KJR’s Dick Fain asked a very valid question today. Are we expecting too much from the Seahawks?
Earlier in the day, Mike Holmgren admitted on the same radio station he expected more from Seattle in Washington. He’s not the only one. Former Seahawk Nate Burleson told the NFL Network after the game he didn’t believe Seattle was as “invincible” as last year.
The Seahawks have entered this peculiar world where only the complete and utter destruction of an opponent will be acceptable. Not necessarily to the fans who follow the team every week, but to the outside world. The non-Seahawks fan has been sold the idea of a team so good they might as well be from another planet.
Most of that expectation comes from the surprisingly easy Super Bowl victory over a historically good Broncos team. If they can do that to such a dominating opponent, what are they going to do to the rest of the league?
In reality, this is a false position. And it’s creating an unfair level of expectation.
Sure, they beat the Broncos 43-8 in the Super Bowl. Yet as Fain correctly points out — they also had a few stinkers too. They lost at home to the Cardinals despite a four-interception game by Carson Palmer. They struggled mightily against an 0-8 Tampa Bay team at home, squeezing by in overtime. They probably should’ve lost road games in Houston and St. Louis — but found a way to win. It’s still remarkable how they beat the Rams that night.
Last season was not a relentless series of beat-down’s culminating in the ultimate Super Bowl performance. It was a struggle at times. There were games where they couldn’t do anything to stop the run. There were games where the receivers couldn’t make a play. Marshawn Lynch had a little tough stretch. Russell Wilson had the most average spell of his career to finish the regular season.
One of the great characteristics of this team isn’t that it blows everyone away week after week. It’s battle tested. It keeps things tight.
The Seattle Seahawks will never go into a game like the Bengals did on Sunday night and be beaten on the first drive. Cincinnati had no answer to a pumped up New England team. As soon as Tom Brady led that first scoring drive they could’ve boarded the plane back to Ohio. The body language screamed, “Oh crap.”
Seattle had a tough day in San Diego facing a similarly prolific Philip Rivers in 120 degree heat. They were pushed around, they struggled. And yet late in the fourth quarter they had the ball with a chance to drive for the game winning score. That’s Seahawks football.
Beating a pretty pathetic looking Washington side 27-17 shouldn’t be seen as a negative. They won the game handsomely despite having to combat the laundry list of penalties and miscues. Without those fixable mistakes this could’ve been the 40-0 bullying people seemed to expect.
We’ve seen a quarter of Seattle’s season now and here’s my take on it — they don’t have the same depth as 2013, but the overall quality of the two starting units is superior.
The run defense is hitting new heights this year (conceding just 62.2 YPG) and while the sack totals are low (six in five games) this is a league-wide trend through five weeks. Sacks also don’t equal guaranteed success, given the five teams at the top of the sack charts are the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs and Washington. Seattle’s defense has faced Rodgers, Rivers and Manning already and generally done an exceptional job — particularly against Denver. For all the concern over the departure of Red Bryant and Chris Clemons — Kevin Williams has been a revelation and Bruce Irvin had a terrific performance last night at defensive end.
Seattle’s defense in terms of its starters is getting better, not worse.
Football Outsiders currently has Seattle ranked at #4 on defense — down from #1 last year. Remember who they’ve faced though. According to DVOA the Seahawks have had the toughest opening schedule in the NFL. The rest of the way they have the 28th toughest schedule. The defensive ranking will be back at #1 soon enough.
Percy Harvin has provided the offense with a new dimension and a legit top-five weapon. Marshawn Lynch is as productive as ever and despite last nights problems with penalties — the offensive line is improving (particularly the play of the two guards). Russell Wilson continues to progress as a quarterback and playmaker. Only Philip Rivers has been more prolific in these opening five weeks. You could make a case for the NFL MVP race going 1) Rivers 2) DeMarco Murray 3) Wilson at this early stage.
DVOA ranks Seattle’s offense at #2 this year so far, up from #7 at the end of 2013. In four games they’ve faced the #2 defense (Denver), the #12 defense (Green Bay), the #13 defense (San Diego) and the #18 defense (Washington). Sunday’s opponents, Dallas, are ranked at #24. They then face St. Louis (#30), Carolina (#27) and Oakland (#22). So there’s a chance to be even more prolific over the next few weeks.
This is a superior team. Believe it, embrace it. And don’t be surprised either — the youth of the roster always leant itself to continued development.
They don’t need to blow-out bad teams to prove it. They just need to keep winning.