Seahawks Death Week Reloaded

a.k.a. What The Seahawks Need To Do To Get Back To The Super Bowl & Win It All This Time, Again

“Rebuilding” is a word people use to talk about bad teams who are trying to get good again.  Eventually.  In a couple, two, three years.  “Reloading” is a word people use to talk about good teams who are trying to stay good in a hurry.  I’ve seen that word “reload” used to describe what the Seahawks are doing this offseason, but I’ve always read that with a negative connotation.  Teams that need to “reload” are teams that have been good in recent years (plural), but in the most recent season, the quality of their team dipped.  Like, a team that’s made the playoffs a bunch of years in a row, then had one down season where they missed the cut.  And, instead of blowing things up, they’re just going to reload for another run at a championship.

The 49ers are a PERFECT example of this.  Great team, had a rough 2014.  They weren’t terrible; they weren’t bad enough to warrant a complete rebuild.  They just need to reload.  Add some pieces to the core they’ve got now and they’ll be all set for another post-season run.

“Reload” is also a word you use when you talk about teams that are desperately trying to cling to relevance when they’re WELL past their prime.  Think about what the Seahawks were doing in the offseason between 2007 & 2008.  They PROBABLY should have blown it all up and done a total rebuild.  Instead, they tried to keep the team together, reloaded with a couple of ill-advised signings in Julius Jones & T.J. Duckett (among others), to give it one more go with Hasselbeck, Jones, and Co.  What happened?  They bottomed out in 2008, and bottomed out again in 2009 when they had the same strategy (T.J. Houshmandzadeh, anyone?).

These Seahawks, right now, this year, aren’t “reloading”, because these Seahawks are already loaded!  Regardless of what happens, we’re still going to be one of the youngest and most talented rosters in the league next year.  Losing a Super Bowl doesn’t mean you “reload” for next year.  You don’t re-anything!  You do a little tweaking and you continue to build up the depth of your squad.  It would be no different had we won the Super Bowl, or ended up losing in the NFC Championship Game.

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The primary storyline this offseason will be the extension of Russell Wilson.  The secondary storyline this offseason will be the extension of Bobby Wagner.  Considering they were drafted into the new CBA, this is the first opportunity the Seahawks have had to extend these two (and to give them raises commensurate to the output they’ve given this team on the field).  We’re actually in really good shape right now, thanks to the in-season extensions the team gave K.J. Wright and Cliff Avril; those are two fewer deals the team has to worry about now that the offseason is ramping up.

How Wilson’s deal is structured will dictate a lot of the other moves this team makes, so it’ll be important to get that squared away pretty quickly.  I would argue Wagner’s deal – by virture of him not being a quarterback in the NFL – will be much simpler and easier to plan for (though, I doubt the team will wait to get him done either).

Those two guys are a given, and will get done, likely sometime around the Draft.  There are other, lesser guys up for new deals that the team will have to think about.

James Carpenter is a free agent.  After a rocky start to his career – one that has been pretty injury-plagued – it wouldn’t shock me to see the team let him walk away.  I can’t imagine he’s going to command a king’s ransom on the open market, but I’ve been surprised before.  Considering he’s more of a run-first blocker, with suspect pass-protection skills, I can’t imagine he’s a great fit for most teams who are pass-first.  If the Seahawks can bring him back on the cheap, I’d be all for it.  If they can’t, I’m not going to shed too many tears.  Either way, I would expect this team to draft hard for interior linemen this year.  Perhaps a guard/center type who could replace Carpenter now, and replace Unger when he’s no longer fit to handle the center duties.

Byron Maxwell is another biggie, and one we’ve all along said is not long for this team.  I can’t imagine the market is going to low-ball him; he’s going to get serious starter’s money.  Maybe not All Pro money, but it’ll likely be enough to price out the Seahawks.  I believe John Schneider when he says that Maxwell is a high priority, but I don’t think that’s at any price.  Here’s to hoping Tharold Simon grows up in a hurry between last season and this season.

Malcolm Smith is another free agent, but you can kiss him goodbye.  He hardly played at all outside of special teams when our core linebackers were healthy.  We’ve already extended Wright, we’re in the process of extending Wagner, and Irvin appears to be a coveted piece of our future that we’re keen on keeping around long term.  There’s just no room for Smith, who could likely be an effective starter on another team.  Let him go, replace him with a guy making the minimum, and we’ll be just fine.

Beyond that, the only other free agents we could potentially lose would be depth guys.  Tarvar, Schofield, Shead, Jeron Johnson.  None of these guys are “must keeps”.  I would argue extending our long snapper is of more value to the team than any of these other guys I’ve mentioned in this paragraph.

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So, where does this team need help?

Our obvious starting point is Wide Receiver.  We need a couple, and we’re probably going to have to draft them to get them.  Let’s face it, trying to attract a free agent wide receiver into this offense is about as easy as the Seattle Mariners trying to attract a slugging right-handed power bat; nobody wants to sign here and watch their numbers plummet!  And, I don’t know if this has hit you yet, but we’re about to have a quarterback who is one of the top two or three highest-paid players in the NFL, so it’s not like we can afford to over-pay for Larry Fitzgerald or whoever else may or may not be available on the open market.  There will be no Percy Harvin-esque deals this offseason, or for the foreseeable future.

Draft.  Draft is the way to go for this position.  Lock them in pretty much against their wills and try to squeeze as much as you can out of them.

One route to take is what the Falcons did a few years ago:  sell out and trade up to draft a sure thing.  While it’s enticing – since this team is already at a championship-level – it’s never going to happen.  But, we do need to draft a receiver high.  In the first round, ideally, but no later than the third.  And, we probably need to draft a couple (one early, one late) just to get our numbers up and create some really good competition in camp this summer.

Doug Baldin is locked in thru 2016.  Jermaine Kearse is a restricted free agent who will be tendered at a high rate, meaning he’s pretty much a lock to be here at least in 2015.  These are two fine receivers, who both probably need to be bumped down a peg or two.  Ricardo Lockette is another restricted free agent who SHOULD be back, but he’s less of a lock than Kearse.  Paul Richardson had that devastating injury and is probably a strong candidate to start the season on the PUP list (meaning he will miss at least the first six weeks of the season; so it’s pretty safe to consider him a non-factor for 2015, considering the rate of re-injury when players try to rush back into playing shape mid-season).  Kevin Norwood had quite the underwhelming rookie campaign, so who knows if he’ll even be on the team when we eventually cut the roster back down to 53?  Then, there’s Chris Matthews, Bryan Walters, and some other fringe guys to think about.  I know Matthews was a revalation in the Super Bowl, but there’s a reason why he wasn’t playing the whole game – he was only in a small package of plays, because he’s not really that good.

I mean, yeah, Matthews is tall and athletic, and that accounts for something, but a lot of being a wide receiver is being in the right place at the right time and doing the right things when you get there.  He might not be the best route runner, he might not be adept enough at shedding defenders or creating separation.  I dunno, but there’s a reason why that guy kicks around on the fringes of the NFL all his career.  If he was better at all the things BESIDES height, he’d be making millions of dollars instead of hundreds of thousands.

Really, what this all boils down to is:  get ready for another crapshoot.  Maybe we’ll get lucky and find a top-notch receiver in the draft.  But, we took two cracks at it last year – with Richardson and Norwood – in one of the all time deepest drafts for the position, and we likely came away with a couple duds.  This year doesn’t look to be nearly as promising, so hopefully we find that diamond in the rough.

Because if we don’t, I hate to break it to you, but the overall makeup of our wide receiver group doesn’t figure to be all that remarkably improved in 2015.  Yes, the team needs to keep trying to get it right, but unless you get that Odell Beckham, you’ve likely got a project on your hands that will require a couple years to get up to speed.  Remember, Golden Tate wasn’t a star the minute he stepped into the NFL.  This shit takes time.

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After receiver, things look a little more reasonable on offense.  I would expect the Seahawks to go hard after a free agent tight end.  That may or may not spell the end of Zach Miller’s Seahawks career, but considering he’s making a relatively low figure of $4 million, I would suspect he’ll be back (he may also agree to a pay cut, which would be all the better).  If we could pair Miller with a high-quality free agent tight end, and let Luke Willson continue to develop (i.e. stop dropping the ball so much), we may not NEED a bona fide #1 wide receiver.  Hell, Luke Willson by himself is already matchup hell for defenses; imagine if we’re able to sign another studly threat at tight end to go with him!  At a reasonable cost, that’d be the way I’d go.

Don’t expect the Seahawks to wade in the free agent waters for a lineman.  Carpenter is a wild card.  J.R. Sweezy might be looking at an extension this year, at a relatively reasonable cost.  We’ve still got Alvin Bailey, Garry Gilliam, and Patrick Lewis as quality depth pieces.  Okung is signed thru 2015, Unger is signed thru 2016, and Britt is signed thru 2017, so really the bulk of our offensive line will remain at least through next year.  I would still expect some late round finds by Tom Cable, but this probably isn’t the year where the Seahawks look high in the draft for replacements, unless someone TOO good falls to them.

Another big storyline is what’s going to happen to Marshawn Lynch.  Good God, is this something I don’t want to have to worry about.  The Seahawks are already on record as wanting to extend him, to keep him happy and well paid.  But, rumors are floating around hot and heavy that Lynch is thinking about retiring, which depresses me to no end.  I’ve been as vocal as anyone about not keeping running backs past their expiration dates, but Lynch is as crucial as they come.  I agree with the Seahawks in their desire to extend him another couple years, and I hope Lynch takes the deal.  If he were to happily retire as a Seahawk, I don’t know if I could be any more pleased.

Failing that, if he does leave the game this year, the Seahawks are obviously going to have to look to the draft.  Turbin is signed thru 2015 and will be the likely starter.  But, I imagine there’d be a big time share between him, Michael (signed thru 2016), and any rookie we bring in who wins that third RB job.  Our running game will take a noticeable hit, but I’m hopeful we’d be able to find our running back of the future out of that mix.

