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Twelve (sorry) reasons to be optimistic about the 2021 Seahawks

Purely optional optimism, of course

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

If we were serious about mouseclicks on this here site, a post such as this would’ve been broken into 12 slides with accompanying photographs. Instead it’ll be a single-click affair peppered with videos of positive occurrences that your Seattle Seahawks have already furnished this season. Sorry about all the good times. Which definitely count less than the bad times, If I’ve learned anything about proper Seattle fanhood.

As threatened by your headline, below lie 12 reasons a Seahawks fanatic person could use to boost their optimism levels. Were they so inclined.

Probably wise to start with the weakest arguments first. Nothing personal, mate.

12. How can you not have a good time watching Michael Dickson every week

Most punters don’t get one play like this in their whole career, let alone twice in one season. With Dickson back there, disasters turn into highlights. Remember he pulled a similar stunt in Indianapolis Week 1, only without the improbable one-handed scoop. Watch it again just for that moment he harvests the ball from the turf:

68 yards on a blocked punt? Don’t mind if I do. Dickson’s also dropping his punts inside the 10 multiple times a week. As long as the Seahawks fan find a way to turn a couple of the remaining 12 games into field position battles, they have an Aussie ace in the hole that could be a major difference between victory and defeat.

11. Penalty luck will regress

But it’s the good kind of regression. Only three teams who’ve played every week have had fewer penalties called in their favor than Seattle’s 24. Put another way, the Seahawks have gotten the fourth-worst luck flag-wise so far.

If regression begins right away and they benefit from a few extra calls in the next month they weren’t getting before, that could very well help smooth over the Russell Wilson hiatus.

I’m not citing the gambler’s fallacy, the wrong-headed assumption that future penalties will be called at a higher rate to make up for Weeks 1-5. I’m saying that there’s no reason Seattle opponents should continue to get unintentional preferential treatment from the officials, and it’s much more likely that flags will fly at a league average rate going forward. It’ll help.

10. Injury luck will probably favor the Seahawks at some point

Opposing quarterbacks will get hurt and miss games. Offensive lines will miss key contributors. An elite pass rusher will have to sit out for a while. Any or all of those could happen against the Seahawks later this year.

Hopefully you’ve read me often enough to know I’m not in any shape or form rooting for injury. I’m simply guessing that a team or two that looks scary right now will be ravaged by bad health luck right as the Seahawks show up on their schedule. This is the NFL. Star players miss games. Right now Seattle’s going through the worst of it; later it’ll be an opponent. As long as there are defensive linemen with malice in their hearts, there will be quarterbacks with red letters on their injury reports.

Wilson’s hurt and out, a phrase that still makes me shake my head. But he’ll be back, along with Chris Carson, Gerald Everett, and the exciting rookies. I don’t want to put too much of the team’s fortune on untested dudes, but Tre Brown and Dee Eskridge will be activated and will help at a position of need — unless they’re not needed, but that would only be because Sidney Jones and Freddie Swain are producing, which would be further reason for optimism. And scene.

9. Week 18, hmmmm

Our beloved Arizona Cardinals moved to 5-0 after dispatching the terrible 49ers (more on them later) and sit atop the NFC. Not just the division, but the whole conference. They’ve beaten everyone, but most especially San Fran and LA. Good for them? Maybe good for us too. But not when one of our starting corners has to cover DeAndre Hopkins.

It’s not at all out of the realm of plausibility (plossibility? either way) that the Cards have a specific playoff seed wrapped up by the time they host the Seahawks in Week 18. I can pretty easily imagine Arizona sitting at 14-2 or 13-3 already, with a desperate Seattle hovering at 9-7, needing a win to make the playoffs. Does Kliff Kingsbury play his starters the whole game? Doubt it.

8. The division race remains tight because few games have been played

I say tight, and naturally I mean on a micro level much more so than a macro one. I wouldn’t say that the Niners and Hawks are very close to the Cards in overall standings. They’re three games back! After five games! Yikes. The division is hard to win for anyone but Arizona or Los Angeles.

However, within the division itself, nothing is decided.

ARI 2-0

LA 1-1

SEA 1-1

SF 0-2

The first team that goes on a tear within the NFC West is going to be sitting pretty. And the Seahawks don’t play another rival until November 21. Forty days from now. Again, nothing is decided, although you’d much rather be the Cards after Week 5. And you’d much rather not be the...

7. Niners, laugh out loud with me

The 49ers do not currently appear to have an offense outside of Trey Lance, who threw the ball or carried it on 45 of their 57 plays this past Sunday.

They’ve lost three in a row, are in free-fall, and been outscored by 23 points since the first half of Week 1 when they put up 31 on the Lions.

For every good throw by Lance in his first start, there were a couple of these, either over or behind the receiver.

In the NFC West, the Seahawks cannot be totally assured of third place at a minimum, but the Niners’ current trajectory makes it look more and more likely. With seven playoff spots, third place can definitely be good enough for the final wild card if you somehow get to 10 wins.

Seattle would need to find eight more victories, then? Not farfetched.

Steelers, Jaguars, WFT, then Niners in Week 13, followed by Texans. Bears, Lions and Cards to close out the season.

In this scenario, the Seahawks drop an ugly home game to the Saints, can’t get it done vs. the Cards either, get blown out in Lambeau and lose a squeaker to the Rams in LA.

I’m not saying 8-4 the rest of the way is happening. I’m saying it’s a reasonable brand of optimism that requires very little consumption of Kool-Aid.

6. Look, they’re gonna fix Jamal Adams, somewhat

And you only need somewhat.

