Season finales are rarely a good thing. It means that it's time for a break. It's time to say "See you later" to something you love to watch. They aren't always sad, because a season finale is not a series finale, but it is tough to say goodbye. We spend the whole year waiting, and then it finally gets here, and then by the time the end hits it feels like we hardly had a chance to catch up.
What can be hard is knowing you could be saying goodbye to someone you love to watch. Michael Scott's final goodbye on The Office was one of the hardest times I've ever had trying to hold tears back in front of my roommate. Not that we don't have "Crying Tuesday's" where we just bawl for hours on end, because who doesn't have that, but when you're trying to not show emotion... when you're just trying to be "a guy" about it... we knew what was coming and still didn't want to admit it.
Some Seahawks are playing their final game in a Seattle uniform. Some of them already have. What will become of Marshawn Lynch, Red Bryant, and others? We can have a good feeling about it because the Hawks have been so good about retaining good players under John Schneider, but we don't know anything for sure.
Marcus Trufant: Tacoma native, Washington State grad, Seahawk for life. What will become of you?
It's sad to know that this might be the end, and that just like with Michael Scott, you didn't even make it to the finale. Let's not forget what Trufant has been to this organization, and to the Northwest, when it's finally time to say goodbye. For some reason, Trufant doesn't get recognized nearly as much as other players during that mid-aughts run, and he was a key component as one of the only good secondary players that we had. And we had him for a long time.
Thank you, Marcus. This isn't goodbye, but it might be "See you later."
The Seahawks 2011 season finale ends not with a bang, but with a soft thud. Not that the game against Arizona isn't important, because every game is important, but because there's not a whole lot on the line other than pride and divisional standings. And what do divisional standings really mean? San Francisco finished in 3rd last year, behind the Rams.
Slates are wiped clean after this weekend for every team that's not making the playoffs. Seattle and Arizona had this season as an opportunity to show what they are made of, and it turned out that they were made up of a lot of the same things. Both teams seem to be of equal value, perhaps equally talented, albeit in different areas. We can't sleep on what Arizona has done this season, because I thought the Cardinals were just flat out bad, and it turns out that they are decent.
Not only are they decent, but the Cardinals have some young players that could be a force in the NFC West for years, as well as the fact that maybe they won't hang their hats on Kevin Kolb for the next half-decade. Right now, that doesn't seem like a bad idea.
As we prepare to say "See you next year," here are 8 things you might know about the Cardinals or maybe you don't.
John Skelton is an NFL Quarterback. No, REALLY!
And honestly, he's not as bad as he might seem.
When Arizona gave up those picks and all of that money to acquire Kevin Kolb, they did so believing that John Skelton was not the quarterback of the future. And who could blame them? Skelton was forced into five games as a rookie in 2010 and completed less than 50% of his passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions in four starts.
So, why should the picture seem any more rosy now? Skelton's numbers have improved in his second year, but he doesn't blow you away on the stat sheet. Why should Arizona even consider going into 2012 with Skelton as their QB and why should Seattle wonder if the Cardinals now have an interesting signal-caller on their hands?
There are several reasons why good quarterbacks go late in drafts or don't get drafted at all. So much goes into QB and talent evaluation for scouts, that players tend to get dinged for any number of things. One of which would include going to a small school and playing FCS football. It's not unfair either, because few quarterbacks ever do translate their big FCS numbers to NFL success.
Skelton went to Fordham University and put him impressive numbers over nearly four full years as a starter, though he didn't win many games. His senior season was so good though, and because he is "prototypical size" for a QB, that he got an invite to the 2010 Combine. Skelton did enough to impress the Cardinals that they drafted him in the fifth round.
Certain things impress me about Skelton, and make me wonder if he could turn out to be a diamond in the rough much like another FCS star, Tony Romo.
He's big, he's strong, he put up good numbers in college (even though it was against weak competition, it's better than putting up bad numbers and he was the best during his time,) and even though he has struggled in the NFL he hasn't looked as bad as someone like Charlie Whitehurst or Blaine Gabbert.
