CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 23: Defender Ryan Pontbriand #64 of the Cleveland Browns misses running back Leon Washington #33 of the Seattle Seahawks on a kickoff return during the third quarter at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 23, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Seahawks 6-3. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Some rambling for you:
Before the game, I wrote an article over at SBN Seattle that talked about Mike Holmgren's attempts to rebuild the Cleveland Browns, breaking down his Drafts a bit there, the young nucleus he's building upon, and the direction they're taking. If you take a look at what the Browns have done since Holmgren took over, there are some really good games in there and some really bad games in there too.
Chalk this last one up to the 'really bad' column for Cleveland, even though they somehow came away with the win. This doesn't reflect well on the Seahawks, but it is what it is.
In many ways, Seattle is a similar team to the Browns. New leadership, new coaches, new GM, new direction. A lot of new, young players. The Seahawks have done some really exciting things since Pete Carroll took the reins but there have also been some pretty sobering performances mixed in as well, this game included.
The combination of these two teams main similarities - those of rebuilding clubs - showed up on the field on Sunday as the Browns won a real gem, 6-3. Those nine total points represent the lowest scoring game in Seattle Seahawks history, and the ineptness, particularly on the offensive side, is not something I'm super excited about looking at in more depth.
Not that we didn't know this beforehand, but this game really highlighted the characteristics of two teams that are in rebuild mode. Rebuilding teams tend to lack depth - that showed up a bit. Rebuilding teams tend to lack star players or a smooth running system - check. Rebuilding teams tend to lack identity - uh, yes. Rebuilding teams are inconsistent - duh.
Only lucky rebuilding teams have a good, -someday will be great-, quarterback.
The Seahawks and the Browns are not 'lucky' rebuilding teams at the moment. Colt McCoy showed all day long that he's not out of the woods in terms of his development as an NFL QB. He has his supporters and he has his critics, and this day went to the critics. He missed high on passes, he had several of his throws go through Seahawks hands - throws that should have been intercepted. He was unable to get his team a touchdown, and the Browns scored only six points on two field goals.
Obviously, the Seahawks were in the same situation, if not worse. Charlie Whitehurst struggled mightily. He looked lost and threw ill-advised passes. He panicked in the face of pressure. He under-threw a few key open receivers. He could not get his offense a touchdown and his team only scored three points. Yeesh.
The quarterback position is the most important in football and neither team had a game-changing or game-controlling QB. That's not really a surprise, but it was never so apparent for the Seahawks as it was on Sunday. I can't speak much for the Browns, but the Seahawks' rebuild will undoubtedly remain a rebuild until they can secure that key component - a franchise quarterback. Until then, expect a few stinkers like this mixed in. Maybe more than a few.
The Hawks have gone about it by gathering the chess pieces around the eventual Quarterback of the Future (QBOTF). They've assembled a line that will someday protect that investment, theoretically. They've assembled weapons on offense that this theoretical player can throw to or hand off to.
But until the Seahawks can find 'that guy', their QBOTF, they'll remain middling, at best, and remain inconsistent. A loss like this is frustrating as all hell but really shouldn't be that surprising. I'm sure fans thought the team had turned a corner after the Giants game but today proved that things haven't unalterably changed for this team.
The Seahawks are still young. They're still inconsistent, and lacking some depth - the loss of Tarvaris Jackson, MaxUnger, and Marshawn Lynch hurts their ability to function. They're not a well-oiled machine. They still lack identity. These things take time to develop, and along the way there will be some peaks and valleys.
This game was definitely a valley on that journey but if you need not resort to full-on, desperate panic-mode.
Being an NFL fan of any team (pretty much any team, anyway) is almost universally going to be a roller coaster ride. I'm not going to quote the actual statistics, but the turnover in terms of which teams make the playoffs is extremely high. The "Super Bowl Hangover" is a phrase that exists because teams that win it all one year have a statistically lower than you'd expect chance to even make the playoffs the next year.
Four teams who won Super Bowls in the 10 years or so have failed to qualify for the playoffs the next season. No Super Bowl champion has repeated since the New England Patriots run in the 2003-04 seasons. Over the past decade, the losing teams in the Super Bowl have taken some hits the next year as well. Since the 1997 season, the Atlanta Falcons (1999), New York Giants (2001), St. Louis Rams (2002), Oakland Raiders (2003), Carolina Panthers (2004), Philadelphia Eagles (2005), Chicago Bears (2007) and New England Patriots (2008) have all made it to and lost in the Super Bowl and then subsequently failed to make the playoffs the next season.
This is for the supposedly 'elite' teams. Which the Seahawks are decidedly not.
The week-to-week consistency of teams is possibly even more difficult to predict. The term "Any Given Sunday" was coined referring to the NFL and the complete randomness and inability to predict with any certainty the outcome of games to be played.
And that's why I love the NFL so much.
I'm mostly even-keeled in nature. I do get frustrated at losses and exuberant in wins, but I've found it often helps to take a step back and get some perspective.
The way people may feel now, from what I gather from twitter and commentary, is pretty much the way they probably felt after Weeks One and Two. Tarvaris Jackson was the whipping boy of the media then and calls for Charlie Whitehurst were not limited to fan chants. Now, Charlie Whitehurst is taking the brunt of that derision and the proverbial 'wheels are falling off' for this team. The Seahawks played a dreadful 60 minutes but they're essentially the same team as they were a few weeks ago. The same people are calling the plays, the same people are coaching up the positions. Injuries happen for every team, and every team has to deal with them.
Charlie Whitehurst was out there yesterday and looked awful but so did Tarvaris Jackson in the first two weeks. There's a pretty solid chance Jackson will return to play and he'll stink it up and calls for Charlie will return. There's a pretty good chance that while that is happening, Jackson will have a good game and people will talk about how they've always supported him and thought he was the right choice. Then, he'll have another bad game and we'll go back to calling for his head.
My point is - let's try not to overreact. Jackson and/or Whitehurst are probably never going to be consistent at this level. Whoever it is that is playing under center is probably going to have some good games and some awful games. And then we'll all freak out for good or for bad. That's fanhood/the Media I guess, but that doesn't mean it doesn't annoy me.
For now, the Hawks are just going to have to ride this loss out and keep their eye on the prize. Wait for next week. For now, as fans, maybe we can take some schadenfreude in what's going on with the Rams and Cardinals?
In the meantime, your fearless bloggers at Field Gulls will go back and take a look at the game, with some attempts at objectivity and an eye towards insightful analysis. Because that's really all we can do.