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On defense, the immediate need is in the interior defensive line.  Kevin Williams was on a 1-year deal and probably won’t be back (he may retire, or he may take another small deal to try to get that ring, but I think the team will end up moving on).  Mebane and Tony McDaniel are both signed thru 2015.  I have a hard time seeing the team moving on from either of these guys before the ends of their deals, but I do think we’ll look to draft a defensive tackle pretty early.

What we’ve got that we can count on is Jordan Hill.  He’s probably not a starter, but he’s certainly a quality depth piece who has found a role in our pass rush packages.  Beyond that, it’s a lot of slim pickin’s.  Filler guys like Dobbs, Scruggs, Jesse Williams, and a bunch of other names who are THIS close to trading in their jobs in the NFL for jobs as nightclub bouncers and with private security firms.  Ideally, we’d be able to pick up someone high in the draft who will go into the rotation immediately and eventually replace Mebane or McDaniel, with another guy drafted late who could hopefully develop into a replacement next year or the year after.

This is also a position the team could look to bolster in free agency, if the price is right.  Ndamukong Suh is an interesting name people are talking about as a potential target for the Seahawks, but I’m not buying it.  He’s about to be one of the top two highest paid defensive linemen in the NFL; 1) he’s not taking a discount to be here, and 2) we’re not going to blow up our entire salary cap for the next three years just to bring him in.  Yes, it would be AMAZING if Suh played on this line next to Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril; we’d probably have the single greatest pass rush the world has ever seen.  I could also win the Mega Millions lottery tonight and be a wealthy unemployed person tomorrow.  Let’s not waste the time or brain cells giving this too much thought.

More likely, the team goes after a lower tier free agent.  Cost effective, helpful, hopefully younger with a longer shelf life than a Kevin Williams.  Someone equally as effective at stopping he run and rushing the passer.  I don’t have any specific names for you right now, but they’re out there.  It’s just a matter of if they want to play for a winner or not.

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Elsewhere on the defense, I think there’s a lot of clamoring for another defensive end, but I’m actually pretty happy with what we’ve got.  Bennett on one side, Avril on the other.  When Bennett moves inside, we’ve got Irvin along with Avril on the same line going after the quarterback.  Even our depth is okay, with Cassius Marsh looking like a good prospect last season before he went out with injury.  Hopefully this is the year we let Schofield go and find a quality replacement in the draft.  Maybe somewhere in the 2nd round to 4th round range.  Get some freak athlete who does one thing and one thing extremely well.  Probably not a spot we’ll look in free agency, unless it’s as a depth guy to help out in camp.

Our linebackers are solid.  As I mentioned before, we’ll have Wagner, Wright, and Irvin all back.  We’ve still got Kevin Pierre-Louis and Brock Coyle who are signed long term as quality depth guys and special teamers.  Malcolm Smith should be pretty easy to replace with another low-round draft pick or undrafted free agent.

In the secondary, I’m assuming Maxwell will be gone.  Lane is signed thru 2015, Simon is here thru 2016.  Beyond that, I would expect the team to go after another corner or possibly two in the draft.  Unlikely you’ll see this team get a free agent unless it’s another depth guy for camp.

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As per usual, this is a team that’s built through the draft, with strategic forays into free agency.  I would expect more of the same.  With Russell Wilson’s contract expected to be pretty reasonable in 2015 (most of his money will be in the form of a signing bonus; his cap number this year will be manageable because we can spread out his bonus across five years of salary cap), there may be opportunities to get free agents on bigger 1-year deals.  But, unless Lynch retires, or something unexpected happens, I wouldn’t expect the Seahawks to go out of their way to bring in a big money free agent from another team.  The most we spend – aside from extending our own guys – will likely be for a quality tight end.  Otherwise, it’s all draft, all the time.

An Appreciation of Sidney Rice

There are rumblings that Sidney Rice will be waived very soon.  This comes as zero surprise.  There’s a $7.3 million boost to the salary cap that comes with this move.  To show you how not-surprising this move is, literally every single time I’ve ever sat down to write about the Seahawks’ impending salary cap situation for 2014 and beyond, the very first thing I’ve done every time is go to Google and type “Sidney Rice overthecap” and hit “I’m Feeling Lucky”.

Ever wondered who uses the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button?  I’m your man!

I have a difficult time bad-mouthing anything the Seahawks have ever done in the Pete Carroll/John Schneider regime, since they went and won us a championship and everything.  But, I have a feeling that people are going to look at the career of Sidney Rice in a Seahawks’ uniform and say, “Well, that was a move that totally backfired!”

The Seahawks signed Sidney Rice coming into the 2011 season.  We were coming off of a 7-9 campaign that resulted in a division championship, a wild playoff victory over the Saints, and a predictable playoff defeat against the Bears.  He signed for 5 years and $41 million, with a $6 million signing bonus.  In his three years with the Seahawks, Sidney Rice earned $23.5 million of his $41 million deal; not too shabby for three years’ work.

The 2010 Seahawks were led in receptions and yards by Big Mike Williams (65 for 751 and 2 TDs), followed by Deon Butler, Ben Obomanu, John Carlson, and Brandon Stokley (all ranging between 30-36 receptions and 318-494 yards).  Suffice it to say, the Seahawks could use some help in their receiving corps.  Golden Tate was on the roster, but he was still a rookie in 2010, and two years away from starting to break out.

There were plenty of holes on that Seahawks team, and thanks to an unlikely Divisional Round playoff appearance, we were rewarded with a low first round draft pick.  Not only that, but the 2011 season came on the heels of the Lockout, so the time to sign players and get them ready for the season was ridiculously short.

And, I don’t know if you remember anything about the free agents in 2011, but here’s a smattering of names that were available:  Mike Sims-Walker, Antwaan Randle-El, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Torry Holt, Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, Chris Chambers, Plaxico Burress, and Steve Breaston (and those are just the names I recognize).  We had our pick of a bunch of nobodies, and a bunch of those aforementioned, over-the-hill losers.

Truth be told, Sidney Rice was the pick of the litter.  Granted, they probably should have just drowned that litter and started over, but that’s neither here nor there.

An interesting name being floated around at the time was Vincent Jackson.  He was franchised by the Chargers in 2011 and was looking to get the hell out of there.  He was a disgruntled, super-talented receiver looking for greener grass, and the Seahawks had their eyes on him.  Of course, he would have cost us a buttload of draft picks on top of what would eventually be a 5-year $55 million deal (that he would go on to sign in Tampa the very next year), and at that point it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense for that Seahawks team (with that many holes they needed to fill through the draft) to give up draft capital just to bring in a superstar receiver.

So, the Seahawks got Sidney Rice.  And they got Zach Miller.  And those two moves sort of paid dividends, except Rice was injured through most of his first year here and ended up only playing in 9 games.  I would argue that his full participation in 2011 wouldn’t have made much of a difference, because we still weren’t that great of a football team, so I’m willing to overlook all of that.

Rice came back in 2012 and played in all 16 games, leading the team in receptions and yards.  Granted, they weren’t the greatest numbers in the world (50 for 748 and 7 TDs), but on that team, with how much we wanted to run the ball, those were indeed #1 receiver numbers.  I’d say in 2012 we got our money’s worth.

2013 was, once again, a disappointment, as Rice was only able to play in 8 games before tearing his ACL and losing out on our Super Bowl run.  Even in those 8 games, it’s hard to say he was living up to what was expected, as his numbers were WAY down compared to 2012.  That’s essentially while he was playing with the same receiving corps (Harvin and Rice never once played a down together at the same time last season).

If I’m sitting here objectively, looking at his totals over the last three seasons (97 receptions, 1,463 yards, 12 TDs, 33 of a possible 48 regular season games played), then no, there’s no way that type of production was worth $23.5 million.  97/1,463/12 are the type of numbers you’d expect out of a legitimate #1 receiver in a single season, not spread out over three.  And make no mistake, Sidney Rice was getting paid #1 receiver money.

But, here’s the thing:  what else were the Seahawks supposed to do?  Sidney Rice was the best-available option in a free agent class that could best be described as “slim pickin’s”.  We needed offensive firepower, because the previous regime left this team bereft.  And yes, Sidney Rice had injury concerns coming in (which turned out to be valid, given the number of games he missed with the Seahawks), but you have to figure that’s the cost of doing business.

Sidney Rice was never a bona fide #1 receiver for the Seahawks, but he was incredibly valuable in that 2012 run.  Likewise, once we lost him in 2013, our offense suffered tremendously.  Had the Seahawks lost in the playoffs, instead of all this joy in my heart, I would have written endlessly about how losing Sidney Rice was an underrated aspect in this past season falling apart.  Sidney Rice might have never been a true #1, but he made some catches that left my jaw on the floor.  And without him, I don’t think we would have seen near the progress in this offense from Russell Wilson’s first snaps onward.

It all boils down to football being a business.  Some fans feel a little jaded because this team paid all this money to a guy who did relatively little, but as I said before, it’s the price of doing business.  When you’re a bad team looking for a quick fix via free agency, that’s the price you have to pay to bring in talent.  Conversely, some players get upset because teams never honor their contracts.  The price of doing business:  if you’re over-compensated, you’re going to get the ax when your contract becomes too prohibitive.  Had Sidney Rice lived up to his #1 billing, then paying him a little under $20 million for the next two years would have been a relative bargain (or, at least commensurate to what he’s capable of producing).  Since he didn’t live up to his end, he’s gone.  So it goes.

Sidney Rice won’t go down as one of the greatest Seahawks wide receivers of all time, but that’s okay, because in the end we got our championship.  While he didn’t catch any game-winning touchdowns down the stretch, he was still a part of this team.  He was a part of turning around a franchise, from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs.  For that, he’ll always be remembered fondly, at least in my book.

