Lose now but win tomorrow? Seattle’s latest dilemma

September 21st, 2011 | Written by Rob Staton

Eyes on the prize: Andrew Luck will be the #1 overall pick next April

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. 

***NOTES*** 

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.

36 Responses to “Lose now but win tomorrow? Seattle’s latest dilemma”

  1. Finnian says:

    Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane aren’t dominating players? News to me

    • Rob says:

      They are good football players, but let’s be really honest here – when’s the last time either dominated a game? They contribute for sure, but Lombardi is correct that the Seahawks don’t have a game changing player on defense.

      • Finnian says:

        They dominate every game. When both of them are playing, nobody has rushed for over 100 yards on them. Thats domination. Their run defense is one of the best in the league. And with Mebane back at his best position, we’ll be seeing more pass rush from him.

        • Charlie says:

          If Run defense is the only thing theyre gonna be good at, then allowing 2 rushing tds and 75 ish yards is not dominant. They would have to hold AP to like 15 yards to be considered dominant. only player i would say on defense that could be dominant is ET, hes showing great run support, and we know he can play the pass well

        • Rob says:

          I cannot agree that Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane dominate every game. Like I said, good football players, but dominating they are not.

          • Finnian says:

            You saw what happened to the defense when Bryant went down. Fell apart. He is the cog that makes this defense turn. Without him it is not nearly as good. Can’t say that for many other players.

        • Rob says:

          Sure he’s an important player, but I will say that if you can’t create pressure and teams can pass all day on your defense that helps a team’s run defense as much as anything else.

          • Frank says:

            Bryant doesn’t seem in the type of shape he was last year. Mebane is good but I’d trade him and half the team for Suh.

      • Misfit74 says:

        Earl Thomas is a game-changing player.

        • Rob says:

          I disagree. He made some good plays as a rookie, he has the potential to be a game changer – but at the moment he’s a young free safety finding his feet. How many games has he changed to date? Off the top of my head, it’s zero. Like I said, he has the potential to get there and he’s an exciting player – but he’s not a game changer yet. Nobody outside of Seattle would see him like that.

          • Turp says:

            Glad to see you keep a level head, Rob. There’s not gonna be a dominate Hawks defensive player until we have a pass rush. Dominating run defense (which it isn’t; above average, yes) does not win games in the NFL. ET is a good one but he’s not a game changer yet.

    • GridironD says:

      Dude, no Bryant is not dominant and using last year’s statistics against the run don’t tell the whole truth. There was a great article on I think it was fieldgulls, might have been on here about how the first six weeks the Hawks played teams that didn’t run the ball much or well. In their first 6 games, before Bryant went on the IR, the Hawks played one team in the top half of the league in rushing and that was San Diego who barely made it in the top half of the league at number 15.

      49ers were 19th, the Broncos were 26th, San Diego at 15th, St. Louis at 26th, the Bears were 22nd and Arizona was dead last at 32nd.

      The Hawks at the end of last season gave up around 118 yards a game on the ground and through two games this year they are giving up 104 per game. So great they didn’t give up 100 yards to one player, but they still weren’t dominating in run defense.

      The closest thing to a dominating defensive player is Earl Thomas, but he is still just starting his second year in the league so he isn’t quite there yet, but has the ability to become one.

  2. Seahawk Steve says:

    Rob:
    Keep talking, your starting to win me over.
    My only question is: let’s say we “Suck for Luck” and do aquire him. He plays one game and gets hurt via shades of “The Bos”. Then we are right back where we are now. With this teams injury record it wouldn’t surprise me. What is your solution then? Wouldn’t it be better to take developmental QB’s and keep developing over the years. If there is a major injury at least we have adiquate up and coming quarterbacks to take over.
    Look at Indy’s situation this year as opposesed to Green Bay’s last year when Rogers was out for a few games. Didn’t Flynn take over and isn’t he now considered to be a possible starter in the league after developing. How about Kolb developing in Philly, now a starter in Arizona. Indy put all their eggs in one “Manning” basket. Now their back to square one.
    I would like with all my heart to get Luck if it falls that way, but I also think it’s important to develope good QB’s and sell them off to other teams for high draft picks or have one ready go at QB if you need them.
    The problem that was left by the previous FO is that they put all their eggs in the Hasselbeck basket instead of aquiring potential talent to develope at quartback. I would hate to go down that road again.
    The “Suck for Luck” idea scares me.

    • Rob says:

      I don’t understand the idea here Steve. Are you saying we should avoid drafting a potentially elite QB on the off chance he’s gets injured, and instead take developmental low cost prospects instead?