Jamal Adams is not bad at football. He’s looked uneven, confused, miscast, and occasionally disinterested. But he doesn’t suddenly suck at the game he’s played his whole life, nor is he hurt, from the best we can tell. He’s going to be a positive factor again, and maybe even tilt the field a few times again, possibly win a game almost all by himself once, and yes it’s going to be in a Seahawks uniform, you smartasses.

Something will change, something will click, something will work, whether it’s coach-driven or not. Even if it’s as simple a decision as blitzing him off the edge and up the middle more aggressively than ever, while sticking Ryan Neal back there in a triple-safety dime package on presumed passing downs. (Which they should start doing immediately, from snap one against Pittsburgh. But what do I know, I’m just a nerd with a laptop.)

Adams was an All-Pro. That ability is still in him, itching to get out and gobble up some heads like Venom. It’ll happen in a week, a month or a year. And magically, the defense will stop looking like shit.

5. The RW injury is... not poorly timed?

It coincides with maybe the softest part of the schedule besides WFT-Niners-Texans right after Thanksgiving. Overall DVOA for the Seahawks’ next three foes:

@ PIT: 24th

vs. NO: 7th

vs. JAX: 31st

Last year a slate of bad offenses helped fuel the rejuvenation of Seattle’s defense. Maybe this year they catch the right teams at the right time as well?

There are no easy games in the modern NFL. But if there were one, it would be the Jaguars at home. Entirely possible the Urban Lawrences are riding a 23-game losing streak into Lumen that week.

4. The lousy home performances are not sustainable... right?

Much was made in Week 4 about how Russell Wilson-led teams have never lost three in a row. Well, statisticians and researchers, smoke this one in your pipe: they have lost three in a row at home (and four in a row in front of home fans). What was once deemed the league’s strongest home-field advantage is now a faint blur in a smudgy rear view mirror. Or that might be a bug.

Last 28 regular season games, non-COVID seasons

Seahawks on the road: 19-9

Seahawks at home: 15-13

In their last four “real” home games, the Seahawks have:

  • allowed 253 yards rushing in a two-score loss to Arizona
  • come up one foot short from winning the division title vs. San Francisco
  • blown a two-touchdown fourth-quarter lead to Tennessee
  • lost RW, and the accompanying game, to LA

It’s plain that first, the stadium must be immediately renamed, and second, the universe must decide we have paid our collective debt for the joys of witnessing Beastquake, The Golden Touch, The Tip, The Chop, The Kearse Is Lifted, The Bat — and proceed to restore our competitive advantage. Seriously it’s weird and who/whatever is messing with the natural order of things should stop. And they will. Now’s fine.

3. Russ probably doesn’t need any extra motivation but it can’t hurt

I doubt any of us have ever met a person quite so driven as Russell Carrington Wilson. His work ethos is legendary, and then there’s his belief in himself when others discount him, which has only been happening his whole life.

Now, for the first time as a pro, he’ll miss time. He’ll be forced to watch from the sideline, powerless to turn the tide when a game feels like it’s slipping away.

If he was in need of a fire being rekindled within himself, he’ll get it. If he was in need of rest and recuperation, he’ll receive that too. If he was in need of a fresh perspective on the offense after living at the eye of the hurricane for a decade, then, yeah, that’s also incoming.

I don’t know if any of those experiences will help. But if just one of them turns a light on where previously there was darkness, Wilson will be even better when he returns — a scary thought.

2. The offense will still function because it’s still got playmakers

DK Metcalf will get his no matter who is under center. Tyler Lockett didn’t lose a step because Wilson lost a finger. Gerald Everett is coming back just in time to provide an explosive security blanket to the backup quarterback.

Chris Carson can truck fools no matter who hands him the ball.

As Geno Smith, you could do a lot worse than having those four weapons at your disposal in a motion-heavy misdirection offense designed by an expert who already did it for one successful team. And Smith isn’t incompetent. He may be sloppy at times, his deep ball may not compare to Russ (whose does?), and he may start to look indecisive once the pass rush heats up a little. But I’ve got one overarching thought on Smith that keeps my frown turned upside down:

1. The Seahawks showed enough against the Rams to warrant optimism even in a loss

Before the positives, let me stipulate: the third quarter was unwatchable to an extent I didn’t think possible. A defensive meltdown that complete (212 yards, two long touchdown drives) cannot happen again. It wrecks games.

And yet — the Seahawks defense had its moments. The first two Rams drives stalled on third down and the third one ended with Quandre Diggs picking Matthew Stafford off in the end zone.

The Seattle pass rush was not good, but what’s interesting is that they got to Stafford as frequently or infrequently as everyone else and produced a takeaway when they needed it most.

Week 1: Bears had 4 QB hits and 1 sack

Week 2: Colts had 3 hits, 1 sack

Week 3: Buccaneers had 4 hits, 1 sack

Week 4: Cards had 5 hits, no sacks

Week 5: Seahawks had 3 QB hits and 1 sack.

It’s been really hard to get in Stafford’s face this season and Seattle wasn’t appreciably worse at it than their peers.

The story of the game was of course Wilson’s injury and the wasted opportunities. But consider that without Carson, Everett, and then Wilson, then having suffered two backbreaking plays on each side of the ball, and that putrid third quarter, all of it compounded by poor kicking, the Seahawks still had the ball down six with a chance to drive for the winning TD. They can beat this iteration of the Rams. This isn’t 42-7 territory anymore. To win later this year at SoFi would take some good fortune, but it wouldn’t be shocking, especially not at full strength.

They just can’t turn in another quarter like the third. And I guess that’s what will separate the believers from the doubters. Are the Seahawks going to remain prone to playing terrible defense for extended periods of time every game, or not?

* * *

The best part is I didn’t think of everything. There are many other reasons waiting to be mentioned. The list is less exhaustive than the amount exhausting it has been to watch the team. Thanks for reading.

Go Hawks?