an increase in attendance for the first time in a long time.  If we can land a big free agent, I’m pretty sure 2015 will be the most-anticipated baseball season in Seattle since the 1990s.

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 7

No fancy intro today.  Just straight power rankings.

***

  1. Denver Broncos (5-1) – Not missing a beat from last year.
  2. San Diego Chargers (5-2) – I’m not going to knock down a team too much for losing a tough game against a good divisional opponent.  As for this week, either they beat Denver and return to the top spot, or they lose again and likely fall out of the Top 5.
  3. Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) – I still think they’re a LITTLE better than Dallas.
  4. Dallas Cowboys (6-1) – I still think they’re a LITTLE bit of a fraud.  A fraud with an amazing offensive line and a much better-than-expected defense.  Who knew Jason Garrett had the wherewithal to stick with the run for this long?
  5. Detroit Lions (5-2) – Excellent defense.  And an offense that should only get better once Calvin Johnson is able to recover.
  6. Indianapolis Colts (5-2) – Andrew Luck is a fucking stud, plain and simple, and the top reason why our fantasy football keeper league is fighting hard for a total re-draft next year.  It also helps that their defense has taken a big step forward this year, to not put EVERYTHING on Luck’s shoulders.  This team could go far.
  7. Green Bay Packers (5-2) – They’re really ramping up against the bad teams.  Looking forward to this game against the Saints on Sunday.
  8. Arizona Cardinals (5-1) – Their schedule gets remarkably more difficult the rest of the way:  Phi, @Dal, St.L, Det, @Sea, @Atl, KC, @St.L, Sea, @SF.  Just sayin’, don’t punch their ticket to a division title just yet.  It’s pretty easy to be 5-1 when you play the Giants, Redskins, and Raiders in three of those games.
  9. San Francisco 49ers (4-3) – Sometimes, I get a wild hair up my ass and think some ridiculous thoughts.  Like, in my weekly pick ‘em game with my friends, sometimes I’ll latch onto a team and pick them week after week, because I think I have special jinxing-type powers where if I pick a team, that team will lose.  Sort of a mutual spiting, if you will.  This year, it’s been the 49ers, and I’d say my plan is working perfectly, wouldn’t you?
  10. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) – Without a doubt, I underestimated the Ravens and overestimated the Bengals coming into this season.  I don’t think you can make it any more clear:  the Ravens are the best team in the AFC North.  That having been said, this week they travel to Cincy.  They already lost in week 1 to the Bengals; if they lose this week, they’ll be in a serious hole.  For the record, I don’t think the Ravens will lose.
  11. New England Patriots (5-2) – A narrow victory over the Jets isn’t enough to vault the Pats into the Top 10.  Strength of schedule is still VERY iffy for a team that will likely cruise to another division title.
  12. Kansas City Chiefs (3-3) – I don’t think I’ll ever wrap my head around how this team lost to the Titans in week 1.  They knocked the Dolphins and Patriots on their asses, played the 49ers tough on the road, and won a hard-fought game on the road down in San Diego.  Don’t look now, but the Chiefs have played 4 of their first 6 games on the road.  They still get Oakland twice, the Jets & St. Louis at home, the Bills & Steelers on the road, with their only tough non-Divisional game being on the road in Arizona.  This is still a team very much in the hunt for that final wild card spot; the rest of the AFC should be worried.
  13. Seattle Seahawks (3-3) – If the Seahawks can’t go to St. Louis and look even remotely competent, why would we expect them to go into Carolina and win?  Because the NFL is fucked up and retarded, that’s why.  The Seahawks probably have no business being able to shut down an underrated Panthers offense, but watch it happen.  Just watch it happen.
  14. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2-1) – The Bengals are reeling!  They’re on the ropes, clinging for dear life!  Loss, Tie, Loss to the Pats, Panthers, and Colts.  Their schedule the rest of the way is still pretty soft, with the likes of Jacksonville, Cleveland twice, New Orleans, Houston, Tampa, and Pittsburgh twice; they’re far from a lost cause.  Nevertheless, they’re going to want to get back on the horse this week and lock up a tiebreaker against the Ravens, because I don’t know if they’ll have enough wins to make a Wild Card.
  15. Carolina Panthers (3-3-1) – This team is impossible to predict, except that their defense is terrible.
  16. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) – Not a good team, but probably the best of the mediocre.  And yet, that Bucs loss?
  17. Miami Dolphins (3-3) – They’re going to have to be WAY more consistent if they’re going to fight for a playoff spot.
  18. New York Giants (3-4) – They’re 1-2 in their division, but all three games have been on the road.  So, you know, that’s something to keep in mind going forward, I guess.
  19. Houston Texans (3-4) – I have it, on record, guaranteeing a Texans victory this week in Tennessee.  I may have been drinking when I made this guarantee.  Either way, don’t make me look like a twat, Houston!
  20. Chicago Bears (3-4) – Is this a joke?  Seriously, is this some kind of joke?
  21. New Orleans Saints (2-4) – Rob Ryan’s updating his resume as we speak.  He should probably be looking at being a coordinator for college or something; seems more his style.
  22. Buffalo Bills (4-3) – That was quite the game-winning drive last week against the Vikings.  NFL Sunday Ticket is ridiculously overpriced, but it’s finishes like these that make it all worthwhile.
  23. Cleveland Browns (3-3) – Just when you were starting to get excited about the new regime, BAM, loss to the winless Jags.
  24. St. Louis Rams (2-4) – They needed all the flukey shit in the world and STILL almost blew the game against us.
  25. Atlanta Falcons (2-5) – Bad defense, even worse offensive line.  And, for some reason, Steven Jackson is still around.
  26. Washington Redskins (2-5) – I’m more offended by Colt McCoy still getting an opportunity to be a starting quarterback than I am by the name “Redskins”.
  27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5) – Sometimes-competent to completely-useless, you never know what you’re going to get out of the Bucs, but odds are it won’t be them winning a football game.
  28. New York Jets (1-6) – Here’s to Percy Harvin being on his best behavior, the Jets retaining him for 2015, and the Seahawks bumping that draft pick up to a 4th rounder.
  29. Minnesota Vikings (2-5) – Yeah, I dunno.
  30. Tennessee Titans (2-5) – Ditto.
  31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6) – Seriously.
  32. Oakland Raiders (0-6) – Whatever.

