Seattle Seahawks Season Must Be Considered a Success, Even Without Playoffs

Kyle FilkinsContributor IDecember 23, 2011

Marshawn Lynch became Seattle's first 1,000 yard rusher since 2005 and set a franchise record for consecutive games with a touchdown.
Marshawn Lynch became Seattle's first 1,000 yard rusher since 2005 and set a franchise record for consecutive games with a touchdown.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks are getting ready to play the biggest game they have played in the last four years Saturday versus the San Francisco 49ers.

At 7-7, the Seahawks face resurging San Francisco, who has already locked up a playoff berth. Seattle has won five of its last six games and, at this point in the season, is a team that no one wants to play. Even though Seattle has had recent success, this season has been a story of overcoming adversity.

Pro Bowl wide receiver Sidney Rice, who was Seattle's most surprising free-agent signing in the past offseason, started off the year injured. Rice, who was placed on injured reserve prior to Seattle's win over Philadelphia, is going to end up this season with only nine games played. Last season's breakout receiver, Mike Williams, has also had an off year.

Monday, Williams was placed on injured reserve with a broken ankle. Free-agent rookie wide receiver Doug Baldwin has stepped up and become Seattle's leading wide receiver. Baldwin has also surprised many people and is currently the third-best rookie wide receiver, statistically speaking, behind Cincinnati's A.J. Green (fourth overall draft pick) and Atlanta's Julio Jones (sixth overall).

Tarvaris Jackson, who did not impress most Seahawk supporters early in the season, has fought off a torn pectoral muscle and a backup quarterback (Charlie Whitehurst) who many believed would be Seattle's starting quarterback post Matt Hasselbeck. Over his last three games, Jackson has posted a quarterback passer rating above 90 and has proven to many skeptics why he was signed as a free agent and guaranteed a starting position in the lineup.

Arguably, Seattle's most important signing in the offseason did not come as a player, but as a coach. Former Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable agreed to come to Seattle as offensive line coach. This season was supposed to be a rebuilding one for the offensive line. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll shocked many people around the NFL when he drafted Alabama offensive lineman James Carpenter with the 25th pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

Red Bryant dances into the end zone in a Seahawks win over Chicago on 12/18.
Red Bryant dances into the end zone in a Seahawks win over Chicago on 12/18.

At the time, Carpenter was considered a second- or third-round talent. Despite starting the first 10 games of the season, Carpenter was injured during a practice and placed on the injured reserve. One week later, the sixth pick in the 2010 NFL draft, Russell Okung, also suffered an injury on the practice field that demoted him to the IR.

Of Seattle's opening day starting offensive line, only two players will be active Saturday against San Francisco, left guard Robert Gallery and center Max Unger. Surprisingly though, over the last seven games, the Seahawks have averaged 130 rushing yards a game, scored five more touchdowns then they had in the first seven. They have only allowed 14 sacks despite a depleted offensive line.

Because of this outstanding offensive line play, Marshawn Lynch became Seattle's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2005 and a Pro Bowl candidate.

Despite Seattle's ability to overcome adversity on the offense, their defense is what is winning games.  6'4" first-year cornerback Brandon Browner set two different franchise records Sunday versus the Chicago Bears, becoming Seattle's leader in interception return yards and interceptions as a rookie. Opposite Browner is fellow rookie Richard Sherman (who stands 6'3"). Seattle's defense is not only imposing because they have the largest pair of corners in the history of the NFL, but its ability to step up when it counts.

A key game in the Seahawks season was the October 9 win versus the New York Giants. Seattle, who has a history of performing excessively bad when playing 10 a.m. games (Pacific) on the East Coast, found itself ahead of the Giants late in the fourth quarter. Eli Manning and the Giants were driving down the field when Brandon Browner intercepted a pass just sort of the end zone and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown, sealing Seattle's win.

Last Sunday versus Chicago, after going into halftime trailing 14-7 knowing their playoff lives were at stakr, Seattle came out of the locker room with a vengeance. Shortly after Marshawn Lynch broke Shaun Alexander's team record of nine straight games with a touchdown to tie the game at 14, standout rookie linebacker K.J. Wright blitzed Chicago quarterback Caleb Hanie.

As Hanie released the ball, it was as if fate was telling the Seahawks not to give up. Defensive end Red Bryant found himself in the right place at the right time, and the ball ended up in his lap. Twenty-five yards later, it was as if the Seattle Seahawks season was destined to be.

Pete Carroll said Thursday afternoon after practice that, "We have something we need to finish." The Seattle Seahawks have been aiming all season to be the kind of football team that it currently is. Unfortunately, the playoffs are not in Seattle's hands as either Atlanta or Detroit would have to lose out for Seattle to make the playoffs (Seattle has to win versus San Francisco and in Arizona, but you knew that).

Of the two scenarios, it is much more likely that Detroit would lose as they play in San Diego, who are also fighting for their playoff lives this Saturday, and at Green Bay on New Year's Day.

If Seattle can pull off wins against San Francisco and Arizona, but still manage to come up short of making the playoffs, its season cannot considered a failure. Last year, the Seahawks made the playoffs with a 7-9 record; this year they have the opportunity to miss the playoffs within 9-7 record.

Seattle has showed, time and in time out this season, that it has the ability to overcome adversity. IF the Seahawks fail to make the playoffs this year with a 9-7 record, what kind of adversity do you think that would put in the face of the 2012 Seattle Seahawks, and how do you think they would react?