Having been inspired by John's epic 2009 season preview, I come here to try to flesh out the two dominant mindsets from the fandom, based on the Seahawks' current standing at first place in the NFC West, and their prospects for the future. I'll start with the overly optimistic viewpoint, the overly pessimistic viewpoint, and then try to reconcile the two battling opinions.
The Happy Outlook
The Hawks' offense is a functional machine that is just now getting the oil it needs. Beast Force, BMW and a competent O-line hide Matt's flaws flawlessly. They move down the field in a methodical, almost boring fashion, but it gets the job done, and they score points with consistency. Nobody will confuse this offense with the '99 Rams, but they work as well as they can given the resources.
The defense is comprised of young players gestating at just the right time. Aaron Curry, Earl Thomas, Brandon Mebane and Walter Thurmond turn into the leaders of this unit, with Lofa Tatupu and Marcus Trufant serving as the reliable veterans keeping all the whippersnappers in line. Gus Bradley strikes a happy medium between agressive blitz schemes and "bend but don't break" coverages when the time calls for it. John Marshall's conservative 3-man rushes are a thing of the past; this unit is always attacking, and they will only cede field position when appropriate (i.e. garbage time, when the game is in hand and you want your opponent to stay in-bounds to milk the clock).
Olindo Mare and Jon Ryan take opposing returners out of the game with their touchback/fair catch skills, while Leon Washington keeps coverage units on their toes. Underestimate special teams at your own risk.
The team coasts to a division title with 10-12 wins. Thanks to the coaching staff's extreme stance with benching even slightly injured players, this team is well-rested after Week 17. Okung and Mebane are 100%, the 12th Man is fired up, and the team is sitting pretty for at least a Conference Championship berth. Earl Thomas takes home Defensive Rookie of the Year, Mike Williams wins Comeback Player of the Year, and Pete Carroll silences the doubters by winning Coach of the Year and re-establishing a winning culture in Seattle.
The Sad Outlook
Seatte's offense never gells. The Beast Force remains stuck in neutral, whether through shoddy playcalling or shoddy O-line play. Having the run game taken away, Matt reverts back into "do everything Matt", which means he checks down at the slightest hint of pressure, stupidly tries to throw into tight coverage when he no longer has the arm strength to pull it off, or stupidly tries to run with the ball and expose himself to injury. Either way, the offense is neutered once again as guys like BMW and Carlson are forced to consider what they could've been had they played with a QB not in decline.
The defense shows its growing pains. Curry, Thomas and Thurmond all play like rookies. Curry still plays like a rookie even in his second year. Gus Bradley, realizing the fragility of this unit, dials back the creative blitz schemes, leading to more boring and predicable 3-man rushes and generic zone schemes. Opposing offenses feed off this formula, and the "bend but don't break" strategy quickly turns into "break, and then break, and break again." It becomes a vicious cycle: the defense spends too much time on the field, the offense isn't good enough to give them a breather, and the defense continues to spend too much time on the field.
Olindo Mare and Jon Ryan take opposing returners out of the game with their touchback/fair catch skills, while Leon Washington keeps coverage units on their toes. This is the one area of the team that is just fine.
The Seahawks back into the playoffs at 8-8 as a wild card. They get blown out in the first round. Earl Thomas may still get some DROY votes, and Pete Carroll may also score Coach of the Year for taking a 5-11 team to the playoffs in his first year, but it will feel bittersweet. This is still a severely flawed team that got lucky. A team that needs a big change at a certain position.
It's a weird time in my Seahawks fanhood. I see a lot to like about the team, but I also see a lot to dislike. I love the potential of making noise in the playoffs, but I also fear making those playoffs and being exposed as the fraud we really are. I like the current front office, but I also hated some of the moves they made (Tapp, Wilson, we hardly knew ye).
So hence this rambling, halfway-coherent piece about how I perceive Seahawks fandom at the moment. Lots to be excited about, lots to be worried about, but most importantly, lots to be interested about. This is a turning point for the franchise, and for better or worse, I can't wait to see how it goes.