For the last few weeks, I'm sure everyone has seen the news in the papers and on ESPN, the winner of the NFC West can only finish with a .500 record, that is only if the winner of next week's Sunday Night game is the St. Louis Rams. The NFL is about to celebrate what would amount to mediocrity with a prime spot on television...and history may be set in stone if the Seahawks win the division and go into the playoffs with a 7-9 record, not exactly the type of precedent a team would be happy to set.
But before we evaluate what went "wrong," I still would like everyone to remember this as a year of progression, a year where we may finally see a light at the end of the tunnel for us to emerge from very soon.
Yes I know, this year has been more frustrating than many I can think of in many ways as a Seahawks fan. We started it by abandoning a one-year coach, by losing Pat Kerney before we could trade him, the Charlie Whitehurst trade debacle, the Brandon Marshall race, all of those aggravating nail biters and sleep inducing blow outs...and a crater lake full of interceptions.
But who here could say that we expected the Seahawks to contend prior to the 2010 Draft, who here really thought we had a chance prior to our season opening blowout of the San Francisco 49ers. We may be frustrated by what has gone wrong, but think about the good times. Overcoming the San Diego Chargers and technically being the reason they won't make the postseason this year, Mike Williams wonderful comeback story, the emergence of Ben Obomanu, watching Leon Washington return punts and kicks for touchdowns...inspiring safety play out of both rookie "Hurricane" Earl Thomas and relic veteran Lawyer Milloy.
What about discovering the Leo/Elephant defensive line and unleashing it on the NFL? Before Red Bryant's injury, we were a top run stopping defense as he proved to be a powerful captain in his work ethic, vocal inspiration and play on the field. Chris Clemons was a pass rushing force to be reckoned with and his sidekick Raheem Brock was pretty good too. I liked picking up a young (-ger than Justin Forsett) star running back for nearly nothing in Marshawn Lynch.
We got some of our first looks at future secondary players Kam Chancellor and Walter Thurmond who look like they could contribute effectively as soon as next season on a consistent basis. We watched Matt Hasselbeck put together two straight magnificent games against the Cardinals and Saints, and we demolished the Bears, a team that has Super Bowl aspirations this year.
If that isn't progress from a team that was lifeless to end last year, I don't know what is. 6-9 is actually a good record for a team in its first rebuilding year, last I checked. I enjoyed what we did this year, and I was happy to be in attendance at Qwest to help cheer our team on to a big win over Carolina. Sure it's Carolina, but a win at home is a good win. And while I may be looking at Sunday as a game we should lose, (seeing as how I watched the Seattle Mariners win when they shouldn't have and lose out on Stephen Strasburg) I am wishing our guys the best of luck for future seasons.
It is almost 2011, so at a time when we all look back at how 2010 went, I will look back with fondness as far as the Seahawks are concerned.
Matt Hasselbeck had an up-and-down year...mostly down but the ups gave us a short period of belief that maybe he wasn't totally washed up. While we all get the feeling by now that he is closer to the end of his career than most of his supporters (including myself) would like to believe, he is out of gas, and I'd rather put him in the garage than sit him out in the elements and let him rust out in a Brett Favre-style manner.
Charlie Whitehurst has all the intangibles to be a starting quarterback, but he just seems to lack the mentality, the timing, the poise of a true star...even a true starter. He just doesn't seem to get it, and it is unfortunate because he really is talented. Looks like even Clipboard Jesus reincarnate needs more seasoning, and at age 28, that isn't acceptable.
Grade: C- (and that is generous in wake of those two great Hasselbeck games and a few solid ones)
Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett are victims of the ineptitude of a weak, injured, inexperienced offensive line...that being said, they have done what they can, though Lynch laid about five eggs in that Saints game.
In Mike Williams I trust...and apparently the same goes for any quarterback on Seattle's roster. What a little consolation prize for not winning Brandon Marshall (and paying the insane price the Dolphins did for him, all things considered). Instead, we got a man among men who finally put it all together and came off the couch to lead this team at the receiver position. In any other years, BMW would be a surefire candidate to win the Comeback Player of the Year award, but he wasn't incarcerated like a certain dog fighter who is likely to take home the award.
