"Pete! Pete, it's Marvin! Your cousin, Marvin Carroll! You know that new gameplan you're lookin' for? Well watch this!"
I'm a fairly impatient person. I also lack self-confidence, I'm paranoid, and I believe that eventually everyone will go away. It's a perfect formula for a "nagging texter," as well as permanent singlehood. The truth is that for years I was firmly against texting, as I usually am with all new socialcentric technological advancements.
I waited out MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Words with Friends... I still don't care about Instagram and I think we all sort of tired of Vine and Draw Something right away. But even texting, I hated it for so long. I could only watch as one-by-one everyone I knew was starting to become a slave to the little beep-boop machines in their pocket. Texting was really the ultimate precursor to the smart phone, just another step in the divide between actual human eye contact.
Not that avoiding eye contact hasn't been beneficial to my dating and social life.
But eventually we all fall. I'm just as much of a texter as anyone else, and if I was hanging off of a cliff by one arm I'd still check to see if it was possible to text 9-1-1 before I had to call them. However, I only conformed after I had seen everyone else conform, and I also know that I'm not even close to being the worst offender of the S.P.O.R.E.S.
Smart Phone Obsessed Residents of Earth and Space.
So based on that, I know that when I text you and you don't respond for four hours, there's a good chance that you received the text. Girl, in the two days that I've known you, I've seen you check Facebook more times than I've seen you breathe. In the remake of that Angela Bassett classic film, they'll have to change the title to Waiting To Update My Status.
I also know that nobody likes a "nagging texter," especially not a SPORES member, so I know that you have absolutely no choice but to play it cool. Even if I'm internally freaking out, I will also let the ball lie on the side of the court that it's supposed to lie in. There's no point in texting a follow-up message because unless that person is dead, they're just not interested in texting you back right away. If that person is very interested in talking to you, the response will be immediate. Even if they did have an emergency, like if they were in a car accident and their arm was sliced off by the door, they'd still tell the paramedics: "Wait, my phone was in my left hand before I hit that semi-truck and chopped my arm off.... Can you check to see if I got a text from an Andy?"
All you can do when texting a SPORES that isn't responding is wait it out.
"Hey, did you see Parks and Rec last night? Way to go Jerry, lol!"
1 min... no response. No big deal.
5 min... no response. Could be pooping.
10 min... no response. What time is it? Eh, dinner time, I guess.
30 min... no response. I'm just going to watch this episode of Bob's Burgers and not even think about this text for the next 22 minutes.
31 min... Wait, did my text even go through? I mean, I might as well check, right? Yeah, it went through.
52 min... Bob, you silly, silly man. Still no response? You know what, screw it. She wasn't that great anyway!
55 min... I'm just going to send one little followup text. Nothing crazy, not "Did I do something?" but just a normal, Im-not-freaking-out text message.
"Do you ever think about dyin--" no delete, delete, delete, delete.
60 min... That's it. One official hour. You know what? An hour isn't that long. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, we have 24 of those a day. And how many days are in a year? 100? 150? Put it all together and what do you got? Like... a million hours?
75 min... no response. The rest of my life. I'm going to be single. for. the. rest. of. my. life.
90 min... no response. You know what? I'm HAPPY about being single. You live, you die, get used to it!
95 min... uncontrollable crying. Text a buddy just to make sure your phone is sending and receiving messages. Maybe a tower was struck by a terrorist attack.
120 min... no response from girl.
25 min... no response from friend.
3 hours... I don't know how you did it, Jack Bauer. Think about how crazy Jack Bauer's life is. Your life is actually pretty chill in comparison. Who needs that stress, you know? I'm doing okay...
7 hours... "Hey! Sorry, I slept all day, lol. Yeah, Jerry is so FUNNY!"
But wait, it's 4 PM. She slept... all... day?!
"Dang, you really like to sleep. lol."
"You want to grab a drink on Friday?"
Happiness, satisfaction, discomfort, sadness, empathy, love, hate, depression, pain, ecstasy, madness, enjoyment, worry, anger, pride.
We really just exist in pockets of all the emotions and once we jump out of one and into the next, who really cares what your last moment was? It's now that matters. Now is your last guarantee in life. Now is what you need in case the asteroid hits... now.