Percy Harvin: Reviewing A Human Failure

This whole Percy Harvin situation deserves more than just a single off-the-cuff missive in the hours following pure Internet anarchy.  With a game post-Harvin under our belts, I feel like it has finally started to sink in.  Still with a lot of fresh and twisted feelings boiling over, of course.

In cases like these, I always wonder what I felt at the time we first acquired someone like Percy Harvin.  Luckily for all of us, I have a blog!  A blog where I get to write down my feelings about things.  Things like:  the Seahawks trading a 1st, 3rd, and 7th round pick for Percy Harvin.  In that first of three posts about the coming of Percy Harvin, I mostly stated my concern over his health.  Seeing as he missed just about all of his first year with the team, I’d say those reservations were pretty well-founded.

Then, I started getting really excited about how great the Seahawks would be with him in the lineup.  Certainly a Glass Half Full outlook, while at the same time acknowledging how he was a head case and a diva back in Minnesota.  Finally, I wrapped up my 3-day Harvin binge with a comparison to the Deion Branch trade with New England way back when.  Ultimately, the Deion Branch trade was bad, but knowing now what I didn’t know then, is the Harvin trade worse?

The bottom line is:  when you make a deal for someone like Percy Harvin, you can’t help – as a fan – to gloss over all the negatives and play the “What If” game.  You always think YOUR team is going to succeed where others failed.  The Seahawks had the added benefit of being really, really good, and it’s ALWAYS more fun to be on a winning team than a losing one.  Finally, when you consider Pete Carroll as a head coach, you think of someone who is pretty easy to work for (compared to some bitter hard-ass like Jim Harbaugh, for instance).

Even if you were a total Negative Nellie at the time the Seahawks brought him in, you had to admit that we would’ve AT LEAST had a couple years of quality Harvin output before things went south.

I mean, how could you look at this guy and not think, “The Sky Is The Limit”?  Great run game, great run-first scheme, young quarterback on the rise, and solid players around him who should benefit from his mere presence.  PLUS, we just signed him to that huge deal; how could he not be happy for at least a couple years?  Especially when one of those years he had to have felt pretty low about himself, considering he missed almost all of it with injury.  It’s hard to second-guess your contract status when you’re injured for 100% of it; you can’t rightly think you’re worth MORE money without being a psychopath.

So, if you’re one to believe in “honeymoon phases”, and you hear about all the anger issues with Harvin not only this year, but LAST year as well, then you have to admit that there’s something seriously wrong with Percy Harvin, mentally.  Quite frankly, he’s not fit to associate with a team of any kind.

