The Seattle Seahawks are 2-2, and through four games this season, we've seen quite a lot...some good, some bad, and some ugly.
This is a team that, with a few bounces in either direction, could either be 4-0 or 0-4, so while there is some sense of panic spreading across the Pacific Northwest given the team's .500 record, I figured it might be entertaining to take a few overreactions and try to find some answers.
What, for example, is an overreaction, you ask?
Let's face it, we've all been guilty of these statements from time to time and hear them all throughout our travels from colleagues, classmates, friends or family.
How do I plan to approach these questions?
The easiest way to respond is with a "true" or "false" answer, with hopefully a little clear and rational thinking to help make sense of the Seahawks' first quarter of the season.
Of course, I may not cover all of the major points, so if you have any extra overreactions, feel free to contribute anything I may have missed...
Now let's get to it!
Actually, though, this is a tricky statement, and one that gets more and more challenging to answer each week.
Since training camp, Wilson has been the future, but then all of the sudden, he made a strong case for the present throughout the preseason with one dynamic performance after another.
Yet once the regular season rolled around, Wilson seemed to downshift into an unrecognizable figure that Pete Carroll preferred to keep under control.
I understand on some level where Pete Carroll is coming from by trying to ease Wilson into the scheme of things, but with an upcoming tough stretch of games against some high-scoring opponents, can the 'Hawks really continue to employ this strategy?
Does this mean the 'Hawks need to pull Wilson and put in Matt Flynn?
Pete Carroll doesn't think so right now, as Danny O'Neil reported for the Seattle Times.
"'He's a first-time starter,' Carroll said. 'He has been in every game and had a chance to win 'em. He's won one of them, and two of them got away from us at the end there.'"
Seattle has had the ball in the opponent's half of the field with a chance to win in the two road games it lost.
So how should we interpret that?
I still think Wilson gets at least two more weeks, as he really hasn't embarrassed himself through four games, but he needs to win a game or two against either Carolina on the road next week or against New England at home the following week.
Let's face it though, does Wilson have a supporting cast capable of helping him?
Sorry, but this isn't a unit I'm seeing results from on a consistent basis, and until they step up, the Seahawks will not be able to stretch the field or score many points.
Both of which will prove problematic no matter how well the defense plays or Marshawn Lynch runs, as we saw this weekend in St. Louis.
Sadly, there isn't a single player in this group that I have any confidence in to either stay healthy or make plays.
Honestly, would you start any of these receivers on your fantasy team?
For the second year in a row now, the team's leading receiver from the year before has been reduced to an inconsequential chess piece. Last year, it was Mike Williams; this year, it's Doug Baldwin.
So for anyone who wants to play devil's advocate in favor of starting Matt Flynn over Russell Wilson, riddle me this: Who exactly is he going to throw the football to?
Perhaps you can make an argument for Golden Tate, but then again, he's always starting arguments...
Ah Golden Tate...
A few weeks ago, I wrote about his block against Sean Lee of the Dallas Cowboys, coming out on the side of wanting to see him fined, but more importantly, not wanting to to see him get hurt on the play, either.
Right or wrong, Tate got himself a good deal of attention for the hit, but nothing could prepare him for what happened the next week against the Packers on Monday Night Football.
His now infamous "touchdown" probably served as the final straw for the replacement referees, yet Tate ultimately took the fall with the refs in the process.
As I said last week following the game, how you look at Golden Tate is a matter of perspective.
He plays hard and takes risks, but it's not like he's stomping on opponents' helmets or doing anything beyond trying to work for an advantage to help his team win.
Time will tell how things shake out for him, but as of now, I don't believe that he is a dirty player.
Week 2 they steam-rolled the Cowboys with Marshawn Lynch leading the way.
Week 3 against the Packers they didn't do much, for better or for worse.
Week 4 against the Rams, the team rushed for 179 yards for an average of 5.3 yards per carry on the day.
Blend in inexplicable drive-killing penalties, uneven results in pass protection, and you've got a group of players that leave much to be desired on a weekly basis and that simply can't be relied upon to deliver.
If they can limit their mistakes both mental and physical while playing with authority, the 'Hawks can run with anyone, but if they can't buy Wilson enough time to work, it's going to be a problem.
Understand this is a very, very good group, but I think they can do even more.
The unit that bends but doesn't break has only surrendered 58 points this season through four games, which ranks them second only behind the Houston Texans, yet I'm not content with this being the ceiling for them.
So far, the pass rush has improved, the run defense is consistent, the linebacking corps looks better than anticipated and the secondary remains solid, but something is missing.
With the offense struggling, this group is all but forced not only to stop opposing offenses, but also to punish them, win the battle for field position and generate turnovers.
Meanwhile this past Sunday, one problem really hurt the 'Hawks as the Seattle Times Jerry Brewer pointed out...
"Poor defense on 3rd-and-long became a surprising problem. The Rams converted only 5 of 13 third downs, but for the Seahawks, it seemed worse than that. Maybe it's because all five of those conversions came on plays of 3rd-and-10 or longer. In this tight game, the defense's inability to get off the field in those advantageous situations was a huge problem. It took away from a performance that looks good on paper. The Seahawks have been much better, however. If they want to be a great defense, they can't tolerate those kinds of mistakes."
In some ways, it's nitpicking, but great teams finish on both ends of the field—right now the 'Hawks need the defense to play just like the Mariners need Felix Hernandez to pitch: perfectly.
Honestly, you would have thought the universal outcry following the Monday Night Football game against the Packers would usher the end of the world, but instead, it simply sped up the negotiations between the league and the real referees.
At the same time, the 'Hawks really couldn't afford to lose on Sunday in St. Louis, yet still fell into a trap.
Making this loss all the more frustrating is how the 'Hawks managed to run the ball effectively, play good defense, and still look utterly lost/ineffective for the last three quarters of the game.
Let's face it, the Rams deserved to win, but it was a game the 'Hawks should not have lost.
So what's next?
Do you blame Pete Carroll?
How about Russell Wilson?
Perhaps Anthony McCoy really just needed better shoes?
How about converting with greater consistency on third down?
Right now this team is 2-2, which is where I figured the 'Hawks would be months ago, as a team with a really good defense, a solid running game and questions along the offensive line and, of course, quarterback.
Is it time to panic?
No, oddly enough, what helps at a time like this is how well Pete Carroll as a politician can say so much without saying much of anything. I'll confess that my "love" for Pete Carroll can be fickle at times, but having him as the frontman works in helping deflect questions and dealing with brewing issues.
Will there be a quarterback issue in the next few weeks?
Hasn't there always been? Won't there always be?
Having Carroll field these questions prevents putting the players in awkward positions and simply let's them play the game. Sure, someone might provide an interesting sound bite on occasion, but what Pete says is the bottom line.
Besides, we live in a day and age where there is so much information out there that more often than not we forget what we had for breakfast by lunch time.
In other words, the hype and the furor over what has transpired these past few weeks will quickly fade if the team starts to win again, especially if they can take down either the Patriots at home in Week 6 or the 49ers in San Francisco during the short turnaround in Week 7.
If not, it will be Pete's choice to bench Russell Wilson, simply because it's easier to swap him for Matt Flynn as a means of potentially changing the momentum while appeasing the masses rather than admit to the fact that the receiving corps is a mess and the pass protection on the offensive line is suspect.
Either way, the one thing you can bet on is seeing Marshawn Lynch get the ball 20-plus times a game, week in, week out. Let's just hope that Lynch holds up and that opponents don't catch on to that fact too easily in the weeks to come while the offense hopefully irons out its issues.
Otherwise the defense really will need to start generating points...