You know what the worst thing about this season is going to be? Watching all the national fuckheads be proven correct in their bullshit line of thinking.
Just because the Seahawks will ultimately fail in their quest to repeat as champions – just because we may not be looking at the next Football Dynasty, but rather just another run of the mill competitive team for the next decade – doesn’t mean they reached their correct conclusion using proper logic. The Seahawks won’t fail because it’s just “too hard to repeat in this day & age.” They’re going to fail because Shit Happens, and a bunch of other stuff outside of our realm of understanding.
This isn’t me overreacting. It’s not time to jump off the bandwagon, because if I was really being honest, I was never on the bandwagon to begin with. Not this year. For whatever reason, I just didn’t have my heart in it. Objectively, I could sit there and look at this roster and marvel at all the stars and make the argument: yes, this is the best team in football. But, there was always a nagging little kernel of doubt that prevented me from going all the way with it. Last year, I was sure. After the 2012 season ended with that loss in Atlanta, I was sure. 2013 was the slam dunk to end all slam dunks. I ended up putting my money where my mouth was and I was rewarded with a few hundred dollars.
I had my chance to repeat that bet of the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl again. But, what did I do? I decided to take the $700 I was going to place on the Seahawks at 4-to-1 and I tried to double down on Black at the roulette table. Why? Because that way I’d have $700 AND a bet on the Seahawks to win it all. Partially, it was me being stupid and greedy. But, more than anything, it was me just wanting to have $700 in my pocket, because I didn’t REALLY believe in that Seahawks payday. In the end, I lost on the roulette table and that was that. I had nothing to bet for the Super Bowl.
My theme for 2014 has been, “Going Through The Motions”. I haven’t really had the passion I had last year when it comes to the football season. I know for a fact I felt a rabid excitement before the first game of this season – I remember vividly in the days leading up to that game wanting for nothing else but to have that game start immediately – but I think that was more residual good vibes from 2013. It was the Coming Full Circle moment, where we got to look back one final time at the Magical Season That Was, before putting it to bed and looking forward at an uncertain future. The Seahawks were victorious on that opening night and everyone rejoiced, because it felt like a slice of 2013 come back to life.
Then the Seahawks lost down in San Diego. And ever since it’s been a struggle to give too much of a shit. Even during that game, watching it slip through our fingers as they dinked and dunked their way to carving up our defense, it was hard to get all that upset. I tried to rationalize it away by saying I was confident in our ability to come back. Because this team is so good, I ALWAYS feel a victory is imminent, until it’s not. I guess that’s somewhat true. But, it wouldn’t explain my rather timid response once the game ended.
It’s easy to blame a defeat on the weather conditions. But, I’ve been watching this team all year just like everyone else (except for yesterday’s game against Dallas, of course). I’ve seen the deficiencies in this squad compared to last year. The defense isn’t quite right. We’re giving up too many 3rd down conversions and too many big plays. The offense SHOULD be better, but for whatever reason just isn’t. It’s like we’re witnessing some sort of reverse Ewing Theory with Percy Harvin; last year, he was injured throughout and we won it all; this year, he’s healthy and we’re struggling. There are real problems with this team that – until right now – had been glossed over. We’re the champs, we’ll figure it out. The skeleton of the team is still intact; there’s no reason why we won’t turn it on come playoff time.
And that might be true. But, this year is fundamentally different.
Expectations are sky high. That’s what happens when you win a Super Bowl and you bring back the vast majority of that very same team. We’re not like any other champion; we’re built for the long haul. Age isn’t set to ravage our roster for another few years yet. We shouldn’t be having these types of growing pains right now, because we should be right in our prime. And so, because expectations are so high, there can only be two ways this season plays out: either we meet expectations, or we fail.
I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to get all overly geeked out by the prospect of simply “meeting expectations”.
It was different last year, because while my expectations were also to win the championship, that was the first time in my life that a team I rooted for went all the way. Your first time having sex is never going to be the best sex of your life; but you’re never going to forget it because JESUS CHRIST, my dick just shot a load and for once it wasn’t my own doing!
We all kind of saw this coming, though. We’re fans of Seattle sports teams, we’re used to failure. We’re not used to knowing what it feels like to be the best. Consequently, we don’t know how to handle going into a season expecting to be the best. For many of us, there will be lots of hand-wringing. Lots of complaining. Lots of second-guessing. Of the coaches, of the players. Of our preconceived notions of greatness. The Seahawks SHOULD be the best team in football. But, for right now, they’re not. That doesn’t mean the season’s over. This is, I may remind you, the same team that held down Denver for most of the game and ultimately came away victorious when it mattered most. But, there are going to be certain matchups that just don’t play well against this particular group of Seahawks. If we’re smart, we’ll figure out how to combat these matchups, to ensure they’re not problems down the road. If not, we’ll have to get lucky and hope we just don’t see these matchups again when the season is on the line.