Gabbert played at Missouri and Skelton played at Fordham, yet Skelton has looked much better against pro competition. I mean, think about the jump in competition from Fordham to the NFL. Yet, Skelton has held his own and is only 23-years-old.
He's only 23.
Arizona is 5-2 with Skelton and they've only lost to the 49ers and the Bengals while he's been at the helm. "Don't cite record!" is a valid argument, but my only point is that he's not "f#cking the Cardinals" as a starter. He has thrown an unimpressive 13 interceptions, but he has shown flashes of being an above-average starter in this league, like when he went 19 of 28 for 282 yards, 3 TD/2 INT against San Francisco in a win.
If the Cards do decide that they have to stick with Kolb, then I would imagine that teams will come calling about their backup, because it's rare to find a QB of that size that can hold his own at his age, and having to adjust from playing "minor league college football" to the best of the best. But Skelton has done that, and that's going to be really intriguing to those teams scrambling to find a new face of the offense.
Chris "Beanie" Wells has rushed for over 1,000 yards for the first time in his NFL career, and has only missed one game this season; our game in week three.
That's probably a good thing because at the time, Wells was one of the hottest backs out of the gate and rushed for at least 90 yards in each of his first three games, with five total touchdowns. The issue with Wells though is that he's accumulated 549 of his 1,047 yards over just four games, while he's been somewhere between bad and average in the other ten games. Wells inconsistency could be to Seattle's benefit, or he could just dominate during the entire game.
Seattle has sort of flip-flopped it's defensive identity over the course of the season. What was once a "weak pass defense" and a "strong run defense" now sees it's most accomplished players in the secondary, while allowing five straight teams to rush for over 100 yards. That finally culminated in a thorough beating by Frank Gore (edit: and Kendall Hunter) and San Francisco last week, giving up 178 yards on the ground.
It's not to say that the Hawks have been terrible because of it, we know that the team looks improved overall, it's just to say that Beanie might "get his" in the finale.
Remember This Name: Larry Fitzgerald
I think he might turn out to be okay.
It's weird that people still kind of doubt Larry Fitzgerald. I do believe in my heart that he's been surpassed by Calvin Johnson as the best wide receiver in the NFL, but so what? His size and ability in the passing game are matched by maybe 2 or 3 other people in the league.
Fitzgerald has been with Arizona for eight seasons. He's played significant time with seven different quarterbacks. All of them have been bad or terrible except for Kurt Warner. Yet, through all of that he's only 544 yards shy of 10,000 career yards and he's only 28 years old.
When Larry Fitzgerald "struggles" he catches 71 passes for 1,262 yards and 8 touchdowns with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. I know I just gave a lot of praise to Skelton, but only because of what he could be, not because of what he has done yet.
Playing on a new contract this season, Fitzgerald will probably spend 95% of his career with AZ and go into the Hall of Fame as the best player in their franchise history.
Which is Like Being the Best Football Player in the History to Come Out of Japan
How could I possibly insult both a franchise and a nation in one, little headline? Well, you couldn't expect me to be nice the entire time!
Time for our weekly history lesson:
The Cardinals have traditionally sucked.
And that's it for this week's history lesson! Tune in next week for: "Playoffs: Ain't No Cardinals Up in Here!"
Okay, seriously though folks, the Cardinals have not usually been very good and they've been around since 1920 in one form or another. Starting out as the hapless Chicago Cardinals, they eventually moved to St. Louis and things got so bad that they decided to switch to baseball.
Finally, they moved to Phoenix in 1988 and have been to the playoffs three times since then, making their first Super Bowl in 2008. That year they outscored opponents by one point. Total. Over the course of 16 games. And they made the Super Bowl. And they almost won it.
Look, what can we really say as Seahawks fans that makes us so much better than Arizona? The NFC West was put together and as far as "rich histories" go, the Cards, Hawks, and Rams make up the 99%, while the 49ers have won five times as many Super Bowls as the rest of us combined.
Arizona and Seattle have combined for 32 playoff games, while San Francisco has played in 44 of their own. It's a pity to say that St. Louis keeps the 99% from being completely helpless in terms of "NFL History." Arizona's all-time leading passer is Jim Hart and their all-time leading rusher is Ottis Anderson, which is not a "who's who" of anything other than the sentence I just wrote. They are the "who's who" of facts about the Cardinals.
