The win over the Ravens was as unexpected to the optimists as it was to the pessimists. Before the season started I looked at two games as being extremely difficult match ups for the Seahawks. The Giants who would host the Hawks in NY in an early game. Then Baltimore coming in with their exceptional defense, and power running game.Other games would also be key as well Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Chicago and the FA driven Eagles would all be hard games.
Honestly as much as I wanted to believe the Seahawks would have a much improved run defense with Red Bryant returning, I definitely didn't expect us to be top four in average yards per carry allowed. I knew we would have issues on offense, just too many new factors.
We started with a new Offensive Coordinator. That alone can throw an offense into a tail spin, stagnate any QB, and throw chaos into the O-line. Next we added youth to the O-line, and while playing , in my opinion, better than the line last year, it really didn't start to gel until Atlanta. Then we threw in new a new QB, familiar with the system but not the receivers, and more youth at WR.
I knew we would have to rely heavily on our defense this year. I also knew we would get plenty of help from special teams, with Leon being locked in I knew we would get a few TDs from him.
Our schedule looked like we might be able to get out of the first five games as 2-3(hopefully beating the 49ers and Cardinals) and coming out of the next five with at least three wins, maybe four if Romo had a mental break down as he is want to do. and finishing the season with a fifty fifty split. Im an optimist, but many would easily have said we would have come out of those first 10 games with as little as 2 wins.
the scene is set, the Seahawks are 3-6 and to many are all but out of the play off picture. Though they played a brutal 60% winning percentage of teams in the first half, the second half could be something all together different.
First the good.
While highly unlikely the Seahawks could still make the play offs, though not as easily as they did last year. It would take us winning out the last half of the season to have a shot. even better is that the last seven games are against a combined total of 43% win percentage, and most of those wins are the 49ers.
Optimistically, you have to feel the Seahawks have a chance to win any game against a team with equal record or better. The Seahawks have five of those games left against the Rams x2, Cardinals, Eagles and Redskins. They beat Chicago last year in the regular season, and matched up very well against the 49ers in a game we were in, until deep into the 4th quarter. Play offs are still a possibility, but probably pretty small.
Also it seems the O-line is doing way better, even with Carpenter's bone headed play. The run game has begun to churn with tweeks to the play calling. We are running a much more straight forward, power block run scheme, and the zone running game has been curtailed into Slices and Whams, instead of Inside Zones. Marshawn is also hitting the Hole running.
Passing game is a bit up and down, but the optimist thinks it could be because Jackson was injured. They have looked good in several games.
The run defense is fantastic, keeping us in games when our offense was out.Red Bryant is showing why he is valuable to us, playing almost like a 3-4 end, he bottles up the run, and rag dolls TE and tackles alike. The last few weeks I've seen him in the backfield as well. Kam and Earl are phenomenal. Many are also impressed by Sherman who is coming along nicely.
All around depth is greatly improved as well, we have had the usual plethora of injuries but they don't seem to be hurting us nearly as much as they have in years past. Talent evaluation is also key, we have added some pretty good players to the team, and while some players didn't work out mostly low round draft choices (Le Gree, Davis, Konz, Wilson) we brought in a few cheap free agents (Baldwin, Browner, Bigby, ect.) that more than make up for that. Our free agent acquisitions also seem to be appropriately priced, and effective.
Now the Bad
Penalties. Its not just the young its vets who should know better. With youth you general get a lot of penalties, most because lack of faith in their abilities, catching up on the game, over thinking, ect. Even then, you have to draw the line with Carpenter, his confidence seems so shook, he is trying to press, but instead causes more penalties. Its also Browner who needs to understand that after 5 yards he has to play defensive back, he has bottled up some very good receivers though, and twice has had INTs knocked out of his hands by Thomas. A lot of the penalties are ticky tack, but until we fix the mental errors (off sides, false starts, delay of game, unnecessary roughness) we can expect to see the ticky tack fouls go against us, no matter how much we hate it.
Pass defense. Some of this goes to the penalties. Some is our lack of pressure, some is youth and some is scheme. Our four starters in the secondary have an average of just over 16 games experience(that's not even starts). We are third least in sacks with only 14 for the year. While sacks are not everything, the pressure in general has not been there. Top that off with a scheme that is built to shut down the run, and you get a 28th ranked pass defense.
Records. we are 3-6 and are five games behind for the division. We can pretty much kiss the division title away. The likely hood of a wild card is also very slim. So the play offs pretty much are gone. Even getting a .500 record or a winning record is going to be nearly fairytale like probability.
Offense. Continual problems with the offense hound us. Its hard to play offense when you penalize yourself before the play starts, Thank Carroll. Its hard to run a zone scheme with a power back. Its hard to run against the best run defenses, and pass against the best pass defenses, thank Bevell. Its hard to pass with an injured QB, Inconsistent QB, injured WRs and no cohesion thank Jackson. Blame Jackson, Bevell, or Carroll or maybe all three. The porous o-line has given up the fourth most sacks in the league.
Coaching. No doubt about it Pete is pressing. Sometimes making bad calls in an attempt to get the team going, or other instances where he just doesn't seem like he knows how to manage time outs or time running out on the clock. For a team that has a good no-huddle package we tend to be pretty slow at the hurry up. Substitution package miscues and penalties really shows this to be an undisciplined team.
I believe every Seahawk's fan wants to see the Seahawks win the Super Bowl, We all have very different ideas on how to get there. Some believe winning is a tradition, others believe its about talent and coaching. Some believe its both. but now we are at a major cross roads that make sense for any of the above. Making the play offs, much less winning the Super Bowl is all but a fantasy. The other side of the coin, is our draft position is looking to be fairly low, even at 3-6 we are, if the season ended today, looking at drafting #11.
The Seahawks have won enough games now that five other teams hold worse records and are tied with five others. Unless Indianapolis suddenly gets it together, Luck is gone.
With five games against teams with equal or worse records than us, its highly unlikely we will lose ever other game. In fact beating all five teams looks very possible, and could very well place us outside the top ten. Losing every game from here out will vault us to at least the number 5 behind (Colts, Dolphins, Panthers, Vikings, Jaguars) of course losing all those games, strengthens our schedule, further hampering chances to slide higher in the draft.
The Colts and the Dolphins are almost guaranteed to pick up QBs, and with Blain Gabbert having the worst QB rating and completion percentage in the NFL, can anyone say for sure that the Jags wont draft one either? That's two or three of the top QB's off the board. Ponder seems like he might stick, but with barely over 50% completion percentage and sub 70 QB rating, he may have to show something before the end of the season, after all he isn't even out playing McNabb.
The first round is important, but draft position works down through every round. setting us up for high second, third fourth ect. and a few of our lower picks will be gone due to trades(Lynch, Polumbus)
Do you think the Seahawks should try to make a run at the play-offs or a winning or .500 record, to show progression, or do you want them to tank ever game(something not as easy as it looks when you look at our opponents) and go for the best draft spot possible?