My daughter is a casual
fan that watches Monday Night Football once in a while. She called me late in
the fourth quarter—about when Madden and Michaels were discussing whether
Matt Hasselbeck or Jerry Rice or both should adorn the Horse Trailer—to
offer her congratulations. She hasn’t called me back yet.
She forgot. This is the
Seahawks. In one thing they have not changed.
They still retain the ultimate
power to tease and disappoint.
This wasn’t supposed
to happen. This was the year when past demons would be slain, when they would
realize their potential. Monday night’s game was a microcosm of what the
2004 season is turning into: great start, mediocre middle, frantic finish coming
up just short. Funny. This season looks eerily familiar.
Déjà vu all
over again. Same old Seahawks.
We thought they were better
In truth, the season is
not over yet. At least the scheduled allotment of games has not been completed.
It is hard to believe the team isn’t done, though.
Are the Seattle Seahawks
cursed…snake bit…the butt of some cosmic practical joke? Sometimes
that is easy to believe.
Consider a couple of events
from Monday’s game.
The debate about Keyshawn Johnson’s fourth quarter TD catch goes on, basically divided along lines
of team loyalty. One thing is clear, though. It was at least close enough to
deserve a review. If it wasn’t that close, Parcells wouldn’t have
rushed the point after attempt.
The Tubbs injury occurred
at the worst possible time. The cliché about adding insult to injury
applies here. By going down after the two minute warning, the injury gave the
Cowboys a free time out when they needed it, and the Seahawks were charged with
a time out they needed to save for their answering drive.
Chance? Bad karma? The football
gods cursing the Seahawks?
Gregg Easterbrook, in his
Tuesday Morning Quarterback column, often says that when cheerleaders wear skimpy
outfits in cold weather, the football gods will smile on your team. Superstitious?
You bet. But when I saw the sideline shot of our girls in their coverall exercise
suits, I had a bad feeling. Hmmmmmm……..maybe he’s on to something.
In fact, those little mishaps
are but minor eddies in the perfect storm of mistakes and broken plays committed
by the home team Monday night. Make no mistake, there were plenty of concrete
reasons the Seahawks lost.
The truth remains. Good
teams overcome bad luck and take advantage of good luck. Simplistic, but true.
Which leads to the conclusion that the Seahawks are not a very good team.
There is much consternation
among the Seahawks faithful. There is great suspicion that something is fundamentally
wrong. Mixed in with this is a premonition that this team is about to be torn
down and rebuilt again.
Some fans strongly support
this, a few are guardedly opposed.
It is hard to argue logically
against this given the current situation. Paul Allen has yet to fire a coach
during the season. That is probably a good thing overall. Better to let the
emotions calm down before making important, long term decisions.
It is possible that all
of this hand wringing and gnashing of teeth are unwarranted. There is a remote
possibility that the team will yet show signs of the greatness expected last
August. The offense certainly came alive Monday night.
My advice is don’t
bet on the Seahawks to win many games over the next few weeks. If you must bet
on the Seahawks, demand a lot of points.
That may seem defeatist
from one who prides himself on wearing rose tinted glasses. But the reality
of the present situation is inescapable, even to a die hard fan. This team is
in trouble, and has been for about two months.
Once again, the defense
is depleted by injuries. Two years ago, I was willing to consider that a reason
as much as an excuse. The team was in the very heart of the rebuilding process,
after all. This year, it seems unconscionable.
How could this happen again?
Some things are obvious.
The team can no longer count on Chad Brown to play a full season. Anthony Simmons
is not much better than Brown in availability. Both can arguably be labeled
Of the two, Simmons might
be more able to bounce back, given his relative youth, but he has missed significant
playing time the past few seasons. If he could play out his contract without
repeating the number and severity of injuries he has suffered the past couple
of years, he might avoid that label.
Sadly, Chad Brown may be
done, at least as a starter.
Bobby Taylor has missed
a lot of time this year.
The defensive veterans we
collectively counted on for leadership have not been on the field. The young
guys have been on their own.
What bothers me most about
the whole injury bug was something I remember thinking in 2002. The injuries
revealed a glaring weakness, but not necessarily in talent. That could be argued
in 2002, but much less so in 2004. No, the lack is in coaching.
In 2004, as in 2002, I see
a group of young, talented backups that aren’t ready to step up and play
when called upon. From that, I deduce that we still have a defensive coaching
I was guardedly optimistic
when Ray Rhodes was hired. He seemed to have a decent track record. Now, his
tenure here teeters on the brink of failure.
Even if by some miracle
the team wins more than one or two games the rest of this season, I don’t
see how this year could be considered a defensive success.
The way this season is unraveling,
it might be a moot point. It is increasingly probable that Holmgren will be
gone after this season of vast promise and deep disappointment. If he goes,
it is fairly certain Rhodes—and other coaches—will go, too. Can
they save this season, and with it their jobs?
I wouldn’t bet on
that one either.
One classic football film
clip brings a chuckle every time I see it. It shows Coach Lombardi pacing the
sidelines, screaming, “What’s going on here?” Fast forward
40 years and I see our head coach and defensive coordinator doing the same thing.
Only now it isn’t funny.
There is a lack of creativity
and ability to adjust on this team that funnels down from the very top. When
players are making mistakes that would embarrass a high school team, one has
to question coaching.
There is always an element
of luck or chance involved in sports. No matter how well or how hard a team
plays, there is a chance that some unforeseen event—a bad bounce or an
official’s call, for example—will turn a win into a loss.
But the old adage still
applies. Good teams minimize that possibility somehow, bad teams let it happen.
It’s hard to have
any hope of winning the Minnesota game. The litany of factors against is daunting:
a road game after a Monday night appearance, a 10:00 am Pacific game, a game
against a team with a winning record. All of these are challenges the Seahawks
have traditionally had difficulty overcoming.
The defensive front seven
has been shredded by injuries. Our secondary has not learned how to defense
deep passes in critical situations—or any situation, for that matter.
For all the problems on
defense, the special teams have been decidedly worse.
The excuse-o-meter is primed
to hit maximum.
Our last four opponents
this season include 3 teams with legitimate playoff aspirations. The fourth,
the Arizona Cardinals, retain marginal hopes of winning the NFC West Division.
The ultimate gut check is here. Every game is a playoff game, in that one loss
might put the real playoffs out of reach. A win leads only to another, probably
Pundits around the country
have questioned this team’s heart and mental toughness. So far this year,
it hurts to say that the team has been lacking in these key ingredients to success.
The team has shown a profound
inability to rebound from setbacks and overcome difficulties. One faint glimmer
of hope lies in the performance of the offense Monday night. They overcame a
10 point deficit not once, but twice. Both times, the defense and special teams
were not up to holding the lead.
It is virtually impossible
to win games when two of the three major components of the team are underperforming.
With four very challenging
games left, the Seahawks have very little time to prove they are not……….
the Same old Seahawks.
Steve Utz writes a column for Seahawks.NET every Sunday. Send your feedback
to Steve at email@example.com.