The Seahawks are now 1-2 after losing to the Atlanta Falcons in a lackluster game last Sunday. We’d barely shut the door on Week Three when all the impassioned narratives started. For some, there are no wins in sight, and the season is already over. At the other end of the spectrum are the sunny optimists who believe in their hearts that a competitive team is about to bloom, save for cleaning up a few mistakes here and there, and that we just need to be patient. And then there are all the stories in-between.
Maybe all of it is true. It’s just a matter of perspective.
Some wrote the season off the minute Russell Wilson was traded. Others held out hope. But when it was clear that the Seahawks were not going to pursue quarterback options beyond Geno Smith (and backups Drew Lock and Jacob Eason), they too gave up on the season. Predictably, this launched a thousand doomsday scenarios: The Hawks will lose forever, and we’re all going to die. However, some fans, perhaps more thoughtful and reflective, didn’t necessarily see the situation as bad. Instead, they believed this to be a period of transition, where young players could develop, and losses could equate to more favorable draft options. The common thread between doomsday and retooling is that the Seahawks will not be competitive this year. (Regardless of which side of this conversation one lands, it’s fair to say that Geno Smith has exceeded fan expectations. And my personal belief is that Geno Smith is not the team’s biggest problem, not by a long stretch.)
Pete Carroll squarely lands in the aforementioned sunny optimists camp. He’s articulated and reiterated, many times, that the team is not in rebuild mode. The team is competitive. There are areas to work on and things to clean up. The pieces are all there. And the best is yet to come. A segment of the winning season holdouts will go as far to say that if you don’t believe in the potential for a winning season, nay if you express any criticism about the team, you’re not a true fan. You’re just a bandwagoner, the lowest moral failure possible…an unfaithful cretin…an infectious blight on all things right and good. Fandom is so goofy. I’ve never understood sports fans who feel the need to police others over loyalty, or perceived disloyalty.
For my part, I land somewhere around the intersection of hopefulness and realism. I start each game with the belief that the Seahawks have a chance, and that winning is possible. In the NFL, anything is possible. And, I also have an honest understanding about this team’s strengths and weaknesses, which actually helps me relax a little. One of my goals is to elevate my football IQ. Free from that absolute fixation on winning or losing, I can make a better study of the game. I can watch for schemes I’m learning about. I can focus on position groups and how they’re developing. The absence of expectations allows me to view the game through a different lens.
Perceptions fuel expectations. If your perception is that this is indeed a competitive team this season, then you will more than likely have the expectation of wins. You may or may not be disappointed. Conversely, if you believe the team to be a bust this year, you will expect losses. In this case, any wins will be a pleasant surprise. Of course, there are varying degrees to all of this.
Ultimately, the Seahawks and the season are going to be whatever they’re going to be. And the perceptions we choose will determine how well we roll with things as they are.