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Cigar Thoughts, Game 15: The Seahawks’ agonizing season continues with last-minute loss to the Bears

The Seattle Seahawks continued their free-fall, blowing a late lead to the Chicago Bears and falling to 5-10 on the season.

Chicago Bears v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

For the first time in 10 years, the Seattle Seahawks took the field in a game with no playoff implications. It’s been an incredible decade, boosted initially by an energetic head coach, who brought aggressive strategy to a roster built on an unparalleled three-year drafting hot-streak by their plucky GM. And as time and injuries chipped away at the foundation and the aggression faded from the game plan and the draft yields shriveled, the team was buoyed by a Hall of Fame QB stepping comfortably into his prime. All the while, a the great chef in the sky was sifting heaping doses of magic on their heads while sautéing everything on a peerless home-field advantage.

This season, however, nearly all of the ingredients spoiled. It’s not just the losses, it’s been the sheer tedium of them. It’s the determined defense that can’t get off the field, the star-studded offense that can’t stay on it, and the complete lack of spark that we’ve so often seen light a fire. The Seahawks haven’t even played well at home, coming into this one 2-4 at Lumen Field.

The result of all this is five wins against nine losses, no postseason, no high draft pick to look forward to and, as a result of below-freezing temps and holiday snow, not even a full stadium. I can’t remember the last time a Seahawks game was so drenched in ennui, but football games still have to be played and, despite the short rest from Tuesday’s game, you knew Pete Carroll would still find a way to get his guys up for this one.

Seattle received the opening kick and promptly went three-and-out— a nowhere series trimmed with a low slant pass from Russell Wilson that DK Metcalf couldn’t pull in. The throw was probably a little off-target but it’s still one that Metcalf should have caught, and it spoke to the ongoing disconnect that has plagued this once-electric combination ever since Wilson’s injury. Fortunately, the Bears would return the favor and Seattle’s high-potential combo would get another chance right away.

This time, they’d capitalize. It started with Seattle aggressively moving the ball on 1st and 2nd down, picking up two firsts without even needing to worry about 3rd. When 3rd down eventually did show up, Wilson took advantage. It’s no secret how bad the Seahawks have been in these situations this year but they were wholly unafraid of it this time around. On 3rd & 5, Wilson noticed the coverage sneaking up on Metcalf— maybe because they didn’t think the battleship of a man could pull off a double-move in the snow. That theory was immediately tested, and it failed in a major way.

Wilson dropped back and looked Metcalf’s way up the right side. DK, meanwhile, got into the body of the cornerback, stutter-stepped, and left him in his massive, rolling wake. Russ lofted the ball deep and we all held our breath because we’ve seen this situation go sideways so many times recently. Would the throw be accurate this time? Would Metcalf catch it cleanly in the snow? Would he slip? Would there be a penalty? But as the ball floated down towards his target, all the dominoes fell as planned and Metcalf softly cradled the ball to his massive chest for his ninth touchdown of the season. The 41-yard score gave Seattle a 7-0 lead and all of us a huge sigh of relief.

Now, over the course of this gilded 10-year run, there have been a number of different hallmarks for this franchise. Swaggering defense, mythical quarterback play, silly penalties, you name it. This year, however, nothing has been more on-brand than allowing long, excruciating, migraine-inducing drives to opponents. And after making short work of the Bears offense on the opening possession, Seattle did what they do best— give up a ton of yards and no points.

Chicago would convert three 3rd & longs and one 3rd & short as they slowly marched across the snowy surface, using a couple slippery moves from Darnell Mooney and Dazz Newsome as well as a pass interference penalty to convert the tougher ones. Those chain-movers, along with a handful of nice runs from David Montgomery, gave Chicago a 1st & Goal with a chance to even things up. Instead, the ‘Hawks bowed up their spines and defended those last few inches of home field with signature strength and valor.

On 1st down, Montgomery tried to go off the right side but was swallowed up by Bobby Wagner. On 2nd down, it was Montgomery again only this time, A’shawn Robinson and Quandre Diggs shut him up in the backfield. On 3rd down, Nick Foles dropped back to pass and finding no one open in the condensed field, rolled to his right before firing one into the end zone. No luck there either, as the pass was swatted away by Jordyn Brooks. Brooks would then back that up by chopping Montgomery to the turf at the 2 on the 4th down attempt. Just an amazing effort all around.

