It's safe to say this wasn't the start Jim Mora envisaged when he took control of the Seattle Seahawks.
All the talk in the offseason was, "this is a better team than 4-12," and that injuries had restricted the team's ability to win a fifth successive NFC West title last year.
Currently sitting at 2-5, the Seahawks will expect a third win of the season against the Detroit Lions on Sunday. After all, their two wins so far have come against two other potential "top 10" drafters next year—the Rams and the Jaguars.
It wouldn't be a total surprise if Seattle earned a third shutout of the year to boot.
It's not beyond the realms of possibility that the Seahawks will have a 3-8 record by the time they entertain the 49ers in Week 13.
A lot of fans and pundits alike have questioned the team's drive, passion, and inner strength—in fact, you could use any meaningless buzzword to try to describe what the problem is.
But forget all that. This team isn't 2-5 because it doesn't care enough. It's 2-5 because it's missing an identity.
The Seahawks don't do anything particularly well. The running game is distinctly weak, the passing game is constantly facing issues with protection behind a makeshift offensive line, and the expensive defense can't create a pass rush.
Who or what are the Seattle Seahawks?
Well, aside from a team in transition still clinging to its former glories from two years removed.
They're just good enough to keep plodding along, beating the bad teams at home but being outscored and outclassed against the better teams on the road.
So what's the solution? How can they get things moving in the right direction?
They need something to build on. Mora and his coaching staff need to latch on to an area of the team and use it as a benchmark for what they want to achieve going forward.
This week's release of Edgerrin James isn't so much a statement of their intentions as it is a statement on the career of the league's 10th best active rusher. A nice idea at the time, but Edge has lost his, well, edge.
Louis Rankin has been promoted to the 53-man roster, and already people are talking about him and Justin Forsett getting some extended playing time. This doesn't appear to be a refocus rather than a look-see to find out if the two younger backs are worth implementing into the long-term thinking.
But it should be a refocus.
Julius Jones is still the starter and will probably keep most of the touches, maintaining an element of status quo.
The running game is the most obvious place to try to find their identity. If you go three and out a few times, stick with it. Mix things up and use the speed of Rankin and the shiftiness of Forsett.
At least by running it with more frequency you're beginning to find a niche. You're sending the message to teams that "we're going to run over you—try and stop us."
It seems like the most obvious target area right now. You aren't going to find a pass rush from thin air or solve the issues on the offensive line. That's something for the offseason.
Use the running game now and become a running team.
It's also imperative that the Seahawks win at least a couple of their road games between now and the end of 2009. It'll give the coaching staff something to build on and some tape to say, "this is what we want to achieve" in the long term.
They'll get a chance with the upcoming three-game road trip. As strange as it sounds, wins against the Cardinals and Rams could put them back in the divisional race with no team willing to run away with the NFC West.
Optimistic? Sure. Impossible? Certainly not.
Even if this season proves to be another write-off, the Seahawks have to lay the seeds for future success.
Go and find that identity.
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