Say what?! How can the season be over and not over at the same time?! I am not going to make the distinction of literally versus figuratively. The season IS over. Yet it’s also NOT over. This is the situation the Seattle Seahawks currently find themselves in.
The season is over for the Seahawks as far as the playoffs are concerned. The team’s chances to repeat as NFC West Champions basically died in Week 1 when the Seahawks lost to the 49ers at San Francisco. I have stated my reasons why I felt this way several times, but I will do so again here. Understand that these opinions were formulated back in April.
The way the schedules for the NFC West teams were laid out, I picked the 49ers to be division champions. I felt the Arizona Cardinals had the easiest schedule, followed by the 49ers, Seahawks and St. Louis Rams. However, I felt the Cardinals didn’t have enough talent to win the division even with their incredibly soft schedule, which has been proven to be true. The 49ers had a favorable schedule, as well. I didn’t pick them to win the division because their Head Coach was Jim Harbaugh. I picked them because their Head Coach WASN’T Mike Singletary. I’m not calling Harbaugh a genius or a savior; I would have had the same opinion for anybody besides Singletary, who directly lost several games for the team during his tenure. Well, almost anybody. He Who Shall Not Be Named (nee Imjay Oramay) wouldn’t have helped the 49ers, either.
I thought the Rams’ early schedule was about as brutal as any I’d ever seen when the schedules came out. The schedule is difficult, but it hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it would be. However, the Rams also aren’t nearly as good as I envisioned. The Seahawks had a tough stretch to start the season, which is why I felt it was vital to win the opener in San Francisco. Not only to put the 49ers off track early, but to help Seattle survive the first few weeks of the season.
An unexpected victory in New York gave me hope that the Seahawks could possibly contend for a wild card berth. That hope was dashed last Sunday in Cleveland. The only remaining hope is that the team doesn’t digress and deteriorate the way they did at this time last season.
The season is NOT over because it is vital for the long term future of the franchise for the young players to show improvement over the last ten weeks of the season. Several rookies will see significant playing time – Doug Baldwin, James Carpenter, John Moffitt, K.J. Wright, Richard Sherman, etc. It wouldn’t surprise me if Josh Portis sees some time in meaningful situations down the stretch. Several other young players need to become leaders – Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Max Unger, etc. The team should also try to determine whether borderline players such as Golden Tate, Anthony McCoy and perhaps even Deon Butler have futures in Seattle.
The roster is no longer filled with underperforming players who are either way past their prime (e.g., Lofa Tatupu) or were poor personnel decisions (You know who I’m talking about!). There’s still some more work to do and players to say goodbye to (e.g., Whitehurst), but the Seahawks are finally looking like a team that is on its way up rather than one whose future is murky, at best. Even though the season is over from a postseason standpoint, the season isn’t over because the remaining ten games will be a crucial barometer of how fast the Seahawks can return to the ranks of perennial playoff participants.