Still, the decision to go for it on 4th down would pay dividends for Chicago, as Seattle (probably wisely) played it close to the vest in the tough conditions and punted it away from their own end zone. The kick was low and short, the antithesis of what we’re accustomed to with Michael Dickson, and Newsome was able to return it all the way to Seattle’s 10. From there, it was just a series of Montgomery runs until the Bears had tied things up at 7.

No matter, Seattle’s offense was really starting to feel itself now and they kept the rhythm going with an extended, clock-draining drive of their own. Mixing up sharp runs with short passes, Seattle’s offense looked the way we’ve all wanted it to all year.

Rashaad Penny for three followed by Penny for two more. Then, on 3rd down, an arrow route to Gerald Everett for nine to keep it moving. Then Wilson to Tyler Lockett for eight and, after an incompletion, back to Everett over the middle for nine more and another first down. Then Penny for six, Deejay Dallas for five, Dallas for seven more and, following a missed shot to Colby Parkinson, a slick little shovel pass to a sweeping Dee Eskridge for 13. That set Penny up for his third touchdown of the season as he sprinted in from three yards out. 12 plays, 74 yards, seven points— perfection. No amount of cold air was gonna keep Pete Carroll’s erection down after that one. 14-7, Seattle.

The Seahawks would add a field goal before the break, head to the half up 17-7 and feeling good about the way they were playing on both sides of the ball. And after they held Chicago to just one yard on the first drive of the third quarter— a stop punctuated by a powerful Rasheem Green sack— it started to feel like the snowball was rolling down the hill. Unfortunately, the ‘Hawks weren’t able to capitalize, punting it back on the heels of just three snaps and giving the Bears a chance to make it close again.

This time Chicago took advantage, hammering away with Montgomery until they were on the verge of the red zone before turning it over to rookie Khalil Herbert. On Herbert’s first carry of the game, he took the inside trap and darted to the perimeter with the help of a terrific seal block on the left side. With the safeties leaning the other way and unable to close the gap in time, Herbert scooted inside the left front pylon for a huge touchdown. 17-14.

The Seahawks would show some resilience after allowing that score, however, and they punched right back with a four-play combination that pushed their lead back out to 10. It began fairly innocuously, with Penny gaining two yards up the middle but he chased it with a 32-yard scamper that saw him stiff-arm one defender, skip out of the grasp of another, and outrun the angle of a third until he was sliding to a stop at the Bears’ 27. Penny would get another three on first down, setting up a shot that would put Chicago back on the mat.

Facing 2nd & 7, Wilson took a shotgun snap and stared Metcalf down as he crossed from left to right. As he did, the safety came down to help and Wilson lifted his eyes to the next level. While all of this was developing, Everett slipped behind the defense, headed right too the area the safety had just vacated. Wilson threw the ball with the comfort and ease we’re accustomed to seeing from him and the ball hit his tight end perfectly in stride for a 24-yard score. That put Seattle on top 24-14 with 18 minutes of game time left and I think most of us, even with everything else that has happened this year, started to feel pretty safe.

After all, this was a two-score lead against a bad offense down to their third-string QB in poor conditions on the road. We’ve seen Seattle fail to score late when they’ve needed to close a deficit but surely we felt good about this defense in this situation, right? I mean, it had been almost three months since a team had scored 24 or more against the Seahawks and that streak most certainly wasn’t going to end against Matt Nagy and Nick Foles. Right???

Sigh.

These things can start slowly. Small fires only stay small if they’re contained. The Bears’ next drive reflected the urgency of their situation, as they gained 10+ yards on four of their first five plays. As they got closer to the end zone, however, the Seattle’s defense began their usual stiffening. The results of the next few plays seemed innocent enough, picking up yards a few at a time while the sands in the hourglass fell incessantly. After taking just five plays to reach the Seahawks’ 15, it would take eight to go no further. How is that possible?

Well, Carlos Dunlap got a huge sack on first down but Foles would hit Cole Kmet for 14 on the next play to set up 3rd & 1 at the 6. On this play, Poona Ford, who is always the low man, won on his initial surge and stuffed a QB sneak. The Bears, however, went right back to the well and appeared to get stuffed again, this time with Al Woods standing Foles up right around the line to gain. The officials ruled it a first down and, while that spot seemed dubious in the moment, it was a stone-cold lock to be upheld if reviewed because frankly, the ball just never gets re-spotted in a scrum. Not that that would stop Carroll, of course, who tossed his red flag down while the inevitable was delayed.