Which ultimately is what burns my ass the most.  What a fucking piece of shit!  What a worthless cuntbag of a prick!  Just because he’s fast, he thinks he can dictate terms to the people who employ him.  He thinks he can tell the coaches how to be used and when he’ll go into the game.  If you don’t cater every single fucking thing to this cocksucker, he’s either going to pout or he’s going to clock you in the face.

Make no mistake:  Percy Harvin isn’t worth the money he commands.  If you have to put up with all of his nonsense, he’s not even worth having on your team for free!  He’s not worth the roster spot, let alone the millions he thinks he deserves … and for what?  For being fast?  There are lots of fast guys in the league who don’t poison locker rooms.  Who won’t piss and moan like a fucking infant because they’re not getting the ball enough.

And, let’s face it, it’s not like he’s even that good.  If a guy is going to get injured – or fake injuries – as much as Harvin has in his career, who would you rather have:  Harvin, or an “average” receiver who suits up and plays like a man every week?  Harvin’s not a man; he’s a little child with no moral compass who doesn’t get along with others and doesn’t know how to share.  I don’t know who raised Percy Harvin, but they unquestionably failed as parents, if this is the man he has become as an “adult”.

In the end, I was no more prophetic than I was in this post, comparing Percy Harvin to a Jaguar automobile.  Yes, like a Jag, you spend way too much to get one, because you’re just so excited to be getting your dream car.  And, like any Jag owner knows, you’re selling that bitch for pennies on the dollar just to be rid of the regular maintenance involved in owning one long term.

Here’s the thing, though:  I was willing to put up with the injury concerns.  What I won’t tolerate is what we’ve learned about since the trade last Friday:  how he doesn’t get along with others and how he holds the team hostage by not going into football games.  How he essentially took himself out of that Cowboys game for God knows what reason.  That just sends me into a tailspin of rage.  Only topped by the thought of What Could’ve Been.

There are two paths you can choose to engage.  The first What Could’ve Been scenario is:  Percy Harvin comes to the Seahawks for an exorbitant price and flourishes.  It’s easy to see why the Seahawks were enticed by him, just as Seahawks fans came to believe we were getting the final ingredient to a long and fruitful reign of dominance.  If Harvin would have been willing to play ball and accept his role within the offense, it all could have been really special.  Instead, the coaches felt like they had to build everything around him, which is pretty much what you DON’T want to do.  No wide receiver is that good.  Especially no wide receiver who’s a total head-case.

The other What Could’ve Been scenario is:  What if the Seahawks never traded for him to begin with?

Well, I’ll tell you this much:  we’d still be World Champs.  That will never be taken away from us.  On top of that, there’s a good chance we could’ve kept Golden Tate as our #1 receiver.  I’m not gonna lie to you, it’s KILLING me seeing him do so well in Detroit.  He’s ours!  We found him, we cultivated his talents, and we thrived under his antics (both on and off the field).  When the Seahawks lost Golden Tate, they lost a lot of heart and a lot of the fun that comes with rooting on this team.  Beastmode is fun to root for too – and he certainly represents the identity we’ve tried to establish since he came here – but he’s a different sort of head case.  Like most head cases, when things are going well, Lynch is great to have around.  But, when the chips are down, can we count on him to continue to be the player we need him to be?  Let’s see how the rest of this 2014 season goes before I answer that.

Russell Wilson is fun to root for, but he’s more machine than man.  Doug Baldwin is great to have on the team, but he’s always so serious.  Golden Tate is just pure joy.  I hate to say it, but we’re all going to look back at losing Tate as the reason this team failed to repeat as champions.  And that has a direct correlation with the signing of Harvin to that massive contract extension.

Likewise, him signing here – and us running into that balloon payment in 2014 – resulted in our losing Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, Walter Thurmond, Clinton McDonald, and maybe a couple other guys.  Granted, you can’t hold on to everyone forever, but just knowing that we were a championship ballclub without Harvin REALLY makes this whole fiasco a kick in the crotch.  To have some of those guys – even if it’s just through this year – would have been SO MUCH better.  Especially when you look at the younger replacements we’ve brought in over the last two drafts and see how they’re not doing a fucking thing to help us maintain that championship level.

All of this falls on the shoulders of the Harvin trade and signing.  Yes, it IS easily the biggest mistake of the Pete Carroll/John Schneider collaboration.  There haven’t been a huge amount of these types of boners (the Charlie Whitehurst ordeal comes immediately to mind), but you can see a running theme:  desperation.  The smartest and best franchises never reveal a sense of desperation.  I’m sure, over the years, there have been guys the New England Patriots REALLY REALLY wanted, but they didn’t succumb to their impulses by offering the moon and the stars to get them.  Well-run organizations are on the opposite end:  they wait for great players to fall into their laps, taking advantage of desperate teams willing to unload.

