Boy, I’ll tell ya, last week’s game is EXACTLY what I needed. Up until they lost, all my football season excitement level revolved around the Washington Huskies for obvious reasons. That dwindled pretty significantly, particularly because of the opponent (ASU) that we lost to. There was a good 2-week period there where I was just in a football haze, going through the motions, watching the games but not really feeling invested.
The vast majority of that had to do with my relative indifference toward the Seahawks. I mean, there’s no better way to kill the buzz around a season than to lose in Week 1 to the Packers, and ultimately start your season 1-2, where you REALLY had to scratch and claw your way to that lone victory, over the 49ers, who STILL haven’t won a football game. The home win over the Colts was nothing special (especially when we went into halftime trailing, and I opted to go to bed and watch the rest the next day on DVR rather than interfere with my work sleep). The road win over the Rams looked like a lot of fun, but I was out of town and unable to do anything more than read updates on Twitter. Then, you had the run-of-the-mill road victory over the 1-win Giants.
Ho hum, right?
Then last week happened! One of, if not THE greatest game of the season! And then the trade deadline happened, and our biggest weakness (left tackle) turned into one of our biggest strengths overnight! And now the struggling Redskins are in town? Bring ’em on! They’ve got injuries galore and should be PUSHOVERS, with the way we’re capable of playing!
I’m all in, baby! I am dialed in, I’m loving the parity throughout the NFL, and I indeed smell blood in the water. The Seahawks have been “championship contenders” since 2012, but this year is starting to feel different. Like 2013 different.
I attribute it to the fact that it feels like the offense is further along in its progression than it has been in years past. The defense has always been great (when the key parts have been healthy), but most years it’s taken a while for the offense to get rolling. In 2012, there was a definite evolution. Russell Wilson was a rookie, and he struggled early like most rookies do. There were some close, hard-fought defeats and victories. There was a major step forward in the You Mad Bro victory over the Pats, but an immediate step back with losses to the 49ers and Lions. It wasn’t until the overtime victory over the Bears where things started to lock into place. The Seahawks averaged 50 points per game over the next three victories (including a dominant one over the eventual NFC champion 49ers), and away we went.
2013 is the anomaly, because the offense more or less started out the year in okay shape and never really faltered too much, except against the really good defenses, which’ll happen to anyone. It’s the reason why that year was so special, because when you pit a high-functioning offense with one of the greatest defenses of all time, you’ve got an unstoppable juggernaut.
But, in 2014, even though that was another Super Bowl year, there were some growing pains. The offense was still good, but not great, and I attribute all of that to Percy Harvin’s presence, and Darrell Bevell going above and beyond to try to get him involved when he just didn’t fit with what we were doing. Then, after we got rid of him, and we got our embarrassing Rams defeat out of the way, the offense was free to run wild once again. The Seahawks finished the season 9-1, and while the closing schedule wasn’t as tough as we thought it might be heading into the season, there was still an impressive 35-6 road victory over the Cardinals towards the end.
In 2015, we had the start of our significant offensive line woes. It was Okung’s final year, Britt was moved from right tackle to left guard (and struggled). Drew Nowak was the opening day center (which was the source of most of our problems). J.R. Sweezy was our whipping boy of a right guard (who was okay, but never really blossomed in a Seahawks uniform the way we’d hoped). And Garry Gilliam was flipped over to right tackle and making his first starts there ever. We struggled with this O-Line for a full half season! We started out 4-4, had a BYE, then lost to the Cards out of the BYE (on one of the worst gambling nights of my life, that seriously had me considering whether or not I should ever gamble again). But, in that Cards game, Patrick Lewis took over for Drew Nowak, we scored a ton in a 39-32 defeat, and from there the offense looked like its usual self again. We closed out the year 6-1 to make the playoffs, including that famously high-scoring game against the Steelers (where Jimmy Graham injured his knee, but we won 39-30). We averaged 32 points per game over the final 8, while averaging just a fraction under 21 points per game in the first 8.