Ben Obomanu came on strong as another big bodied receiver, and he's made a case to never be buried on our depth chart ever again. Golden Tate also has a very bright future as a dynamic and explosive punt returner and electric receiver in the mold of Steve Smith...I look forward to his progression next season and beyond.
I honestly forgot we had one. John Carlson, Chris Baker, Cameron Morrah (outside of recently) and Anthony McCoy were all mostly invisible this season as the TE had to help block for a line that found itself crippled for the second year in a row. Please fire the conditioning staff.
Russell Okung was constantly injured, and Sean Locklear was constantly playing poor football. While I don't hope that Okung's trend of being injured continues into next season due to his immense talent, this season should be viewed as disappointing overall for the outside of our line. A line which was beat from the start as our primary depth/fringe starter over Locklear, Ray Willis, was on the IR before the season even started.
Chasten Gibilton (Pitts, Gibson, Hamilton) was our left guard for most of the season...the former being constantly injured or healing from injury, the latter ended up on IR after being a very good captain of our line. Where is Max Unger when you need him...on IR. Chris Spencer then...I heard he could play both center and guard...he's been injured lately too. That sucks. At least Stacy Andrews is a run blocking force...that comes with a handful of false start penalties.
So our best two players at playing center are Chris Spencer and Max Unger, and they're injured...who is playing center again?? Does it even matter anymore? You know...I heard that Spencer false started a couple times this season when playing the position. One question, how do you false start when you are LOOKING AT AND HOLDING THE FOOTBALL!?!?!!?!?!
Red Bryant embodied the word "elephant" and then some. He was magnificent at the position before he got injured for the year. Junior Siavii even looked decent after a disappointing stretch as a defensive tackle; he didn't even finish a game before being put on the IR. Kentwaan Balmer and Jay Richardson are all that's left, and I don't see them producing like Bryant at all.
Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock feasted on opposing quarterbacks as three jumbo defensive linemen had to be double teamed and wore down opposing offensive lines. However, without Big Red playing, focus had finally been shifted to the Leo, and the lions have been tamed.
First off, Colin Cole...I apologize. You finally realized what it took to be a nose tackle in the NFL and did your part to help us create a top run defense for a little stint. Brandon Mebane, you have always been a powerful member of our D, and you always produce. It's too bad that the both of you were injured to give way to Junior Siavii (who must have the strength of a baby as he was obliterated on every play as a DT) and...umm...Craig Terrill??
Aaron Curry, you're not quite a monster beast yet, but you did show improvement. David Hawthorne, you have earned your "Heater" nickname because you light people up. Lofa Tatupu, you've lost a step after last season's injury, but you are still every bit a captain of this defense, and I hope you rehabilitate yourself to return to the ability you had in seasons prior. You guys may not have been asked to do a lot in this defensive scheme, but you did what you were asked to do as well as you could have.
Kelly Jennings, you frustrate me...sometimes you play defense so perfectly that it is a thing to behold, then you go and screw up and allow a deep pass and a touchdown. I have been disappointed by you enough times to expect it. Marcus Trufant, the same applies to you as Lofa. You are a player this team looks up to, and I hope you can recover from your major injury last season. Water Thurmond, just keep getting better, you look very promising.
Thanks for a great rookie season, Earl Thomas. I look forward to your gale force hurricane winds picking up interceptions and throwing them into the opposing end zone for years to come. We needed a big play guy, and you brought it when we needed it most.
Lawyer Milloy, you may not have a long-playing career left, but your great play on the field and mentoring of young and promising Kam Chancellor means a lot to this team. You were our secondary general this year behind Lofa, and I hope we can squeeze at least one more nice season like this one out of you. Thanks for that 1991 Washington Husky team, also.
Well, that's it everyone, enjoy the game Sunday. No matter what happens I hope that you look back on this year fondly for the Seahawks, we have a great foundation for our future.
Have a Happy New Year, and let's look forward to the 2011 draft and season to see what strides will be made.