The Seattle Seahawks that you saw on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons represent most of the good emotions. The Seattle Seahawks that you saw for many of the games before that, in a loss to the Colts and close games against the Texans, Titans, Rams, and Buccaneers, represent many emotions you dislike. Even going 4-1 in those games, they left a shadow of doubt.
The actual difference between those two teams?
Eh. Not much.
Don't get me wrong, the level of performance was far greater in Week 10 than in probably any of the previous nine games, but there was so much that wasn't different. Most of the players remain the same, especially the important ones.
Russell Wilson. Ever heard of him?
Marshawn Lynch? Who's this guy?
Golden Tate? Uhh, who's that?
Michael Bennett? Chyeah, don't think so.
Earl Thomas? Talk to the hand, cause the Hawk ain't listenin'.
These are the players. Maybe a couple of guys won't be here during the playoffs, maybe a few more guys will show up, but this is the team. This has always been the team. Nobody gives the same performance every single day, even if they're always the same person. We have good and we have bad, based on a lot of different external factors that are often outside of our control, and oftentimes those reasons for differentiation in performance have very valid excuses.
Today a lot of people probably have a lot more of a positive feeling about the Seattle Seahawks because if an asteroid hits right now their last remaining memory of the Seahawks will be a dominating performance over the Atlanta Falcons on the road. If that asteroid had hit on Saturday, then people might foolishly think that the Seahawks were overrated.
If the asteroid had hit on Saturday, they'd think that the Jaguars would never win a game again. Ever.
That the Colts were now the most unbeatable team.
That Kellen Clemens would never win a start with the Rams.
The Lions could never lead the NFC North.
The Cowboys would run away with the NFC East.
That Jake Locker would finally prove the haters wrong. (Even from a Coug, get well soon, Jake.)
The Ravens are finished.
The 49ers are creeping up on Seattle.
The Saints are going to fall apart against a difficult schedule.
Except that the NFL never exists as an absolute. Sports aren't absolute. Life isn't absolute. Relationships aren't absolute. We don't evolve on a millennium-to-millennium basis, we evolve on a second-to-second basis. You may have changed as you read this. Your world could turn upside down right now. We make the best with the "now" that we're given and we try to move forward with those assumptions, but if you want to keep as even a keel as possible, just remember that nothing is ever as different or as the same as it seems.
In Week 1, the Seahawks were one of the very best teams in the NFL.
In Week 10, the Seahawks were one of the very best teams in the NFL.
In Week 17... We'll see.
While you were freaking out that maybe they weren't as good as advertised, maybe it just turns out that they really didn't get your text message all day long. Maybe the excuse was quite valid after all. Now don't you feel silly?
Let's make like something that gives you wings and "Bull It":
- A lot of people doubt the 9-0 Chiefs, and Kansas City will finally be tested next Sunday night against the Denver Broncos. If they win that game, obviously, people will start to believe. If they get embarrassed, people will say it's the worst 9-1 team ever.
And it seems like people also doubt the 9-1 Seahawks, but I would have to say there's a slight difference between winning the nine games that the Chiefs have won and winning the nine games that the Seahawks have won. As much as everyone was disappointed to not see blowout wins over every bad opponent, let's also remember how Seattle got to 9-1.
By beating the Carolina Panthers, the current number five seed.
By beating the San Francisco 49ers, the current number six seed.
By beating the Arizona Cardinals, currently 5-4 and one game out of the Wild Card.
By beating the St. Louis Rams, a team that just embarrassed the Indianapolis Colts.
Maybe some of the games were closer than you expected or wanted, but the only way you get to 9-1 is by either being a very good team that has a very easy schedule, by being a very good team that has a tough schedule but pulls out wins somehow anyway, or by being an elite team that will destroy any schedule it has.
Maybe this year's Seahawks aren't the 2007 New England Patriots, but that doesn't mean they aren't elite. Or that unlike the Patriots, it doesn't mean they won't win the Super Bowl.
You don't win 14 of your last 15 games entirely by accident.
- 14-1 over the last 15 regular season games.
- 7-1 on the road over the last eight road games.
- Marshawn Lynch had 145 yards rushing, his second-highest total as a Seahawk behind a 148-yard performance in 2011 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Maybe it's not as ironic as a rainy wedding day, but Lynch now trails Eagles' running back LeSean McCoy by 61 yards for the 2013 NFL rushing title with six games left to go for both.
I didn't break it down statistically, but I looked at both players remaining schedules and I can tell you that fairly definitively, McCoy has an easier schedule ahead. They both face the Vikings and Cardinals, but the Seahawks just face some other average-to-good run defenses and McCoy faces some pretty bad run defenses.
The last time a member of Seattle won the rushing title, they went to the Super Bowl.
- This is going to be a pretty fundamental and obvious bulletpoint, but I'm going to say it anyway.
In today's NFL, almost every team is a passing team. It seems pretty obvious: Passing = bigger chunks of yardage = faster scoring = more scoring. From the innovations we had in the sixties and seventies to the blossoming of those innovations into record numbers being posted every week, clearly we've masted the art of the passing game better than we ever have before.
I use the royal "we" because I have no fucking idea what they're doing out there. I only know that if Nick Foles is better than Peyton Manning, some whacky shit's going down. Especially at a time when Manning is having VH1's Best Season Ever.
The Seahawks are 24th in the NFL in passing yards per game, but they are also one of only a handful of teams to have played 10 games, so it's possible that soon they'll be lower than 24th. They are 31st in total pass attempts but again, they've played in more games than most teams and still they rank only ahead of the 49ers in attempts.
So how can Seattle possibly be considered a "good offense" if they refuse to catch up with the rest of the league's offenses?
The Seahawks are eighth in completion-percentage, sixth in touchdown passes, third in touchdown-percentage, 13th in interception-percentage, tied for second in yards-per-attempt, fourth in passer rating.
But still, why don't they just bump up their passing by 50-percent and really start to blow the doors off this bitch? Russell Wilson could be every bit as good as Manning, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, and Aaron Rodgers if we just pass it 40 times per game!
Because the offense is supposed to be slow. It's supposed to be annoying. It's supposed to grind up third downs. Even in a league where the trend is to pass, if you have the best secondary in the NFL, you force teams to run. Even if they get a few lucky ones on your early, like the Texans, Colts, and Buccaneers, the overall grind is too much for pretty much any team in the league. That's why this team hasn't lost a game by more than a touchdown since mid-2011.
It also happens to keep perhaps-the-best defense in the league as the freshest defense in the league. And being the freshest defense in the league could give Seattle the edge over Carolina, Arizona, and Kansas City in being the best defense in the league. Winning the time-of-possession 35:30 to 24:30 as they did on Sunday is almost always going to mean that the good guys won, and it should help keep them healthier for the next one.
So what's the fundamental point I was talking about? I guess it's just that it's interesting to watch the league evolve so much but the most successful team in the NFC, if not the entire league, is the one that's perhaps the most old school. That changed the least.
Though not entirely old school, because when the Seahawks do decide to pass it, they're as successful as almost anyone outside of Denver.
Yes, the rate stats are comparable even to the Saints. The only difference is that Seattle also happens to be only one yard behind the Eagles for most rushing yards in the NFL.
- Speaking of not answering your text, do we now flip a switch on Darrell Bevell and/or Tom Cable again? Without Russell Okung, Max Unger, or Breno Giacomini, the Seahawks ran it 42 times for 5.0 yards per carry and Russell Wilson was sacked just one time.
Probably a good time to note that in retrospect, their recent slate of games without Okung in the lineup included the likes of J.J. Watt, Robert Mathis, Jurrell Casey, the Arizona Cardinals, Chris Long, Robert Quinn and Gerald McCoy. I'm not saying that the scab offensive lineman were good, or even not-terrible, but how many elite players does it take to disrupt one bad offensive line?
And how different is this team going to look if they get four players back this week against Minnesota, including three of the best at their respective positions?
- Holy shit, we're 9-1 and we've played most of the season without two of the best players at their respective positions.
- In baseball, I've often looked out for the "at least one run every inning" in a box score. It's incredibly rare, but I've always wanted to witness the Mariners do it. Or at least I've always wanted them to score a run.
"I don't even own a run rack."
I look at the Seahawks drive chart every week because I think the drive chart is one of the most-telling parts of a game recap. Perhaps moreso than even a box score, sometimes. I don't know of the last time I saw one where the shortest drive was 34 yards.
The Seahawks offense was entirely unsuccessful none-times against the Falcons in Week 10.
The Falcons had drives of at least 34 yards just four times, and three of those came with the game out-of-reach. In fact, Atlanta had only three drives after halftime.
- The 2nd half time-of-possession was 18:41 to 11:19. Down 26-3, that'll make it pretty difficult to come back and win.
- Wilson threw for 287 yards, the fourth-highest regular season total of his career. He is 6-0 in the regular season when he throws for at least 250 yards. His career-high overall, including regular season and postseason, is 385 yards against the Atlanta Falcons in the not-regular season. But his career-high in the regular season is 320 yards against the Carolina Panthers in Week 1 of the 2013 regular season.
- We'll get into Wilson's Pantheons later this week, but just FYI, it was Wilson's second-highest passer rating in an NFL game for the regular season. He is 15-1 over his best 16 games in terms of passer rating.
I know that passer rating is flawed and some people just straight-up hate it, but that's at least kind of interesting, right?
- Matt Ryan has played in 87 career games but his 4.78 yards-per-attempt against the Seahawks was his third-worst mark since entering the NFL. Even with that, he gave himself a significant YPA and yardage bump on the final, meaningless drive.
- Earl Thomas had just one tackle. He still has 25 more solo tackles than anyone else on the team.
- There are those seasons when a defensive end will get 12 sacks but they came in a four-game stretch and he was mostly ineffective over the other 12 games. Michael Bennett has 6.5 sacks this year but he's notched at least one sack in six different games.
Cliff Avril has 5.5 sacks, with five games where he had one sack and one game where he had 0.5-sacks.
- You bought season tickets but it feels like you've hardly been to any games this year. Well, good news: four of the next six games are at home!
When the season started, what would have been an acceptable record after 10 games? 7-3? 6-4, maybe? The Seahawks got through most of their road schedule and have lost but a single contest.
It's also entirely possible that not only do they have four home games left, but they have six home games left. Man, I wish I were rich like you and also lived in Seattle (for the summer months and then flew up only for four hours to see the games in my comfortable box seat with the free nachos.)
- Actually, I will be attending the Vikings game, my first Seahawks contest in quite some time. If they lose, it's only logical to blame me, and only me. And also Arif Hasan, as he'll be there too.
- The "crappy" Seattle Seahawks also happen to be +106 points. The 1984 team was +133 through 10 games. The 2005 team was just +85.
- I think this team compares somewhat favorably to the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That team was +107 through 10 games and featured a great defense with a ball-control offense. Of course, Wilson is a better quarterback than Brad Johnson ever was, but Johnson wasn't a terrible quarterback. He threw 22 touchdowns and six interceptions that season, not doing much to harm his incredible defense.
The Bucs also didn't have a player of the caliber of Marshawn Lynch, but the combination of Michael Pittman and Mike Alstott was still somewhat effective. I'm not saying that the comparisons are endless, because they end rather abruptly, but there's at least one thing that they did do that matters and I'll get to that in a second.
One big difference however:
That Tampa Bay team featured a lot of 30-and-over players, including Johnson, Keyshawn Johnson, Keenan McCardell, Warren Sapp, John Lynch, and Shelton Quarles. Players like Simeon Rice, Alstott, and Derrick Brooks were just shy of 30.
The Seahawks only have a handful of players that have even reached 28.
And I'm not saying that Seattle can start to compare themselves to a Super Bowl-winner and one of the greatest defenses we've ever seen either. They won't be able to do that until after the mission has been completed, in the same way that Sapp, Brooks, Ronde Barber, and even Brad Johnson, were not immortalized until they had finally won a championship. Sure, we would have always looked back on Sapp and have though "Damn, one of the best" but how many more fans around the world would be doing that with Cortez Kennedy, if only he had been able to be a part of one championship team?