And, with this cap savings, you could say Sidney Rice is the gift that keeps on giving.  With this $7.3 million (not to mention the base salary of $9 million we won’t have to pay next year), we’ll be able to re-sign Michael Bennett.  Or extend Earl Thomas or Richard Sherman.  His sacrifice enables our greater good.  So, don’t kick the man on his way out of town.  Thank him for his hard work and wish him well in his next endeavor.  There’s no sense in being resentful when your team is getting fitted for championship rings as we speak.

#2 – Golden Tate

To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2013, click here.

This is the shocker of the list, but hear me out.

Golden Tate has gotten better every year he has been in the league.  That’s a fact.  Granted, he started off his career pretty poorly, but he’s always had that explosiveness about him that gives him the potential to be a breakout star.  He doesn’t lack for confidence, which always helps at the wide receiver position.  He has great hands.  His route-running is the most-improved aspect of his game.  He can improvise with the best of ’em (which, with Russell Wilson at quarterback improvising on nearly half of our passing plays, gives him the biggest leg-up of all).  And, most importantly, Golden Tate has a nose for the endzone.

Golden Tate will lead this team in both receptions and touchdowns.  He will lead this team in explosive plays.  And I think he has an outside shot at surpassing 1,000 yards and even getting himself on the Pro Bowl squad.

Our other receivers are nice.  If/when we get Percy Harvin back, I think it’ll be safe to say that the Seahawks will have the best wide receiver unit in the NFL (a far cry from the days where Deion Branch, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Nate Burleson were leading the way on a 5-win team).  Doug Baldwin probably runs the best routes on the team.  Sidney Rice probably has the best hands.  Harvin, of course, is our primary slot guy and x-factor.  But, Tate has the whole package.  Tate can do what Harvin does.  If the team wanted to line him up all over the field, hand the ball off, throw him screens and such, they could do that and he would excel.  And, while Harvin is recovering, the team might choose to do just that.  But, you really don’t need to.  Let’s face it, you don’t need two Percy Harvins to succeed, and this team will do just fine without any, as long as Golden Tate continues on his path to glory.

The best thing going about Golden Tate right now is, as long as Sidney Rice stays healthy, Tate will always be the secondary focus of opposing defenses.  That’s going to open him up to better matchups against inferior corners.  Then, when Harvin returns and takes most of the focus off of Rice, you can consider Tate the 3rd highest focus of opposing defenses in the passing game.  Everyone worried, when we brought in Harvin, that Tate’s numbers would decline as the team sought to incorporate Harvin into the fold.  I think just the opposite will happen:  I think Tate’s numbers will IMPROVE with Harvin on the team.  His number of total catches might go down, but his number of big plays and touchdowns are sure to increase.  I fully expect Tate to be in the Top 2 among Seahawks’ non-kickers in total scoring.  On an offense that will most certainly run more than they throw once again in 2013, that’s going to be quite the feat.

Which is why Golden Tate gets my honor of most-important non-quarterback on this team.  Go get ’em, kid.  Do me proud!

The Worst People In Seattle Sports History, Part II

We continue from yesterday’s post on all the hated Mariners.

Seattle Seahawks

I’m not gonna lie to you, this one was a lot tougher.  Aside from a couple of very obvious names, not a lot of Seahawks immediately jump out as annoying.  Unlike baseball – where your every move is on display for everyone watching, so if you screw up regularly, you WILL be noticed – it’s a lot easier to mask your mistakes.

Of course, that doesn’t make a ton of sense, because look at all the mediocrity, especially in the late 80s and all of the 90s.  But, that’s just it:  sure, they were mediocre, but it’s hard to point to just a couple of guys as the primary culprits.  When you have a bad football team, it’s because the whole TEAM is bad.  Not a lot of people really stood out, at least to me.  Maybe you have ideas that I don’t.

At the top of this list, now and forever, is Ken Behring.  He bought the team from the Nordstrom’s in 1988 for a scant (in today’s dollars) $80 million.  Ironically, at the time, in an article in the Spokesman-Review, he called out then-Mariners owner George Argyros who was threatening to move baseball out of Seattle, saying:

I sure don’t agree with anything he does.  I’m not sure he even wants to win.  I’m not sure he knows where he wants to be.  We’re far, far apart in what we’re trying to accomplish.

Bold words from a guy who – less than eight years later – was looking to move the team to Los Angeles.  It’s telling, actually, in that same Spokesman-Review article, he was asked about the possibility of moving the Seahawks to Oakland (after Al Davis had moved the Raiders down to L.A.).  Seemingly, there was no trust for this man from the get-go, which would seem to jibe with the family’s feelings that Seattle never really embraced Ken Behring.

Ken Behring’s reign started with a division championship in 1988, but then everything fell apart, with the nadir being the 1992 season and its 2-14 record.  After that first year, no Behring-led team would finish better than third in the AFC West.  Finally, in February of 1996 (a decade before this team would play in its first Super Bowl), Behring ordered the moving vans and drove the equipment to Los Angeles to play where the old Rams called home prior to moving to St. Louis.

Luckily for Seattle, two things existed:  a local government willing to work to keep the team here, and a sports league that was unwilling to see yet-another team change cities (after the Raiders moved back to Oakland, the Rams moved to St. Louis, the Oilers moved to Tennessee, and the Browns moved to Baltimore).  Gary Locke partnered with Paul Allen to help the billionaire purchase the team, and we passed measures to build what is now CenturyLink Field.

Ken Behring is one of the all-time pricks, no doubt about it.  But, this isn’t exactly the same thing as Clay Bennett buying the Sonics and moving them to OKC.  Even though the trust might not have been there from the beginning, I think that comes with the territory.  Whenever a non-local guy (or group) comes in to buy your team, you’re wary of the possibility of them moving.  But, to be honest, there was no inkling back in the late 80s about Behring having an agenda.  Besides, the lease on the Kingdome ran through 2005.  When the Sonics were purchased, the lease on KeyArena was much MUCH closer to running out.

However, similarities they share include an unwillingness to make things work here.  That means, the instant the going got tough, Ken Behring was on the horn to Los Angeles.  Which leads me to believe this L.A. move was a longer time coming than simply a snap reaction to the county rejecting $150 million in Kingdome improvements.  He also, let’s be honest, didn’t do everything he could to put a winning product on the field.  In that same Spokesman-Review article, Behring is quoted as saying:

We want the coach and the general manager to run the team.

This was in response to a question about having minority owners, with Behring taking the stance that local minority owners would try to butt into the affairs of the team.  Which is FUNNY, because in 1991, with the 16th overall pick, the Seattle Seahawks selected one Dan McGwire out of San Diego State.  It’s reported that then-head coach Chuck Knox really wanted to draft Brett Favre.  But, Ken “We Want The Coach And The General Manager To Run The Team” Behring stuck his big snout into the proceedings and forced the team to draft the all-time greatest bust in Seahawks history.  Brett Favre went on to be a Super Bowl winning Hall of Famer.  Dan McGwire went on to suck dick for crack rock (allegedly).

Ken Behring was no NFL owner.  He was a fucking tourist.  He was a sexual harassing Good Time Charlie who enjoyed the power and prestige of owning an NFL franchise, but he wasn’t really an NFL fan.  This quote, from his own son, then-team president David Behring, is pretty telling:

“I had tremendous passion for the game,” said David Behring, who opposed his father’s decision to move the franchise. “I felt that I was getting along with many of the people, and I was trying to push my father into background so as not to be a target. But the ’92 season really turned him off from football. When you’re 2-14, you’re criticized daily.”

Bring a little adversity into his life, and look at what he does!  Tries to take his prestige and power to a city that placates people with prestige and power.  Seattle doesn’t give a FUCK about your money or your status (at least, not compared to L.A.).  So, while he might not have been a snake in the grass a la Clay Bennett, we’re still talking about an inevitability.  Seattle wouldn’t embrace him as being the King Sultan of the World, so he wouldn’t embrace Seattle.  It’s as simple as that.  You want to know why people from the Pacific Northwest tend to badmouth people from California?  Look no further than the example set by Ken Behring.

***

The other big name on this list for the Seahawks is Tim Ruskell.  Ruskell was brought in to replace Bob Whitsitt (who himself had supplanted Mike Holmgren in 2003 as the primary general manager).  This move was a no-brainer, because Whitsitt (originally hired by Paul Allen when he purchased the Seahawks to be the president of the team) was a basketball guy (also being Allen’s right hand with the Trail Blazers down in Portland).  Ruskell immediately selected Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill in the 2005 draft and the team went on to lose in the Super Bowl that very same year.

We thought, “All right!  We got something here!”  Holmgren was largely believed to be spread thin by doing double duty as head coach and GM; most people here thought his GM duties suffered.  He needed a football guy to handle player personnel, and after one season, Ruskell seemed to be the magic man.

But, Ruskell immediately lost all his goodwill by dicking around with Steve Hutchinson.  He also traded away a first round pick for Deion Branch (an insane price for a sub-par receiver), drafted an endless string of busts (Kelly Jennings, Lawrence Jackson, Josh Wilson, Aaron Curry), and signed an endless string of useless, old players (T.J. Duckett, Julius Jones, T.J. Houshmandzadeh).  By the time he was forced to resign after the 2009 season, it was pretty clear:  that Super Bowl team was Mike Holmgren’s team.  Holmgren brought in the bulk of the core that got us to the promised land.  Ruskell just caught on at the right time and bought himself five seasons even though he was a complete moron.

After those two guys, I’m finding it hard to find Seahawks I hate.  I think there’s a reason for that:  in baseball, it’s a lot easier to hate the player, because all of his money is guaranteed.  If you sign a huge contract in baseball, then you go on to suck, you’re stuck with him!  In football, if they sign big and suck, you just cut him and save yourself the cap space.

The first player that comes to mind for me is Jerramy Stevens.  I can’t STAND that guy.  He was a first round pick at tight end that was supposed to lock down the position for a decade or more.  But, of course, he came in and was middling at best.  He was NOT the dynamic game-changer you expect out of a first round pick.  Then, he ran his stupid fucking bitch mouth in the week leading up to Super Bowl XL, and THEN he proceeded to drop crucial, game-changing balls IN the Super Bowl!

