This team enters a crucial game against the Cowboys under the banner of “Win Forever,” but to accomplish that lofty goal they must first win now. They should be 1-0, but a series of coaching and player mistakes saw them lose to an inferior opponent. I have a history of being early on prognostications. My first reaction to Sunday’s game was, “maybe I am a year early again,” on this team breaking out. I have no doubt they are going to be a force in this league, but the fair question is, “when?”
The 2012 Seahawks are built a little bit like the 2012 Seattle Mariners. They are strong defensively and developing on offense. Teams like that have the potential for dominant win streaks when the offense puts up even moderate numbers, while opponents struggle to score. They also have the potential to be maddening when the opponent puts up a few points, and the offense makes it feel like an insurmountable deficit. Russell Wilson is to the Seahawks what Dustin Ackley or Jesus Montero is to the Mariners. Wilson, perhaps unfairly, has been asked to skip the developmental growing pains and go immediately to producing. Sunday provides a terrific opportunity to re-ignite the fervor surrounding Wilson, and silence the critics. This is a good Cowboys defense, with a good secondary and clever defensive coordinator. Stand strong in the pocket. Make accurate passes. Play efficiently and intelligently. Forget the phrase “in position to win,” and just win.
Seattle’s pass rush is supposed to be much improved. They drafted Bruce Irvin. They added Jason Jones. Greg Scruggs is healthy for the first time. Winston Guy, Mike Morgan, K.J. Wright and others have shown blitz potential. They got after it for 25 minutes in the second half of the game last week, and it nearly won the game. It disappeared, however, when it mattered most. They allowed ten points in the first half and seven points in the last drive when the pass rush was largely absent. Getting pressure is not enough. Hit the bleeping quarterback. Hit him, and then hit him again. It should not take an educated football fan or coach to point out the pressure. Anyone should be able to turn on the television tomorrow and say, “Wow, that team in blue is kicking the crap out of that guy in white.” Do not make us tease out quarterback hits and pressures. Get home. Get sacks. Produce. Now.
Tom Cable is a savant. He has done fabulous work with the offensive line. Last week was an abomination in pass protection. There is a ton of depth at guard with players like John Moffitt, J.R. Sweezy, Paul McQuistan, Lemuel Juanpierre and eventually James Carpenter. Russell Okung is a first-round pick with tons of potential and a great work ethic. Max Unger is a Pro Bowl-level center. Physical defeats may happen. DeMarcus Ware is a special talent. Fine. Eliminate the mental mistakes. Nobody gets to run free through the middle of the line to sack our quarterback. They certainly do not get to do it an entire game. The Cowboys nose tackle is out with injury. This line managed to put 170 yards rushing on the board against Dallas last year with Ratliff playing. Get Marshawn Lynch to the second level. Scratch. Claw. Protect. Win.
Golden Tate starts a year that will define his career. He will play in place of Braylon Edwards, who led the team in receiving last week. Tate has made a habit of showing up in practice, but disappearing in games. He is a play-maker. That is his label. Prove it. Get open. Catch the ball. Make plays. Sidney Rice can’t stay healthy. Stay healthy, Sidney. Doug Baldwin was great with no expectations last season. Prove you be great with them. Zach Miller signed a massive contract. Earn it. Anthony McCoy made Kellen Winslow Jr. dispensable. Make us forget about him. Edwards sparked a debate about whether he dropped the big pass at the end of the game. Spark a conversation about a great catch this week.
Gus Bradley is a future head coach. Prove you can translate top young talent into a dominant defense. Sixteen points should be enough to win. Make it the exception to give up more than that. Darrell Bevell is supposed coordinate an offense. Maximize the talent you have. Put them in position to succeed.
Pete Carroll wants to Win Forever. He insists decisions about starting Wilson and releasing Winslow are about the present as much as the future. Stop explaining why things are in progress. Start winning. Now.