After replay was inconclusive, as it always is in these situations, the Bears continued pushing. Benson Mayowa shot through the line to snuff Montgomery out on 1st down, then Rasheem Green chased Foles to the ground like an attack dog on 2nd. After Germain Ifedi reminded the Seattle crowd he was still alive with a false start, Chicago was suddenly facing 3rd & goal from the 17. Foles’ next pass skipped short of Montgomery but it wouldn’t have had a chance anyway, and Chicago settled for a field goal to make it 24-17.

The Seahawks kept their offensive mojo going on the following possession, using a seven-yard sweep to Eskridge, a personal foul against the Bears, and a sensational 32-yarder from Penny to get right back into scoring range. Up by seven with nine minutes left at the Chicago 14, it was all but certain that Seattle would push this back out to a two-score lead. The only question was how many points they’d score and who it would be.

But then Russ kept it around left end for three and Deejay Dallas plunged up the middle for three more. On 3rd & 4, Wilson dropped back into the pocket and felt some pressure from his right. Meanwhile, Duane Brown was pushing Robert Quinn upfield and behind the pocket. Unfortunately, instead of moving up and through the pocket, Wilson retreated out the back, straight into Quinn who wrapped him up for a brutal 13-yard sack that had Brown punching the air in frustration. And honestly, who can blame him? He did everything he was supposed to and is still gonna get hit with a sack allowed.

That set Jason Myers up for a 39-yarder that even with the conditions, should have been pretty easy. The 10-point lead would be nearly insurmountable but the ball came off of Myers’ foot with a 10-o’clock/4-o’clock spin instead of his usual 12/6 and it careened hard left for a miss.

Still, as they’ve done so many times this season, the defense picked up where the offense faltered. After allowing an initial first down, they shut the Bears down on the next four plays, including Ryan Neal breaking up a deep ball down the left sideline on 4th down. Okay, now we should be good.

And, after Penny got seven and Freddie Swain hauled in an easy one for nine, the outcome appeared rosier than ever. But then a run got stuffed, plus a holding penalty, and then another jet sweep to Eskridge was sniffed out for a loss. That brought up 3rd & 21, and Wilson summarily skipped a throw short to Swain to force another punt.

The Bears responded with the urgency that a lack of margin requires. Getting the ball back with three minutes left and still down seven, Foles got to work. He hit Darrell Mooney over the middle for 30 yards, a play that probably should have only been about 12 but the Seahawks simply couldn’t bring the slippery lil fella down.

That was followed up by consecutive swing passes to Montgomery for 10 and 14 yards respectively, putting Chicago squarely in the go-zone. Coming out of the two-minute warning, it looked for a brief second like the Seahawks would get away with this one. Foles took the snap and started drifting to his left waiting for someone to get open. That drift turned into a sprint as he felt pressure behind him in the giant form of Dunlap. Foles tried to get rid of the ball but Dunlap caught him and ripped the ball loose as he took him to the ground. The closest Seahawk to the loose ball was Ford, who dove for the victory like that whale in Free Willy. Sadly, a Bears lineman was closer and Chicago kept possession.

After an incomplete attempt to Kmet in the back of the end zone, Foles fell back and heaved it towards the back left corner of the paint where Jimmy Graham awaited. From there, Graham did what he does best— get position and throw up a forcefield around his catch radius. The two closest defenders were John Reid and Ryan Neal but it honestly didn’t matter who. The pass sailed to the top floor of the skyscraper, where only Graham’s outstretched hands could reach and the former Seahawk snagged it before falling to the turf. 24-23.

The Bears had no interest in going to OT so they did the cool thing and went for two. That put the entire game on Seattle’s defense and frankly, that’s probably where we should want it to be. One goal line play from arguably the best goal line D in the league. Let’s do this. On the highest-leverage play of the game, Foles went back into shotgun. Taking the snap, he surveyed what remained of the field from the pocket before seeing a sliver of light in the defense and letting it rip.

His throw headed square beneath the right upright and between two defenders. His target was Damiere Byrd, a spritely little fellow who leaped, caught it, and got hit by Neal and Brooks. With Diggs coming over to help, Byrd was momentarily suspended in their combined grasp and the trio of Seahawks worked to land him out of bounds. Instead, Byrd slithered through their grip and dragged two feet in the end zone with the ball gorilla-glued to his hand. 25-24 with a minute and a half to play.

In any other season, I’d still be feeling pretty good about Seattle’s chances. After all, 90 seconds is more than Russell Wilson has needed in similar situations in the past— especially if a field goal was all they needed. And wasn’t it against Chicago so many years ago that Russ’ legendary clutch performances began? But tragically, the vibes seem to have rotted on the vine and the game-winning drive never really got going.

