It's time to tell the truth, the whole truth, about Sunday.
I have made some remarks about it in comments to Kenneth and others but the more I read the more I feel how eager everyone is to nitpick every aspect of this rather horrible football game and thus fail to see it for what it was. So here is my take and your chance to rip me apart.
I will not comment much about the defense. It is either the soft and helpless group we saw allowing 20 points in the first 30 min. or it is the gritty pas rushing play making defense that kept the Texans scoreless for the remaining 42 min. Those are too far apart from each other to think it has only to do with schemes and half time adjustments. This huge scope of change can only be attributed to the mental side of the team.
As for the offense – The writing was on wall. The new Oline was no match to the Texans predatory defense. Our passing offense is not designed to cater for quick release short gain west coast offense. We go for the big plays that take longer to develop. As a result, RW holds to the ball the longest in the NFL before passing. There was no way he could keep it for the 3.7 sec. average that he always does. Not against this defense with this Oline. He couldn't do it in the first half and managed a bit better afterwards but nothing to write home about. The results – 125 yards in 72 min tell that story all too well. The constantly shifting Dline gave our untrained Oline moere then they could handle
Prior to the game I felt that the only hope for us would be a very tight low scoring game were both defenses are dominant and the end result is narrowly determined by our running game, ST and big defensive plays (turnovers and field position).
So, the offense was a bad as I feared and the defense in the first half wasn't doing what it needed to do to keep us in this game. All in all, the making of our first lose of the season were there.
Yes, the coaching team has their work cut out for them this week to find solutions for the Oline situation and work the right game plan for Sunday.
Now that I have paid my dues and paid some attention to Sundays calamity allow me to elaborate on what happened on Sunday while we were counting yards and completions.
It starts like this:
I am not a football guru, far from it. I only learned about it in my twenties. I have been a Seahawks fan since 1979 but I am certainly not an avid student of the game.
What I am though amongst other things is an ex volleyball player (both indoors and beach volleyball) and a coach for the past 15 years. I have led 2 teams to championships and won one national cup. So, I know sports teams and what makes them perform.
After years of watching and evaluating how players play and how teams play I have come to know 3 levels of team play that manifest themselves as follows:
Level 1 – The team is as strong as its weakest link.
Those teams are a roster of players of various personal capabilities. Each player is playing his role in the team. He is being coached to do just that and is evaluated on his own play as it the rest of the team is not there. While at times, especially with young players under a very accomplished and strict coach the individual players will upgrade their individual performance in such a regime – This team will never be better as the team then their worst player and will fail to perform at an elite level.
Level 2 – The team is the some of all its components.
Level 2 teams are good. They play as a team. They take advantage of their strengths, they make up for their weaknesses. They have the type of coaches that look at what each player bring and "places players in position were they succeed". At their best they rely on each others capabilities and can be very hard to bit.
Level 3 – The total is more then the sum of it's components.
Level 3 teams are magical. The way they play as a team is beyond what they do individually. Their results are way beyond their technical talent level, constantly.
There is no known formula to creating such teams. What I do know as a coach is that such teams always have 3 elements in common.
Element 1 – Team synergy. It's not that they are all friends and do BBQ together of go get drunk together (Although either happens in many cases) but it's that level of mutual goal, respect for each other as valuable contributors, a sense of togetherness were they help each other to be better for the team. We have a Hebrew saying for it that I like to tell my players. In Hebrew there is no word for "depend" the term literally is "to hang on each other". The saying is – "As a team we either depend (HANG) on each other or we'll all end up hanged by each other".
Element 2 – Team accountability. Good teams make each player accountable for his performance. Great teams make each player accountable for the way the whole team performs.
Element 3 – A defining event. Each of those special Level 3 teams can tell you when it happened. They can always pinpoint the event that made the team take that big step in the way the see and define themselves. The year my first team were champions we were a good 3rd place team by midseason. We had a far away game against the 2nd seeded team that only 7 players could travel to. They had a very load and hostile fan base. In the first set we had one guy twist an ankle (very common volleyball injury). We were left with 6 players no replacements and lost the first set. We won the 2nd somehow. At the start of the 3rd a second player had the very same injury by worse in swelling etc. In order to not forfeit the game the first player that was injured took his place on the court with instructions to just stand and do the rotation but not try to play.
On the first play they spiked hard at him. He made a saving dive and we won that point. He was slow standing up but he was smiling. We won that game. We won every game for the rest of the season.
Last year there were 2 such events for the 2012. "Yes we can" against NE and "YES WE WILL" against the bears. The 1st moved us from that team with that short rookie QB to the team with that rookie that can win games. The 2nd moved us from that good middle of the pack team to the team nobody wanted to face for the rest of the year. Same players, same coachs, totally different team.
Now back to Sunday at Houston.
Everything I know about football tells me we lost that game. Every category I can think about and everything I saw on the field indicates that we were outplayed by the Texans. Keeping that small sparkling constant hope that maybe they'll turn it around and start playing awesome offense (remember the NE and Bears games) was not easy but it's never over till it's over. It never happened. They never did turn it around. One TD drive that had a bunch of miracle plays and more then half of the yards were RW making something of busted plays is not considered turning it around. Our defense became impregnable but their defense kept outplaying our offense all the way to the end. That should have been enough for the Texans to ride a 17 points advantage all the way to victory. And…IT WASN'T.
There is a bunch of guys on an airplane ride to Seattle. None of them feels proud at their personal achievements in this game. Most of them can also pin point what all the other players did wrong at parts of the game. And yet, they are so very proud at their team. Their WINNING TEAM.
Waking up on Monday after such a game is very very painful. Your body gives you a full account of everything it went through without the adrenaline soothing effects. It's tell the truth Monday. It's going to be even more painful watching it all. Every failure will be exposed and analyzed. Lessons will be learned, conclusions drawn, plans will be made to do better.
It will be handled calmly and professionally. There will be no blame. Players will smile at each other. When you know that if they break your legs and tie your hands behind your back you will crawl and make it to the finish line it gives you a certain inner confidence, a kind of calm. That impregnable unwavering trust that as a team we can't lose no matter what. Some teams get it by scoring 16 TD and a million points a game and some teams get it by winning a game they actually lost.
The 2013 Seahawks have their defining event. It happened on Sunday while we were counting yards and sacks. Try reading McDonald reactions after the game and you'll understand.