I blame the refs for a lot when it comes to losing that game, but a VERY close #2 is Jerramy Stevens.  I hope that game haunts him until his dying breath.  Jerramy Stevens is the primary reason why you should NEVER draft a home town guy who is known to have legal issues in college.  If a guy has legal issues in college (drugs, drunk driving, date rape, plowing your vehicle into nursing homes), that means he’s a fucking idiot.  It also means he has fucking idiot friends.  When drafting a fucking idiot, you’ve got to get him as far away from his fucking idiot friends as possible, otherwise he’s never going to mature to the level you need him to.

After Stevens, I guess I’d throw Rick Mirer on this list.  This one’s a stretch, though, because he’s been gone so long.  And, when we traded him, we got a pretty hefty haul from the Bears in draft picks, so that mitigated a lot of the hate.  Nevertheless, he was a #2 overall draft pick after the Seahawks went 2-14.  A #2 overall drafted quarterback is SUPPOSED to be a franchise guy you can build your team around.  Mirer went on to have a decent rookie season, then made absolutely no strides whatsoever, and was a constant disappointment every season thereafter.

I don’t know what to tell you after those four guys.  The Boz?  There were quite a few Seattleites who didn’t like the guy.  He was KIND OF an overrated pile of shit who Bo Jackson made his bitch.  Then, he was an action movie star?  Then he was irrelevant?  I dunno, man.  I read his autobiography and I find him entertaining.  And now?  Now, I just kinda feel sorry for him.  Not only is he a punchline for his “movie career”, but he’s a punchline for the thing he ostensibly did the best:  play linebacker.  I don’t know what the Boz is doing with his life right now, but if it doesn’t involve soliciting gentlemen to pull out their dollar bills while playing “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and asking that we all “give it up for Roxie”, then he has REALLY missed his life’s calling.

I know there are still some hard feelings about the whole Hutch debacle, with Seahawks fans soured on him for his dickish attitude following his signing with Minnesota, but truth be told I put 100% of the blame on Ruskell.  First, for not getting the long-term extension done, and second, for not using the Franchise Tag (but, rather, the Transitional Tag, which doesn’t come with nearly the penalty for other teams when they poach your players).

In fact, it’s hard to hate any of the free agent or draft busts either, because we know the person who was in charge.  Were Housh and Deion Branch irritating?  Sure they were!  It’s always irritating when you’re confronted with aging stars who think they’re better than they are (or better than they were five years prior).  But, they didn’t ask to come here.  They were brought over on the whim of a GM who was willing to over-pay so this team would be JUST good enough to be mediocre (but not so bad as to be blown up and start a true rebuilding process, which this team so desperately needed as it aged into retirement).

Since this post is also longer than I had anticipated, I’ll be making this one a three-parter.  God help us all.

The Last Five Years In Seattle Sports

2008 was the lowest point in Seattle sports.  It was our Absolute Zero.  Rock Bottom.  The total nadir of sports humanity!

It was the primary inspiration for the title of this website.  Take an already-crappy sports city, with practically no history of real success whatsoever, then rain down a million boulders while giving fans only a tiny umbrella to protect themselves.

We did NOT deserve this …

Well, we just finished the 2012 sports year with the 2012/2013 Husky basketball season coming to its conclusion.  As such, I have taken it upon myself to take a look back.  Five years ago, it was 2008; we were just getting started with the worst year ever.  How have things changed with our primary Seattle sports teams?

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners came off of a surprising 2007 campaign that saw them appearing to turn a corner.  Beltre, Ibanez, and Ichiro led the offense.  We hoped that a possible resurrection of Richie Sexson would bring about a further boost.  Two young guns up the middle – Lopez & Betancourt – were proof positive that what we were doing in our farm system wasn’t a complete joke.  Felix was coming into his own.  Losing Weaver & Horacio Ramirez was addition by subtraction.  You figured, with another quality starter, and another bat or two, and we’d be in business!

Well, we know what happened with 2008.  The Erik Bedard trade was a total and complete disaster (though, it went a long way towards the Orioles making their surprising playoff run in 2012).  The Mariners opted to let Jose Guillen walk and replaced him with the corpse of Brad Wilkerson.  Richie Sexson became a local pariah.  And, oh yeah, the other big pitching piece – Carlos Silva – was signed to the single-worst contract in recorded history.  You tack on little things – like J.J. Putz going from the greatest reliever in baseball in 2007, to an injured pile of crap in 2008 – and it all boils down to this team losing 101 games.  The first team with a payroll over $100 million to lose over 100 games.  Everyone was fired; it was brutal.

Enter Jackie Z, who could seemingly do no wrong at first.  He replaced Sexson with Russell Branyan – big upgrade.  He traded Putz for Franklin Gutierrez, who had an amazing season both in the field and at the plate.  We also ended up with Jason Vargas in that Putz deal, who came in and earned his way into the starting rotation.  He brought in Ken Griffey Jr., who wasn’t a total disaster as a DH.  In short, there was an immediate turnaround thanks to God knows what.  Good vibrations?  Luck?  I dunno.  But, this team improved 24 games over 2008 and contended well into the summer.  Everyone thought we’d struck gold!

Then, like some kind of sick fucking plague, every move Jackie Z made to help bolster the 2010 team turned to shit.  Chone Figgins was signed to a 4-year deal and immediately was the worst player in baseball.  Branyan was allowed to walk in favor of Casey Kotchman; Kotchman was terrible and Branyan was brought back in a panic-deal mid-season, because we had the most punch-less lineup in all of baseball history.  Silva was traded for Milton Bradley – which was a move of pure GENIUS until it turned out trading one cancer for another still leaves you on your deathbed.  Griffey was brought back, because HEY!, he hit 19 home runs the year before and it’s not like players suddenly lose all of their ability to swing a bat all at once or anything.

Mind you, just about everything Jackie Z did in anticipation of the 2010 season was believed to be the right thing.  Except for Griffey, but really, if we didn’t make the playoffs that season, it wasn’t going to be exclusively the fault of our elderly DH.  And, to a lesser extent, the Brandon League for Brandon Morrow trade was a bit questionable.  I mean, who trades a bona fide Major League starting prospect for an 8th inning reliever type? Nevertheless, this was a bold move looking to shore up our bullpen.

The cherry on top was the Cliff Lee trade.  We gave a bunch of Bavasi draft rejects to the Phillies for Cliff Lee in his final season.  At best, he’d be the starting pitcher to put us over the top.  At worst, we’d be a losing team and trade him at the deadline to the highest bidder for the best crop of prospects.

Like everything else that happened in 2010, even THIS ended up backfiring.  Cliff Lee came with a built-in contingency plan!  And he was traded for Justin Smoak – a disappointment to date – Blake Beavan – a less-than-adequate starting pitcher – and what has turned into a season’s worth of Michael Morse, a season’s worth of John Jaso, and a season’s worth of Josh Lueke.  There’s still time to turn around our fortunes, but unless Smoak figures out a miracle cure to his sucking ways, this has bust written all over it.

So, what happens when every single offseason (and in-season) move you make backfires?  You lose another 101 games, your franchise icon retires mid-season, your manager gets fired, and your GM is lucky to still have a job.

2010 was a wake-up call, both for fans and for the organization.  The last two times the Mariners had winning records – 2007 and 2009 – they immediately went out the very next offseason and tried to Win Now.  All the moves they made in hopes to Win Now were total disasters, so they had to come up with a new plan.  Either you keep riding this rollercoaster, firing your manager and/or GM every two seasons, or you start over from scratch.

Even though Jackie Z managed to bungle every Major League move known to man, he had still built up the minor leagues a fair amount.  With another high draft pick in his pocket, he put his head down and went to work.

The 2011 season was essentially given over to the kids.  Our major offseason moves included bringing in Miguel Olivo, Jack Cust, Adam Kennedy, Brendan Ryan, and handing over the starting rotation to guys like Michael Pineda, Doug Fister, and Blake Beavan.  In addition, Ackley, Seager, and Carp all got their feet wet; Peguero was given an inordinate amount of playing time for what he was actually bringing to the table.  Others, like Wells, Trayvon Robinson, Saunders, and Halman all got varying amounts of playing time.  2011 was Try-Out central in Seattle.  Throw a bunch of spaghetti noodles into a pot of boiling water, take them out and see which ones would stick to the wall.

2012 took it a step further.  The big free agent pick-ups consisted of Millwood, Iwakuma, and a backup shortstop in Kawasaki.  We traded away Pineda – our best pitching prospect – to bring in Jesus Montero, because we absolutely could not live with the same old offense we’d had the past two seasons.

What did 2011 and 2012 accomplish?  Moderate gains in the win/loss column (+6 wins in 2011, +8 wins in 2012), moderate gains in our offensive production, and a whole lot of salary coming off the books.  The Silva/Bradley money, the Ichiro money, the Olivo money, another season’s worth of the Figgins money.

Now, it’s 2013.  The Mariners brought in some big bats via trade – Morse & Morales for Jaso & Vargas respectively – and some veteran bats via free agency – Ibanez and Bay.  They re-signed Iwakuma (when they realized he’s actually a quality starter), brought in Joe Saunders (who will probably be terrible), and have given the back-end of the rotation over to youth (Maurer and Beavan).  The crown jewel of the 2012/2013 offseason was re-signing Felix through 2019.  That’s huge.  The Mariners may never make the post-season while he’s with us, but God damn it, if they do WATCH OUT.

There is reason for optimism five years after bottoming out in 2008, but we’re still in a Show Me stage.  I’ll believe it when I see it, and all that.  2013 is critical, because if they don’t show some significant improvement, I think a lot of people will be out on their asses again and we’ll be looking at ANOTHER rebuild.