Wilson dumped it down to Dallas for four but a holding penalty on the next play made it 2nd & 16. On that play, Wilson short-hopped Tyler Lockett before going back to him for 15 on the next play. Sadly, Lockett was tackled a yard short of the sticks and half a yard short of the sideline, forcing the Seahawks to use their final timeout. And while doing so didn’t completely preclude a run on 4th & 1, it did mean doing so would really hurt from a clock perspective.

So, Seattle called pass and Wilson’s throw wasn’t particularly close to Everett. The Bears took over and downed out Seattle’s 10th loss of the season.

SMOKE RINGS

~Russell Wilson displayed some flashes in this one and the unfriendly elements can’t be overlooked. Still, he struggled in the very moments in which his team needed him to be excellent— the moments he’s typically thrived in. He had a few really crisp short-to-intermediate passes and his touchdown tosses were both sublime but he failed to come through down the stretch and had a really poor second half overall. It’s not just the missed throws down the stretch— it was the 13-yard sack that increased the difficulty level for Myers’ final kick,* it was the air-mailing of Metcalf on a wide-open 3rd down in the third quarter, and it the unrelenting, inexplicable reluctance to run.

*yes, Myers needs to make that kick

I think it’s the last point that I find most concerning. Make no mistake— Russ has been, over the bulk of his career, one of the best pure passers in the game. He’s created a lot of highlights with his Cirque du Soleil escapes over the years but he’s also been excellent just throwing the ball. And while both of those elite facets have faded of late, it’s the mobility part that really stresses me out.

I’m not going to make any major judgments on Wilson the passer until he’s no longer in the aftermath of a severed finger because I’d absolutely hate to be on the wrong side of a Russell Wilson that gets back to slinging it even the way he was this season prior to the injury. But it’s the absolute absence of the other stuff— the whirling athleticism under pressure, the back-breaking scrambles when no one is open, the deadly keepers off the play-fakes— that make me wonder exactly what he’ll be moving forward.

Much of the conversation surrounding this season has centered on whether Russ and Pete can co-exist for the foreseeable future and if not, which one should be prioritized. It’s no secret to anyone here that I believe Wilson is the clear choice in that scenario. And while, push to shove, I still feel that way, an immobile Russ lowers the ceiling on that decision. I wish I knew if this was what Wilson portends to be from here on out; i.e., is he still a credible dual threat or is he destined to be pocket-bound from here on out.

It’s the difference, to me, between Wilson remaining an upper-echelon elite QB and merely being a good one. And a good QB is still very valuable but a good QB needs much more to go right around him in order to compete for a Super Bowl than a great one does. I really hope Wilson can still be great and, gun to my head, I’d bet on that being the case. And I’m not saying he’s never going to be mobile again. The last two months just give us plenty of reason for pause.

By the time it was all over, Wilson had a pretty unremarkable line of 16/27 for 181 yards, 2 TDs, and no interceptions. The touchdowns were nice but 58% completions and 6.7 yards/attempt just isn’t enough most days. Factor in the two sacks and that’s just 5.5 yards per drop back, making the passing game far less effective than the ground game was today.

~And speaking of, I think Rashaad Penny is officially #good. It’s one thing to go off against the Texans because they are the worst run defense in the NFL by virtually every measure. But on a day when the combination of tough weather and a faltering pass game makes the need to run obvious, Penny shredded the Bears anyway.

A lot of times, NFL running backs’ stat lines are reflective of the O-line’s performance and not much more. And while the Seattle OL was very good today, Penny got a lot of yards that weren’t otherwise there. When Penny wasn’t getting regular run, or coming back from any of his injuries, he looked hesitant as he hit the pile. Over the last three weeks, however, he has looked explosive and, more importantly, decisive. And when he gets through the first level, he becomes dangerous in a way no other Seahawks RB is.

I can’t remember where I saw it and can’t find it now, but a year or so ago I saw a stat showing Penny with considerably more 30+ yard runs in his career than Chris Carson, despite Carson having a ton more carries. I don’t know what that number is now but Penny had two more today to top off his two long ones against Houston. What I can tell you is that this year, Carson has one 30+ yard run and Penny has four, including two long TDs. He’s a home run threat that hasn’t existed in Seattle’s backfield for a long time now.

