Fans Can Be Own Worst Enemy

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Eight years ago, I was furious. The Seahawks were scuffling to a disappointing finish in 2002. Trent Dilfer had been promising at QB, but was knocked out in a game at Dallas that would end up being the true beginning of Matt Hasselbeck’s reign as franchise QB. The team performance was not what caused my anger. It was Mike Holmgren’s fifth season as GM/Coach, and the underwhelming 2002 results had fans and local media starting to call for his ouster. Opinions ranged from requiring full dismissal to relinquishing his GM title to focus on coaching. It was bullshit. Despite an inspiring end to the season that still stands as Hasselbeck’s best statistical stretch, then Seahawks President Bob Whitsitt felt the need to placate the fans by yanking Holmgren’s GM title. That slight nearly caused Holmgren to walk away that off-season, and did eventually cause him to walk away to find the authority he once had. It was a classic example of how a short-sighted and frustrated fan base can lead to actions that only make matters worse.

Holmgren continued to act as GM while Bob Ferguson acted as front man/donut boy. His character and stubborn nature was great enough to overcome the PR-induced farce and build a Super Bowl-worthy team. Tim Ruskell gets credit for Lofa Tatupu, LeRoy Hill, Joe Jurevicious, and Chuck Darby, but every other important player came from Holmgren.

I sit here today, delaying my exit for work, because I’m pissed off again. It feels so familiar. Fans and local media are talking about this Seahawks team with such myopia that you might think the first seven weeks of the season never happened. There is a growing population of fans that only see the horrible play on the field, and completely ignore the players off it. All this talk of “inconsistency” is based on such embarrassingly superficial analysis that it belongs in a political ad. If you don’t already know, let me tell you, THESE ARE NOT YOUR SEAHAWKS. Let’s play a quick game. Name the Seahawks 10 best players this year. Here’s my list (in no particular order):

  • Russell Okung*
  • Earl Thomas*
  • Red Bryant*
  • Chris Clemons*
  • Matt Hasselbeck
  • Mike Williams*
  • David Hawthorne*
  • Lawyer Milloy
  • Brandon Mebane*
  • Colin Cole*

* Players that we have no viable replacement for

I could throw Lofa Tatupu, Aaron Curry, Ben Obomanu, Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, or Marcus Trufant   in there, but they just don’t make my list based on performance this season. Now let’s look at how many games each has missed during this recent seven game stretch where the Seahawks went 2-5.

  • Russell Okung* (Missed 3 Games)
  • Earl Thomas* (Missed 0 Games)
  • Red Bryant* (Missed 7 Games)
  • Chris Clemons* (Missed 0 Games)
  • Matt Hasselbeck (Missed 1 Game)
  • Mike Williams* (Missed 4 Games, also half of Raiders and Saints game)
  • David Hawthorne* (Missed 0 Games)
  • Lawyer Milloy (Missed 0 Games)
  • Brandon Mebane* (Missed 2 Games)
  • Colin Cole* (Missed 6 Games)
* Players that we have no viable replacement for
That’s a total of 23 missed starts by our top 10 players during that span. Obomanu and Trufant missed time in there as well, as did a number of other players. There can be no consistency when you are missing this many key players at different times with different combinations in a season with new coaches and new schemes. To expect consistency is foolish. The team has had no more than half of its starting defensive line for six of the seven games. Injuries happen to every team. Some teams are not built to handle them. No teams are built to win without their best players. If I have time later, I plan on illustrating the “Mike Williams effect” as one example of how much of a difference one player can make. My point here is that we have been watching an impostor. It’s like to talking to my grandmother who had Alzheimers, she looked like my grandmother, but the core of who she was had gone missing.
No matter what happens in the last three games of the season, I consider 2010 a stunning and rousing success. I have seen a winning defense that can be sustained when healthy and filled in with more quality depth. I have seen a league-best special teams that is the best Seattle has seen since Rusty Tillman roamed the sidelines. I have seen an offense that found itself when healthy, and has tremendous upside with improved offensive line talent. Injury has kept all three of those groups from showing up the same time in a given week. An off-season will correct that. Of those top ten players I listed, an eye-popping six of them did not play for the Seahawks last season (Milloy and Bryant were on the team, but did not play meaningful snaps). That group includes what I consider the team’s top four players (Bryant, Thomas, Okung, Williams). That, all by itself, is success. One more off-season like that, and the Seahawks go from having possibly the worst talent in the NFL to a legitimate playoff team. If you let yourself get lost in the filth of what is happening week-to-week with this team, you will miss the mosaic being built at a record pace.
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