The first three games of the preseason are practice. The fourth is an exhibition. This Thursday will be fun. I might just stock the beer cooler and take the game in with long, languid sips of MacTarnahan's Lip Stinger - a surprisingly-good local saison. Watching the kids play is always relaxing. Seattle has negotiated the preseason and succeeded. Its starters survived, its scheme looks functional and executable, some fringe talent stepped up and the draft picks that matter are all healthy and producing; whatever drama the season brings, this team is in a good place right now.
This time last year, Seahawks fans were taking exaggerated, desperate breaths after learning Lofa Tatupu had suffered only a bad bone bruise to his right knee. Matt Hasselbeck had not participated in preseason games against San Diego or Chicago and would not participate against Oakland. Chris Spencer had a bad back and Seattle's depth at center had retired. Mike Holmgren was comparing his back to his long snapper's. Deion Branch was on the PUP list and no where near ready. Bobby Engram was out with a broken shoulder. Seahawks fans were picking sides between Logan Payne, Ben Obomanu, Jordan Kent and Courtney Taylor. Seattle had terminated the contract of Marcus Tubbs. Sean Locklear was out and likely to miss the start of the regular season. Jordan Babineaux and Rocky Bernard were staring down suspensions. The Seahawks were nearing a season lost to a historically bad run of injuries.
If you need the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl to be happy, find your Yankees cap and your "fast" Willie Parker jersey. Seattle has long odds of winning the Super Bowl. Something like: 1 in 32. The part of the preseason that matters is over, and I'm not furiously reloading Seahawks Insider for injury updates. I'm not bombarded with emails about every hack writer's two cents on Holmgren's impending retirement and its implications to Seattle's season. Instead, I am wondering how Seattle will keep all of its promising depth, Nick Reed's ceiling, if Justin Griffith may have wrestled starting fullback from Owen Schmitt, who will kick and return kicks for Seattle and how good this team can be when things start clicking. It's August 30, 2009. The Seahawks season starts in two weeks. It's a good time to be optimistic. It's a good time to be a fan.