Win or lose, Seattle's shot at making the playoffs barely budges. If the loss doesn't matter, the thread of contention lost, what matters now is how the team played. That might sound like palliative bullshit, but it's not. What matters now is building a team that can contend again. The foundation is there, and for the first time in a long time, so was the fight.
That team includes Julius Jones. Jones is a good running back with fringe benefits a Teamster wouldn't turn down. Jones counts just 1.5 million against the cap this season. He will continue to be cheap throughout his contract. Jones is a strong pass blocker. He's a good receiver. Jones has good vision, quickness, cutback ability and tackle breaking ability. People who want only flash will cry for Seattle to draft a "superstar" running back, but cheap as hell and not costing a draft pick is a pretty good price for an above average back.
That team includes Ray Willis, who has proven to be a better Floyd Womack. He's a capable right tackle and if today is any indication, a pretty good right guard.
That team includes John Carlson who's been so good people forget he's a rookie. Drops are one kind of incompletion, but one fans especially despise. It's a bit like an error in baseball. The error is ugly and we see it, but for a player to commit an error, they must first get to the ball. The error is usually no worse than if the play were never made. Carlson gets open. He's Seattle's leading receiver and even with today's 5 receptions for 10 targets showing, his catch rate is 61%. His drops are painful, but merely the bad end to a nearly successful play.
And that team includes Baraka Atkins. In fact, it includes virtually everyone on this roster. Seattle is young and cheap and talented throughout its ranks.
Seattle has a good young core and played hard against a better opponent. There's no trickery or rhetoric needed to feel hopeful about this team. It's been a hard year, but this, heartbreaking as it was, felt like the first signs of light.
Game Ball: Brandon Mebane. Mebane had two tackles today, for 0 and -1, both in the fourth quarter, both preventing first downs. The Dolphins ran behind left guard four times. The total yards gained on those runs: 4. Mebane now has three sacks from the one tech. He's the heart of this run defense. The reason teams no longer regularly break long runs. He's just 23, and still developing as a pass rusher. In a dismal season, Mebane keeps giving me things to care about. Game ball.