Husky Football

The Huskies ended their 2007 season with a 4-9 record.  Their 2007 schedule was deemed by many to be the toughest schedule in the nation.  Tyrone Willingham was coming off of his third consecutive losing season (going 2-9 in 2005 and 5-7 in 2006), and many believed he should have been fired then and there.  I was one of those simple-minded folks who said we should give him ONE more chance.  Jake Locker had a full season under his belt, why not give Willingham an opportunity to turn things around with the guy he brought in as his quarterback?

Well, we kicked off 2008 by being trounced in Oregon (who would go on to finish 10-3).  Then, we lost by a single point at home to BYU (thanks to the infamous penalty flag thrown on Locker as he ran in for the would-be game-tying touchdown and tossed the ball over his shoulder … thank you Pac-10 referees for being so damn competent) on a missed extra point at the end of the game.  Then, we lost at home to Oklahoma (who would go on to lose to Florida in the BCS National Championship Game).

THEN, we lost our quarterback, our best player, and really our only GOOD player, in the Stanford game.  After that, with the likes of Ronnie Fouch at the helm, we proceeded to lose all the rest of our games (including a pathetic heartbreaker of an Apple Cup, 16-13 in overtime).

0-12.  Doesn’t get any worse than that.  Can only go up from there, right?

Willingham:  gone.  Sarkisian:  in.

The 2009 Huskies improved by 5 games.  There was a signature win at home over the then-#3 USC Trojans, 16-13 on a last-minute field goal.  There was a signature near-win the first game of the season at home against LSU.  Jake Locker took huge strides in his development as a passer.  Everything looked great for the future.

The 2010 Huskies weren’t all that much more improved than the 2009 team, but they managed to win six regular season games (winning out after starting 3-6, thanks to a soft schedule to finish things) and earned a bowl game against Nebraska.  Of course, they got killed by Nebraska, IN Husky Stadium, earlier that season.  But, in the rematch, this Husky team was totally reborn and they took it to the Cornhuskers, stifling them 19-7.

That led to somewhat higher expectations for 2011, but how high could we possibly make them?  Let’s face it, we’d lost our best player and were breaking in a new quarterback.  Our defense was still on the fritz, and we were still in a very tough conference with Oregon, Stanford, and USC.  Not to mention we had to go to Nebraska, where we most certainly got our shit kicked in.

2011 was a disappointment because there was no Signature Win.  In 2009 and 2010, we had victories over USC and Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.  In 2011, we barely squeaked by Eastern Washington in the first game.  We were absolutely terrorized by the aforementioned heavy hitters (losing the games to USC, Oregon, Stanford, and Nebraska by a combined 190-93).  In spite of losing ALL the games were were technically “supposed” to lose, we were still in line for a 1-game improvement over 2010.  That officially died when A. we went into Oregon State and lost (they ended the season with 3 wins) and B. we faced RGIII and the Baylor Bears and gave up 67 points on 777 yards of offense in losing by 11.

Back-to-back 7-6 seasons left a bitter taste in our mouths.  After storming the field against the Cornhuskers, we bent over and grabbed our ankles against the Bears.  2012 would SURELY be different, though.  We had a full season with Keith Price, he had surpassed our wildest expectations by throwing for over 3,000 yards with 33 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions.  How could 2012 NOT be a huge improvement?  On top of all that, we didn’t wait that extra season to see if Nick Holt could turn things around on defense.  We went out, brought in some heavy hitters at recruiting and defensive coaching, and nabbed some top prospects in the process.

Well, there was improvement.  The 2012 Huskies DID manage some signature wins against the likes of Stanford and Oregon State (both in the top 10 at the time we beat them), but they also fell completely flat against the likes of #3 LSU, #2 Oregon, and #11 USC.  In spite of yet another 3-game losing streak in the middle of the season, these Huskies were looking at possibly winning 8 or 9 games when all was said and done!

They were 7-4 (riding a 4-game winning streak) going into the Apple Cup in Pullman.  They had an 18-point lead going into the final quarter … so of COURSE they ended up blowing the game in overtime.  This ultimately led to the Huskies facing Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl and ending up – once again – 7-6.

In short, the Huskies went from 0-12 in 2008, to 5-7 in 2009, to 7-6 in 2010, 2011, and 2012.  No 7-6 record is created equal, obviously, but at the end of the day people don’t remember how you got there.  They just see where you were and shake their heads.

Keith Price showed all the promise in the world in 2011.  But, he lost all his major weapons (Kearse and Aguilar at receiver, Chris Polk at running back) and couldn’t recover in 2012.  In the Baylor bowl game, Price accounted for 7 touchdowns on offense and looked like the best quarterback on the field – even better than the Heisman Trophy winner and ultimate #2 overall draft pick.  However, in the Apple Cup and again in the Boise State bowl game, Price ended both with interceptions.  He was going into the 2013 season fighting for his job, but from all accounts he’s got it locked up after Spring Ball.  Nevertheless, I have to imagine he’s on a short leash.  We can’t suffer the kind of downgrade in production again.

At this point in Sark’s tenure, he’s got all his own guys now.  2013 is the year we’re expected to win and win consistently.  The non-conference schedule is relatively easy, and the conference schedule isn’t too bad either.  We’ve got veterans in all the right places, we’ve got some serious talent on defense for the first time since he got here, and Price has had a chance to gel with his offensive weapons.  2013 isn’t a Rose Bowl or Bust, but it’s close.  The Huskies have to at least be in the conversation.

I’m not gonna lie to you, beating the Ducks for the first time in eons would go a long way towards cementing Sark’s status as a legend ’round these parts.

Husky Basketball

The 2007/2008 Huskies were a definite low-point in the Romar era.  They finished the regular season 16-16, losing in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament, and received the #1 seed in the College Basketball Invitational.  You know, that post-season tournament for the teams not even good enough for the N.I.T.

We lost.  To Valparaiso.

In 2008/2009, we brought in Isaiah Thomas and he was a firecracker right from the start.  We enjoyed Brockman’s senior season, and we rode that wave to a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament and a Round of 32 loss to 5-seed Purdue by two points.  More or less, it was a successful season, but once again it ended prematurely.

In 2009/2010, we had another senior leader taking to the forefront.  This time, it was Q-Pon, who averaged 19 and 7 per game in leading us to a Pac-10 Tournament victory, an 11-seed in the tournament, and upset wins over #6 Marquette (where he hit the clutch game winner) and #3 New Mexico.

Once again, though, the Romar-era Huskies couldn’t get past the Sweet 16.  This time, we lost to West Virginia, thanks to them totally having the length advantage on us.

In 2010/2011, we had our version of a Big 3 with Thomas, MBA, and Holiday.  The last two were seniors and Thomas was playing in what would be his final season.  We rode this squad to another Pac-10 Tournament victory (you all remember COLD BLOODED don’t you?).  This resulted in a 7-seed – our third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance – and a victory over 10-seed Georgia before losing in the Round of 32 to 2-seeded North Carolina (by only 3 points, but still).

The 2011/2012 season saw the emergence of Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross.  Both were young, extremely talented, and irritatingly inconsistent.  Ross would disappear for minutes at a time.  Wroten had no jump shot whatsoever, so he had to fight for every single basket in the paint.  This team ended up winning the Pac-12 outright, but since the Pac-12 sucked dick that season, and since the Huskies lost in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament, AND since they had no quality wins over ranked non-conference opponents, the Huskies were denied a fourth consecutive NCAA invite.  Instead, they locked down the #1-overall N.I.T. seeding and ran with it to the Final Four in New York City.  It ended with a loss to Minnesota, who would end up losing to eventual-champion Stanford the very next game.

The less said about the 2012/2013 season, the better.  Wroten and Ross both bolted for the NBA, and absolutely no one came in to replace them.  That’s what happens when you’re a good-not-great recruiter in a good-not-great university for basketball:  sometimes you DON’T bring in a player of quality and you suffer as a result.

Gaddy, Wilcox, Suggs, and N’Diaye were left to pick up the pieces.  This team was pretty solid on defense, but ultimately inept on offense, and now at least three of those guys are gone (with Wilcox having a difficult decision to make regarding his final year of eligibility).  The 2012/2013 Huskies didn’t beat a single ranked team, only beat three teams who ended up going to the NCAAs (Saint Louis, California, and Colorado), and wound up being a 6-seed in the N.I.T., where the subsequently got their shit kicked in at BYU.

What’s in store for 2013/2014?  Well, a solid incoming class with one McDonalds All American at point guard in Nigel Williams-Goss.  If Wilcox comes back, that gives us a veteran scoring presence (for the record, he’s a fool if he leaves; his past season was absolutely dreadful and injury-plagued).  If we can get anything from our young forwards, you could look at a team that surprises a lot of people.  Or, you could be looking at a third-straight N.I.T. bid.  If it’s the latter, I’m not so sure I’d be confident about my job security if I was Romar.

Seattle Supersonics

I won’t go into excruciating detail on this end.  We all know what the last five years have been like for the Sonics.  They went 20-62 in their final season in Seattle (after drafting Kevin Durant and bringing in one of the finest GMs in the game from the San Antonio organization).  They were given away by the city of Seattle, they struggled again the following season, and then they went to the playoffs four straight seasons (losing most recently in the Finals to the beloved Miami Heat).

Now, we’ve got an ownership group and an arena deal in place, and we’re fighting like crazy to steal the Kings from Sacramento.  If all goes according to plan, we will have pro basketball back in Seattle for the 2013/2014 season.  If it doesn’t, then this part of next year’s “Five Years” post is going to be REAL fucking depressing.

Seattle Seahawks

I’m saving the best for last because I can.  Because, honestly, it’s all a little too much and I can hardly believe it myself.  There is cautious optimism for the Mariners and their young core to turn things around.  There’s more confident optimism that the Husky football team will turn some heads this fall.  There’s hope that the Husky basketball team can somehow gel with their new incoming players and make an improbable Tourney run.  There’s delusions that the NBA will be back in Seattle this time next year.

But, that’s nothing.  There is outright SWAGGER for the Seattle Seahawks.  How did we get HERE?