Come to think of it, it’s kind of shocking that they weren’t a trade partner for the Seahawks.  This seems like JUST the type of deal a team like New England would make:  relatively low cost and no risk, as he can be cut after this season with no cap ramifications.

No doubt about it, the Vikings fleeced us like we haven’t been fleeced since the last time they fleeced us in the Steve Hutchinson deal.  I hope their search for a franchise quarterback lasts another hundred years, because Fuck The Vikings.  That trade is a fucking SAVAGING knowing what we know now.  Not only did they get three draft picks, but they got rid of a fucking irredeemable asshole.  The Seahawks got 8 mostly nondescript games of no- or low-impact on Harvin’s part, followed by a 6th round draft pick that can be bounced up to a 4th rounder if he’s on the Jets in 2015 (which, at this point, doesn’t seem TOO likely).  Unless Harvin returns to form and doesn’t drive everyone crazy in the process, while giving the Jets either a few good years of production, or a nice return in trade this off-season, I’m not willing to say we were also fleeced by the Jets, but there’s certainly that chance.  The most important thing here is:  the cancer is gone.  Now, the question remains:  is it too late to save the patient?

No one is going to come out and say that the Seahawks are better off now, without Harvin in the lineup.  But, that’s because most people can’t differentiate Harvin’s Potential from Harvin’s Reality.  Since what’s reported is only his on-field impact (and what’s discarded is how he’s a bad teammate … that is, until AFTER he’s been traded, and then all the horror stories come flooding out), all anyone can think about is the best case scenario of a healthy Harvin added to a young and talented offensive group.

But, the reality is twofold:  Harvin wasn’t bringing enough to the table to be worth the cost, and the Seahawks weren’t using him properly to facilitate him being worth the cost.  I mean, if you’re not even going to ATTEMPT to throw him the ball downfield, how do you expect him to thrive?  Or, for that matter, the offense as a whole?  Yeah, he’s better with the ball in space, near the line of scrimmage, where he can make guys miss and break long gains.  But, if teams are expecting that and only that, Percy Harvin is actually pretty easy to game plan for.  Just zone up in the middle of the field and gang tackle when he has the ball.  See, I just did it, give me a million dollars to be your defensive coordinator.

So, if you accept the reality of our situation, then yes, the Seahawks are better now than they were two weeks ago.  Did it show in that Rams game?  Sort of, as the game went on, the Seahawks’ offense really started to click.  We’ll know more as the season goes along, but I’ll tell you this much:  if we didn’t waste all that fucking time trying to build the offense around Harvin, we’d be much further ahead now than we are.

In the end, there was really no winning with that Percy Harvin deal.  He simply cost us too much in draft picks and in cap space.  The only way he would’ve been worth it is if he played all of 2013 and was a direct contributor to our world championship.  Since we largely did it without him, that really spelled doom for Harvin.

You want to know why so many Seahawks fans have turned on him so quickly and so harshly?  Because Percy Harvin did absolutely nothing to endear himself to the fans.  When you lose a year to injury, then come back in year two and do nothing for us, you’re going to be loathed for that alone.  Then, to top it all off with the stories of him fighting with teammates, and the realization that some of our favorite ex-Seahawks are out there thriving for other teams, there might not be a more hated individual in all 12th Man-ville.

Big money free agents are always at a disadvantage, because they’re always paid a premium for past accomplishments they almost never live up to.  They’re also at a disadvantage because fans automatically gravitate towards players their team drafted and nurtured.  Percy Harvin was a hired gun who meant nothing to us until he started wearing our jersey.  To win our admiration, he would have needed to contribute to our culture of winning.  Instead, he decided to create a culture of animosity and distrust.  Now, he’s gone, and in his wake we have a .500 football team with a lot of injuries and a lot of over-paid stars already not living up to their contracts.  Best case scenario is Addition By Subtraction.

Worst case scenario is:  this is just the first swirling of toilet water in a season being flushed down the drain.  Lord help us …

The Seahawks Lose To St. Louis In The Dumbest Way Possible

It’s all just such cliched bullshit.  Why is it that every fucking time we go into St. Louis, Jeff Fisher turns into Vince Lombardi and Pete Carroll becomes fucking Rich Kotite?  And how many times are we going to lose to the Rams on some flukey special teams nonsense?

