To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2012, click here.
I’m going to feel pretty stupid about this list when Marcus Trufant is waived before the regular season (or goes down with a season-ending injury before the end of September), but I’m like only 30% confident that’s going to happen.
So, I’m trying REALLY hard to temper my expectations about this season. I want so bad for the Seahawks to be amazing, mostly because I’m being spoonfed a daily dose of mayonnaise-flavored salt water that is the Seattle Mariners. Partly because it’s been so damn long since I’ve looked forward to a season where I could realistically expect something in the way of playoff success. Not that I’m necessarily expecting playoff success THIS upcoming season, but I want to expect it. Really fucking badly!
This team is young. It’s impossibly young. Teams this young don’t just blindly make the leap from 7-9 to 12-4 overnight. Teams this young suffer growing pains. Especially when you’re looking at a quarterback position that’s so up-in-the-air. My nausea that Tarvaris Jackson will win the starting job in Training Camp is bordering on outright psychosis. At least with Flynn, I can hope and dream of a competent leader taking us to heretofore unexpected heights. With Tarvar, I know EXACTLY what I can expect: a 7-9 season and a gun in my mouth.
But, that’s neither here nor there. Even if Flynn wins the job, I have to realize that 2012 PROBABLY isn’t going to be our year. Best-case scenario, if everything goes right, then Flynn gets us into the playoffs as a Wild Card team, we win our first playoff game on the road, then we go into Green Bay or New York and get totally shut down. That might sound like a bit of a disappointment, but really it’s the most logical step. Teams on the rise – especially young teams on the rise – tend to get shut down on their initial quest for Super Bowl Glory. The Holmgren Seahawks lost in back-to-back years to the Packers and Rams before finally making the jump in the 2005 season. In fact, most prominent teams – from the Manning-led Colts to the Young-led 49ers to the Favre-led Packers – suffered early playoff defeats before making the push to the summit. I would expect no different from this Carroll-led Seahawks team, no matter who’s at quarterback. If they’re meant to go to the Super Bowl, then they’re going to have to take their lumps. If they could get a jumpstart on those lumps by making it to the Divisional Round in 2012, all the better.
Now, that’s BEST case scenario. Obviously, this team could very well finish 7-9, or they could finish 4-12. You just never know. Injuries could happen. Their schedule could end up being brutally hard (who expected the Bengals last year to be a playoff team?). Matt Flynn could be a total and complete bust.
But, one thing I think we’re all pretty confident about is the defense. It’s young, it’s hungry, it’s coming off of a 2011 season where they made some waves. And now, the core is back, a year older, a year wiser, and ready to leap to the fore of the NFL.
Our strongest element going into 2012 is our secondary. We probably haven’t been able to say that ’round these parts since the mid-80s with Kenny Easley, Dave Brown & Eugene Robinson at the helm. This year, we have Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, and Brandon Browner. All are very talented, all are very young, and all have amazing size at a position normally lacking. Whereas most teams counter the likes of Larry Fitzgerald with 5’11, 185 pound weaklings; we can throw 6’3, 200 pound grown-ass men his way!
Of course, the secondary wouldn’t be our strongest element without depth. Leading the depth charge (zing!) is one Marcus Trufant. An erstwhile starter just last year at this time (before his injury gave us the revelation that is Sherman and Browner), Trufant may be on the downside of his career, but I don’t think he’s done. In fact, as a nickel/reserve type cornerback, I think he probably still has 2-3 good years left. You don’t want him as your every-down corner, but in spot duty, in third down situations, I think he’s perfect. He’s a leader, he’s got smarts that will compensate for any steps he may have lost in the speed department, and I think he’s still hungry. I think he’s got something to prove and I think he wants to show the fans, the coaching staff, his teammates and himself that he can still do this at an elite level.
Good young teams on the rise need guys like Marcus Trufant. You can’t go all young all the time. You need veterans on your roster who will not only produce – so they can be taken seriously by the younger guys trying to take their jobs – but will provide stability and calm in those intense situations. Late in the fourth quarter, you absolutely MUST get a stop, the other team is driving … players like Marcus Trufant, that’s when they have to step up and take some of the load off. A crucial interception, a timely forced fumble, a hard tackle short of the first down line.
While I’m trying to temper my expectations, it’s hard to, because this team seemingly has all the pieces. A young, hungry defense with JUST ENOUGH veteran leadership to keep us honest. An All Pro running back running behind an offensive line with a genius as its coach in Tom Cable. A receiving corps when, if healthy, could honestly surprise a lot of teams. A talented, heady young QB who is ready to grab hold of a starting job after being a backup for so long. A GM and head coach with winning pedigrees. It would be nice to see that best-case scenario take hold. So we can go into NEXT season with a very real, honest expectation to go back to the Super Bowl.
For that to happen, guys like Marcus Trufant need to keep up their part of the bargain. Help the young guys improve, and take on some of the burden of holding this team afloat in a season of transition. Considering secondary seems to be the most frustratingly injury-prone position on our team each and every season (see: 2012, Walter Thurmond), I don’t think it’s possible to have ENOUGH depth. If that depth turns out to be of quality thanks to Trufant, all the better.