If you’re a long-suffering Seattle sports fan like myself, then you know all kinds of different types of heartache. There are the obvious biggies: the Sonics moving, the Mariners never making it to a World Series, the Sonics making it to the Finals only to lose to a rejuvinated Michael Jordan team that won an NBA-best 72 of 82 regular season games, the Seahawks making it to only one Super Bowl and gagging it away thanks to uncharacteristic mistakes, secondary injuries, and horrible calls by the officials. We’ve been blessed with a small amount of success, but we’ve never been able to see our teams go all the way (save one Sonics team that won it all before I was even born).
Seattle fans are constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. Yes, the 2001 Mariners won a record 116 games, but they had weaknesses that were exploited by the Yankees in the ALCS. In any other year, the 95/96 Sonics probably would have won a championship, but they were faced with the impossible task of going up against the greatest team of all time. The 2005 Seahawks were a pleasant surprise, but they had a relatively easy path to the Super Bowl and lacked the experience and depth to make that one last push.
Since then, it’s been one long, slow, continuous slide back into mediocrity for all of our professional teams. That is, until last year, where the Seahawks found their franchise quarterback and went on one of the best runs any Seahawks team has ever accomplished. Going into the 2013 season, the Seahawks are officially among the frontrunners. Vegas odds have the Seahawks as the favorite to win it all. Never in my lifetime have I experienced this feeling, until now.
So, the question is: when is the other shoe going to drop?
The talent on this team is at an all-time high. The depth has never been stronger. On paper, not only COULD this team do the impossible, but this team SHOULD do the impossible. At this point, the table is set; the only thing that can stop us now is a rash of bad luck.
This can come in any number of ways. A blown call by a ref that costs us a pivotal game. An uncharacteristic fumble by a sure-handed offensive player costing us a chance to score. A dropped interception at a critical juncture allowing the other team to score a go-ahead touchdown. And, of course the seemingly inevitable: injuries and suspensions.
Maybe I’m overreacting, but I think it has already begun. It started with Chris Clemons tearing his ACL in last season’s playoff game against the Redskins. Odds are, he will make a full recovery, but I’m not 100% secure with whatever those odds are. In all likelihood, he will start the season on the PUP list, which will take him out of the first six games of the season. As a result, the team did what it knew it had to do: go out and sign some defensive ends in free agency. Will Avril and Bennett be able to pick up the production that was lost when Clemons went down? That remains to be seen. It’s hard to be too confident about the calibre of players we were able to sign considering we were able to get them relatively cheap.
The bad luck has continued with Greg Scruggs tearing his ACL, which will most likely cost him the entire 2013 season. Scruggs was a rookie last year who didn’t play a whole lot, and he only ended up with 2 sacks on the season, so it’s hard to consider that a huge loss for this team. Nevertheless, he represents part of that all-important depth I was talking about earlier. Injuries are inevitable, they happen to all teams. How your backups are able to step up will dictate how well your team will play in any given season. Greg Scruggs might not have been a starter, he might not have made much of an impact even if he was at full strength this year. But, he’s a second year player who the team obviously likes. You would think they like him because they see the potential for him to get better. We won’t know how much better he can be for at least another year. That, in itself, is a huge disappointment.
I should point out that while injuries are a part of the game and every team suffers from them, not every team is DECIMATED by them. The Seahawks were very fortunate in that area in 2012. It’s one of the reasons why they were able to win so many games and come together as a team. Sustaining that kind of low injury rate isn’t something you can count on going forward. Obviously, just because the Seahawks were relatively healthy last year, that doesn’t mean they’re destined to see half the team in the infirmary THIS year. These things are completely arbitrary and luck-based, which is why it’s not crazy to live in fear of this plague hitting our team, especially when we’re projected to go so far this year.
One thing you seemingly CAN control is whether or not you are suspended for performance enhancing drugs. Adderall. Again.
I want to support these guys. I don’t like being someone who immediately comes down on someone for making a mistake. But, I mean, COME ON BRUCE IRVIN! You are KILLING ME! You know the fucking rules! You made a choice to put something into your body that’s against those fucking rules. It’s hard to see this as a “mistake” when you knowingly did the wrong thing.
And it’s not like you couldn’t see something like this coming! We JUST had one player suspended (Browner) and another player facing that same suspension before he was acquitted on what many believe is a technicality (Sherman). This should have been FRESH in your mind, and I’m sure it was. And yet, you did it anyway. You don’t want people to lecture you like some old fogey? Then don’t be a fucking retard and start doing the right thing only AFTER you’ve been caught!
Now, obviously, I don’t think we can place 100% of the blame on Bruce Irvin. At this point, it should be clear to everyone that it isn’t JUST the people who are getting caught who are abusing Adderall. This shit is being abused league-wide by a very high percentage of football players. Apparently, they have some quick-acting Adderall that runs through your system in just a few hours. And, I would have to assume, there are some quality masking agents preventing even MORE people from getting caught on a regular basis. That having been said, it’s still no excuse. This season is too important, and to fuck up this bad is inexcusable.
So far, it’s only three people. I would hardly call that an epidemic. One is lost for the season, one is lost for the first four games, and one is likely to be lost for at least six games, and COULD be lost for almost all of the season (yeah, Clemons will recover and be on the field again, but for how long? I can’t even begin to count the number of people who have rushed back after an ACL injury only to be lost again quickly after their return). What makes this worse is that all three play the same position: defensive end. You never want to see injuries, but you REALLY never want to see injuries mount up among the same position group. That’s a good way to relinquish all the depth you’ve worked so hard to accumulate.
Finally, I need to point out that the first four games of the season are PRETTY important. Two of them are against teams in the NFC, with one of those teams being the San Francisco 49ers. There’s also a road game in Houston that might not be a Must Win or anything, but it’s going to be pretty fucking difficult to sneak out of there with a W if we’re nursing a bunch of wounded players.
I have a bad feeling. It starts out with a couple guys missing a fraction of the season (and the complete loss of a rotation lineman), but it could easily spiral out of control with more important players being lost. I won’t go into any names right now, but you know the players I’m talking about.
While we proceed to evaluate this team as the offseason progresses, I would remind everyone to keep an eye out on the luck factor that can and probably will bite us in the ass and prevent us from winning what we so desperately need to win. We’ve seen disappointment before as Seattle fans, but we’ve yet to see the kind of disappointment where one of our elite, frontrunning teams slowly but surely gets eaten alive by that bitch known as the Injury Bug.