The punt return I actually thought was pretty impressive.  That’s a real Wheel of Cheese moment.  I disagree with the notion that the Rams “saw something on tape.”  That shit could’ve worked against any team with a halfway competent punter who knows how to angle his kicks and down them inside the 20.  That shit’s not Seahawks-specific, necessarily.  The Rams just knew that it would work against us and so they pulled it out at the absolute worst time.  Because they like embarrassing us; don’t ask me why.

But, how in the fuck do you let them pull off a fake punt to ice the game?  Are you kidding me?  There are one of two ways you can play that.  The first is to send 10 guys running towards the punter in full Punt Block Mode.  Let’s see how well their punter throws the ball when he’s about to get fucking exploded.  The other way is to just play defense and go into full Punt Safe Mode.  Put a body on an eligible body and make sure they kick that ball.

What you DON’T do is treat is just like any ordinary punt, because guess what:  the Rams like to take these moments to catch us napping!  Why more teams don’t go all-out on freak special teams plays when they game plan against us, I’ll never know.  We’re like an excited puppy running around out there.  We know one thing:  GET THE BALL!  So, we’ll fall for pretty much any sort of fake-out you can give us.

It’s also all such cliched bullshit because, here we go.  Just another Super Bowl team who struggles the following year.  Be it injuries, or key losses in personnel, or your superstars not playing up to their ability.

The whole defense is a joke.  Just want to put that out there.  Do we have injuries?  Of course, but everyone has injuries.  We’ve still got a lot of really good, really healthy players out there who are doing NOTHING.  Earl Thomas, where you at?  Richard Sherman, how about it, buddy?  I’m gonna leave Kam Chancellor out of this because he’s dealing with some nagging injuries.  But, Avril & Bennett, could I trouble you for some sacks this year?  Is it too much to ask, K.J. Wright, Bruce Irvin, and Malcolm Smith, for a little play-making?

We just made a team that has looked terrible all season running the football look like the fucking Bo Jackson/Marcus Allen Raiders of Tecmo Bowl.  They were 3 for 3 in red zone touchdowns!  I mean, are you shitting me with this?  I get the rationale behind “Bend/Don’t Break” Defense, but that only works if you DON’T FUCKING BREAK!  It’s not supposed to get EASIER for these teams to move the ball the closer they get to the endzone!  And yet, the Rams looked like an avalanche rolling down hill once they got inside the 20.

Do the Seahawks have it bad right now with injuries?  Yeah, but we’ve got it better than most.  Supposedly, this is a “depth” issue, but you pay playmakers to make plays, and our playmakers haven’t done SHIT this year!

On the other side of the ball, God damn this offensive line.  I mean, what can you do?  It’s not just an injury issue – though, from the looks of things, it appears that most of these guys are dealing with some serious shit – but a talent issue.  James Carpenter is nobody’s first round draft pick.  J.R. Sweezy was picked in the seventh round for a reason.  Britt might end up being something, but right now he’s pretty worthless.  And, if Okung and Unger can’t stay healthy for more than a few games, then I don’t think they should be around anymore.

Bottom line:  offensive line needs to be the #1 priority for this team in the draft going forward.  We need an infusion of talent, which means injecting HIGH draft picks into this all-important unit.  Russell Okung probably shouldn’t be re-signed once his contract runs out.  James Carpenter also probably shouldn’t be retained.  We should be actively seeking out Max Unger’s replacement as soon as possible, and it would probably be a good idea to invest a little more heavily into “backup center”, because at this point it’s a guarantee that he’ll get his share of playing time.

So, here we are, 3-3.  In the great Post-BYE easy stretch of games where we were SUPPOSED to go 8-0 (or, at worst, 7-1), we have started out 1-2.  The defense has taken the year off, and the offense just isn’t good enough to pick up the slack.  As a result, we’re destined to fall back to 8-8 and miss the playoffs, while all these smug, asshole national media types get to sit around telling us, “I Told You So.”  Because they used flawed logic to reach a correct conclusion.

Until the defense rises from its slumber, the Seahawks are fucked.  We go to Carolina next week; are you at all confident that we can stop them?  Because I’m not.  Shit, we couldn’t even stop the Rams!  What makes you think we’re going to get a handle on Cam Newton?  He’s going to slice and dice us with his nobody-scrubs he’s got around him!

Good God, who would have ever predicted that it would be October 20th and we’d already be looking forward to the next Mariners season?