It’s time to start pulling ourselves out of the doom and gloom. It’s been four days since the Great Atlanta Tragedy. The sting of the suddenness has worn off, finality has set in, we’re already making plans that conflict with this weekend’s games, because seriously who wants to watch football at a time like this? Especially when you know we’re headed for an All-Harbaugh Bowl anyway?
Stop that. This is supposed to be an uplifting post.
The Seahawks are set up beautifully for a long and successful stretch of football. This is what I’ve tried to ignore hearing about up to this point because all I’ve wanted to do is wallow. But, it’s really true. All we have to do is survive what is suddenly an unexpectedly competitive Washington Husky basketball season, and a sure-to-be-bad, though also a sure-to-be-differently-bad-than-what-we’ve-seen-thus-far-these-last-few-years Seattle Mariners season. It’s going to be a long, dark seven months until we’re smack dab in the middle of preseason football. But, we’ll all be better for having survived it.
What were the big question marks going into 2012? It was starting quarterback, it was the wide receivers, it was the offensive line to a lesser extent, and it was the defensive line.
Well, the defensive line is still a huge question mark going into 2013. But, the offensive line proved to be fantastic, the wide receivers (at least our top 3) improved a great deal, and we found ourselves our Franchise Quarterback. I’d say that’s a pretty good haul in one season!
I’m going to write up a post sometime soon about my undying affection of Russell Wilson, so I’ll keep my praise brief. But, this is really something. He just finished one of the greatest rookie seasons for any quarterback in the history of the NFL, and he STILL won’t win the Rookie of the Year award. That doesn’t change the fact, in my mind at least, that he’s the best rookie of this class and will go down as having the best career of them all (which is really saying something, because Andrew Luck is the real deal who is going to keep that Colts team competitive for years to come).
Our core on offense is set up beautifully for the next good long while. We’ve got our quarterback. We’ve got an elite running back and we’ve got another good running back we just drafted. We’ve got a solid up-and-down offensive line that’s also very young. We’ve got a couple wide receivers in Tate and Baldwin who should be productive every season going forward. Add a couple more weapons for Wilson to play around with, and I think this offense will be as unstoppable as it gets.
On defense, we’re even better. We’ve locked up Mebane and Bryant to long-term deals to anchor our run defense. Granted, it wasn’t the best run defense to close out 2012, but I think if we manage to find another run-stuffer to plug in between those two guys, we’ll be all set. We drafted Bruce Irvin who had 8 sacks in his rookie season. Experience will only make him more of a monster in that regard. Don’t be surprised if you see him in that 18-20 sack range before too long.
Two of our three starting linebackers have two years of experience or less (K.J. Wright & Bobby Wagner). Those guys are locked in for years to come. We’ve got solid linebacking pieces who are also young that can fill in on the other side, but look for this team to draft one anyway.
Then, you look at our secondary, and we’re talking about the greatest secondary in all of football. Earl Thomas: best safety. Richard Sherman: best cornerback. Kam Chancellor: hard-hitting Pro Bowler. Brandon Browner: hard-hitting Pro Bowler. We’ve got young depth behind them and don’t be surprised if they try to supplement that depth even more in the draft. The diamonds in the rough reside here, for sure, and they’re being coached up in a big way.
The loss of Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator seems like a bigger blow than it really is. I feel like this defense coasted more on talent than it did succeed through scheme. If we’re able to bring in the right guy, whose willing to ramp up the heat on opposing offenses, I don’t think there’s any limit to what this defense can do. Can they lead the league in points allowed? Well, they’ve done it before, this past season in fact. Can they lead the league in yards allowed? They very nearly did that this past year as well. Can they lead the league in turnovers? Why the Hell not? Can they set the NFL record for most shutouts in a single season? The SKY is the limit, people!
I’ll get into some of this tomorrow, when I reflect on the positives that have come out of the 2012 season, but suffice it to say everything this team needed to accomplish was accomplished. They improved over 2011. They found their quarterback. They made the playoffs. They won in the playoffs (to nip that in the bud before it turns into a monkey on the back). They very nearly made it to the NFC Championship game before tasting bitter defeat. The most bitter of bitter defeats. Like sucking on an aspirin like a lozenge.
This team is hungry. STARVING. The players, for the most part, were passed over time and time again, either by falling in the draft or by being released from other teams. They got no respect as individuals and they get no respect as a team. They’re loathed league-wide. They’ve got a chip on their shoulder the size of Gibraltar. They know the formula to succeed: Home Field Advantage. They’re better in January than they were in September, which means we shouldn’t see any early-season fumbling-away of football games we’re supposed to win next year. Every team will be taken seriously. Every week will be another opportunity to pound the other team into submission and turn it into a glorified preseason game.
2012 was just the start of something huge. 2013, the fun really begins. Raise your expectations, because from now on this team is one of the elites. Enjoy it, because this opportunity doesn’t come around very often. Thank your lucky stars you’re not a fan of the Bills, the Jags, the Dolphins, the Cardinals, the Raiders, the Chiefs, the Jets, the Browns, or the Rams. They are SO FAR AWAY from being where we are right now, it’s not even funny!