Last Sunday afternoon, I did the unthinkable: I turned off the Seahawks game. They were playing the Jaguars, and it was close to the end of the third quarter. I couldn’t take it anymore. It wasn’t a matter of turning it off in anger and disgust at the way they were playing. It was an act of self-preservation. It was too painful. I couldn’t watch them implode anymore. I got put in my shoes and grabbed my coat. In the haste of the moment, I decided to go for a walk. But this lapse lasted all of two minutes. I can’t not watch the Seahawks. It goes against my wiring. So, I turned the TV back on and settled back in for the ugly duration.
I listen to sports radio almost nonstop. In the days since the game, I’ve heard a lot of analysis and explanations for what happened and why. Processing is good. It’s like therapy. It tames the relentless rumination and eases the sting a tad. Still, no amount of analysis can fully quell a 12’s consternation of watching their team play an almost flawless game against the Eagles, only to stumble so miserably against the Jaguars just one week later. How is it possible? It can drive a fan mad. But when you love a team – or the Seahawks anyway–it’s what you sign on for. The agony, the ecstasy and everything in-between.
So I have a few thoughts about last week’s loss and also on the upcoming game against the Rams. I’m just riffing here. Feel free to add any thoughts you have in the comments. I’d love to hear from you. We’re all in this together.
On the loss to the Jaguars:
- In the first quarter, Germaine Ifedi got a holding penalty, followed quickly by another penalty for taunting an official, pretty much killing a promising drive. I think he got four penalties total. He now has the dubious honor of being the most penalized player in the NFL. For as much as the o-line has improved, he remains a significant liability.
- Blair Walsh, once again, missed a field goal at the end of the second quarter. This one was a 38 yarder. Had he hit it, the half would have ended with a tie. Instead, the Hawks were at a deficit. Walsh’s defenders are forever arguing that games should not come down to field goals. I would agree to some extent. But points are points. And with every missed field goal, Walsh impedes momentum and kills the buzz for everyone.
- Overall execution was sloppy. Dropped passes. Missed tackles. Three picks. The Jaguars played a hell of a game, for sure, and their defense is lethal indeed. But the Hawks beat themselves.
- We can’t discount the toll that injuries are having on the team, especially the defense. Given how many key players are sidelined (Avril, Sherman and Chancellor), I’ve actually been impressed that the defense has held up as well as it has. Mad props. But when Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright went out, things disintegrated quickly. The Jaguars scored three consecutive touchdowns immediately after Wagner left the game. I get the next man up mentality. But when five Pro Bowlers are injured, it creates significant challenges. Not all players are created equal.
- The Hawks made a valiant effort in the fourth quarter, scoring two touchdowns and putting the win within reach. But shit happened. Graham dropped a pass. Baldwin ran out of bounds, one yard short of a critical first down. At 3 and 1, Russell Wilson got sacked and then, well, Ifedi got another penalty. They went for it on 4 and 9, but a pass to Baldwin was incomplete. On the same play, Paul Richardson was tripped but no drive-saving penalty was called. Sadly, they just couldn’t get it done. The Jaguars got the ball again, and the game ended on the ugliest of notes with a brawl at the victory formation and two Seahawks getting ejected. Adding insult to an already extreme injury, Quinton Jefferson was pelted with beer by Jags fan. Jefferson attempted to go after the fan and started to climb into the stands. Fortunately, one of the Seahawks staff was able to intervene and redirect him to the locker room. Luckily, no Seahawk players were suspended as a result of this melee.
On the upcoming game against the Rams:
- It’s pretty much do or die for the Seahawks this point. If the Hawks win, they’ll take lead in the NCF West, positioning nicely for making it to the playoffs. In the event of a loss there would still be a path for them to the playoffs, but it would be complicated and contingent on several different scenarios. Beating the Rams is truly the best option.
- My optimism about this game hinges on whether or not K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner are on the field, especially Wagner. There’s a reason he is in consideration for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. He’s probably the most formidable linebacker in the league. I believe he’s gotten something like 100 tackles this season alone and a least a couple of picks. Although the Seattle defense is pretty beaten up at present, I feel like Wagner’s been the glue keeping it all together. If he’s absent on Sunday, then the battle, while not impossible, will be all the more difficult.
- The offense will have to step up. They’ll have to start early and execute impeccably. They’ll need to convert third downs and keep drives going (and their defense off the field). They’ll need to put up points as quickly as possible. Come-from-behind scrambles in the fourth quarter, while titillating, won’t do. Neither will dropped passes, communication breakdowns and dumb penalties. Play has to be sharp, smart and clean on both sides of the ball.
- Blair Walsh needs to hit every damn field goal and PAT. Full stop.
- Mike Davis has given us all a glimmer of hope for the run game. With any luck, his rib injuries from last week aren’t serious and that he’ll be able to continue his thing this Sunday. I’ve also been excited by J.D. McKissic. Between the two of them, maybe we can get something going on the ground.
- Earl Thomas is healthy and on fire in the secondary. The Rams offense will have to deal with that.
- The Seahawks are playing at home. The 12’s will rock Century Link. This will help.
- Last but certainly not least is Russell Wilson. He floats on air. He lights up the sky. He shakes the very heavens. Because of him, I still believe. But it’s not because he plays at an almost otherworldly level- scrambling, hustling, staying freakishly calm in the chaos and making astonishing plays under crushing duress. It’s not because of his super powers of resurrection and ability to pull out a win in the last dying gasps of a game. His magic bolsters my hopes. But the reason I still believe, is because Russell Wilson still believes. His unflinching optimism in all situations inspires me. His insistent positivity and ability to trust in the bleakest of situations is uncanny. He’s pure spirit and the best kind of leader. So, as long as Russell Wilson still believes, then I still believe too.