One irreplaceable talent passes another, heading different directions in their careers.
The Seahawks are not a good team. That is pretty evident. When I thought Seattle was something like mediocre to below average, this season was reasonably satisfying. A surprise playoff run in a rebuilding season could be a first step towards future success and a real contender. That was the storyline, and though I was dubious, it wasn't flat wrong. It was just an optimistic spin on the truth.
The Seahawks run defense and weak remaining schedule, plus the likelihood that Seattle will capture the West and have at least one home game, was enough for me to buy into the potential of this season and overlook moves that seemed geared towards improving the team in the short term at the possible expense of long term potential. For instance, I really like Marshawn Lynch, but I don't think he has done a whole ton to make this offense better on the whole. In the heat of the season, it doesn't matter though. Beast Mode is good; Beast Mode makes the 2010 team better.
Here's the question a game like today forces: If Seattle is not a mediocre team, or a below average team, but one of the worst teams in football, one of the five to ten teams that truly have no shot each season, is a playoff run still rewarding? Obviously, the Seahawks must do everything possible to win. That's their duty as a franchise. But as a fan, watching from the outside, without their fandom riding on this one season, and, presumably, mostly interested in the Seahawks being a contender again, not riding happenstance and fortune to a hopeless playoff bid, is it possible this season is verging on no win?
I never cheer for draft position, but Seattle needs a quarterback and has no other opportunity to attain one. It needs line talent too, but there are guards and right tackles to be found in the later rounds of the draft. It needs a pass rusher and maybe a corner, but not starting next season. Quarterback is really the undeniable need, and not even Matt Ryan led his team to playoff success his first season. So, even if Seattle was able to acquire a quarterback in next year's draft, it will be a couple seasons before he achieves much. But it would be an essential step towards a contender. That chance seems to be slipping away.
A while back, I noted the Seahawks young core to build around, but by and by, a lot of those players are gone or likely soon gone. This season especially, younger players have been worked out and the Seahawks have become more dependent on shinobi like Lawyer Milloy, Raheem Brock, Chris Clemons, Ben Hamilton, Tyler Polumbus, Brandon Stokley, Chris Baker, Stacy Andrews and Quinton Ganther. Many of those players aren't very good, but the more worrisome matter is how few have a legitimate understudy. Milloy, Polumbus and Baker, basically, and that ignores the fact that it's still unlikely that either Kam Chancellor or Anthony McCoy become NFL starters.
Those plug and play older talents join a core of players the Seahawks have retained, but who may be quickly leaving their prime. Sean Locklear looks about cooked. Marcus Trufant is nearing thirty. I love Lofa Tatupu, but he has become a component linebacker, good at filling holes, but not a game-changing force.
And then there are the young players approaching free agency: Mike Williams, Chris Spencer, Brandon Mebane, Kelly Jennings, Leon Washington, Will Herring. And in 2012: Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, David Hawthorne and Red Bryant.
When does a bad team winning become sour, because it feels like a minor and soon irrelevant achievement at the expense of the future? I mean, I like to drink myself silly and burn out the night as much as anyone, but I came to around 23 and realized I was working at Papa Murphy's.
I don't know, but I would be a liar if I wrote that losses like today's feel a whole hell of a lot worse than wins like last Sunday's. Both games feel like two sides of the same situation. The Seahawks are good enough to beat the Max Hall led Cardinals at home, and bad enough to be blown to smithereens by the Raiders on the road. The former will earn them into the playoffs, but the latter provides an equally accurate assessment of this team.
Washington is one of the great return men of his time. He is an integral part of the Seahawks very best unit, its special teams. Seattle has him on a one year contract, and given that he wants running back money and the Hawks only pay him to return, he's almost certainly gone after this season. In that way, he sort of personifies the 2010 Seahawks. He's a good player on a bad team that will contribute to a probable playoff team, but never contribute to a true Seahawks contender.