In 2008, we went 4-12.  We had dicked around with Mike Holmgren, we signed on his replacement – Jim Mora Jr. – to be his defensive backs coach, and all the major veterans took a huge dump.  This was coming off of a 2007 season where the Seahawks once again won the division.  But, Shaun Alexander was released at the end, losing out to another injury.  So, Tim Ruskell opted to reload via free agency.  Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett were brought in to liven up the running game, but no dice.  Hasselbeck missed a bunch of games, Walter Jones tried surgery but wasn’t the same and was forced to retire at season’s end … it was just a mess.

In 2009, there was something of a fresh start expected with Mora.  T.J. Houshmandzadeh was brought in on a huge free agent deal, Aaron Curry was signed as our can’t-lose first round draft pick … in short, we were one of the oldest and least-talented teams in the NFL.  When all was said and done, these Seahawks improved by only 1 game and both Mora and Ruskell were fired.

2010 was the REAL fresh start.  Pete Carroll and John Schneider tag-teamed this roster from head to toe.  They traded for Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington, and Charlie Whitehurst (hey, they can’t all be winners).  They got rid of Housh (taking a healthy bath in the cap hit) and later Deion Branch.  They brought in a rejuvinated Mike Williams who led the team in receiving.  They drafted Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, and Kam Chancellor.  They made hundreds upon hundreds of free agent moves, giving tryouts to anyone and everyone who they thought might be an upgrade.  They got significantly younger, and thanks to a piss-poor division, ended up making the playoffs with a 7-9 record.

Understand, this wasn’t a legitimate playoff team.  Yes, after two years in the wilderness, they found their way back to civilization, but it was totally phony!  The fact that we beat the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints at Qwest Field is a travesty of common decency (though, it did provide us with the greatest NFL play ever, Beastmode’s Touchdown Scamper).  Our “Cinderella” run ended the following week in Chicago, and you had to wonder how long it would be before the Seahawks made the playoffs again.

The 2011 Seahawks were hamstrung by the NFL Lockout.  They fired their offensive coordinator and hired Darrell Bevell from Minnesota.  Which meant, if they stood any chance of competing in ANY games that season, they’d have to bring some people in who knew Bevell’s system.  This meant Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback.  They let Hasselbeck go with a cordial goodbye and handed the keys to the team over to Tarvar (without so much as a second look at Whitehurst, who was as bad as we all remember him being and then some).

Tarvar proved tough, but ultimately inept when the game was on the line.  Those 2011 Seahawks also finished the regular season 7-9 and weren’t given the benefit of a lousy NFC West to “earn” a home playoff game.

With a full offseason going into 2012, the Seahawks needed to make a change.  They’d drafted well, bringing in guys like Richard Sherman and K.J. Wright.  But, they needed a signal-caller with some zazz!  So, they signed Matt Flynn to a three-year deal, and they went out and drafted Russell Wilson in the third round.

People say if Wilson was just 2-3 inches taller, he would’ve been a Top 10 pick.  But, he’s not, so now he’s ours.

Wilson earned his opportunity to have an Open Competition in Training Camp.  This led to him wowing us in the Pre-Season, which ultimately led to him winning the job and running with it.  The 2012 Seahawks took it easy with him for the first few weeks, but once they knew he could handle himself, they opened things up.  This resulted in the Seahawks being the best team in football over the second half of the season.  Still, their early-season slip-ups meant that the 49ers won the division, relegating us to the fifth seed in the NFC.

We went into Washington and somehow came away with a victory.  Then, we went into Atlanta, gave them a 20-point lead, and somehow led in the game with 30 seconds to go.  That was choked away, but the message was sent.  It wasn’t, “Wait Until Next Year,” the way most fanbases say it, more resigned to their current fate as losers, sorely, bitterly hoping that things will turn around for them in short order.

No, this is, “Just you WAIT until next year, chickenfuckers!”  Because the 2013 Seahawks are a runaway train that has Super Bowl or Bust written all over them!

In five years, the Seahawks have gone from one of the oldest and worst teams in the NFL to one of the youngest and best teams.  In five years, the Seahawks have gone from bottom-feeders to would-be kings.  We fans are cashing in our 401Ks in anticipation of buying Super Bowl tickets in 2014.  It’s never been so clear and so positive in the city of Seattle.  They can single-handedly reverse the fortunes of this desolate sports city.  All they need to do is win.

What’s more, they’re spreading around the positivity.  People are stoked on the Mariners WAY more than they should be thanks to the good will generated by the Seahawks.  Sports fans have something to look forward to and spirits are bright.  This is carrying over to the other sports in hopes that the good vibes will roll on.

We’ll see.  If the Seahawks win it all, the Mariners contend for a playoff spot, the Huskies make a run at the Rose Bowl, the basketball Huskies make a run at the NCAA Tournament, and the Sonics return to Seattle, we could be talking about the greatest 5-year turnaround any sports city has ever seen.  Fingers crossed.

The Amazing 2000 Washington Husky Football Team

Editor’s Note:  To read this blog post, click HERE.  It is one of Seattle Sports Hell’s “Featured Articles”.

Seattle Seahawks As Chicks I Would Probably Bang

Looking for breaking news or hard-hitting opinion?  This isn’t where you want to be.  It’s 4pm on a Friday as I start this and I’m just waiting for some of that I-5 traffic to die down.  With a couple hours to kill, I hereby present you a list of Seahawks (both past and present) if they were chicks I would theoretically bang (written obnoxiously in the second person; so really, it’s the chicks YOU would theoretically bang).  Essentially, this is an opinion piece, but you’re going to have to use your imagination a little bit.  It’s sure to be offensive to both women and the specific players mentioned.  I’m sure I don’t give a shit.

Charlie Whitehurst is that chick you meet at a bar when you’ve already downed about a dozen Captain & Cokes.  You saw her earlier in the evening and winced accordingly, but in a blackout state, your loins conspire against you.  At closing time, both of you forget your tabs, hail a taxi, sloppily make out in the back for the subsequent 15 minutes the cabbie is overcharging you for a 5-minute ride.  You wake up in her bed the next morning as she’s snoring her cowpie breath in your face; you collect as much of your clothing as you can find and get the fuck out of there before the beast awakens.  A month later, you find out you have herpes.

Tarvaris Jackson is the same girl as Charlie Whitehurst, only the next morning you’re roused by her boyfriend punching you in the gut.  He kicks your ass for the next ten minutes, you’re forced to do the walk of shame buck naked.  And a month later, you still find out you have herpes.

Jeff Reed is the super-hot girl you think is “the one”, except you’re the only person who can’t see that she’s fucking crazy.  All your friends try to talk you out of her, reminding you of that time she flipped out with a crowbar on your car because she thought you were cheating on her (when, in reality, you were having an innocent chat with a co-worker), but for whatever reason (hotsex) you just don’t understand (hotsex) that she’s just no good for you until it’s too late.  Ultimately, you find her cheating on you with your best friend and you vow, “Never again.  I’m just dating good, wholesome, normal girls from now on.”

T.J. Houshmandzadeh is the stripper you meet at the club when you’re in Vegas.  You’re drunk, you’re around your friends, and you’ve already blown $200 on lapdances.  So, you sweet talk her into “something more”.  You know what you want, she knows what you want, so she takes you into the back and you get the blowjob of a lifetime.  She’s everything you’ve ever wanted and more.  Then, when it’s all over, an 8-foot, 400 pound bouncer lumbers over with a tab for a shitload of money.  You put it all on your credit card in one sobering moment.  You tell yourself that you’re never going to overpay for sexual favors ever again.

Pete Carroll is like having sex with your boss.  Yeah, she’s old, but she keeps herself in decent-enough condition.  Mostly, you’re in it because you find power sexy.  And afterward, you brag to absolutely no one.

Kelly Jennings is that “friend with benefits” you keep around who you don’t really like, and who absolutely WON’T stop calling you five times a day.  You keep telling yourself, “That was the LAST time I’m calling her for a booty call,” but then there you are, a few weeks later, alone.  On your fifth glass of whiskey.  Pushing the “Send” button on your phone.

Russell Okung is a girl you’ve been dating for a few weeks, but for whatever reason is holding out for “the right time”.  So you just make out and cuddle and then she asks you to take her home.  Then, finally, you convince her to stay over.  You’re both hot and heavy on the couch, then, as you stagger over to the bedroom, pulling off articles of clothing as you go, she trips over her skirt and suffers a high ankle sprain.

Tim Ruskell is a fairly attractive girl you meet in a bar.  You take her home, have your way with her, and promise to call her the next day.  You don’t call her.  A few weeks go by and she shows up on your doorstep telling you she’s pregnant.  Not only is she pregnant with your child, but she’s also underage (having gotten into the bar with a fake ID).  She tells you she’ll call the cops on you if you don’t stay with her.  So, you’re stuck, you’re taking care of her and the kid.  Finally, after she turns 18, you feel you’re free to leave her; but you’re still paying child support on the kid for many years to come.

Deion Branch is a co-worker you start seeing on the side even though you’ve been married for a decade.  Things are going so well, you decide to divorce so you can openly have her as your girlfriend.  This is when you realize that dating your co-worker is a terrible idea.  Not only do you end up splitting with her in a few weeks, but you’re relegated to being a weekend dad for your two kids, letting them sleep on a pull-out sofa in your bachelor pad apartment.  Eventually, you find someone else.  She earns half of what your ex-wife makes for a living, she’s five years older than your ex-wife, and she’s got two kids of her own who don’t get along with your kids.

Matt Hasselbeck is your ex-wife.  You had a great run, but you decide you want to go in for the younger model.  Meanwhile, your ex loses 40 pounds, starts dressing sexier, and hooks up with a guy half her age.

Robert Gallery is a cougar you meet in a night club.  She’s forgotten more than you’ll ever know in the sack.  She’s weirdly strong for someone with no muscle definition.  And she scares the bejesus out of you.  Just do as she says and nobody gets hurt.

