Now, switch to the somewhat more complex project of building a winning sports organization. Over the past few seasons it has been amusing, to say the least, to see all of the comments, discussion, and arguments concerning the building of the Seahawks team. I have been accused, perhaps rightfully so, of being a “homer.” I have been accosted, at times, for not being critical enough. People have even called me ignorant, and/or naïve. So be it. Their opinion of me is none of my business.
If fact, I have never presumed to know more than people who have made a career of doing something that I have pretty much no knowledge of. Thus, my lack of harsh criticism of what I considered a pretty competent group of people doing a difficult job I knew very little about.
It does seem, to most people anyway, that the “re-building” process is nearly complete. And guess what? They did it without my sage advice. One could argue that they are a year, or maybe two years, behind schedule. The reasons for that have been variously discussed and argued over time and again, and don’t really matter much any more. The major crux of the argument seems to be whether the events that set the “schedule” back were controllable or preventable or not.
Now, some people seem to be looking around with a confused look on their face, saying something to the effect of, “We seem to have a real football team in Seattle now. What happened?” Well, what happened was, while many people were whining and complaining that our front office/GM/Head Coach didn’t know what they were doing, they rather quietly and steadily put a good football team together.
It seems to me that a lot of people really blinded themselves, for whatever reason, to what was really going on. Yes, work fascinates me. The job this team has done to put a winner on the field has been an interesting journey, with some serious speed bumps and detours along the way. People who focused on the negatives that happened too often refused to see real improvement. In truth, even in the debacle that was the 2002 season, there were some very obvious examples of improvement on the team. Critics of the defensive meltdown that year apparently blinded themselves, or at least lent no credence, to the improvements on offense. And yes, I will go on record as saying that won loss record is not a complete indicator of team improvement. It is the easiest to measure, and it is important, of course. But it does not provide the entire picture. I have always felt that they had to start playing good football first, then the wins would come. Arguably, the team played some pretty good football down the stretch in 2002, which made predicting a playoff berth in 2003 seem not so far fetched, in retrospect.
Which brings to mind just what the Seahawks proved in 2003, anyway. I still feel that the Seahawks were competitive with any NFC team in the playoffs last season. In this writer’s opinion, Hass’s interception in Green Bay looked a lot better than that Hail Mary, “I hope my guy catches it” desperation excuse for a pass that Favre threw in Philly. In truth, the Green Bay cornerback gambled big on the play that beat us. Hasselbeck and Bannister contributed with key mistakes, but with just a slight change in the read and/or execution, that play could have gone the other way. The fact that Green Bay gambled on that play tells me that they were seriously worried that Hass & Co. were about to fulfill his prophecy that we were going to score. We were only one or two plays away from Josh Brown’s range.
In contrast to Seattle’s level of play in a playoff loss, other NFC teams like the Rams and Cowboys seem to have exposed some real weaknesses in the playoffs.
The annual football analyst magazines are all on the stands now, and pretty much all of them are predicting Seattle will at least make the playoffs, and almost all have predicted we will win the NFC West outright. The lowest prediction I saw was for a second place finish and another wild card spot. Of course, that and $4.95 will get you a latte at Starbucks. There is much to be proven on the field this year. The good news is that the team appears hungry.
It is nice to see the team get some hard-earned recognition from the national media that they are improving.
Having retained the services of some key free agents that might have been tempted to go elsewhere, and having apparently added some really talented, high motor players in the off season, the team seems poised to build on what they achieved last year. The offense returns virtually intact, while the defense has gotten noticeably younger and hopefully faster. Could this be the year that a Seahawk hoists the Lombardi trophy? We all hope so.
Yes, work fascinates me. I can sit and watch it for hours. Or, in the case of working to build the Seahawks, for a few years. Hopefully, the payoff from that patience comes very, very soon.
Steve Utz writes a column for Seahawks.NET every Sunday. Send your feedback to Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.