Humiliation is a dish best served to someone else. Seahawks fans have had their fair share. In a season that was showing a promise nobody could have reasonably expected, a stark reality slammed those hopes right back to the ground in two nightmarish games. There was nothing more than a faint hope that the Seahawks could compete with the Giants given their injury situation. Nobody except the most informed Seahawks fan will know that the team that took the field yesterday was not the team that was 4-2 two weeks ago. As much credit as Schneider and Carroll deserve for finding enough quality starters, and building a scheme that maximizes that talent, it is unfair to think they could create enough depth to survive these sorts of injuries. Even good teams like the Packers are having trouble dealing with significant injuries. Last week’s game was more than just a loss. It completely changed the course of the season. Instead of building toward a peak as the team comes together throughout the season, the team will now be fighting just to regain the footing it once had. The goal is not to win 10+ games and possibly get a 1st round bye anymore. We are back to square one, where it is reasonable to equally hope for a high draft pick or a mediocre division-winning season. Either is possible.
The biggest positive yesterday was that we were only forced to watch the offense for 18 minutes. Charlie Whitehurst is getting a ridiculous amount of blame for the outcome. I continue to be in a tiny minority in my assessment of Whitehurst, and the QB situation. Matt Hasselbeck is the clear starter when he’s healthy, and Whitehurst is in the mix for that role next year. Even if Charlie had played well yesterday, Matt would have been the starter when healthy. Save the Denver game, Hasselbeck has not been the reason for Seahawks losses. If Matt can stay healthy and lead the team to a division title, I expect he will be resigned and compete for the starting role again next season. People seem so ready to move on, but to what? An unproven starter that almost certainly removes your chances of competing for the playoffs? Have you seen how hard it is to find a QB that can take you to the playoffs? Many fans assume that Carroll and Schneider will be compelled to move to Whitehurst because they paid so much to get him. I don’t get that feeling even a little bit. They want to win. A “next QB” is needed, but when that QB is needed is variable. In the one game all season Matt has played behind Russell Okung, he was terrific. It would be unfair to expect that level of performance from Whitehurst at this stage. Playing Whitehurst other than when Matt is hurt is waving the white flag, plain and simple. I’m not sure what people expected from him yesterday in his first career start against a great defense with a terrible offensive line. What I saw was promising. His throws were mostly on target and he avoided the head-slapping decisions we saw in the pre-season. Both interceptions were at least as much the fault of Mike Williams. Whitehurst put the ball right on Williams in the endzone on the first, and Williams couldn’t make the grab. The second came when Whitehurst left the ball too far inside, but Williams sat at the bottom of his route for a good 1-2 seconds while the DB broke back to the ball. If Williams had come back to the ball like receivers are taught to do, the DB would not have been able to get to it and Williams likely would have had a catch. Whitehurst ended up doing a little better than I would have expected, but apparently far worse than the bulk of Seahawks fans were anticipating. I still rank him above Max Hall and Derek Anderson.
The guy who does deserve scrutiny is Jeremy Bates. His play-calling was predictable when it needed to be creative and creative when it needed to be predictable. I won’t go into yet another diatribe about his horrible 3rd and 1 resume. There is no excuse for what we are witnessing there. Where were the screen passes? The draws? The quick-hitting plays that take advantage of a defense’s aggressiveness were missing. I expect better. I’m starting to wonder if that’s a valid expectation.
I’m not going to spend much time on the defense because those guys deserve a break. Give the Giants credit. They were great at the back-shoulder routes that are so hard to defend. It is doubtful this team can win any game without Colin Cole, Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant. There simply is nothing to replace that void. Even getting one of them back is unlikely to be enough. And given that Cole is supposed to be out a few more weeks, this could quickly turn into a four-game losing streak, or more.
All is not lost, but quite a bit is. Yesterday was the beginning of a new season with this new team. It was a start many expected when the team faced SF in game one. The good news is we got to see there is hope for this franchise, regardless of what happens the rest of the year. Keep your eyes on the big goal. It’s less humiliating.