Either way, how do I reconcile my lack of passion right now? Shouldn’t I be more pissed off about this week’s loss? We’re the Seattle Fucking Seahawks! We don’t lose at home! We don’t lose to teams like the fucking Cowboys! We’re BETTER than they are, God damn it! And yet, there I was on Sunday night, more or less not giving a shit.
You know why I missed the Seahawks game? Because I was flying back from the Bay Area after witnessing – in person – the Huskies destroy the Cal Bears. The Seahawks could have been playing for the right to go to the Super Bowl yesterday afternoon and I wouldn’t have been NEARLY as elated as I was in the middle of that Husky game. It comes back to expectations. I expected the Seahawks to beat the Cowboys at home. But, I went into that Cal game fearing the worst. I’ll get into this in more detail with tomorrow’s write-up, but I went into the Cal game thinking we’d see a high-scoring game with both teams in the 40s in points. And, to be honest, I expected the Bears to win. I expected them to make one or two plays at the end to push them just over the top.
And to see the Huskies not only fight back against those expectations, but totally smash through them in the most satisfying road victory I’ve ever been witness to, was a type of sports joy I haven’t felt in quite some time.
See, the Huskies are right in that sweet spot. They’re good, but they’re not so good that I expect them to win every week. So, when they defy expectations and win a game they probably shouldn’t (or, at least, win a game I could just as easily foresee them losing), it’s just so much more thrilling than watching the Seahawks hold off the Washington Redskins in an ugly Monday night affair.
If I’m being honest, I needed the Seahawks to lose this game to maintain my interest. Is that sick? I feel like that’s a sick thing for a fan to say. But, what have I been saying all along? After the BYE week, the Seahawks faced a string of eight straight games where they should certainly go 8-0 and really pad out their record ahead of the closing stretch. And what if the Seahawks HAD gone 8-0 in that stretch? We would have been 10-1 and the prohibitive favorites to win it all.
Now? Now there’s doubt. Now, there’s reason to question whether this team has what it takes. There’s that knot in your stomach. That old, familiar knot that keeps telling you, “They’re going to find a way to fuck this up, I just know it.” I’ve missed that knot! It’s what defines me as a sports fan! I no longer have to pick the Seahawks to win every week in pick ’em just because they’re the best team in the league and they should win every time they step on the field. I can rip them apart and doubt them, as is every fan’s birth right!
This team has problems! And now, apparently, we’re on the outside looking in at the likes of the Cowboys, Eagles, Cardinals, 49ers, Panthers, Packers, and Lions. We’re not the best! It’s all I ever wanted.
Now, I get to sit here and tell you all the reasons why we’re going to lose the next two games – on the road against the Rams and Panthers. I get to talk about 10am start times. I get to talk about how hard these two teams have played us in recent years and how stout they are on defense. And, not only that, but I get to MEAN it! I get to say with sincerity that I think the Seahawks will – at best – go 1-1 in these next two weeks. And, when I sit down to watch these games, that fire will be back. Smoldering in my stomach with that knot of doubt, leaving me anxious and nervous and overreacting to every bad thing that happens on those football fields.
I’ll get to be me again. The insecure Seattle fan who always expects the worst out of life. And I’ll get to simmer in my cauldron of rage for the next couple days as I read about how the Cowboys are back. About how they really shut us up for once. About how the 12th Man isn’t invincible. About how The Champs were knocked down a peg or two. About how the NFL needs the Cowboys to be great.
My God, I want to barf so hard.
Taste it, Seahawks fans. Let it get all up in there. Face the reality that it’s going to be a struggle. There will be no banking on this team flipping a switch when the calendar turns to December and January. Now, we just have to hope we win enough games to make it in, clean up within our own division, and get a little lucky at times. This is where we want to be. We want people doubting us. We want to be overlooked. We want to be just another good team in a good conference of football. We want to face this turmoil head-on and find a way to overcome.
Last year, we had to fight through one of the more difficult schedules – and difficult divisions – in all of football. Our schedule made us stronger, as steel sharpens steel and all that.
This year, we have to fight through every other team’s best game. We have to fight our own sky-high expectations. Everyone hates us for being cocky and arrogant and frankly, annoying. We have to fight through the fact that everyone is against us. Everyone in the NFL wants to see Seattle lose. They want to see it so badly, they’ll even root for the fucking Cowboys against us!
It won’t be easy, but it’s not supposed to be. Thanks to this loss, I think I’m finally ready for the season to begin. I’ll have my ass parked in front of my TV next Sunday and I’ll be looking for blood. And if we lose, I’ll rant and rave and be all kinds of pissed off. But, if we win, it’ll be a thrill. Because, it’s not something that’s been pre-ordained. It’ll be just another good team gutting out a road victory. Made all the sweeter by the reduced expectations being thrust upon us thanks to this defeat to the Cowboys.
It’s beginning to feel a lot like football season.