'Twas yesterday that it had struck upon my head. A simple blow, but nearly dead. The offseason is nearly riddance. Then Harvin was all like "Oh no you din't!"
Wait... "Twas"? Poetry? This couldn't mean.... *looks over his left shoulder* The presence of John Morgan doth making me try to up my writing game. Well, funk that am I right?
But yesterday was a good reminder that the Seahawks are a far cry from Super Bowl champions. At present day, they are only the presumed "Paper Football Champions" and last I checked, paper football champions are seventh graders or perhaps me yesterday at "work." As Morgan reminded us, this shit's about to get real and we should be jaded enough to not let ourselves presume anything. And as Harvin reminded us... fuck.
The Seahawks went 13-3 once upon a time, probably could have been 14-2, but that NFC was much different than this NFC. That year, Football Outsiders said that six of the top eight teams in the NFL were in the AFC. Only the Seahawks (3) and Redskins (7) were allowed to join them in that grouping. In 2012, Football Outsiders had seven of the top ten teams as being in the NFC, and that could be even more heavily weighted towards the "Nationals" now that the Patriots offense has been decimated by everything short of an asteroid, and the Broncos defense has lost Elvis Dumervil forever and possibly Von Miller for four games.
(AFC implosion? The Buccaneers snagged perhaps the best defensive player in the AFC. The Cardinals took a former Pro Bowl quarterback from the Raiders. Rob Gronkowski is hurt, Reggie Bush went to the Lions, the Bills actually added Kevin Kolb while their best defensive player holds out, the Jets lost Revis and haven't officially replaced Mark Sanchez, the Ravens went all-in and won but then cashed out, the Steelers lost Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall, the Browns, the Colts defense is still terrible, the Jaguars top draft pick was a right tackle, the Chiefs top draft pick was a right tackle, and the Raiders are going to make the playoffs with our Matt Flynn scraps.)
There is no way that the Falcons win 13 games again. The Packers went 11-5 last season and that seems like the best you can do in the North, especially since the Lions are severely underrated. The Eagles look like they're going to get better. Perhaps a team in the NFC East will go 12-4 because that's the division that perhaps has the most boom-or-bust teams in the NFC, but it's far from weak. The top four divisions in the NFL, are in the NFC.
So it's good to have people like John Morgan and Percy Harvin to remind us to be real with our expectations. I also think that it's good to have people like me. Let's continue our look at how the Seahawks go 16-0 this year as we wrap up the first half against the Rams.
11-5? I'm all like "funk dat!"
1. The theory of relatively
A lot of people will look at the Rams of 2012 and say "they were good!" but that's not entirely true. The Rams finished with a positive DVOA for the first time since 2003, the Rams were almost a .500 team, the Rams were seventh in defensive DVOA, the Rams held in with the big boys and hung tougher than Donnie Wahlberg.
But the St. Louis Rams were not good. They were relatively good.
Being an average team is an amazing accomplishment for the 21st century Rams. They won 15 games between 2007 and 2011. Since they moved to St. Louis in 1995, the Rams have had eight seasons with double-digit losses (four with at least 13 losses) and four seasons with double digit wins. Since Orlando Pace and Marshall Faulk began to fade, the Rams are the epitome of suck.
Until last season, when the Rams weren't great or sucky. They weren't The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly nor were they The Room. They were I Know What You Did Last Summer. I'll definitely watch it if it's on, but this ain't exactly The Exorcist.
I hear a lot of Seahawks fans talking the Rams up as a team that's about to breakout and it's not that I am disagreeing, but if we aren't supposed to forget where we come from as Seattle fans, let's not forget where the Rams are coming from. Last year wasn't their best season since 2003. In fact, they've won at least seven games in four of the last nine years.
They went 8-8 in 2004 and made the playoffs while being outscored by 73. They went 8-8 in 2006 and were outscored by 14. They went 7-9 in 2010 and were outscored by 39. And then last year they went 7-8-1 and were outscored by 49.
"But this year is different because they're young and they kept all the good pieces and added more good players!"
Is that true?
The Rams parted ways with Steven Jackson and he wasn't exactly bad last year. They parted ways with Danny Amendola, their best receiver. They parted ways with Brandon Gibson, their second-leading receiver after Chris Givens, and Lance Kendricks, their fourth-leading receiver. They parted ways with starting safeties Quintin Mikell and Craig Dahl. (Maybe not a bad thing there.)
The last the time Rams were this promising was in 2010 and how much different were they? Sam Bradford was the QB, Jackson was the RB, Amendola and Gibson were the receivers, James Laurinaitis was the top linebacker, Chris Long was the best pass-rusher... and then they went 2-14 the next year. I don't think that's going to happen, but I don't think that they are playoff contenders either.
