When you spend an intoxicated evening with friends – and you all happen to be sports fans – debates about sports are a 100% certainty to occur. With this being football season, and my friends being in Seattle, there are two subjects dominating our attention: the fantasy football playoffs, and the Seattle Seahawks.
Of course, with any semi-large group of friends, there are bound to be a few people who aren’t fans of the home team. My group just so happens to have two Pittsburgh Steelers fans (our friendship pre-dated Super Bowl XL, but very nearly didn’t extend any further), so the debates can be pretty entertaining, depending on which team happens to be better that particular year.
Anyway, there were two topics of debate last Saturday that stand out. The Heath Miller vs. Zach Miller quagmire (with no side giving an inch on who they’d rather have as their starting tight end), and a particular point one of my friends made. At the time, it felt like a one-off insult from a bitter Steelers fan looking at a long, cold, pointless winter as his team gets ready to rebuild from the bottom up in the coming years; his point was essentially, “The Seahawks better win it all now, because their window is closing.”
He cited all of the young, cheap players we will need to sign to hefty, cap-destroying extensions (though, to be fair, he erroneously noted some players we’ve recently signed to modest, cap-friendly extensions), and I countered with this argument:
Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, and Richard Sherman will get their money. We’ll off-shoot that by getting rid of Sidney Rice, Marshawn Lynch, and probably Zach Miller sooner rather than later. I don’t think we extend any of our linebackers to anything but team-friendly deals, as that position is pretty easy to re-load through the draft. And, we’ve got expensive defensive linemen who will be coming off the books and/or restructured.
The point being: the Seahawks are nowhere near Cap Hell. Championship Windows are all relative, but I’d say the Seahawks’ window is open as long as Russell Wilson wears #3 for the Seahawks. This team might never be as loaded as it is right now, because we can’t afford to keep EVERYBODY. But, as long as the front office remains as intelligent as it is, we’ve got at least another decade in this Championship Window.
I mean, look at the Patriots! Their window wasn’t just the first three Super Bowls they won with Tom Brady; it has extended, all the way through this very year and likely beyond. What’s been their constant? #12 under center, for all but one of those years.
And then I got to thinking: even if we were in Cap Hell, why would anyone doubt this front office’s ability to find diamonds in the back-end of the draft? How did we build this juggernaut? By finding value in the mid to late rounds, and among the undrafted. Do you think that skill is just going to vanish? Do you think that Schneider and Carroll just “got lucky” in every one of their four drafts together? If you do, then you probably also think those Pittsburgh Steelers bumblebee uniforms look even remotely good.
The Seattle Seahawks only need to secure three guys: Wilson, Thomas, and Sherman. After that, they can gut this team and I have all the confidence in the world that John and Pete will be able to fill in all the gaps the way they always have. But, of course, they won’t NEED to gut this team, because a lot of the pieces are already in place.
This Championship Window isn’t going anywhere.
On to the rankings.
- Seattle Seahawks (11-1) – The F is for Finisher!
- Denver Broncos (10-2) – Gotta love the feeling of being in the driver’s seat.
- Carolina Panthers (9-3) – You’re welcome, Panthers.
- New England Patriots (9-3) – With a defensive performance like that, you gotta hate their chances in the playoffs.
- Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) – O-V-E-R R-A-T-E-D!
- New Orleans Saints (9-3) – The team we were semi-worried about probably won’t even win their division. Funny.
- Indianapolis Colts (8-4) – They shouldn’t be struggling this much against such mediocre teams.
- San Francisco 49ers (8-4) – All of their skill positions are returning to health just as their offensive line goes kaput.
- Philadelphia Eagles (7-5) – Pretty solid showing against a top-notch defense.
- Detroit Lions (7-5) – Thank you Lions for seriously hurting the playoff chances of the Green Bay Packers! Really, you’re too kind.
- Dallas Cowboys (7-5) – Demarco Murray owners the world over thank you. That rushing touchdown at the end of the second quarter (when there was 14 seconds left and you still had 1 time out) was probably the most perfect play I’ve ever seen.
- Cincinnati Bengals (8-4) – There’s no reason why the Bengals should have beaten the Chargers in San Diego. Then again, there’s no reason why the Bengals SHOULDN’T have beaten the Chargers in San Diego either.
- Arizona Cardinals (7-5) – If you know what’s good for you, you’ll draft a quarterback high next year.
- Baltimore Ravens (6-6) – I would just like to point out that while Torrey Smith had a pretty darn good fantasy day, he left A TON of points out there on the field with his drops and his terrible effort on jump balls.
- St. Louis Rams (5-7) – Can we just agree that both the Rams AND the Redskins lost that RGIII trade and be done with it?
- Chicago Bears (6-6) – And that’s why you don’t take a field goal over 40 yards for granted. Not even in a dome. Not even with the “most accurate kicker in NFL history”. They should’ve continued pounding the ball until it was inside the 20 yard line.
- San Diego Chargers (5-7) – Dude, whatever.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7) – Well, that just about does it for the Steelers and their playoff chances. They now need to win out and get a TON of help.
- Green Bay Packers (5-6-1) – Welp, now we know. I mean, we already knew for the most part, but know we know for 100% sure: Matt Flynn is not a starting quarterback in this league. Noodle arms can only take you so far. Noodle arms with bad decision-making will take you absolutely no where. As I watched that game, I couldn’t help but think back to this past off-season, when we were all sort of killing the Seahawks about trading away a perfectly good backup. At this point, I’m willing to eat this heaping pile of crow on my plate: yes, I would rather have Tarvar as my #2 (and so would, I think, the Green Bay Packers).
- Miami Dolphins (6-6) – So, you beat the Jets, do you want a medal?
- New York Giants (5-7) – I didn’t watch one minute of that Giants/Redskins game, because I don’t watch crappy football teams (unless they’re playing against the Seahawks).
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9) – That was a good run you had going.
- Atlanta Falcons (3-9) – Beating the Bills only serves to hurt your chances in next year’s draft.
- Buffalo Bills (4-8) – Pretty flukey loss. What are the odds a team fumbles away two scoring chances at the end of a game?
- New York Jets (5-7) – Well, okay, if Geno Smith is going to be THIS bad, you should probably sit him.
- Cleveland Browns (4-8) – No matter what happens, Weeden will never be injured to the point where he goes down for the year. Cleveland, this is your curse. What did you do to that old gypsy?
- Tennessee Titans (5-7) – Just good enough to lose by single-digits.
- Oakland Raiders (4-8) – I’m just thankful that the Raiders gave us a decently interesting game during the day on Thanksgiving. I’m looking at you, Green Bay.
- Washington Redskins (3-9) – Maybe next year, let’s not schedule the Redskins for primetime every fucking week?
- Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1) – That’s some fancy running on a pathetic run defense.
- Houston Texans (2-10) – You may have the worst record right now, but that was quite the show against the Patriots!
- Jacksonville Jaguars (3-9) – Your 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars.