Not every recent football-based event has been the type to elicit thanks from Seattle Seahawks fans. But as a holiday centered on thankfulness approaches, it strikes me how much we have to celebrate. Here are 12 such things.
But first: stuff that didn’t make the list!
- The Los Angeles Rams. They are hateful, good, lucky, dumb, dirty, talented, and fun to watch. I hate them so much. More than the 49ers back in the good old days of 2011-2014. Nobody should feel pressure to be thankful for the Rams. The goddamn Rams. Are you kidding me?
- Pete Carroll and John Schneider. Too easy. Some other Thanksgiving maybe.
- Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner. The best players on offense and defense get enough accolades. We are thankful for them! My god, yes. Just not in the context of this list, which will try to be equal parts predictable and non.
12. An actual kicker
Lest you forget, 2017 was not The Year Of The Seahawks Kicker, unless by that we mean a poor guy to kick around and blame (somewhat rightfully) for close losses.
Sebastian Janikowski has been a non-factor. He’s been somewhere between not-great and pretty good. He hasn’t cost the team a game, though the miss in Denver probably mattered some. He hasn’t won the team a game, because the buzzer-beater in Arizona was only set up by his earlier screw-ups.
His basic stats confirm the impression: 12-for-16 overall, 30-for-30 on extra points. Three makes in five tries beyond 50 yards. He’s been, for lack of a better term, basic, only in the good sense of the term, not the Eleanor Shellstrop sense.
It’s been very nice to have Seabass around instead of Blair Walsh, who I hope gets another chance in the league someday, and makes the most of it.
11. The past
It’s been a full decade already, crammed into eight and a half seasons.
Beastquake, 2012, The Tip, XLVIII, NFCCG, heartbreak of XLIX, more playoff wins, more playoff losses, doubt and hope: it’s been a decade.
Pretty much every franchise outside of Foxborough would trade their 2010’s for ours. Life as a fan here has been good. Heart-arrestingly, chest-poundingly, dry-heavingly, face-palmingly, what-the-fuckingly, no-no-no-no-no-YES-ingly, satisfyingly, unsatisfyingly good, yet in the end undeniably good. Often great. What a run the last eight and a half seasons have been. Thanks for that, Seahawks.
When this isn’t even one of your franchise’s top 20 recent plays...
10. The continued presence of former players
Cliff Avril does radio in town, and does it better every week. Mack Strong appears at various events, and every time that guy proves he can still walk after the physical sacrifice he made for the team, it warms my heart. Walter Jones stays involved, locally, through sports photography, mentoring a young tackle, and his 96check venture.
Ex-Seahawks have pride in this community, and stick around to make a difference. We’re lucky for that.
9. To be blunt? The Seahawks aren’t the Mariners
Carroll and Schneider have made their share of questionable hires, free-agent acquisitions, and draft choices. We’ve sometimes been stuck rooting for players, or coaches, we’d rather forget about.
But the Seahawks haven’t gummed up like the Mariners, who are in the middle of perhaps one of the toughest stretches of their franchise history. Which is saying something.
In just the past calendar year, the local baseball club has dealt in the past season with a) blowing a seven-game lead in the playoff chase, b) revelations that the club president and other executives faced sexual harassment claims and made payments to three women, and c) accusations of racism by three former employees.
It is not easy to be a Seahawks fan, at various times, when circumstances align to test one’s fandom. It’s practically impossible to like the Mariners right now.
8. Amazing, all-encompassing media coverage
Between the site you find yourself at today, seahawksdraftblog.com, hawkblogger.com, theathletic.com and various other independent sources of Seahawks coverage, fans are blessed with extensive, in-depth, humorous, serious and timely coverage of the team online. Our collective blog game is strong.
Add in the local traditional media reporting, by the excellent Bob Condotta and Gregg Bell, and there should never — ever — be a day where your hankering for Seahawks news goes unquenched. It is a prime time to be a fan of the Seahawks, whether or not Amazon jefe Jeff Bezos emerges as the next owner.
It wasn’t always like this. If you’re
old experienced decrepit wise enough to remember the 1990s, or earlier, coverage of the Seahawks consisted of an occasional Sportscenter highlight (if you had cable!) and a few game stories plus notes in the newspapers a day after the game.
Now you have the gold-plated Cigar Thoughts the evening of a win or loss, plus dozens (literally dozens!) of reaction pieces across the internet within 24 hours. There has never been a better time to be a Seahawks fan, in terms of journalism offered to you.
7. The current Seahawks are actually fun to watch
This ties in with earlier number 12. and future numbers 6. and 2. (NO PEEKING). It positively must be said that the 2018 Seahawks are orders of magnitude easier to watch than their immediate predecessors.
They’re not as prone to stupid penalties, they’re in every game again (remember 42-7? Thank every god that’s not part of our current season), they can suddenly block pass rushers again, and if not for a couple uncharacteristic and ill-timed pick sixes, they might be in even better playoff position.
The Washington game was so bad last year I secretly hoped the club would offer a refund, a la Seattle Sounders from 2010, when following a 4-0 home defeat to the hated LA Galaxy, the SSFC leadership reimbursed season ticket holders for sitting through 90 minutes of embarrassment.
There hasn’t been anything approaching that bad of a performance this year. The setback in Chicago was difficult, for sure frustrating at times, but road games at defensive-minded division leaders are supposed to be difficult.
Aren’t you having a hell of a lot more fun watching the Seahawks?
6. Young talent on the scene
A list of selected players with more than 100 offensive or defensive snaps this season follows.
Seahawks age 25: Frank Clark, Justin Coleman, Mike Davis, Quinton Jefferson, Jarran Reed, Nick Vannett
Seahawks age 24: Austin Calitro, Chris Carson, Joey Hunt, Germain Ifedi
Seahawks age 23: Tre Flowers, Poona Ford, Shaquill Griffin, David Moore, Ethan Pocic, Tedric Thompson
Seahawks age 22 and younger (!): Michael Dickson, Will Dissly, Rasheem Green, Jacob Martin, Rashaad Penny.
Add in vets who aren’t going anywhere, like Wilson, Wagner, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, and Duane Brown. Round it out with players under 100 snaps, such as Shaquem Griffin, Delano Hill and Nazair Jones, and that’s the core of a roster set up to be good for quite some time.
5. Active, meaningful rivalries
The Rams, Panthers and Packers are immediate division and conference rivals who’ve tussled with the Seahawks over and over in the Carroll-Wilson era. There’s a lot of compelling history here, in the regular season and playoffs.
And then of course, there are the 49ers and Cardinals, who still exist, and who will probably only be better next year. Until then, we thank them for... not being better this year. As much fun as it is to go toe-to-toe with the Rams, it’s also enjoyable to have inferior teams to dominate.
Plus, all the old AFC West rivalries have been stoked in recent years, between meeting the Broncos in XLVIII, then beating up on the Raiders over and over but getting run over by the Chargers and Chiefs. Some things never change. Eh.
Being relevant, and having a full slate of equally good rivals, is very cool, and many other fanbases would envy this aspect of our shared fanhood.
4. Tyler Lockett
In a season where the Seahawks find themselves paying big money to players not playing (combined, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, and Richard Sherman combined, are making 22.2 combined million dollars combined this year, combined), they needed their next big deal to be an efficient use of cap resources.
Granting three more years and $31.8 million to Lockett was viewed as risky by some. If the move was ever risky, it has paid off. Alistair laid it out quite nicely the other day.
Tyler Lockett is on pace for 12 touchdowns with just 78 targets.— Alistair Corp (@AlistairCorp) November 14, 2018
Since targets started getting tracked in 1992, only 4 players have caught 12+ TDs with less than 100 targets, the current low being 84 targets. Only 7 others have done it with fewer than 120 targets.
With decisions looming on Frank Clark, K.J. Wright, and a presumed big extension planned for RW (they’re doing it, don’t bother to think otherwise), whiffing on the Lockett deal would have been damaging. There was no whiff. Except the sweet scent of success.
3. Play action
It is good that play action exists. In general for quarterbacks, and in specific for Russell Wilson, who uses it to perfection.
PLAY ACTION pass is one of the hardest things to defend and these QBs have done it the best this season.#FightForEachOther #GoSaints #Seahawks #KeepPounding #LARams #BroncosCountry #OnePride #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/Kt2nBjW7hi— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) October 23, 2018
Moar play-action, plz.
2. Mike Solari
I could have gone with the offensive line as a whole here; they’re doing the actual work on the field, not their coach.
But anyone who’s watched the 2010-2018 Seahawks knows that this year, the line simply looks different. It looks... good. Better than competent, or average — it looks outright dominant for drives at a time, before faltering, like all offensive lines do at some point. The defenders are really good too, you know. Especially the ones named Aaron Donald.
Point is! This right here —
— hasn’t been happening all the time anymore. The line is better. The eye test backs it up, the stats back it up, the film backs it up, the results back it up: the OL has improved, drastically, and three of the linemen are returners. D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy are strong, reilable, league average gaurds at least, which makes a big difference. But the other three unchanged men are all, well, changed, and for the better this year compared to last. With the main difference there being the dude who leads them.
So, thanks, Mike Solari. Don’t leave us anytime soon.
One: The life of Paul Allen
This is a hard one to be thankful for, when the man left us too soon. (Here’s what I said at the time.) But you know how at wakes and funerals, the minister or rabbi or family member exhorts us to celebrate the life of the deceased, rather than dwell on their tragic departure? That’s possible to do here too.
Without Paul Allen, there is none of this. You’re not reading these words at your screen, because there’s no team here to write about. There are no championships, no near-misses, no excruciating defeats, no exhilarating victories. There is only emptiness. Though it’s easy to feel a similar emptiness when contemplating Allen’s passing, it’s not fair to the man who accomplished so much, in so little time frankly, in order to provide you and me with the community and shared experience that helps make our lives whole.
Once again, because it will never get old, thank you, Paul Gardner Allen.