They aren't on the verge of a breakout. Not in 2013. The best bet for St. Louis is that they're on the verge of the verge (oh SBNation will love how many times I say "verge") and 2013 is the year where we are supposed to find out if they have good players or not. They won't be able to win the 10 or 11 games it will take to guarantee a playoff berth in the NFC. They could beat the Seahawks in St. Louis, where this game is taking place, but I wouldn't peg them as the favorites.
The Rams definitely don't look like a bad team. They look average. Or... relatively good.
Seahawks are just good.
2. Tis better to receive
I think I spent enough time on section one, and gave enough broad strokes to cover all my bases of why Seattle will beat the Rams that we can speed through the next four. Relatively speed through (for me.)
St. Louis added tackle Jake Long to hopefully give Bradford the protection he's been seeking since he entered the NFL. It's not that the Rams failed Bradford so much as Jason Smith failed the Rams, but they still haven't found their Kevin Costner. Their bodyguard.
But teams don't let franchise left tackles walk away when they can still do what they do. Long wouldn't be the first player to prove teams wrong in that regard (Drew Brees) but it would be surprising to see him still play at a Pro Bowl level. If he does, or at least if he does better than his predecessors, then Bradford will have time to find... who?
Okay, the Rams receivers aren't bad or unknown, but they're among the least-proven wide receivers corps in the NFL. Imagine Chris Givens lining up against the Seahawks, 49ers, and Cardinals top corners, and that's your number one receiver. The player returning to St. Louis with the second-most yards for the Rams last year is Austin Pettis.
He had 30 catches for 261 yards.
Brian Quick (11 catches for 156 yards) was a disappointment after being drafted 33rd overall. Of their ten active receivers on the roster right now, four of them don't even have Wikipedia pages. The others include Raymond Radway, which sounds like it would be the name of the driver in Excitebike, and Stedman Bailey, who I guess needs money after having his allowance cut off by Oprah.
The real key for the Rams offense might be rookie Tavon Austin. All 5'9 of him. He's the type of player that I love to watch in the NFL, but as a rookie that's potentially the focal point of the offense he could be in for a long season. Because Richard Sherman has locked down your number one. Brandon Browner now has to deal with perhaps all 156 yards of Quick or all 261 yards of Pettis, or all no yards of Bailey (3rd round pick, 5'10, also out of West Virginia like Tavon) and that leaves Antoine Winfield on the rookie Austin.
Perhaps the biggest benefactor in all of this is tight end Jared Cook. And of course, he's well-known for being a reliable target...
I think the Rams have their quarterback. They might even be able to protect him. But then what? The offense might have weapons, but absolutely zero of them have ever proven a thing in the NFL.
And it goes deeper than that...
3. "Hey Jeff Fisher, is your refrigerator running? Then maybe you should start him at tailback."
It seems like 30 is the magic number for running backs, but Steven Jackson was 29 last year. He rushed for 1,042 yards on 4.1 yards per carry and caught 38 passes for 321 yards. Maybe he does show signs of age this year and that's fine of the Rams to let him leave, but it doesn't change the fact that they have to replace him.
They are trying to do that with Isaiah Pead, the 50th overall pick in the draft last year, but he got all of ten carries as a rookie. The other rookie, Daryl Richardson, ran for 475 yards on 4.8 yards per carry, but my friend "3k" of Turf Show Times has told me that he's not an everydown back. They still need Pead.
Or Terrance Ganaway. Or Zac Stacy. Someone has to replace 1,363 total yards of offense.
Oh and in Week 8 against the Seahawks they have to do it against the number one scoring defense. The Rams haven't scored more than 20 points against the Seahawks since November 12, 2006. A 24-22 loss to Seattle.
If you can't run it, you better be able to pass it. We covered that in lesson two.
4. Speaking of history
In the last six seasons, the average score between the Seahawks and Rams has been:
SEA 23.16, STL 12.75
Dating back to October, 2005, Seattle has gone 14-2 against St. Louis.
Not that they haven't caused us problems lately. Over the last six games, Seattle has gone 4-2 with an average score of 17.66 to 13.0 but there's an NFL curve. And compared to the Rams, we are ahead of it.
5. More like St. Loses
I have just never personally heard that pun before.
Last year in St. Louis, the Rams beat the Seahawks 19-13. In the final game of the year, they came to Seattle and only lost by a score of 20-13. It seems like a razor thin comparison between the two when they get on the field lately.
But is this team better than they were last year.... or are they just different?
The truth is that it's impossible to tell right now. They've got new, exciting players, but those players are still replacing some rather productive guys. Amendola is a good receiver. Is Tavon Austin? Gibson was kind of a productive receiver. Is Quick? Is Cook actually going to live up to his potential, like he says he is? Is the defense on the verge of being great, or did they reach their limits last season?
Maybe things are looking up for the Rams. But for Seattle, they're just perfect.
And here are the others so far: