We're halfway through the 2013 campaign, and so it's time to gnaw the bones of our defeated foes and reflect on what we have learned. But as we survey the desolation in our wake, instead of smug satisfaction there are murmurs of dissent, dark and sullen glances, and the nervous shifting of feet. What gives? Why do we feel so unsure about a 7-1 team? We know well that in the brief and troubled history of our beloved Ospreys, they have never started a season 7-1. Any NFL city outside of the Big Easy, KC, and Elwayville would gladly relinquish their
first-born first-round draft pick to be in our shoes. So why the rending of garments? Why the fear and trembling? Hey 12's, why we freakin'?
Where have we been? What are we? Where are we going?
To explore the 12s' psyche, we turn to the above-titled painting by French weirdo ne'er-do-well artist Paul Gaugain (because of course we do). After fleeing the industrial dreariness of his native France for the exotic pleasures of Tahiti, in between suicide attempts and gazing forlornly at naked-ish ladies, Paul recalled the spiritual question the old village priest used to drill into him and made it the title question of this snarky-but-sad take on life: the past shapes what we are now and what will our future will be, and who knows what the hell it all means? For further badass cred, he flipped the script, painting from right to left: infancy to young adulthood to wistful old age.
Where Have We Been?
Out of the rubble of the collapse of the Holmgren Empire, after years of stumbling through the mists of mediocrity, one man arose, slight of stature but with the hands of a god and the elusiveness of a wild deer...yeah, you know the guy. Out of nowhere the new regime had found their prince, and with Russell at the helm, the 2012 Hawks could do no wrong. The more Russ was asked to do, the more he did. Blowouts galore shocked and awed. The newly unstoppable offense joined an already stingy defense and the Owl seemed well and truly in our grasp. But then Clemons went down, and #3's Atlanta magic was undone by a dwindling pass rush that just couldn't close out those last 30 seconds.
And so to say that expectations were high for 2013 is an understatement. The Hawks' opening salvo appeared promising: 3 wins, with a victory over a tough-as-nails Carolina defense and a signature win over the hated Niners.
But on the very eve of the intramural scrimmage with the Florida Seahawk Castoffs Golf Club, both offensive tackles went out injured, perhaps never to return. What came next on the schedule?
No, not a halloween party at Aldon Smith's house. An even more scary - and much hotter - locale. The league scheduling over-demons shellacked the Hawks with 4 games on the road in 5 weeks with nary a bye in sight, including two divisional opponents and two 2012 playoff teams. What then? The Hawks looked this peril in the face. And laughed. And won 4 out of 5.
What was our reward for traversing the fiery pits of the damned?
In the second half, we get a filet mignon sandwich on moldy Wonder Bread: a succulent bye laden in a masterfully seasoned sauce of home/away series vs. Saints/Niners, all of it wrapped in two stale greenish slates of 3 games against crummy teams (2 Home/1 Away in each).
Next up: pluck the first 3-game slice of chemical goodness off the top and slide it under the table for the ravenous dogs of our defense to swallow whole. But can they wolf(grey) it down?
What Are We?
Our past seems pretty damn glorious, especially if we erase our memories prior to 2012 (highly recommended, a few Beastquakish and 2005-era fragments aside). No, our current malaise stems less from our past and more from our assessment of what we are:
We are a #1 defense by DVOA. Wait, that's good! Yay!
We are a defense that has generated a lot of turnovers. But we must be careful (Pete's get-ball philosophy aside) not to rely on endless gifts from the skies. Turnovers can't be counted on, and we must win without them too.
We are an explosive offense that has not been consistent.
We are an amazing young and growing (in wisdom, not inches) QB that D-coordinators have learned to counter better. Russ still produces at around the same level as last year, but has been hit, harassed, harried and stressed far, far more.
We are Beast Mode.
We are a terrible OL that has plummeted to worst in the league. We need our starting tackles back ASAP, and we must improve so we don't break our QB (too many hits), our RB (too many YAC), or our D (~40 min. on the field is way too long).
We are also terrible overall at getting the ball out of Russell's hands quickly. Hawk RBs and TEs whiff on blocks too much and Russ just holds the ball too long. The blame must be shared, as these excellent FO charts show.
And that section started so well! So what are we in the end? Are we the happy stats or the angry stats? Is our sky blue-green or is it falling? Do we embrace the future or descend into our backyard man-cave bunkers laden with 1995 Refuse to Lose Mariner memorabilia?
Where are we going?
Lo, what shimmering blade of light sweeps like a sword through the storm-clouds of fear?
A Beacon, lads and lassies! Verily, a Beacon in the night!
No, no, not that tame thing. We're talking a Beacon of Fury conjuring a coming second-half rampage!
Yes, that's the one!
What say you, Beastly Beacon? What auguries of Hawk second-half fate do you portend?
Stop Freakin', you say?
The Beacon oracle's words are most mysterious. But his priestly attendants interpret his dictum as suggestive of three possible 2nd-half paths we might tread:
The Path of Despair - 4-4, one and done as a wild card. Okung, Breno and Harvin return but are never 100%. The offense wilts. Too much pressure is put on the defense to win games and it starts to wear down. 6 of 8 Hawk opponents go over 100 yards on the ground each. Several new significant injuries occur. Locker room tensions boil over, Marshawn is caught on camera spitting blood-soaked Skittles at Bevell. McQ retires into the Witness Protection Program. Tate and Baldwin publicly demand trades to a regular NFL team that will actually throw them some balls.
The Path of Meh Plateau - 6-2, bye, one home playoff win but depressing conference championship loss at home to a team whose identity the oracle dare not fathom. Semi-functional offense staggers about but never hits its stride.
The Path of Pantslessness - 7-1 or 8-0, NFC champs, show ponies, confetti. Russ takes a big step forward in his development at the same time the tackles return and the OL improves to average. ETIII league MVP, Percy Harvin Super Bowl MVP, Pete Carroll Coach of the Year, 12th Man cheers cause Washington state to separate at the Cascades and fall into the Pacific. 2014 Seahawks still go 8-0 at home playing on CLink Atoll.
So, courage, Gull brethren and sist-thren. Our troubled past has led us to a present of promise and even in the worst of the Beast-Beacon Oracle's futures we will be alive and dancing in the playoffs. And come what may, we shall all be there squabbling and cheering to the very end. Go Hawks!