He left this game with 135 yards and a TD on 17 carries, and looked exquisite doing it. Y’all know I love Chris Carson and think he’s a very valuable running back, so what follows is not meant as disrespect to him in any way. Rather, I want to highlight just how much of a revelation Penny has been. Even with his slow start this year, here are Penny’s 2021 numbers, compared with Carson’s:

*Penny: 71 carries, 389 yards, 3 TDs, 5.5 YPC
*Carson: 54 carries, 232 yards, 3 TDs, 4.3 YPV

For their careers, it’s:

*Penny: 232 carries, 1212 yards, 9 TDs, 5.2 YPC
*Carson: 769 carries, 3502 yards, 24, 4.6 YPC

Is Rashaad Penny better than Chris Carson? I don’t think so— nor is that something I think is necessary to determine. Carson is better in the pass game, both as a receiver and a blocker, and despite his own injuries has been more durable. But almost every team needs two good running backs and while it’s seemed a foregone conclusion that this would be Penny’s last season in Seattle, he’s suddenly made that decision much, much harder— especially factoring in Carson’s neck. This may not be the last we see of Rashaad after all.

~DK Metcalf entered this game trying to break out of a slump not of his own creation. He hadn’t had more than six catches or 60 yards, nor had he scored, in the previous six games. The #1 thing I’m looking for over the remainder of this wretched season is for Wilson and Metcalf to get back on the wavelength that had them looking ready to challenge some records over DK’s first two seasons and for a moment it looked like they had.

As I mentioned, Wilson’s first target to Metcalf was a little low but definitely catchable. The next one, however, was pristine. The long TD was a nice reminder of what this duo can be when things are clicking but those were literally the only yards he’d have in the game. The really frustrating one came when Metcalf started a slant before planting his feet in the icy turf and breaking back to the outside. He was wiiiiide open and Wilson wasn’t harrassed— it should have been the easiest 3rd down completion of the game. Instead, Wilson whipped the ball high and probably a little early, sailing it off DK’s fingertips before hitting his own chest to acknowledge fault. That’s the type of play that actually has me wondering what’s going on.

I still believe those two are too talented and too connected not to be excellent together in the future but it’s alarming to see them so out of sync at the moment. Metcalf was targeted on just five of Wilson’s 27 passes, hauling in two for 41 yards and the touchdown. That’s just not good enough and while there’s still plenty of room for growth in Metcalf’s game, I do not think he bears the bulk of the fault for his subpar stats of late.

~In lieu of a big game from Metcalf, the team needed Tyler Lockett to come through. His absence was palpable against the Rams and I expected an explosion from Seattle’s leading receiver as a result. Instead, he was targeted a team-high six times, catching three of them for 30 yards. It’s hard to know how much onus to put on a receiver when the QB is struggling but it’s not like there were a bunch of missed opportunities you can point to. Bummer— needed more.

~We just talked about the team having a tough decision to make with Penny, but they’ve got a similar one staring them in the face with Gerald Everett. Outside of that catastrophic performance against San Francisco, he’s been about as reliable as you can ask a tight end to be. He is big and strong and really fast and most importantly, he’s been there when Wilson has needed the safety valve. He led the team with four catches and 68 yards with a touchdown on five chances. On a team that has funneled a crazy amount of their targets to just two players over the past few years, he’s emerged as one of the best third options in Wilson’s career.

~Games in conditions like this often come down to which offensive line is nastier and there’s no question that it was Seattle for most of this one. I don’t spend a ton of time talking about the OL because I think that unless they are dominating or getting dominated, it’s very difficult to parse the particulars in real time. That said, I thought the Seahawks front was really good in a game that demanded they be. They won on run plays and provided enough protection that the pass game should have been better. This has been one of the better OLs of the past seven or so years and it’s a shame to see it wasted.

~It’s too little and far too late but I’m encouraged by how good the pass rush has been lately. Carlos Dunlap followed up his three-sack performance with two more this afternoon— giving him a comical five sacks in the last five days. He was joined in the backfield by Rasheem Green, who netted two of his own. It’s refreshing to be reminded that a defense is allowed to sack the quarterback.

~Bobby Wagner broke his own franchise tackles record today, logging 12 more to give him an insane 170 on the year. The man who has played 100 more snaps than any other player on any other team this year is headed straight to the Hall of Fame and will end his career in the conversation for the greatest defensive player in Seahawks history. That said, I finally have to admit that the half-step I’ve been saying he’s lost is a full step— and in the NFL one full step is a big deal. He isn’t missing tackles, he’s just not cutting off angles before he makes them the way he used to. There were at least four occasions today in which a ball-carrier or receiver simply beat Bobby to the edge. And while Wagner tackled them each time, it was a handful of yards beyond where he normally would have gotten them.