That Tampa Bay team, like the Seahawks, were the best pass defense in the NFL. With the Tampa-2, they were one of the best we've ever seen. But when it's mano-y-mano, it's only a matter of finding out whether or not your best is better than my best. You've got the pass defense? Well, I've got the offense. Let's see who wins.
The '02 Bucs entered the playoffs at 12-4, narrowly winning a Bye week over the Green Bay Packers and earning the number two seed behind the Philadelphia Eagles.
Their first matchup was against Jeff Garcia and the San Francisco 49ers. This was the beginning of the end for the Niners, as it would mark the final season in San Francisco for Steve Mariucci and soon Garcia, but they weren't a bad team yet. They had just beaten the New York Giants 39-38 in one of the all-time playoff thrillers, with 356 passing yards.
Against the Bucs, they scored six points and Garcia threw for 193 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions.
In the NFC Championship game, they traveled to Philadelphia to face the top-seeded Eagles. Though they had identical 12-4 records, Philly was able to secure a tiebreak and get this home game. The Eagles were fourth in the NFL in scoring and even did so despite missing Donovan McNabb for six games.
McNabb returned for the playoffs but was no match for the Bucs. Philadelphia scored just 10 points, with seven of those points coming on a 20-yard Duce Staley run that was only setup by a 70-yard opening kickoff return. McNabb was 26-of-49 for 243 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception.
The Bucs were going to the Super Bowl to face the Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders were second in the NFL in points, first in yards, first in passing yards, and featured Rich Gannon, Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and Charlie Garner. In two playoff games, they scored 71 points. Gannon was throwing for over 280 yards per game in those playoffs, with five touchdowns and one interception. Even rushed for a touchdown too.
If two Hall of Fame receivers weren't enough, it was actually a young Jerry Porter that was doing most of the damage in the 2002 NFL playoffs for Oakland. But what could the Raiders do against the league's best defense? Was this rock versus hard place or was one stronger and more important than the other?
Of course, by now you know the answer to this.
In his previous six playoff starts, Gannon had thrown three interceptions. In his lone Super Bowl start against Tampa Bay, he threw five interceptions. That's half as many interceptions as he had thrown during the entire season.
The Raiders lost 48-21, with one of those touchdowns by Oakland coming on a blocked punt. The others, after they had already been trailing by 31 points. The best offense, facing the best defense, was embarrassed.
The formula was being set right there for all the world to see. It's that same old mantra about defenses winning championships, and even if it should be plain-as-day to see, teams still often build offense, offense, offense. Look no further than the eight head coaches hired last offseason and notice that our own Gus Bradley was the only one of those eight to be a defensive coach.
(Especially don't look further because seeing the Jacksonville Jaguars could kill my argument here.)
The 2013 Seattle Seahawks are looking to shut down the one aspect of the game right now that everyone seems to find so successful -- the passing game -- just as those 2002 Bucs did. The Panthers, 49ers, and Chiefs are probably the closest other teams right now to being able to do that, something that the '02 Bucs didn't really have to worry about.
(The Cardinals don't have an offense yet.)
(The Bucs allowed 196 points that year. By comparison, no team in the AFC that year allowed fewer than 300 points.)
Success is right there to be had. Don't fall into the trap of doing what everyone else is doing. Don't focus too much on whether or not you win by six points or 60 points, just as long as you win. Grind it out and don't play someone else's game, force them to play yours. Remove the teams aerial attack and watch them scramble.
Teams like the '02 Bucs put it there for everyone to see. It didn't change after that. The early-2000s Patriots were all about defense. So were the Steelers. So were the Giants, mostly. How do you think the '01 Pats beat the Rams? Or the 2000 Ravens beat the Giants? It's all right there.
Even still, there was one person on the sideline at that 2002 Super Bowl that watched the Bucs destroy the Raiders thanks to a dominating and innovative pass defense that is still predicated on having elite players at certain positions, as long as you draft properly:
"Pete! Pete, it's Marvin! Your cousin, Marvin Carroll! You know that new gameplan you're lookin' for? Well watch this!"
Thank God Pete's phone wasn't on vibrate.