The Seattle Seahawks Are a Team Lost in Transition
So much expectation, so much determination to prove last year's 4-12 campaign was a one off.
The simple fact is, it wasn't a one off and reality hurts.
Where did it all go wrong?
Just two years ago the Seahawks were richly enjoying being the one steady team in the worst division in football.
Regular visitors to the post season, annual banners rose every year to celebrate another NFC West title.
But since their last post season encounter, the Seahawks have gone 6-16.
Injuries have taken their toll and despite regular denials that they're being used as an excuse —it's the same tired counter argument that's dragged out after each painful defeat.
Yes, Seattle was using a make shift offensive line yesterday including their fourth string left tackle.
But they'd not even taken the field before the Cardinals had raced to a 14-0 lead.
By the time Hasselbeck and the offense did trot on to the Qwest Field turf, Arizona had built up a sufficient enough lead to really attack the Seahawks with creative blitz packages.
Even Walter Jones would have had his hands full.
The Seahawks struggled on, watching Hasselbeck scrambling around and offering token gesture run plays to try and preserve any kind of 'balance'.
There could have been solutions—a nice, quick hitting bubble screen to Nate Burleson in the second half provided a rare big gain and a first down.
So why wasn't that used more often?
Defensively, Seattle struggled to contain Arizona's elite receiver threats. No surprise there and better teams than the Seahawks will also struggle against Larry Fitzgerald and co.
But when the Cardinals made the red zone for the first time, why was Jordan Babineaux (the starting free safety) the only man covering (badly) the best receiver in the NFL?
The Seahawks simply were not prepared to take on the defending NFC Champions. It's one thing to push around St. Louis and Jacksonville earlier in the season, but the Seahawks were simply outclassed on both sides of the ball on their own patch.
The 12th man isn't used to seeing that.
In his first season as Head Coach, Jim Mora is trying to put a brave face on things. He must be bitterly disappointed at the way his tenure has started.
After a Week Seven bye, his team is on the road four of the next five games. With a decidedly poor history away from home, it wouldn't be a total surprise if the Seahawks are 3-7 when they travel to St. Louis to complete their lengthy road trip.
That's not the start he was hoping for and there was a certain element of resignation in his post-game press conference.
"We're not going to focus on the playoffs right now. We're going to focus on getting better and more consistent as a football team."
Although perhaps not his intention, Mora was essentially summing up the Seahawks as a franchise.
They aren't good enough for the playoffs, injuries or not. Until they can find a direction, an identity on both sides of the ball and simply get better and healthier at key positions, then they can forget about challenging with the NFL's elite.
This could take time and that's the stark realization facing this team.
General Manager Tim Ruskell has spent the last few years making additions to enhance what he believed was a very respectable core.
Yet it's that very same core that needs to be assessed.
On offense, the future appears bleak for Walter Jones. Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent after 2010 and recently turned 34.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Nate Burleson, on their day, are two very good receivers—but neither can be classified amongst the league's best.
The running game has stagnated to a point where yesterday's 14 total rushing yards was a franchise low, beating a record that has stood for twenty-one years.
There isn't a band-aid big enough to cover the problems Seattle faces on offense, now and in the future.
It could take some time to find the team's next Matt Hasselbeck, Walter Jones and Shaun Alexander. As an example, it took the Denver Broncos four years to draft Jay Cutler, Ryan Clady and Knowshon Moreno.
They'll do well to find another three players of that caliber, but that's the kind of rebuilding target that needs to take place.
Until then, there could be a few more afternoons like the one witnessed at Qwest Field yesterday.
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