I’m not saying it’s time the Seahawks move on from maybe the most important player in that locker room from a leadership / vibes perspective, but I’m finally admitting it’s time to consider it. I absolutely supported the extension that made Wagner the highest-paid MLB in the league because at the time he was still elite among the elite and the team was credibly competing for a championship. Now, they look miles away from that and (if I understand correctly) it only costs the team $4M to go in a different direction after this season. Again, not saying they should move on from the NFL’s leading tackler this season— I’m just saying it’s worth the conversation. And it hurts my heart to write it.

~The main reason I’m entertaining that sacrilegious notion is because Jordyn Brooks keeps looking closer and closer to being ready to take the mantle. Coming into this game as the 3rd leading tackler in the league, Brooks definitely looked the better of the two today. He roped in 10 more takedowns against the Bears and broke up two passes, including one in the end zone. He made three nice plays with their backs against the goal line and seems to have the mentality necessary to quarterback a defense when the time comes.

~I thought the secondary was okay today but they didn’t make the big plays when they were necessary. For the first time all year I don’t remember Quandre Diggs’ name being called. I mean the man had five tackles but he’s usually involved in a few big moments every game; an interception, vicious pass breakup, or a clutch open field tackle. Didn’t see it today. John Reid and Sidney Jones Jr were fine at corner but again, didn’t make any plays down the stretch.

~The Seahawks converted three of their first five 3rd downs and then went 0-5 the rest of the way. I hate how dependent on 3rd down efficiency this offense insists on being but it’s even more maddening that they’re objectively bad at it. I don’t really have a solution to offer besides being more aggressive on 2nd down but it’s hard to demand that from a broken offense.

~2-5 at home.

It doesn’t always take an act of God to knock a building over. Sometimes it’s simply deferred maintenance and time. An anobiid beetle isn’t as dramatic as a fire or flood— but give enough of them enough leeway and they’ll powderize your foundation posts. At 5-10, it’s time for a full on home inspection and I hope ownership is brave enough to subject the entire building to the flashlight and magnifying glass.

In a way, 5-12 or 6-11 might be better for where this team is than 8-9 or even 9-8 would be. Let’s all acknowledge that the Seahawks have been unlucky this season, full stop. Now, for the sake of this conversation, let’s be honest with ourselves with regards to the true talent and mettle of this organization— from the front office to the coaching staff to the players. Even if Wilson hadn’t gotten hurt, does this team seem close to competing for a Super Bowl?

Maybe with the highest-level of Russell Wilson available, they’re some smoke and mirrors away from a deep playoff run but Wilson has been fucking amazing the last few years and that still hasn’t happened. So, if this team isn’t ready to make a run at a Super Bowl, wouldn’t you rather the organization be forced to give themselves a deep examination? 8 or 9 wins provides plausible deniability— “oh, they would have made the playoffs if Russ didn’t get hurt.” And while I think I believe that to be true, I also think I believe making the playoffs isn’t good enough anymore. 5 or 6 wins forces the hard look at oneself, and I’m eager to see what that inward gaze reveals.

For years I’ve hammered on the necessity of appreciating the outsized success of this team while we had it. Many times I’ve said some variation of “one day this will all be gone, so make sure you get everything out of it that you can”. That day may have come. I’m not completely writing off the ability of John, Pete, Russ, Bobby, and on to win another championship but I’m having to bend my imagination harder and harder to say that with each passing week.

I honestly don’t know what we should be looking for over the final two games. Progress, I suppose, in as many ways as you can find it; but these games will matter less than any have in a very long time. And while that sucks— it really fucking sucks— there is opportunity in the midst of the disappointment. Let’s hope this season’s failures re-energize the franchise’s relentless pursuit of greatness— and that the resulting decisions are the right ones.

We won’t have those answers for a great while yet, so here’s to Russ looking like his old self, DK and Lockett going bananas down the stretch, the defense racking up some sacks and turnovers and— more important than anything else— some good fuckin’ vibes. In the meantime, onward and upward my friends.

I’m completely snowed in up here but I still snuck out into the 10 degree temps long enough to escape with a La Duena Petite Belicosa from My Father. Short, bold, and slow— it was perfect for the occasion and carries the marshmallow-soft texture that’s a hallmark of My Father. Paired it up with the Bespoke Blend from Whistlepig.

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