Are we so much better? Well, the franchise was birthed 56 years after the Cardinals and has won a few more division titles... so yeah. F yeah. We better.
Patrick Peterson Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers
There are a lot of reasons to like Richard Sherman. I think a lot of people would say that 5th round pick Richard Sherman has had a better season than 5th overall pick Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals. If you're only counting defense that is.
However, that doesn't mean that Peterson isn't on the rise to becoming a top cornerback in the NFL, and has steadily improved (from my understanding) as the season has gone on.
He went to LSU, a school that's churning out defensive backs like Octo-Mom churns out babies. Yeah, I made an Octo-Mom reference. Coming up next: That woman that traveled across the country in a diaper.
Beyond what he does on defense, Peterson has returned an NFL-record (tied) 4 punts for touchdowns. Why does it seem like ever since Dante Hall came onto the scene, a different player is breaking a return record every year?
I like what Seattle has done to their secondary, but the Cards have themselves a budding star there as well.
Probably Not Ken Whisenhunt's Final Game with Arizona
After a 1-6 start, Whisenhunt was on the hot seat with the possibility that he wouldn't finish the year if he didn't turn things around. Well, Arizona has turned things around and can finish with an 8-8 season. But barring a surprise, should we be unhappy that he'll be returning in 2012?
He went to the Super Bowl in his second year, and the Cards went 10-6 in his third, but that masks the fact that the Cards got very lucky, just like a strong finish in 2011 is masking a terrible start.
The Cards outscored opponents by 56 points total over his first three years, and then were outscored by 145 points in his fourth. With future Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, the team was decent, but without him they have been pretty bad. That seems to be the main difference between success and no success for Whisenhunt.
Yes, the team has improved this year. Yes, they have some good young players. But even a win this weekend will only get Whisenhunt to a career record of 40-40 after five seasons. He had a 5-1 record against Seattle before Pete Carroll arrived, but is 0-3 against PC. I'm not terribly worried about the fact that he'll continue to coach in the NFC West for at least one more year.
The Hawks Travel to Phoenix
How many damn times do birds have to be referenced when talking about sports? Seriously, every team and now every city is somehow named after a bird. Birds are cool and all, but do we need to worship them? It was cool when they were dinosaurs but this is getting out of hand.
I have been to Phoenix several times and I still don't understand why people live there. I should say, I don't understand how people live there. Like Sam Kinison said, "YOU LIVE IN THE DESERT!"
Not only do people live there, but over a million of them do and it's the only state capital with over 1,000,000 people. Summer temperatures average over 100 degrees and you basically can't go outside. You have to stay inside the whole time with misters dousing you with water 24/7, even while you're sleeping. Even while you are showering.
It was founded in the 1800's by confederate soldier Jack Swilling and has gone through prior names like Pumpkinville, Swilling's Mill, Helling Mill, Mill City, and at one point Swilling wanted to name the city after General Stonewall Jackson. I wish they had named it after a general in the confederate army.
They finally decided on Phoenix because it was "born from ruins." That should have been their first sign that it's not a livable locale. "Oh hey, let's name it Phoenix because it looks like this place is really old and was hit by a nuclear bomb over and over again."
"What's a nuclear bomb?"
"I don't know" said the secret time traveler.
Finally, I'd like to end this 3,000-word article on birds by talking about Cardinals. Arizona is the 600th team in the NFL to name their team after a bird.
I admit that cardinals are pretty cool-looking birds. They rock the original punk band haircut:
Though the team originated in St. Louis and did not change their name when they moved to Phoenix, there are cardinals in Arizona too. So they lucked out there.
That's pretty much all I have to say about the bird.
Stanford is the Cardinal, but they are named after the color, not the bird. I have nothing else to say about that but it allows me to show you this cool ticket stub from a football game they played against UW like 80 years ago.
That is all.
Sorry for the lack of hilarity in this post. Here is a joke:
What does Tarvaris Jackson have in common with Jim in American Pie? They both blow it immediately after they are first touched.