      You say Indy put their eggs in the Manning basket, but he hadn’t missed a game in his career until this season. Sure they’re struggling now, but they’ve also been to Super Bowls and won a title. Not to mention they’ve been a consistent force in the NFL for a decade. Matt Flynn is riding the crest of a wave based on one game against New England. He’s also worked in a position where he’s a backup to Favre/Rodgers and then Rodgers. It’s hardly a pressure situation for a 7th rounder. Kolb has proven absolutely nothing in the league so far.

      As an example, what if the team drafted a Luck/Barkley and continued to develop Josh Portis as a backup? You can’t be scared to draft a quarterback early. It’s the most important position in the NFL by a country mile. The Seahawks, if anything, should be aggressive in trying to solve that QB hole, not tentative.

      • Attyla the Hawk says:

        I’d rather have one Luck and 2 Portis’ than 3 Alex Smiths.

        Yeah we’d be more susceptible to injury. But the difference between Alex Smith to Tarvaris Jackson to Charlie Whitehurst to Josh Portis is negligible.

        You can get any vanilla replacement level journeyman in any year. This sentiment only befits fans/people who are afraid to try for greatness and fail — opting for mediocre and reliable.

        2005 changed that forever for me. 8-8 might as well be 2-14.

  3. Colin says:

    I have a major question that does not involve getting a QB. This coaching staff has me worried a bit. Every loss in the Pete Carroll era has been by 15+ points (save for the Bears playoff game). Is that the result of just bad players and bad play? Or Carroll’s inability to get the most out of the players? I don’t think Pete is a bad coach. I agreed with letting Hasselbeck go, and thought that much of the roster overturn was needed; but at what point do we start seeing some improvement? This team just looks bad, but I don’t think it’s due to lack of talent (except at a few key positions).

    The 2012 Seahawks could be the 2008 Ravens. Rookie QB, retooled defense, thriving running game. 11-5 record. I could dig that, and I don’t think it’s out of reach.

    • Kip Earlywine says:

      Bad pass offense + bad pass defense = uh oh.

      I wouldn’t put that on the coaches yet. They inherited a mess in both those areas.

      • Rugby Lock says:

        Have to agree with Kip here. This team has been just devoid of talent for the last couple of years and the roster PC & JS inherited was pretty much pure crap. The FO has just decided to rip off all the band-aids, and Ruskell had this team covered in them, and rebuild from the ground up. This is a true rebuild and yes it is painful, and expensive as I have to pay for the Sunday Ticket (ugh..), but it is entirely necessary. If we had lost to the Lambs last year we would’ve drafted Gabbert I think. This year will be fugly, next year will show some real hope and the year after that it will take off. At least that’s what I keep telling myself as I keep watching some gnarley football..

        BTW Kip, I was wonder if you listened to Millen’s rant and if you agree with his analysis.

        • Glen says:

          I agree with everything above and will add that lack of OTAs and mini camps hurt this team…those workouts and chances for the coaches to “coach ‘em up” would have helped….

          Right now the 2nd youngest team in the league is learning on the fly….and it’s not pretty

  4. Rich says:

    Rob-

    This is something I’ve been giving some thought as well. Statistically speaking it’s just highly unlikely that the Hawks will be picking no 1 overall. This young team has not played it’s best foodball of the season yet. Having said that, if some team were to end up No 1 overall (like Carolina or the Colts for example), I would be willing to see the organization trade players and picks (such as curry, tate and their no 1), to move up for Luck. That might be a more realistic and enjoyable scenario anyway.

    Incidentally, I’ve been wondering how the first round picks taken after James Carpenter have faired so far (given Carpenters critics), and noted that the tackle taken by Green Bay couldn’t even win the back up job and I believe Jimmy Smith is down the depth chart as well (correct me if I’m wrong). I also noted that Carimi of the Bears just busted a knee and will be out quite some time. I’m not aware of any players taken after Carpenter (in that general area anyway), that are necessarily excelling any better than Carpenter, are you?

    • Kip Earlywine says:

      Teams usually don’t trade players as part of deals, unless they are trading young established stars (like Arizona did with DRC + picks for Kolb). Probably the only player Seattle could use to entice in a trade is Earl Thomas, and I doubt they would.

      More likely, if Seattle traded up, we’d be looking at something like:

      Vick (2001): Cost Atlanta their 2nd and 3rd round picks to move up 4 spots from #5.
      Manning (2004): Cost New York a future 1st rounder (#12 overall) and a 3rd rounder to move up 3 spots from #4.

