It’s no secret the Seattle Seahawks are the best home team in football, finishing 8-0 at Century Link field in 2012. There is little doubt that the reason they weren’t in the NFC Championship game was because they had to go on the road in back-to-back games and the lack of energy in the first half at Atlanta cost them the game.
It’s been a problem for years now, playing on the road. But it has more significance than just being away from the Clink. It’s a time zone deficiency that does the Hawks in, as you generally don’t play at your highest level in the morning. Even if you prepare for a few days to get up earlier, it’s just not something that a team can fully overcome when they are used to playing later in the day. Seattle’s biological clock is at 10:00 AM, while the other team is at 1:00 PM and all revved up.
Some people will say they just don’t play well on the road, but it’s more than that. Say what you want about getting up earlier, showing up ready to play and all that. Time zone changes create problems that your body doesn’t have an opportunity to overcome in the span of a couple days. San Francisco, Oakland and Arizona all have the same issues when they have to play on the road early in the morning.
On the other hand playing later doesn’t affect you as much, other than the fact that you have to wait around all day and control your anxiety. I do think the body gets tired a little bit faster if your start is later than you’re used to. Starting late can be a big factor as to when the Hawks are play their best. Anyone that has ever played football knows that you’re body is tuned into a daily and weekly schedule of events. It knows when to prep itself for the times when it’s supposed to be at its peak. You can control it to a point, but there’s a time your body knows it has to be ready. That point of readiness is always going to be your highest performing time as far as efficiency is concerned.
All you have to do is consider this breakout of points by quarter from 2012 to get what I’m talking about.
The Seahawks know how important it is to play at home, where those early starts aren’t a possibility. If it was a possibility somehow, it would be that much more important to have the 12th man behind them. There is a staggering difference in the way that both the offense and defense perform on the road. Especially in the first quarter, before the adrenaline really kicks in. Six of the ten road games were 10 AM starts. Four of the early starts were losing endeavors, including the NFC Divisional round.
In the divisional game, it was obvious that the primary defensive concern was the pass rush. Chris Clemons injuring his knee also exposed a severe lack of depth on the defensive line. Everybody and their mother has also been talking about getting a play-making wideout to help Russell Wilson. This would help if Seattle is forced to make another epic comeback.
The Hawks went 2-2 when starting at other times, losing to Arizona in the first game of the season and San Francisco on Thursday Night. On average, Seattle pretty much pancaked their opponents during the other three quarters in both home and away games. In my opinion, it’s safe to say that the early starts explain a lot of these issues.
While it was supposed to be a quiet free agency period, Carroll and Schneider haven’t waited for the other teams in the NFC West to move first and then counter with filling small-needs positions and hoping to draft well. No, they’ve taken the initiative and are making other teams react to their moves. Not only that, but they have gotten players to help them not just cope with the loss of Clemons, but to replace a good portion of his production. Why? Because winning just one more game early in the season last year would have set them up for an easier run at the NFC championship. Carroll and Schneider don’t want to let that happen again. Seattle was also one controversial call away from missing the playoffs altogether, so it’s even more important to make sure they don’t regress.
You’re still going to have to fight issue of starting at 10 AM. To counter that, Seattle is adding depth and getting more explosive on offense in order to minimize lulls early in games. The Seahawks have now met both objectives and will do even more in the draft. Sure, their draft picks will get picked apart by analysts and Carroll and Schneider be given a C+ to B-, but it won’t matter. When the season starts, some stud will rise up and show the experts again that they have no clue about less-than-elite-NFL talent.
But it’s not about that, it’s about piecing the right guys together to make a run at getting the #1 seed in the NFC.