Jerramy Stevens is a girl you hook up with in college.  You can’t believe your good fortune that you bagged someone so hot, but then she turns around the next day and tells all your friends (and all the girls you know) that you have a small wiener and lasted less than two minutes.  After that, you avoid her and her friends like the plague while seriously contemplating ways you could shave her head while she sleeps.

Seattle’s Worst Trades, Draft Picks & Free Agent Signings

Editor’s NoteThis is the original blog post.  If you want to see the comprehensive list, click HERE.  I update the master list semi-regularly, whenever I can find the time.

You don’t become a city that’s gone 32 years (and counting) between professional sports championships without a little help along the way.  I don’t know everything there is to know about all the other cities with pro teams; hell, I don’t even know everything there is to know about Seattle’s sports history … but I have to figure we’re at least in the top two as far as player personnel incompetence is concerned.

The following is a timeline of all the botched trades, busted draft picks, and lousy free agent signings that have befallen this city, at least since I started becoming a sports fan.  I’m gonna throw this thing in the ol’ menu bar at the top and the plan is to update it continuously.  Obviously, it’ll never be complete, so I thoroughly encourage any suggestions.

April 28, 1987 – (Seahawks) – Brian Bosworth, 1st Round Supplemental Draft Pick:  the Seahawks went big on the defensive side of the ball in this draft, highlighted by the pick of Brian Bosworth out of Oklahoma at the end of the 1st round (I don’t know what happened to the Supplemental Round draft picks, so don’t look to me for an explanation here).  I don’t know what it says about Bosworth, but the Seahawks also went after the linebacker position right before and after The Boz, with Tony Woods and David Wyman.  It says all that needs to be said, however, that both of those guys would have better professional careers.  But, did either of those guys star in “Stone Cold“?  I think I rest my case.

April 23, 1988 – (Seahawks) – Undisclosed Draft Picks to Phoenix Cardinals for Kelly Stouffer:  it’s difficult to peg down exactly which picks we gave up to get this stiff, but rest assured that Kelly Stouffer was the beginning of the end for the Seahawks.  We got a taste of glory in the 80s under Chuck Knox, with Dave Krieg at the helm and Steve Largent breaking all the receiving records later to be broken by Jerry Rice.  But, as we looked to a new decade, it was apparent that Quarterback would be a position of need that we needed to fill.  Starting with Stouffer, culminating with Rick Mirer, and still unsettled until Matt Hasselbeck took charge late in the 2002 season, the Seahawks were a blind franchise in an unforgiving wilderness for the entirety of the 1990s.  All you need to know about Kelly Stouffer is that he held out his rookie season with the Cardinals due to a contract dispute.  Then, the Seahawks tried to trade local legend Kenny Easley to get him, except Easley couldn’t pass the physical due to failing kidneys.  We finally got our man, only to find out our man was good for a mere 2,333 yards in 22 games over 4 seasons, with 7 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

April 21, 1991 – (Seahawks) – Dan McGwire, 1st Round Draft Pick:  17 picks later, the Atlanta Falcons would select future Hall of Famer Brett Favre.  Little known fact:  Seahawks head coach Chuck Knox WANTED to draft Brett Favre.  Unfortunately, the Seahawks brass couldn’t be bothered with such matters, instead finding McGwire’s 6 foot 8 inch frame to be simply irresistible.  Our “Quarterback of the Future” ended his Seahawks career after the 1994 season having thrown for 745 yards in 12 games with 2 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.

April 25, 1993 – (Seahawks) – Rick Mirer, 1st Round Draft Pick:  we’ll always remember this as our golden opportunity to grab Drew Bledsoe first overall.  Unfortunately, in week 3 of the 1992 season (on our way to a 2-14 finish), the Seahawks just HAD to go into New England and beat the Patriots 10-6 (who would also go on to finish 2-14).  The Pats had the Number 1 pick as a result, and we settled for Rick Mirer.  It should be noted that this was a particularly brutal year for incoming quarterbacks; though if we’d been a little patient, there was a 5th rounder by the name of Mark Brunell who was grabbed by the Packers and went on to bigger and better things with the Jaguars.  Rick Mirer, on the other hand, ended his 4-year Seahawks career with 41 touchdowns and 56 interceptions, getting worse each and every year.  On a positive note, one of the best trades in franchise history involved us unloading Mirer to the Bears for a first round pick we would use to trade up and get Shawn Springs.  So, it’s hard to hate on the guy TOO much.

December 10, 1993 – (Mariners) – Mike Hampton & Mike Felder to Houston Astros for Eric Anthony:  think Mike Hampton would’ve been a nice pitcher to have on all those pitching-starved teams of the late 90s?  No, I don’t remember Eric Anthony either.

December 20, 1993 – (Mariners) – Omar Vizquel to Cleveland Indians for Felix Fermin & Reggie Jefferson:  honestly, I don’t know WHAT we were thinking on this one.  But, just 10 days after we made Mike Hampton a throw-in to a deal, we gave up Little-O for the equivalent of TWO throw-ins.  Neither of whom would ever make a dent.  That’s a bad fortnight for the Seattle Mariners.

February 25, 1994 – (Seahawks) – Nate Odomes signs 4-year, $8.4 million deal:  I know the money doesn’t sound like a lot NOW, but back then that was a hefty price, especially for a cornerback.  But, Odomes was one of the best while he played for the Bills.  He was a Pro Bowler in ’92 and ’93, he had 19 interceptions from ’91-’93, and he was a guy other teams had to throw away from!  Then, a few months later, he blew out his knee in a charity basketball game, missed all of 1994.  THEN, he re-injured the same knee in training camp and missed all of 1995!  We had him for 2 seasons, he never played a down for us, and ended up walking away with $4+ million.  The long, lost, forgotten Seahawk Nate Odomes might go down as the worst free agent signing in team history.

December 7, 1995 – (Mariners) – Tino Martinez, Jim Mecir & Jeff Nelson to New York Yankees for Sterling Hitchcock & Russ Davis:  *sigh*.  So, we traded a first baseman in the beginning of his prime, and one of the best set-up men of the next DECADE for a couple of AAAA guys with huge flaws to their game.  Hitchcock would forever be a disappointment, and Russ Davis would go on to be one of the worst defensive third basemen I’ve ever seen.  I don’t care what anyone says, ultimately for what we gave away, this trade only rivals the Lowe/Varitek debacle for most completely idiotic in team history.

September 13, 1996 – (Mariners) – David Arias to Minnesota Twins for Dave Hollins:  we all know him as David Ortiz, and in 1996 we had him in our farm system.  I guess we all know what the Twins saw in him; too bad we didn’t see the same, otherwise maybe we wouldn’t have had this revolving door at first base and DH ever since Edgar and Olerud retired.

July 31, 1997 – (Mariners) – Derek Lowe & Jason Varitek to Boston Red Sox for Heathcliff Slocumb:  here we are, the mother of all bad trades.  Now, these two may not have been hall of famers, but they’re legends in Boston since they both helped to bring a world championship to town in 2004.  Meanwhile, Heathcliff Slocumb was the BEST we could do at the time?  We knew he was crap when we got him, yet HE was all we could get???  My fondest memory of Heathcliff Slocumb was when I was in the Kingdome as we clinched the AL West later that season.  My least fond memory of Heathcliff Slocumb was every time I saw a Red Sox game with Derek Lowe & Jason Varitek.

July 31, 1997 – (Mariners) – Jose Cruz Jr. to Toronto Blue Jays for Paul Spoljaric & Mike Timlin:  do you know what kind of disaster area the Seattle Mariners bullpen was in 1997?  It single-handedly caused Woody Woodward to lose his fucking mind at the trading deadline.  On the same day he would make the single worst Mariners trade ever, he also shipped off highly-touted prospect (probably the highest touting since A-Rod) for two pieces of dog meat.  On the one hand, could you blame him?  I mean, Norm Charlton and Bobby Ayala led the team in appearances that year with 71(!) apiece.  Of course, on the other hand, Woody Woodward was a huge dope on this day, a day that will live on in infamy.

2000 – (Seahawks) – Ahman Green & 5th Round Pick to Green Bay Packers for Fred Vinson & 6th Round Pick:  can’t seem to lock down an official date for this one, but figure it was sometime before April 16th in the year 2000.  The late-round picks were a wash; neither worked out for either team.  However, Fred Vinson was a total bust while Ahman Green would go on to lead the Packers in rushing.  Granted, we still had Shaun Alexander, but we still should’ve gotten more for such a stud.

July 31, 2000 – (Mariners) – John Mabry & Tom Davey to San Diego Padres for Al Martin:  this trade isn’t necessarily bad for the guys we gave away; neither meant all that much to me personally, nor did they go on to have outstanding careers after they left.  But, this trade was the epitome of the Pat Gillick era in Seattle.  Pat Gillick was a brilliant baseball man who did wonderful things in Toronto in the early 90s (2 World Series championships) and he would go on to do wonderful things in Philly (2008 title).  But, in Seattle, it wasn’t in the cards, and it was because of trades like this.  Or, more accurately, the LACK of trades period.  I don’t hate Al Martin because he sucked.  I hate Al Martin because he wasn’t someone better.  Pat Gillick needed to go out and get us a quality bat, consequences be damned.  Instead, he got Al Martin and in the year 2000, the Seattle Mariners went nowhere.

December 16, 2001 – (Mariners) – Brian Fuentes, Jose Paniagua & Denny Stark to Colorado Rockies for Jeff Cirillo:  a couple months after we finished the regular season with the most wins in the modern era, we felt it necessary to keep on tinkering.  Forget the fact we probably could’ve used a starting pitcher more; we had to go out and get Jeff Cirillo – a guy who had shown he could hit in Coors Field and nowhere else.  A guy who, in spite of playing in such a bandbox, had a career high of only 17 homers the year before he came here.  What happened next?  Well, we stuck him in Safeco Field and he hit .234 over two seasons.  Just one of many National Leaguers we’ve brought to the American League over the years who absolutely fell off the map.