  5. Mike says:

    Thanks for the article. A lot to chew on here. Like a lot of fans, I’m wrestling with the Herm Edwards “you play to win the game” position and a pragmatic point of view of sacrificing the short term for long term gains. I find myself feeling guilty for rooting for losses and hoping other bad teams win. Some would say I’m not a true a fan, but if one bad season makes the difference between a Peyton Manning type player and a Ryan Leaf type player (or Dan McGuire, or Rick Mirer, etc.) than so be it. No one, including Luck, is a sure thing, but I’d love to take my chances with Luck or Barkley.

    Remember the rosy optimism that most people had during the offseason free agent frenzy? We were thinking of contending for the division again because of the OL draft picks and Rice, Miller, and Gallery. Well, the optimism is mostly gone and we are left with the reality of Michael Lombardi’s statement: the Seahawks have “not demonstrated any significant player on either side of the football who can make a play or stop someone from making a play”.

    I take minor exception to that quote. On defense, Earl Thomas is a difference maker. He has pro bowl ability and all-pro potential. He is flat out good. Mebane is a very good player. Other than that, our defense is pretty suspect. Huge question marks at corner, LB, and to a lesser extent the DL (Bryant is a good player, Clemens is good, but a one-trick pony).

    On offense, can we really say we have a difference maker? Rice, maybe, if he can get on the field? But he’s injury prone and doesn’t have anyone to get him the ball. Miller? How would we know? Our OL has potential, but will take time to gel. Just because we spent money and draft picks on it, that doesn’t guarantee anything. Okung should be good. Gallery has looked average at best. What do we really know about Unger? Moffit and Carpenter are green. The QB position is clearly a mess; we will have a new starting QB next year one way or another. Many people were excited when we acquired Marshawn and “the run” was amazing, but where would you rank him among the top RBs in the NFL? Scouts Inc. recently released their list of the top RBs in the NFL. Guess where Marshawn ranked. 20th? 25th? Nope. Try 55th, behind such forces as Donald Brown, Bernard Scott, Tashard Choice, and even our own Justin Forsett (45th). I’m not suggesting that one scouting agency is the end all be all of talent evaluation, just that we tend to overvalue our own players and the reality is that Lynch is an average to below average running back in the NFL. I also think that we tend to overestimate how good our receiver group is. Not a lot of precise routes or separation out there, which is compounded by an inaccurate QB who tends to hold on to the ball.

    Whew. I said it. It’s off my chest. We are not very good. I sound pessimistic, I know, but I believe in the direction that we are currently heading. I think the turnover on the roster has been for the better. We are younger, bigger, faster, and stronger than we were prior to John Schneider and Pete Carroll’s arrival. And next year, when we look up to the rafters, and see the number 12 jersey get unretired, we will smile, and know that it will only be unretired for 12-15 years, at which point it will return to its rightful place. In those years, I am confident that we will win our first Super Bowl. Some will call it skill. I think I’ll just call it Luck.

    • Mike says:

      Sorry for the long comment. I think I need my own blog. :)

      Thanks again for the article. Love the website.

      • Rugby Lock says:

        I think we have a potential all-pro in Zach Miller as well but he is being totally misused IMO. He was kept in to block 14 times last game and was asked to block the end many times as well. Why on God’s green earth do we pay a TE $17m to do the job of the tackles?? I saw our tackles sliding down to help the guards waaaaay too often. Okung owned Peppers last year… let him block the end for Pete’s sake… and Carpenter as well… We did sign a FB so have him stay back and help block and get Zach out there doing what he does better than most TE’s in the league!! Catch passes!! Arrrggggghhh!!! Rant over… I feel better now :)

  6. Chase says:

    I know as the season progresses you’ll have at some point touched on the subject of QB’s other than those named Luck or Barkley that Seattle could be interested in. You’ve mentioned time and time again, our club needs a young, franchise QB for our team to take the next step with the rebuild (which I can’t agree with more). Since Luck and Barkley will more than likely go in the first 3-5 picks of next years draft, who are some of the “other” QB’s out there that you feel would fit what the Hawks are trying to do (the “point guard” of our team)? We’ve never had success drafting a QB for as long as I’ve been alive (over 30 years) and the former regime decided to ignore it completely (David Greene who?). I agree that we need to get one this next year but for us to finish that high to pick one of the top 2 guys seems highly unlikley to me. Are there any consolation prizes I can get excited about?

  7. Chase says:

    Whoops. I meant 1-5 picks.

  8. Peck says:

    Good read Rob, as usual.
    I found myself seating in Heinz field in Pittsburgh (after driving 8 hours from Chicago) and struggling with myself. What I am doing here? Do I really want this team to win? After the game started all this disappeared (I am not able not to support my team). But still I wasn’t sad after this lost only from the way it happened.
    By the way I think it is kind of fun to follow after other team that potentially can be terrible. Suddenly Denver – Bengals is an interesting game.

