Seahawks expectations: buffering… buffering… please wait

How good are the Seahawks? They’re 2-0, but only plus-3 in the point department. They’re led by a nearly flawless Russell Wilson, if he ever gets time to throw. They can run, they can pass, they can defend when they’re not fucking up a Hail Mary situation or backed up to their own goalposts after a turnover. They don’t always beat the world at any of those tasks, but they can do it all in a pinch.

They’re also set up to start the season 4-0 since. Well. Since the year they won it all.

They’re generally understood to be the second-best team in NFC West. A position they gladly occupied in 2012 and even as 2013 began. Every year a team takes the next step. No reason it has to be another team. It can be Seattle. The pundits can be wrong. That’s happened before too.

Let him who has eyes see, and the him is us. We can see the 2019 Seahawks are not the twin roster of the version of themselves that rode the LOB, plus a completely underrated and dominant defensive line, plus the baby that was sophomore Russell Wilson, to the peak of the NFL mountain. They’re maybe a reasonable facsimile of the 2012 team before it went bonkers at the end of the season.

So what to make of their start, and of how it shakes up expectations? I’ve made no secret that I believed them to be an 8-8 team coming in. You’ve heard my rationale before — they rode unsustainable fumble luck and red zone performance and Tyler Lockett’s historically historical season to a ten-win 2018, a pleasant performance that was probably a slight overachievement. They ran too much, sacrificing explosiveness for security, and then, being the trolls that they are, they promised to do more of the same in 2019. They lost top-line talent to retirement, trade and conflict. They didn’t get deeper, they got younger.

But a funny thing happened on the way to .500 — John Schneider got his mojo back. Turns out DK Metcalf wasn’t a reach. Neither was Will Dissly. They have eight explosive catches between them, after two games, and you bet the under, on eight, like a cautious fool.

Jadeveon Clowney is a Seattle Seahawk, which still feels weird to type. Mike Iupati and Ziggy Ansah are significant contributors who are just getting warmed up.

Tyler Lockett won’t have the gaudy efficiency numbers from 2018 — a couple of drops ensured that wouldn’t happen again — but he is exactly as explosive as before.

The Seattle Seahawks might be, gulp, better in 2019 than last year, and they might, personal pride be damned, win more games. If an observer thought they were an 8-8 team before the season, then he probably thought they were a 2-3 team to open the year, but now that’s not happening… right? They’re not going to blow all three of:

  • Saints here in prime time Week 3
  • At winless Arizona for Week 4
  • Hosting the Rams on TNF Week 5?

Surely there’s one win, maybe two (not impossibly three!) to be harvested from the immediate schedule.

Maybe a more optimistic observer envisioned them as a 10-6 team. Now they’re appearing to be worth 11, or 12 wins, again pending the outcome of the softest part of the schedule, which is, hold on, September — are we sure this is a Pete Carroll team still?

Confession: This is the first Carroll team since the SB teams that I think can go 3-1 in every month of the season. You do that and you’ve earned a first-round bye, most likely, with the caveat that the Rams could bump a 12-4 Seahawks team down to the 5th seed.

It wasn’t obvious, before the 2-0 start, the Clowney acquisition, the 2015ity of Russell Wilson, the emergence of Metcalf, the quarterback situations of the Saints and Panthers, the early mediocrity of Carson Wentz and Kirk Cousins, and the general underwhelmingness of the AFC North and the NFC South, that the Seahawks were a playoff team.

Inexplicably, the only four truly tough games left look like the duo of Rams games and the Ravens visit in October, plus let’s say the Eagles, if Wentz rediscovers his groove. Disclaimer: No game is easy. It’s the NFL. 31 out of 32 teams are trying to win every week, and 31 out of 32 teams are stacked with undiscovered playmakers who just need an opportunity to break out. (lol dolphins.)

That being said, do the 49ers, Cardinals, Browns, Vikings, Buccaneers, Falcons and Panthers scare you, as a fan? Not a single one of those teams looks more complete than the Seahawks, who will also have the QB advantage every time save for vs. Atlanta. That’s a push.

If you’re the hopin’ type, now’s not the worst time to go all in on the Seahawks. 12-3-1 is silly, was silly, and will abruptly be much less silly if the Seahawks get through October at 6-2.

Now if you’re the worryin’ type, the slow starts and Carroll’s idea of pass-run balance are very real impediments. Eventually, Seattle will fuck up the first quarter so bad that the hole in which they find themselves is too deep to climb out of. Didn’t happen against the Bengals or Steelers because the defense did good work against flawed offenses.

Eventually, a game will be lost because Carroll insisted on establishing the run game more than necessary. The Cowboys playoff loss wasn’t a surprise, it wasn’t out of character, and no matter how much the coach says he wants Russell to be the engine, he has known his greatest successes relying on his defense and his ground game. He wants to win that way. This isn’t pop psychology. Carroll has said that’s his preferred formula, enough times that I don’t feel like googling a specific quote. We know how he likes his team to play, and it’s not structured around an aerial attack.

Pete. I’m just a boy, with a bloge, begging you.

The pass opens up the run.

Football changes. What worked in 1974 doesn’t work today, for various reasons. What worked in 2010 might not even! Rules change, the business changes, the research unearths new revelations. So take it from a medium nerd, not capable of running linear regressions by myself or creating colorful graphs, but also not a dunce with numbers. I’ve only watched football seriously for 15 years. I’ve never played it, never coached it. I’m just a guy. I’m the Troymaine Pope of football analysts. The Kasen Williams of bloggers. The Paxton Lynch of tweeters. There are many like me, who would beat me out in a training camp for writers. Which sounds awesome, and terrifying.

I, just a guy, do know one thing. Your, our, everyone’s Seahawks are going exactly as far as you let Russell Wilson take you, us, them. Maybe even past 10-6, maybe back to the place where some lingering demons can be exorcised. But first let’s make sure this year’s Super Bowl isn’t in Glendale.