Livin’ On A Prayer: The Seahawks Are Halfway There*

* – That is to say, “Through The Regular Season”

The combined records of Seattle’s opponents is 27-33.  We’ve played a couple of good teams (San Francisco, Indianapolis), a couple of okay teams (Carolina, Tennessee), a couple of bad teams (Arizona, St. Louis), and a couple of pathetic teams (Jacksonville, Houston).  Through it all, there has been one constant:  the Seahawks have yet to play a complete football game.

Probably the closest we’ve come is that San Francisco victory where we beat them 29-3.  However, going into the fourth quarter, the game was only 12-3, and the offense wasn’t quite clicking like we know it can.  The Jacksonville game was a blowout, sure, but what are we doing giving a team like that 17 points?  All the other games have been varying degrees of a struggle.

The defense was pretty dominant in four of the games (five, if you include the Arizona game), but there have still been lapses.  Lapses that cost us multiple games last year (including in the playoffs against Atlanta).  We’ve tightened them up for the most part this year, but you can’t completely discount it going forward.

Coinciding with that constant of the Seahawks not playing a complete game, we have the other constant of injuries.  I don’t think we’ve ever been at full strength this year, with a key member of our team out with injuries or suspensions.  Look at this list of guys who have missed full game(s):

  • Chris Clemons
  • Russell Okung
  • Bruce Irvin
  • Bobby Wagner
  • Percy Harvin
  • Breno Giacomini
  • Brandon Browner
  • Max Unger
  • Zach Miller
  • Derrick Coleman
  • Cliff Avril

And that’s not factoring in players who have missed partial games.  Of course, now we’re down one Sidney Rice for the rest of the year, so it looks like there’s really no end in sight to our injury woes.

Yet, we’re still 7-1.  The old adage states that every team has to deal with injuries, but that’s not really true.  Some teams are luckier with injuries than others.  Last year, for instance, the Seahawks were pretty damn lucky with injuries.  This year, not so much.  Where the Seahawks differ from most teams has to do with their depth.

We’ve had what I would say is an average amount of injuries befall this team, in sheer numbers, in severity, and in importance.  Granted, we haven’t lost a quarterback like the Bears, or a stud receiver like the Falcons.  But, we’ve lost some solid starters and it’s hurt us in many ways (most glaringly along the offensive line of late).  Yet, here we are, in first place in the NFC.

Sure, it would be awesome for the Seahawks to be this juggernaut that overwhelms its competition game-in and game-out.  But, the Seahawks are a different kind of fun team to watch.  We’re just better than you.  You know how they say, “Good teams just find a way to win”?  Well, it’s true.  Underdogs can hang in there if they’re playing well (or if we’re just playing poorly), but in the end we have the horses and they don’t.  In the end, our power rushing and our elite defense is too much.  No game exemplifies this more than the most recent victory in St. Louis.  Maybe not the “power rushing” part of the equation, but just look at that game.  The Seahawks were playing like dogshit on offense.  Granted, the Rams were up to the task, with some elite linemen wreaking havoc.  Either way, we couldn’t move the ball.  And yet, the Rams couldn’t completely shut us down.  Good teams find a way to win:  like chucking up a jump ball to Golden Tate who takes it to the house.  Good teams find a way to win:  like taking advantage of a couple turnovers, turning one of them into seven points.  Meanwhile, our defense held them to 3 field goals, and kept them out of the endzone in the closing seconds.  Good teams don’t turn the ball over, giving a team like the Rams extra opportunities to score field goals.

It may not be pretty, but the Seahawks get the job done.

The Seahawks have been sufficiently challenged in these first eight games.  You get nothing for free in this league.  Going forward, the Seahawks have four easy home game remaining (Tampa, Minnesota, Arizona, & St. Louis) and one difficult home game (New Orleans).  We also play two teams with terrible records on the road (the Falcons & Giants) and one team with a great record (the 49ers).  The games, in order of difficulty & importance, are as follows:

  1. @ San Francisco
  2. New Orleans
  3. @ Atlanta
  4. @ New York
  5. St. Louis
  6. Arizona
  7. Tampa Bay
  8. Minnesota

You have to win that game in San Francisco.  I still think the 49ers are due to cough up a game they should win, but just for peace of mind, I’d like to wrap up the division right there in Week 14.

Following that, you have to win that game against the Saints.  The Seahawks deserve and need home field advantage.  But, to get it, we’re going to have to win that tie-breaker over the Saints.  Who knows how their final record will shake out?  All I know is, you want to win as many tie-breakers as you possibly can.

After that, the Seahawks are simply going to have to hold teams like Green Bay, Detroit, and maybe even Carolina at bay by out-winning them.  A sure way to do that is to go 8-0 in the second half.  So, let’s just do that and all our worries will be kaput.

In order for that to happen, we’re going to need a few things to happen.

First, Russell Wilson is going to have to continue to improve.  It seems like the Seahawks have gone up against a Top 10 front seven every fucking week!  Tom Cable has had his hands full not just with this endless string of good defenses, but also with these injuries to the line.  He’s a magical wizard of a line coach, but I worry that even he isn’t capable of working miracles with the scrubs we’ve got starting at tackle right now.  This goes back to my idea of hubris:  maybe instead of trying to mold a bunch of 7th rounders into NFL players, next year we look to work in some higher draft picks.

Anyway, getting back to Wilson, last year it seemed like he chose to scramble at the drop of a hat, and everyone who critiqued him noted that he needs to get more comfortable in the pocket.  Well, this year, he has trusted his line more, but as a result he’s been crushed way more often than he should.  He’s already been sacked 27 times in 8 games!  Last year, in 16 games, he was sacked only 33 times.  This is a God awful trend.  Either this line needs to step up RIGHT NOW, or he needs to revert back to his premature scrambling ways, because we can’t keep letting him get killed every game.

Beyond that, our team just needs to get healthy.  Ideally, we’ll have everyone (or most everyone) back for the playoff run.  But, there’s a big difference between a playoff run where we’re the #1 seed vs. a playoff run where we’re on the road for three games as the #5 seed.  If I had my druthers, I’d get all of our most important pieces back sooner and lock up that top seed vs. holding them back and possibly sacrificing our top standing in the NFC.

My overall assessment of this first half is one of blissful contentedness.  This first half has gone completely according to plan:  we won all the games we were supposed to win (including all three within the division) and only lost one of those road AFC games.  If the second half also goes according to plan, the only games we will lose will be at Atlanta and at San Francisco.  Less than ideal, however if it is indeed according to MY plan, 13-3 will be more than enough for the Seahawks to nab that #1 seed.

No rest for the weary.  BYE week doesn’t happen for another four weeks.  We’ve got three relatively soft landings coming up (Tampa, Atlanta, Minnesota).  Win those, go into the BYE at 10-1, and let the rest of the conference squirm as they do everything they can to try and keep up.  Following the BYE, we get a Monday Night game against New Orleans to possibly settle the NFC top seed debate.  Right after that, we go into San Francisco to possibly settle the divisional race.  If we come out of that stretch 12-1, then it’s smooth sailing the rest of the way (Giants, Cards, Rams).  We just have to do what needs to be done.  It’s all within our control.  I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens.

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