Mixing Metaphors

"In the wacky world that is the NFC this year, it does seem that the Seahawks can continue to play mediocre football and retain their first place standing in the NFC Worst Division. So far, at least. But just how far can we ride that tired pony?"

The maddening and frustrating 2004 season rumbles on. Old problems continue to plague the team, and new problems crop up.

Dropped passes are not an official NFL statistic. In truth, it is a very subjective thing to count. There are wildly different compilations of the number of dropped passes around the league. One thing is not in doubt. The Seahawks are the absolute best in the league at it.

“You just keep talking about it and try to get them to discipline themselves not to do that,” Mike Holmgren has said. “I don’t know any other way to do it.” Well, there is one solution that you haven’t tried, Mike. How about telling the guys who drop too many passes to take a seat and watch someone else for a while? You haven’t tried that yet.

In the wacky world that is the NFC this year, it does seem that the Seahawks can continue to play mediocre football and retain their first place standing in the NFC Worst Division. So far, at least. But just how far can we ride that tired pony?

Shaun Alexander expressed his disdain for fans who boo this week. Well, in truth, there was a time when I would have shared that emotion, but times have changed. There are some huge expectations out there, and whether those expectations are realistic or not doesn’t really matter.

Seahawks fans expected a team that would play well and contend for the Lombardi trophy this year. What they’ve been getting is more like the cast of the Wizard of Oz, a tin man with no heart, a scarecrow with no brains, a lion with no courage, and a small girl with a yipping dog wandering through the wilderness wondering how they stumbled off the Yellow Brick Road.

Meanwhile, the man behind the curtain seems to have been exposed somehow, frantically pulling levers and pushing buttons to no avail, screaming all the time, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” in a desperate attempt to avoid responsibility for the fraud that has been perpetrated.

It’s not only disappointing, it is divinely surreal, in a traditional Seahawks sort of way.

Now, the team has stumbled and bumbled its way to the division lead, despite having lost two games to the strongest rival we have. Our once vaunted home field advantage seems to have crumbled in a heap on the artificial turf of Qwest Field. Fans booing and leaving early was for other teams, right? We don’t do that in Seattle, do we?

Apparently we do.

At least Mike Holmgren was a bit philosophical about it.

“The other thing that happens, and we experienced it Sunday, was that then the fans get upset,” Holmgren said. “And I don’t blame them (emphasis mine). It kind of compounds the situation just a little bit.”

Well, at least Coach understands. The fans are getting unruly. After years of complaining of East Coast bias in the media and press, the fans are starting to exhibit some East Coast attitude, in which poor play gets booed, period.

Sorry to those players that have had their feeling hurt, but there is one way to stop the boos. That would be to play better and start winning games.

I suppose there is hope in the metaphor. After all, once the fraud is exposed, the Wizard comes through and gives the characters what they want, more fraudulent gifts—a stuffed heart for the tin man, a fake brain and an honorary degree for the scarecrow, and a medal for the cowardly lion—that somehow satisfies them. Watching the movie, we all know the gifts are frivolous and meaningless and not necessarily earned, but somehow they work.

Ah the power of positive suggestion.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks lack the swagger. They seem to think that somehow if they regain the swagger, they can win some games. That puts the cart in front of the horse.

Much like when they were embroiled in the rebuilding process, the team had to play better, then the wins came. Now, they have to win some games, then they can worry about the swagger. Now, all they can do is strut in a vain attempt to act like winners. The problem is, nobody in the NFL of any consequence will be impressed. Real teams will just smile to themselves knowingly and kick our collective butts.

The sprinkler was once thought of as a fun way to show off after our “great” team made a great play. Now, it seems a mockery.

In fact, the whole team should take a serious look at whether any celebrations are apropos. After all, looking at a defender dancing after a sack when the team has already given up 30 points won’t really energize a crowd that has already left. The same goes for a sprinkler after a meaningless TD catch in the fourth quarter. By then most of the remaining fans will be from the other team anyway. What’s the point?

Seattle has a good history on Monday night overall. But lately, results have not been good. Holmgren is only 1-2 with Seattle on Monday, including a loss at home two years ago.

The Seattle Seahawks have studiously stripped away all of the intangibles that they once thought would carry them through this season.

Gone is the advantage of home field. Good teams have no need to respect it.

Gone is the confidence in their offense to put up yards and points, or even to make the basic catches when needed. Why double cover a wide “receiver” that drops 40-50% of throws his way?

Gone even is the unconditional support of the fans. Like Doctor Stantz said in Ghostbusters, “They expect results.”

Somehow, these Seahawks have to turn the trick and win the game. A difficult task indeed, as Coach Parcells is one of the best when it comes to preparation. He’s been given nearly an extra week to prepare.

Last Sunday, the Seahawks were surprised by a bush league play when the Bills kicked onsides to open the second half. That one play effectively doused any chance the Seahawks had to regain some momentum and get back into the game. More than likely, the Cowboys will try at least one trick play sometime in Monday’s game. Parcells will do that on occasion, and with the extra preparation time, he will probably think up a doozy. The Seahawks had better be ready.

Monday Night Football is often compared to the playoffs because of the intense atmosphere surrounding the event. The Seahawks come into tomorrow night’s game badly needing something to goad them on through the rest of the season. A win could do that, while a loss could destroy hope for the rest of the season.

Like Dorothy and her posse, the Seahawks have wandered off the yellow brick road and have fallen asleep in the poppy fields. The road to Oz has been lost.

In the movie, the good witch conjured up a snow storm to dissipate the opium vapors emanated by the poppies and allow the heroes to awaken and continue their journey.

Maybe the football gods will finally pony up some real Seattle weather. It might as well rain tomorrow night. Every thing else has gone wrong this season.

In the end, though, rain might not be a bad thing. After all, in some weird twist of fate since the team was rescued from a relocation to Southern California, the football gods have conspired to provide two and a half seasons of California weather for Seahawks games at Seahawks Stadium/Qwest Field.

Trent Dilfer once opined in an interview how the team needs to develop a “bunker mentality,” a sense that the whole world is against them and that the only thing the team can really count on is each other. Recently, the team hasn’t had even that. Arguably, some players have let the team down. It is proper for players to offer teammates support in tough times. Nobody will argue that. But it is also time for players to step up and start holding each other accountable for their performance on the field and off.

In the end, the Road to Oz is still there. It is simplistic to say that all the team has to do is step up and out, and the goal can be reached. Thankfully, our competition has been loathe to do the same, but opportunities are dwindling. The Seahawks can still control their own destiny by winning some games.

It won’t be easy, and the team has seemingly made it harder than it has to be. But past is past. The future is now.

It is time to pony up and win a game or five. Failure to do so will lead to more booing, and probably a major postseason reshuffling. Outwardly, the players are looking like they want a coaching change, and maybe some even want to move to other venues. That is likely to happen if they don’t start playing better and winning games, beginning tomorrow night.

If they love this team and want to keep it together, they should hearken to the Seattle fan base, which is not very happy now. The natives are restless.

We expect results.

Steve Utz writes a column for Seahawks.NET every Sunday. Send your feedback to Steve at wisecoyote1@cox.net.

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