April 20, 2002 – (Seahawks) – Jerramy Stevens, 1st Round Draft Pick:  a loaded draft for the tight end position … and the Seahawks got Public Enemy #1.  Jerramy Stevens was a bust because you could argue he was the biggest reason we lost Super Bowl XL (I know that’s what I would argue, anyway).  But, forget all that.  He’s a bust plain and simple because he probably had more God-given ability than any other tight end in that draft (with Jeremy Shockey and Daniel Graham going before him; Chris Baker and Randy McMichael going after him), yet he squandered it all away because he couldn’t stay out of trouble and had the work-ethic of a wino on skid row.  He’s the only Husky I’ll forever hate, and on this day the Seahawks made a tremendous mistake.

March 4, 2004 – (Seahawks) – Grant Wistrom signs 6-year, $33 million deal:  and out of that we got 3 seasons before biting the bullet and cutting him.  He “earned” $21 million in that time; for our trouble we got back a whopping 11.5 sacks.  Or, just a little under $2 million per sack.  This was a signing you could easily loathe from the beginning.  After it was all said and done, we traded in for a younger version of the white defensive end:  Patrick Kerney.  But, Wistrom was by FAR the worse of the two.

June 27, 2004 – (Mariners) – Freddy Garcia & Ben Davis to Chicago White Sox for Jeremy Reed, Mike Morse & Miguel Olivo:  it was the right time to trade the Chief, his stock would never be higher again and we were in the midst of a total organizational meltdown.  2004 was the beginning of a long slide into futility for the Mariners; what we needed at the time were some prospects who could come in and lift us back to prominence.  Olivo was supposed to be our catcher of the future, Reed was supposed to lock down left field for the next decade, and Mike Morse should’ve been a solid utility guy.  Instead, Olivo was (and still is) a dud, Reed never panned out, and Morse has always turned into a pumpkin whenever the calendar flips to April.

February 23, 2006 – (Seahawks) – Steve Hutchinson assigned Transition Tag:  this was the beginning of the end for Tim Ruskell.  The Seahawks saved a little less than $600,000 in cap room, but in the process initiated one of the most notorious swindles in recent memory.  One month later, Hutchinson would be a Minnesota Viking thanks to their Poison Pill-laced contract, and the Seahawks would descend into the abyss thanks to a below-average offensive line.  For a team that had just made its first Super Bowl thanks to that very amazing offensive line, losing Hutch would be heartbreaking.  And it would also lead to one of the more hilarious retaliatory signings ever.

March 20, 2006 – (Mariners) – Matt Thornton to Chicago White Sox for Joe Borchard:  an eye for talent:  Bill Bavasi lacked it.  Joe Borchard sounds like a name that would suck at baseball.  Matt Thornton, meanwhile, has been a pretty lockdown reliever for the Sox ever since.  Too bad he never made good on any of his promise while a Mariner.

March 24, 2006 – (Seahawks) – Nate Burleson signs 7-year, $49 million deal:  granted, it would turn out that Burleson never got anything approaching $49 million (that was the Poison Pill number we put on to rub it in Minnesota’s face), but essentially Burleson was a huge trade-down compared to what we lost in Steve Hutchinson.  It’s not an unforgivable signing; Nate was a highly productive return man and a moderately productive receiver.  But, we’ll never be able to separate Nate’s signing from Hutch’s loss.

June 30, 2006 – (Mariners) – Asdrubal Cabrera to Cleveland Indians for Eduardo Perez:  BAVASI!!!!  Hold on, it gets better …

July 26, 2006 – (Mariners) – Shin-Soo Choo to Cleveland Indians for Ben Broussard:  my best guess is that Bavasi was secretly on the Indians’ payroll in 2006.

September 11, 2006 – (Seahawks) – 1st Round Pick in 2007 to New England Patriots for Deion Branch:  the draft pick turned into Brandon Meriweather, who made two Pro Bowls.  Deion Branch signed a lucrative 6-year, $39 million contract with the Seahawks and proceeded to be a collosal disappointment until he was finally traded back to the Patriots in 2010 and everyone in Seattle rejoiced.  End result:  a 1st round pick for a 4th round pick, ye gods!

December 7, 2006 – (Mariners) – Rafael Soriano to Atlanta Braves for Horacio Ramirez:  just a stellar cap to a 2006 calendar year for Bill Bavasi.  Why he was allowed to run the club for the next season and a half is beyond me.

February 8, 2008 – (Mariners) – Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, Kam Mickolio & Tony Butler to Baltimore Orioles for Erik Bedard:  at the time, I could defend this one; then we realized what we got in Erik Bedard.  So many injuries.  So many millions for nary a game played.  Somehow, Bedard is still here, but he’ll never be the guy who was worth five prospects.  Meanwhile, Adam Jones looks like he’s got a long, successful career in him.  Still, this isn’t the worst trade ever – as it’s said to be in many circles.  But, it’s pretty bad.

March 2, 2009 – (Seahawks) – T.J. Houshmandzadeh signs 5-year, $40 million deal:  and by September of 2010, T.J. Houshmandzadeh was cut.  What we’ll always remember about Housh are his 3 touchdowns over his lone season with the team, and of course, his tantrums and tirades over not getting the ball thrown his way enough.  Of course, there’s the $6+ million we paid him just to go away.  We signed him in hopes of getting a Number 1 receiver, failing to recognize his declining skills and utter inability to go down and catch the deep ball.  Live and learn, I guess.

The Upside of 2010: Seahawks Edition

I’m so full of … what’s the opposite of shame?
“Pride”?
No, not that far from shame.
“Less shame”?
Yeah …

Time to reflect!  Better get it out of the way now while the gettin’s good.  And speaking of Good, that’s all we’ll be talking about today.  Save all the bad stuff for … the rest of the offseason.

We won our division!  Hey now!  Considering where we were at the end of last year, going from public embarrassment to slightly less embarrassing … that’s pretty fun.

In truth, we were 2 games better than we were last season and 1 game better than my predicted 6-10.  But, we played the schedule we were given, we played under the same rules of the divisional system as everyone else, and as it shook out, we won just enough to grab a 4-seed.  AND, we won our first round playoff game, giving everyone who spent the previous week grousing about moving down in the draft a chance to delight and dream a little bit.  We had the team we wanted to play in the second round.  We were looking at ANOTHER home game if we’d won in Chicago.  Everything was setting up for a miracle run, until it wasn’t.

That experience, those last three weeks, were really something special.  That’s what following sports is all about.  Going down to the wire, winning your final game of the regular season to crack the playoffs, shocking the world by beating the Super Bowl champs, rolling around on pins and needles all week in anticipation of the next round … ultimately failing like 30 of the other NFL teams in the league.  All a part of the fan experience, and something that shouldn’t be taken for granted (though, so often IS, because hey, we lost!).

Not only that experience, but just the unexpectedness of it.  I mean, come on; coming out of two years where we won a combined 9 games.  Coming off of two straight coaching changes.  Coming back with a college coach who hadn’t been in the NFL in a decade.  All the holes we needed to fill, combined with all the personnel turnover.  And the biggie:  Quarterback Controversy.  Would Hasselbeck hold up all year?  Would Whitehurst force his way into the starting lineup?  Would we rue the day we didn’t go after one of the veterans on the free agent market?

The point is, we made progress; in SPITE of all that turmoil.  We got 14 games out of Hasselbeck.  We found out what Whitehurst really is (probably).  We discovered that Carroll and Schneider are really good talent evaluators.  They found some diamonds in the rough, that’s for sure!  Yes, they basically lucked into Okung and Earl Thomas in the draft – those were the OBVIOUS picks that had to be made.  But, look at the lower round players we got who contributed.  Look at Leon Washington’s value to the special teams.  Look at Mike Williams’ importance to making our offense go.  Look at Chris Clemons’ role in an improved pass rush.  Look at what we were able to do with our run defense until Red Bryant was lost for the season.  Look at how our receiving game didn’t really miss a beat even though we got rid of Houshmandzadeh and Branch.  Look at how everything DIDN’T fall apart with our offensive line even though we arguably had as many injuries there as we did last season.

This is progress.  And the upcoming offseason will reflect more progress.  There IS reason for hope, even IF we’re drafting 25th overall.

I Like Mike

Thought I’d rip this one off right quick, as I’ve got a lot of other things to do today.

In an otherwise down-ish season – winning the division at 7-9 notwithstanding – there were plenty of bright spots for the Seattle Seahawks that I’ll be lauding in the coming weeks as we look back at a season in transition.  One of those bright spots just re-signed with the ballclub for 3 years.

Mike Williams had an average Seahawks wide receiver type of season:  65 catches, 751 yards and 2 touchdowns.  You might as well just change his name to Prototypical Matt Hasselbeck Target.  However, if you look a little deeper, you’ll see Mike missed 2 full games with injury, and was very hampered in about 3 others.  He very well could have been within reaching distance of 100 grabs!

Even if he’s not a bona-fide Number 1 receiver, Mike Williams is a great compliment to guys like Obomanu, Butler, Stokley, and hopefully whatever Golden Tate turns into.  I’m of the opinion that you don’t really NEED a Larry Fitzgerald, an Andre Johnson, or a Brandon Marshall to have a successful passing game.  They sure as shit can help, but really only if you’ve drafted the guy; I’ve yet to see a super-bigtime receiver who’s signed elsewhere as a free agent (or especially who was traded) and been the missing piece to the puzzle (talk to me all you want about Randy Moss’s initial stint with the Patriots, but he didn’t bring them a championship, did he?).

And anyway, it’s kinda like we drafted Williams.  Or re-drafted him.  He’s been nothing but professional since he got here.  Hard working, playing through pain, productive when healthy, and always with a smile on his face.  Did T.J. Houshmandzadeh EVER smile when he was here?

Next order of business:  re-sign Chris Clemons.  He’s entering his prime and certainly has a handful of good years left.