  9. Frank says:

    Ouch thats quite a trip. Suprisingly pleasant read givin the subject. Seahawks, Colts, Cheifs all look horrible. This seams to be the ripping the bandaid off year for this staff shipping Hass and Tatupu. The lockout and new system really hurt our young players, I hope thats enough to land Luck.

    Honestly I have had my fingers crossed hoping for Luck for a couple of years now, although Barkley is awsome. I know Locker is the best guy in the world and a home town guy, but I just never got that feeling that I trusted him to hit a open target for the go ahead win. I do with Luck and Barkley both.

  10. Jeff says:

    I sort of agree with Lombardi, but at the same time, we’re just using Jackson as a short-term stopgap. It’s far too early to judge the offensive line. This is where I disagree with Lombardi. Its very difficult to call this group suspect moving forward. Moffitt + carpenter will get better as the season progress. Right now, there in shambles but lets wait until the end of the season to evaluate group. How is Earl Thomas not a significant player on defence? Mike Tomlin just compared him to Polamalu!?

    I agree the defensive line needs an elite rusher. But by having hasselbeck, we took ourselves out of the running for a top 10 pick last year. and now we’re being blamed for having tjack and maybe finishing as a bottom-feeder.

    The analysis is short-sighted. It’s easy to say this team needs a franchise QB or elite players on defence..But answer this: Where did they have the opportunity to get them?! They drafted outstanding in 2010. Added Rice/Miller (we’ll see if they fit but potential to be elite). And didn’t pass on anything elite in 2011. So im not sure where Lombardi expected them to find these players.

    If we bottom out and then screw up the next draft. Fine, rip the team’s strategy or plan. But i think if you look at the talent level, the speed, the upside of this roster compared to what we had in Mora/Ruskell, its hard not to see progress. You have to get worse before you get better. Ask the 97 colts

  11. Vin says:

    As always, great stuff Rob. Just reading all of the above comments, and its obvious we’re all pulling for the Hawks….we all want them to succeed, but we’re just in disagreement on how to get it done. I’ve lived in the PNW all my life, tried as best I could to support ALL the local teams, and with the exception of the Storm, its never quite worked out. But of all the teams, Im a Seahawk fan first. And I’ll gladly admit that, right or wrong, Im a fairweather fan. If I was truly that passionate about any of the local teams, I think I wouldve given up a long time ago. So its just easier for me to keep the sanity if I just turn it on/off. Two games into the season and Im more into football than Ive been since 07. Im fully on the ‘Suck for Luck” or Bad for Barkley” waggon because I truly believe that its the first and necessary step in the long road to the promise land. We have no identity……you look at the past superbowl champions and they had something….explosive offense, dominant defense….something. I’d say we’re leaning towards the offense, but we have neither the playmakers or scheme to be up there with the GB’s/Saints/Pats/Chargers, etc.

    So, again, I cheer for a doom & gloom ’11/’12 in hopes that FO will obtain the players we need in the draft to grow and succeed for a long time. I hope that in the next 2 drafts we’re able to secure that FQB, Dominant DE & shut down corner….or something like that.

  12. Misfit74 says:

    Do we really expect any of what Lombardi pointed out at this stage of our rebuilding efforts? No. So yes, much of that is true in a sense but it’s important not to leave out all-important context.

    What will our young team, our young offensive line, and our young secondary look like in 1-3 years time?

    The questions and criticisms Lombardi posed are SUPPOSED to be true. It’s not time to have those expectations or posititve evaluations of our building toward the future roster.

    We got guys in FA who will still be young and entering their primes when we are ready (again) to make a playoff-run…even a SB run if we get the missing pieces and players develop in time the way we envision them.

    Where are we going to Tarvaris Jackson at QB? That is asinine. Most would agree around here that Tarvaris is a bridge QB. He won’t get killed behind a youthful, inexperienced line which is important right now. Matt would already be on IR, I would contend. Lombardi and others simply aren’t looking or willing to forecast the big picture – something that really is all we should be thinking about this season. So while we should be fielding mildly competitive team this year – a business still need butts in seats; season-ticket sales, etc., it’s all about the future.

    • Mike says:

      Yes, context and a big picture view is important. However, if you are going to rebuild, it would sure be nice to have a focal point to build around. On defense, I guess that’s Earl and Mebane. On offense, Okung, Rice, and Miller. That’s a pretty decent group of 5, but we are lacking a true difference maker. I feel we need one at QB (duh), RB, CB, and DE. Our next 2-3 draft classes will determine the success of the next 10 years.