The Seattle Seahawks are a bad football team. No revelations there, as anyone who witnessed the first two weeks of the new season will testify. Michael Lombardi compared the Seahawks to an expansion franchise in the post-Pittsburgh aftermath:
“I hate to be so critical in only the second week of the season but Seattle has not demonstrated any significant player on either side of the football who can make a play or stop someone from making a play. Their offensive line is very suspect. The defensive line doesn’t have a dominating player. And, when you look at the team, where are you going with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback?”
If we’re being really honest, it’s hard to argue against any of that.
The offense has been a shambles so far. The defense has performed marginally better but relies on quirky scheme fits for pressure that isn’t always forthcoming. Special teams appears to be suffering - too any errors and the impact of Leon Washington (who won games for the Seahawks in 2010) is diminished due to the new kick off rules. The collective result has been difficult to watch and rightly people are dishing out the level of respect this team deserves so far - very little.
I hear the counter arguments. It’s only week two, the lockout has hampered some teams more than others, Seattle is yet to have a home game. For the record I do think we’ll start to see a degree of improvement as the year goes on, but Sunday’s game is huge for the ambitions of this team being anything more than a patsy in 2011. Lose against Arizona and you’re looking at a possible 0-6 and goodnight Vienna. Win and suddenly there’s some light in what remains a pathetic NFC West.
And that’s what bothers me.
Sure the Seahawks can coast along in the NFC West, trying to make the playoffs every year with seven, eight or nine wins. The New Orleans game was fun to watch – it shocked the NFL world and gave some credence to the efforts of the new regime in year one. Let’s not kid ourselves though, this was an ugly football team that somehow got invited to the cool kids’ party. The subsequent beat-down in Chicago proved that the New Orleans game was a brilliant one-off crafted by a team and coaching staff that was able to create one night of magic.
An effort that papered over the cracks.
The Seahawks need a young star to build around, someone who can legitimise everything this regime is trying to do. The gaping hole at quarterback needs to be addressed, get someone who can potentially fill that hole with an injection of elite quality. There’s no guarantees in football, but roll the dice on this gamble working out. Take the pain in 2011 for a shot at a generation of success in the future.
The city of Seattle needs a star. The Seattle Seahawks need a franchise quarterback.
There are two players who are eligible for the 2012 draft with the potential to fill that role. Andrew Luck will almost certainly declare and is a shoe-in to be the #1 pick next April. It’s more of a debate as to whether Matt Barkley will join Luck in turning pro, but after three years starting amid USC’s sanctions, coaching changes and an inability to compete in Bowl games – he may be ready for the NFL. Like we said, there’s no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to the draft but it’s time Seattle placed it’s faith in a young, talented signal caller. These two offer as a good a reason you’ll ever find to pull the trigger. The thing is, you may need the #1 or #2 overall pick to have that opportunity.
With all the ‘Suck for Luck’ talk doing the rounds, some fans have reacted badly to those hoping for a bad enough season to draft early and have a shot at Luck or Barkley. Only this week I argued myself that fans shouldn’t pine for Andrew Luck because it’ll drive you round the bend – it is so difficult to ‘earn’ the #1 overall pick, it’s something that has to be endured rather than enjoyed. Seattle has never had the #1 pick – and considering this franchise has had a few bad teams over the years – it goes to show just how difficult it is to own that top choice. Even when injuries decimated the franchise in 2008, a 4-12 record only brought about the #4 overall pick.
Some could argue this piece contradicts what I debated in my earlier article about not pining for Luck - but let me explain the difference. Personally I will not spend the next 15 weeks tracking the scores of every other team that stinks or hope that the Seahawks will suffer a painful and embarrassing 0-16 campaign. It goes against the very nature of the sport to ‘hope’ to be awful. I’m not flying over 5000 miles in week eight to watch the Bengals game and celebrate a defeat. Yet despite all of that – I acknowledge that this team cannot keep drifting along being flat out bad, collecting players via the draft but never picking early enough to find the one guy who pieces everything together. It may take one hideous year to break a chain of mediocrity, paving a road to consistent success. That I am prepared for, I just won’t actively petition for it.
Sure, there are other ways to build a franchise and find that starting quarterback. Tom Brady was a 6th round pick – but that’s not happening again any time soon. Aaron Rodgers was a later first round pick, but Green Bay had a unique situation starting an evergreen future Hall of Famer at quarterback who never missed a game. The Seahawks are in a completely different position. They need the foundation from which the rest of the house is going to be built and that’s going to take a top-end investment at QB.
In the best interests of this franchise, a year of suffering may be a necessity. The team in it’s current form can only achieve mediocrity at best – be honest with yourself and admit that’s true. It’s only the pitiful NFC West that has allowedsuch mediocrity to thrive in the past. The Seahawks were being blown out plenty of times last season – including against NFC West opponents - had a losing record and relied on a 4-2 division record to make the post season. Could it happen again this year? It’s doubtful, yet equally not impossible – but they’ll never earn much respect and they’ll never be a significant post-season threat. I don’t think you can repeat the New Orleans game three times to make the Super Bowl. The thought of this offense making the Super Bowl in it’s current form is frankly an insulting thought.
It’s not a case of rooting for the team to lose because the NFL is unique compared to other sports. The draft lottery in the NBA all but removes the definite ‘advantage’ of being the worst. The NHL draft rarely has the same impact that we see in football (with a few obvious exceptions). The MLB is a completely different beast all together. In football, you can take a bad season and turn it into many good years with one great pick. Every fan wants his team to be successful, I don’t think we should be too critical of those who firmly believe one year of pain could lead to the promised land. It’s just a calculated gamble.
So take the licks, endure the beatings, dream of a brighter future. The Seahawks need that ray of light that comes with a franchise quarterback that is capable of leading the charge. Dominate this division, don’t coast through it. Be a respected contender in the NFC, not a 7-9 novelty. Win a Super Bowl, move on from XL. None of this is guaranteed by picking at the very top of the NFL draft, but this could be a good year to be bad.
This weekend promises to be one of the more interesting for Seahawks fans hoping to look at potential quarterback draft picks. On my schedule I’ll be taking in NC State at Cincinnati (Mike Glennon), LSU at West Virginia (Geno Smith), USC at Arizona State (Matt Barkley & Brock Osweiler) and Oklahoma State vs Texas A&M (Brandon Weeden & Ryan Tannehill). In particular I’m looking forward to seeing if Tannehill can keep pace with OKSU’sproduction machine, watching Barkley on the road for the first time and seeing if Geno Smith continues to thrive on Dana Holgorsen’s offense against a SEC powerhouse. Expect plenty of analysis from the weekend onwards.