A Seahawks win is typically a unifying event here at Field Gulls. A road win, even more so. A division road win? Cause for collective cartwheels -- usually.
So why so few pantaloons removed, and so much angst expressed over the manner of Monday night's narrow victory? If you've been in any of the postgame and day-after threads, you know what I'm talking about.
Like Rithmckk said: "I would be less angry and worried if we had lost but with an OL that simply basically did its job."
And from a steamed Corax: "Hawks o-line broke whatever metrics there ever were for measuring o-line success with how bad they were tonight."
One more, from a self-aware Bellevue: "Yeah, I don't even care if they won. That game was horseshit. I'll probably feel better about the win tomorrow, just not right now."
Finally, a tweet from Danny Kelly on Tuesday morning: "I'm normally kind of a complainer/whiner during and directly following ugly games, but the level of hand-wringing is shocking to me."
I'm not calling any commenters out for being negative. Stones, throwing, glass houses, yada yada. Besides, all the guys listed above are smart dudes whose opinions I respect. But Danny's right. It was eerie how widespread the dissatisfaction was Monday night. So, in response, here are three free thoughts on why you can still enjoy the win, guilt-free. If you're so inclined.
Point One: Even Under Optimal Conditions, Winning Is Hard
When everything goes right, and you protect the ball, and move it pretty well, and defend all right, you can win the game! Unless the other team is better, in which case you still might lose. Especially on the road.
When everything doesn't go right, then what? Your team can run into a smorgasbord of obstacles. Opposing coaches develop good game plans. Players mis-execute by contributing drops, key penalties, turnovers. Key guys get hurt (I'm sorry Sidney, Godspeed). Field goals get blocked, fumbled, missed. The coaching staff makes bad decisions.
And then, sometimes a certain matchup just sucks. Sometimes, your weakness goes up against another team's strength, and yikes, you spend an evening watching Robert Quinn do to Paul McQuistan exactly what got done to Marsellus in the basement.
And even sometimeser, five or six of the above unfortunate events occur in the same game. That's what Monday night looked like. Except the Hawks actually won the game. Which is hard to do!
Which leads into the next point...
Point Two: Just Multitask. You Can Celebrate And Be Worried At The Same Time
The victory over St. Louis, combined with the 29-3 destruction of You-Know-Who in September and the shoulda-been-more-comfy win at Arizona, sends the Hawks to 3-0 in the division. Not 2-1. Not 0-3 like last year.
So just because someone like fiftyone says "Still totally celebrating. I give zero fucks about the ugliness" after the game, doesn't mean he spent the rest of the evening Pollyannically writing love notes to Michael Bowie. That would make him stupid. No, maybe he likes winning more than losing, and he realizes that a merely good team doesn't win this game.
In fact, even a very good team only wins a small fraction of the time when it is outgained by 200 yards and "achieves" seven first downs. It takes a supremely lucky or a supremely great team to win Monday's game, and the Titans game, and the Panthers one, all in a single season. Wring your hands all you want, but this team is great. One of the three best in the league, objectively, and maybe the very best, if you throw in a soupcon of bias.
A great team can also have holes. Thank you, salary cap. Thank you, underwhelming draft picks. As a result, the hole on this team is pass protection. Guess who also sucks in one facet, or more? Denver. New Orleans. KC.
The problem is that the Hawks' hole is glaring and dangerous. Russell Wilson's adjusted sack rate, via FO, is 11.5, and that's second-worst in the league. The man has been hit on almost half his dropbacks this season. I don't care how much you or I enjoyed defeating the Rams -- that shit has to stop. Because Probability, a merciless asshole if there ever was one, will catch up with any quarterback, and snap him or a part of him in two after x sacks + y knockdowns. And then, all February dreams are on hold.
Those dreams been on hold for way, way, way too long. Answer the damn phone already, guys. It's history.
Which takes us to...
Point Three: The OL Must/Will Improve, And Soon
The Seattle Seahawks won't reach the Super Bowl, let alone win it, if the line keeps performing as poorly as it did last night. Fortunately, there's no reason for it to stagnate the rest of the way, as young players ought to improve with experience and coaching, even as injured players return to health.
Good news: Tom Cable is probably a totally fine coach, competency-wise, when compared with other OL coaches league-wide. Remember he was also the coach in games when the protection was decent-to-good and the guys were healthy. Or do the developments of Okung, Unger and Giacomini not count for anything?
More good news: The opposition has been fierce, but will now be less menacing for the next few weeks. Neither the Buccaneers nor Vikings are flashing defensive brilliance: TB is 16th overall in defensive DVOA, and 24th against the pass; Minny is 26th overall and 28th in pass defense. And those games are here.
Bad news: It could get worse, via injury or setbacks for Okung and Giacomini. Or if the backups are for some reason too flawed to learn. Also, the Rams visit in Week 17, so there's that.
Now, if the line continues to be as porous (and even that's pretty generous) as it was against St. Louis, then people should probably bitch even more than they have to this point. Even if the Hawks win all their remaining games, the line has to show improvement and/or receive healthy reinforcements.
Otherwise, open season on RW, and the offense, and the season, continues, while the ultimate prize slips away.
Parting Thought: Stay Cocky My Friends
I'll still take Monday's victory, warts and all. And I'll still have that extra spring in my step that comes from winning on the road, leading the division, resting atop the conference. I'll still remind doubters that these Hawks have won four out of five road battles this year, thus continuing to protect the No. 1 seed in the NFC from any and all pretenders. Home-field advantage is ours. Come and get it if you can, which you probably can't.*taunts opponents all the way to the promised land