Golden Opportunity

the soccer stadium with the bright lights

Mike Williams felt a pop in his foot on Sunday. The rest of us felt a pop in our collective rising Seahawk balloon. Few teams claim to be rising after a 15-point loss, but those of us watching this team can see what is happening. The great and horrible news is that Williams is such a integral part of the offensive fireworks that have been on display. Great, because Williams looks every bit the #1 receiver some of us have hoped he might become in flummoxing defenses with size, savvy and sticky hands. Horrible, because rarely do athletes feel a pop and play anytime soon thereafter.

Nobody is writing Williams off. Many have already seen how foolish that can be. Even before news of his injury, I had begun to daydream about the forgotten weapon in Seattle’s arsenal. A player thought so highly of that he was our 2nd round draft pick. A player who conveniently has been studying to be Williams understudy. Golden Tate has disappointed thus far in his career, but may just have the opportunity he needs to shine.

Tate famously participated in some maple bar mayhem prior to training camp, and then proceeded to show his lack of maturity extended onto the football field by struggling with route running and play studying. He admitted the playbook looked like Chinese, and that he largely had been allowed to “just ball” in College and High School. Tate’s tantalizing athletic ability made it possible for him to just run down field, jump, and snare the ball away from defenders. Precision and discipline would have just been so much frosting on an already appealing donut from his perspective.

He was not on the active list for the first week of the season, and made an instant impact in his first playing time in Denver. Very little of note has happened since then. He made a great couple of catches (one wrongly disallowed and not reviewed before half) in Oakland, badly spraining his ankle on the second one. Pete Carroll mentioned last week that he made a lot of progress, and was at least being considered for coming off the injury report against the Saints.

Williams injury could leave a playmaking void that Tate could fill better than any other on the Seahawks roster. Yes, he still is going to be raw and make more mistakes than Williams, but he also offers things that Williams does not like run-after-catch and the ability to take the ball on reverses or screens. Hasselbeck has shown some trust in Tate when he has been in there, throwing the ball up to let him do what he does best. Guess what has happened in the few weeks Tate has been out? Hasselbeck has caught on fire and is throwing down field more than ever. Tate was a square peg in a round hole before. Now, he may be the team’s most dangerous receiver.

Adding Tate to Williams would be the far better scenario, but replacing Williams with Tate could be the next great story in what has already been a fascinating season.