Saturday, October 22, 2005

Every Time I Try to Get Out...
By Zach

Man, I promised myself I wouldn't let them do it to me again. I told my dad before the season that I'd make them earn any and all praise I gave them, after two straight years of crushed hopes and unfulfilled promise.

He and I were on a hike this summer, climbing to the top of Mt. Townsend in the Olympics. On the way down, I started telling him how much I loathed the Seahawks coaching staff. How they'd made it impossible for me to look forward to their playoff game last year. I was flying back from Seattle that day, and told myself that I wouldn't bother watching the end of it when I got to JFK airport. Yeah, right. I was sitting on my suitcase by the luggage carousel when Bobby Engram dropped the ball.

While I was upset, a small part of me was glad, because it seemed certain to me that the Walrus and his coaching staff would be gone. I figured that after six years, three playoff appearances (including two home games) and no playoff wins, Mike Holmgren would have worn out his welcome. That for all the offensive talent he'd brought in, his inability to develop much defensive talent, and his inexplicable tendancy to take chances on questionable players with athletic talent (Koren Robinson, Jerramy Stevens, Ken Hamlin), Paul Allen would be sick of paying millions of dollars a year for 9-7 seasons.
Words fail me.

Well, I was wrong. The Fat Man got another year to waste first round picks on offensive players, fail to give the ball to Shaun Alexander enough, and look like a moron riding around on his Harley. Worse, he kept Ray Rhodes. Anyone who's read this blog knows how I feel about him. Let's just look at it this way:

Zach's least favorite people ever:

1. Hitler
2. Ray Rhodes
3. Stalin

Ok, I might be exaggerating. I mean, Hitler never would have blitzed on third and thirteen.

So all of this is merely a long preamble to the fact that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, all my warnings to myself, and all my bitter words to my father, I've come to a conclusion. A scary, disturbing one.

I think the Seahawks are the best team in the NFC.

Yikes. That looks so wrong in print. Still, the problem is, the stats tend to agree with me. They're certainly the best offensive team in the league. Besides ranking first in the NFL in total offense and third in points-per-game, the fine folks at Football Outsiders like them too. The Hawks are 6th overall in their statistically-derived rankings, and they're also first in offense. Matt Hasselbeck is fourth among quarterbacks, while Shaun Alexander is the top running back in the NFL.

But there are two real reasons I'm excited about this team. The first is their defense. Ever since the debacle against the Washington Redskins, the Seahawks have been less prone to blitz on third and long. They've still done it too frequently (any more than once a game is too much for me), but they've improved. Secondly, while they're still giving up a fair number of yards and points per game, they've gotten much better against the run. They're currently eleventh against the run this season, compared to twenty-fifth last season. Since they're stopping the run, they're not allowing teams to control the clock against them (except the Redskins), and teams are having to pass more because they're behind more.

But it's not just the stats which have swayed me (hey, I'm not a computer after all). The fact that they were able to go into St. Louis and win a shootout without their top two receivers said something about the toughness of this team, and their utter destruction of the Texans last weekend showed that at the very least they wouldn't overlook anyone on their schedule (a good thing considering they still have two games left against the 49ers).

Finally, there's the fact that the NFC is pretty muddled right now, as I detailed last week. Since I wrote that, Tampa Bay decided to start Chris Simms (who couldn't win big games in college) at QB, and Dallas lost Flozell Adams for the year, and Patrick Crayton for at least a month. Plus, they'll be without Julius Jones for tomorrow's game against the Hawks.

So that's it. I'm back on the bandwagon. I believe again. God, what have I gotten myself into?


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