My last Seahawks post wasn’t a joke, I really don’t have much confidence in the Seahawks doing much of anything in these playoffs. My brother and I already have a Pizza Party bet going. He says the Seahawks will beat the Falcons (i.e. implying that the Seahawks will get there by beating the Lions this weekend) and I say they absolutely will not. So, as I told him before, it’ll either be the sweetest pizza I’ve ever eaten (if I’m wrong and we beat them) or the easiest free pizza I’ve ever won (when I’m right and we lose tomorrow or next Saturday).
But, as Seattle sports fans, we’re nothing if not dreamers. All you gotta do is get in the post-season tournament, then anything can happen. Hell, Joe Flacco won a Super Bowl in 2012 (after closing out the regular season on a 1-4 streak), while throwing 11 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in his 4 playoff games! If that doesn’t scream “on any given Sunday”, I don’t know what does.
There are plenty of reasons to be down about the Seahawks right now. Earl Thomas is out and our pass defense has collapsed as a result. Tyler Lockett is out and we’re reduced to signing Devin Hester off the scrap heap (which, I suppose, beats having Richard Sherman back there and risking him to injury; but Hester also fumbled a bunch earlier this year, which is why he was free to sign with us in the first place; he’s also 34 years old). And we’ve absolutely run out of time on this offensive line. There are no more practice games where we can say, “Maybe they’ll pull it together and gel for the stretch run.” We’re fucking IN the stretch run! And they haven’t gelled for shit! Remember last year, when our O-Line really DID gel in the second half of the season (or, at least, we thought they did)? Remember what happened in the first half of that Carolina playoff game, where their D-Line was in our backfield so often it felt like it was Week 1 against the Rams all over again? Well, the Lions nor the Falcons are on par with what the Panthers had going last year, but with how much worse the Seahawks are this year, they might as well be the fucking ’85 Bears.
But … I’m supposed to be optimistic here. Reasons for optimism. Think think think.
Well, truth be told, the Lions are probably the best possible draw in the NFC. We don’t have the luxury of being in the AFC with half the teams missing their starting quarterbacks, so we’ll take what we can get. The problem is, if the Lions are the 6th team out of 6 in the NFC, the Seahawks are probably 5th. One could argue there’s some low-level blogger in Detroit writing about his Lions right now, thrilled (relatively speaking) that they caught a break and only have to play the very-beatable Seahawks this week, as opposed to Green Bay or the Giants.
Also on the plus side is that, while it’s no BYE week, we still get the game at home. We’re 7-1 at home this season, and while we’ve been far from dominant, we’ve at least played better here than on the road. It’s a night game, on a Saturday, so I’m sure the crowd will be in a drunken lather. In an ideal scenario, the Seahawks will come out on fire and take a double-digit lead, thereby allowing our pass rush to tee off. In the likeliest real world scenario, Matthew Stafford will dink and dunk us to death, taking out the crowd but good.
If you want to get down to it, the biggest reason for optimism is the fact that we have Russell Wilson and his two best receiving targets in Baldwin and Graham. Between the two of them, you’d think we’d be able to get at least one of them going! Also, by the looks of the 49ers game, it looked like Wilson was more aggressive in the zone read, pulling the ball and running with it. Considering our O-Line can’t open up any holes for our running backs, we might need about 80 yards or so on the ground from our quarterback.
We’re not going to keep the Lions off the scoreboard, so it’s going to come down to our offense probably winning in some sort of a shootout. The Lions’ defense doesn’t strike me as all that impressive; they seemed to beat up on the crappy teams (holding the Titans, Bears, Redskins, Vikings, Jags, Vikings, Saints, Bears, and Giants under 20 points; I suppose that performance against the Giants is somewhat impressive, but Eli is still Eli), but they’ve been gashed pretty good by the likes of the Packers twice, the Cowboys, the Colts (all over 30 points) and even the Rams (28 points). I’d say 30 is the magic number. I have a tough time seeing the Seahawks losing this game if we can put up 30 or more.
Going forward, if you want reasons for optimism in these playoffs, here’s a juicy one: the Seahawks will either be playing at home or in a covered (domed) stadium from here on out. Yeah, I know the Falcons and Cowboys are really good, but if we end up playing both of them on the road, at least there won’t be any field conditions to worry about. At least if we’re ever faced with any sort of bitter coldness, it’ll be in front of our home fans (should either the Giants or Packers go into Dallas and beat them, which is entirely possible, while we go into Atlanta and win, which … could theoretically happen I suppose).
I would also say, regarding the remaining four NFC teams (Falcons, Cowboys, Giants, Packers), that none of them are really dominant on defense. Each team has a player here and there you have to worry about. But, nothing like the Vikings or Panthers were able to throw at us last year, or even the Cardinals or Bucs this year (at least, when you talk about D-Lines).
What the Seahawks need to do, if they expect to make another run at the championship, is have the offense put on its big boy pants and get to work. For too long, they’ve leaned on the defense like a crutch. Well, now the defense is struggling. It’s banged up and thin. So, now it’s time for the offense to finally pick up the defense.
I’ve been saying for years that I think Russell Wilson is an elite quarterback, and if you give him a chance to carry this team, he’ll prove he’s just as good as the likes of Brady, Brees, and Roethlisberger. Well, I don’t see a running game anywhere, do you? This is it! The time is now! Russell Wilson is all we’ve got! And, to be quite honest, he hasn’t been good enough. After last season’s breathtaking second half blitzkrieg, we all thought that the switch had been flipped and we’d be witnessing a Top 3 quarterback in the prime of his life. While he’s managed career highs in completions, attempts, and total yards, his completion percentage is down from last year, his average yards per pass attempt is among the lowest of his career, and he’s thrown 13 fewer touchdowns than his career high last year! While surpassing his career high in interceptions thrown. Suffice it to say, he’s seen career lows in both QBR and passer rating. I know he had those nasty knee and ankle injuries earlier in the season, and we were lucky to even get him in all 16 regular season games, let alone starting them all and playing the lion’s share of snaps. But, he’s had some of his very worst games in the second half of this season – ostensibly when he was feeling as good as he had since before the injuries – and he’s consistently been missing receivers and turning the ball over too much to be effective.
I would never want my quarterback to be more like Joe Flacco – because he’s terrible – but if the Seahawks are going to do anything this year, they’re going to need Russell Wilson to channel some of that Joe Flacco 2012 post-season magic. It’s the only way.