In 2016, we had more of the same type of troubles with the offensive line (Okung gone, Sweezy gone, Britt converted to center in his third year as the lone bright spot), with the added bonus of all our running backs sucking (Christine Michael was our leading rusher with 469 yards, in only 9 games, finishing his season in Green Bay) and our quarterback getting injured in the first game and never really getting back to 100% with all the subsequent injuries he’d go on to suffer. Last year, I’d be hard pressed to say the offense ever REALLY got going. There wasn’t a game or a moment that jumpstarted things; we just kind of looked good in fits and starts. The offense was pretty good against the Falcons, but we followed that up with the 6-6 tie game in Arizona. Our best 3-game stretch of the season was when everyone was at their healthiest: Week 9 vs. Buffalo on Monday Night, Week 10 at New England, Week 11 vs. Philadelphia. Wilson played great, C.J. Prosise made the biggest impact of his rookie season (and career, if we’re being honest), and it really did feel like FINALLY things were snapping into place. Then, we fell 14-5 to the Bucs and it was right back to “Where’s The Offense?” again. I mean, maybe you can blame Britt being injured in that one, as Tampa’s interior linemen really feasted on our guards and backup center (it holds some water, as we would go on the very next week to score 40 on the Panthers), but then after that we were embarrassed on the road in Green Bay (being held to 10 points, as Wilson threw a grip of interceptions), and at that point it didn’t really matter. With Earl Thomas gone, that team never had a chance.
And, make no mistake, we’re not out of the woods in 2017. Injuries could decimate this team just as they did last year. But, if they don’t, I think we’re in great shape.
It’s not just last week’s game against the Texans, though that certainly doesn’t hurt. Here are the yardage and points totals for our offense, starting in Week 1:
- 225 yards, 9 points at Green Bay
- 312 yards, 12 points vs. San Francisco
- 433 yards, 27 points at Tennessee
- 477 yards, 46 points vs. Indianapolis
- 241 yards, 16 points at L.A. Rams
- 425 yards, 24 points at N.Y. Giants
- 479 yards, 41 points vs. Houston
That’s an offense generating over 400 yards of offense in 4 of its last 5 games, and an offense that’s been good enough to win 4 of its last 5 games. We’re moving the ball, we’re converting third downs. Granted, it’s still somewhat of a struggle early – particularly on the first drive, where the Seahawks haven’t scored a first-drive regular season touchdown since early in 2016 – but it’s not as bad as it was last year.
The offensive line IS making improvements (and that’s before the addition of Duane Brown). Granted, the running game is in shambles, but that just means Russell Wilson has been given an opportunity to step up, and he’s taken full advantage. He was a man possessed in the back-half of 2015, and we all thought we’d get more of the same in 2016 until he injured his ankle and knee and later his pec (I think?). Now that he’s 100%, and had a good off-season getting back into shape, we’re starting to see that MVP-calibre player we’ve all been waiting for.
The only thing we’ve been waiting on is the red zone offense to start turning those field goals into touchdowns, and if last week is any indication, we could be in for a big turnaround in that category. I mean, let’s face it, does the Redskins’ defense really scare you? This Sunday could be a massacre!
From there, we have a Thursday Night game in Arizona, a Monday Night game vs. the Falcons, and a road game against the 49ers before the showdown against the Eagles on Sunday Night, December 3rd. There’s no excuse whatsoever for the Seahawks to not be 9-2 heading into that game. And, if we can sneak out of there with a victory? The sky is the limit on this season. #1 seed, Super Bowl, parade in February.
The defense is the foundation upon which this team is built (and, I’ll reiterate, I’m not worried about last week’s performance; I chalk that up to an elite quarterback and a couple of elite receivers making incredibly accurate and efficient plays; talk to me if the Redskins put up those kinds of numbers, then I’ll say we have something to worry about on our hands), but this team will only go as far as the offense takes it. The amazing defense will keep us in any and all ballgames, but the offense will put us over the top and win us another championship. Even in 2013, it’s not like we shut out every team we played; we still needed to score when the games were on the line. Same here.
I’m officially out of my funk! These games mean something again! Let’s go out there and kick some ass!