The success of mediocrity: How Super Bowl champs are bred within the season

Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Can a Super Bowl champion be mediocre in the same season that they win it all? In recent years the answer has been: More often than not.

I sat there in the dentist office at eight in the morning and was only waiting for the inevitably bad news. I knew something was wrong that wasn't going to be fixed easy, cheap, or painless. Sometimes when you hope for the best, you still know it's going to be the worst. Then the doctor told me, "This is going to be really easy, don't worry."

Twenty minutes later he's got pliers wrapped around my molar as he tries to pull it out with all his might. How did we get here?

It was only sixteen hours earlier that I was sitting on my couch, eating macaroni and cheese, Wheat Thins, and hummus as I watched "The Football Life" on Tom Coughlin, perfectly enjoying another evening without any surprises. "There's a reason that many people hate surprises" is what I could have been saying to myself as a renegade, hard-as-rock Wheat Thin wedged itself into my tooth in such a way as to split it down the middle. Panicked, in pain, I made the appointment to my dentist immediately. The pain would subside but the panic couldn't go away until the dentist told me that this tooth could be saved.

He did. And then he was wrong. And then there I was getting the "Castaway" treatment, losing a tooth that I had known for most of my life.

The moral of the story is either "F*** Wheat Thins" or that our lives take unexpected turns at any moment, without warning, for better or worse. We live on a rollercoaster, not a train. (Unless it's on one bad-ass train track.) The same can be said for just about any NFL season, where sixteen games seems short to most but in reality is plenty of time for teams to go from good to bad or vice versa. It can be the loss of a player that ruins your year (Matt Schaub, Jay Cutler last season) or makes it better (Kevin Kolb for Michael Vick in Philadelphia or... John Skelton for Kevin Kolb).

This isn't just an article about the Seahawks and 2012, it's an article about football. It's about building a team and examining how teams aren't just built through free agency and the draft, but through development during the season. People often want to judge a team's entire season through a handful of games, but that ignores the fact that players, and people, get better as they go. I mean, wouldn't that make perfect sense anyway? Aren't you naturally going to improve through practice, and not just 'practice practice' but by gaining game experience? The same teams that we see today should not be the same teams that we see in two weeks, four weeks, or by seasons end.

Teams get better, or worse, as the season goes on.

Were the Giants that won the Super Bowl after the 2011 season the same Giants that fell to 7-7 after a 23-10 loss at home to the Redskins?

Were the Packers that won the Super Bowl after the 2010 season the same Packers that fell to 8-6 after a loss to the Patriots?

Both of those teams fought hard for their mediocre records after fourteen games but both were still left with mediocre records at that time. Sure, the writing may have been on the wall (Green Bay never lost a game by more than four points) but there's a big difference between a team that loses a lot of close games and a team that looks unbeatable in the playoffs.

Keep going back and you'll find teams like the Cardinals in 2008, the Giants in 2007, the (sigh) Steelers in 2005... mediocre teams by season's end that reached the Super Bowl and save the Cardinals, won it all. You're going to hear certain games throughout the year be touted as possible "Super Bowl previews" and it's almost always media fodder. Not only because we can't predict the Super Bowl, but because we can hardly even make accurate projections.

Looking at this weekend's schedule and seeing the "Bills and 49ers" and calling that a "Super Bowl preview!" would seem foolish now but how can we really predict that it's not? The Bills are in the weaker conference with the #6 offense and a defense that should have been viewed as a total rebuild, not necessarily one that was going to be ready by week 1. When you've got several important starters under 24, you'd expect that they should be better in week 14 than in the first quarter of the season. I am not saying that the Bills are going to make the Super Bowl, I'm only saying that I can't say that they're not. (Consider re-phrasing that one, Ken!)

It's not much different from the Seahawks, except they are a mirror in every way. The defense is far ahead of the offense and they're young at crucial positions. We can not just expect them to be the same players today as what they'll be in week 14. Things are going to change, we have to expect change, and we can't necessarily predict what's going to happen. Prepare yourself to be unprepared for when all of a sudden they come out for a game, and they're just different. Hopefully, for the better.

I couldn't know that my tooth would fall apart at that moment, but I should have known that this moment was coming. I sat in the dentist's chair, hearing (but thankfully not feeling) him tear out my tooth bit by bit. It wasn't so much what I had felt at that moment, since I was numb, but mentally I knew that he was tearing a piece out of me and that freaked me out. I knew what was coming. All of a sudden my day had take a drastic turn for the worse, which sucked, but then on the bright side: Vicodin.

I can't necessarily give you proof that the Seahawks are going to be better at the end of the year, but mentally I feel that they should improve. I believe that with one of the youngest teams in the NFL, that this team will be better by year's end than they are right now. Even if they lose three out of the four next games (and I really hope that they don't) I believe that things will get better this season. It doesn't mean that they will. It doesn't mean that they can't improve and still go 8-8. It just means that if this coaching staff does it's job, that they should.

But trying to predict how good this team will be by week 17 would just be like pulling teeth.

If you follow me on Twitter, then you'll see that starting this week I will also be writing for the SBNation NFL site on Sundays, doing those quick updates with GIF's and funny "ha-ha" jokes, so please check it out! Also check out this weeks video with "cool dude" Kenneth Arthur giving you the awards for the Seahawks 1st quarter of the year. It has that fancy SB Nation editing.


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