Well That Sucked. Now Have Three Reasons Not To Be Sad About The Seahawks’ Playoff Loss
Well, that ended in a pretty shitty way. After falling behind by 20 points at two different points in the game, it looked like the magic was going to continue for the Seahawks when Marshawn Lynch barreled into the end zone with 31 seconds remaining to take a 28-27 lead over the Atlanta Falcons. I may have been the only one saying “they should have taken more time off the clock”, given that Seattle had all three time outs, but I suppose you can’t just not score when you need the touchdown. 31 seconds with two time outs is an eternity for a star quarterback like Matt Ryan, as we all witnessed. It was kick to the nuts, for sure, but I managed to come away from that game not pissed off, but instead wildly optimistic.
Obviously, nobody likes to lose. It sucks to lose on what was essentially a last-second play. But in the third quarter, it didn’t look like the Seahawks were going to tear our hearts out. It looked like they were going to lay down for their worst loss of the season, and instead they came within half of a minute of moving on to the NFC Championship game. Many may choose to look back and lament what could have been: what if Pete Carroll had kicked the field goal on 4th and 1, or right before the half ended? But these plays don’t happen in a vacuum. Get those two field goals and the whole game situation changes, so the amazing fourth quarter may not have happened. Sure, Seattle squandered some opportunities. But let’s not forget that they created many more when they looked dead. While this season ended too soon, there’s a few reasons why we should have crazy-go-nuts optimism for 2013.
1. Russell Wilson is really, really, really good.
This one is obvious. Yesterday, Russell Wilson became only the third player in NFL history to throw for 385+ yards and run for 60+ yards in one game, and it was the first time the feat was accomplished in the playoffs. This season, Wilson set Seahawks records for passer rating (100.0) and QB rushing yards (489). Think about the fact that he was a rookie, and he just had the best quarterbacking season in Seahawks history. He should only improve, and you can bet that Pete Carroll and John Schneider will be looking to improve his weaponry. With a full season of the full playbook at his disposal, you’ll probably see the Seahawks score more than this year’s 25.8 points per game. Add three or four points to that total, and you could be looking at a first round bye in 2013. Having a healthy Russell Wilson probably assures at worst a nine-win season, regardless of any other injuries the team may suffer. With Wilson, the best-case scenario is probably 12-14 wins. In their history, the Seahawks have never had a quarterback good enough for fans to not just hope for, but expect a winning season. Well, now they do.
2. The defense is incredibly good, and incredibly young.
This year, the Seahawks led the NFL in points allowed per game at 15.3, as you may know. What you may not know is that there are only three players on the defense over 28 to see significant snaps: Marcus Trufant, LeRoy Hill, and Chris Clemons. While Chris Clemons absence definitely hurt the Seahawks yesterday, it’s likely Trufant and Hill will be gone next year, replaced by Jeremy Lane, Malcolm Smith, or someone taken in the draft. Next year, Clemons will likely be the only player on the defense next year who is over 30. It’s unlikely that they will allow as few points per game next year, simply because 15.3 is an insanely low amount of points to allow per game and may not be sustainable, but there’s no reason to believe this defense can’t be one of the top five units in football for the next five years or so.
3. They don’t have many holes.
Looking at this roster, the Seahawks are young and good at almost every position. They have the best tandem of cornerbacks in the league. They have a top 10, perhaps even top five quarterback. They have the second best running back in the league. They may have the best left tackle in the league. K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner are top-flight linebackers. Zach Miller is a great blocking and receiving tight end. Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, and Doug Baldwin are a solid group of receivers. Really, the Seahawks had two weaknesses this season: pass rush, and a speed receiver. I would expect the Seahawks to target a pass rushing end or tackle (again) and a wide receiver that stretches the defense more than Tate or Rice can. Really, what other positions really stand out as weaknesses? If they’re there, I sure don’t see them. They have ten picks in the upcoming draft to fill these two weaknesses, too.
Obviously, yesterday sucked. But unlike 2005, where the team was older, and their window was closing, this team is insanely young. Their window is just opening, and should be open for a long time. This could be the start of a decade of dominance, and while we shouldn’t be happy about yesterday’s outcome, we should be very happy that it looks like we’ll have one of the five or six best football teams in the NFL for the next decade.