Week Fore - The Bears Hunt Back

It was "the" game so far in the NFL season. The game was a clash of last year's Conference Champions vs. the increasingly improved and imminent future foe – finally realizing their own greatness. I looked forward to the battle with the anticipatory projection of a child awaiting Santa, a junkie a fix, or a sugar-addict a Krispy Kreme.

All week long, the event was planned as if it were a wedding or birthday. All my brothers, friends, and associates were called to attend the grand affair. Just like what transpired on the field however, it didn’t work out the way I had envisioned.

My wife and I arrived at my younger brother’s house an hour before kick-off, with food and spirits in hand. What we were greeted to was a tension filled environment – one that even Dr. Phil himself would shy away from. The worst part was, it had appeared that many, if not all, of the other attendees, had chosen wisely and steered clear of a known hostile zone. It was a prophetic glimpse on the overall gloom of the night.

In a panic, I began dialing and texting anyone who could and would attend. Something needed to happen to quell the grimy tone, feel, and severity of the situation. I just knew, absent an abrupt change in the circumstance, this glorious game was going to be lost. Thankfully for everyone, right before kick-off many brighter and cheerier fans arrived. With the vibe of the room now inverted from angst and despair to lighthearted and jocular, everything was in place to witness the game.

The first drive went as expected, the Seahawks and Matt Hasselbeck coming out swinging, marching down the field with ease. It was what we had come to expect over the past few years, no matter how talented the defense, Mike Holmgren and Hasselbeck had an answer. That drive would be the last time anything positive manifested, however.

What transpired over the next few hours was a thrashing of my beloved Hawks. A thrashing so merciful, I felt as if the Hawks and my emotions were on the receiving end of Carlo Rizzi’s thrashing of Connie Corleone in The Godfather.

Every sack Hass took, every deep ball Grossman connected, every blitz picked-up, was a belt whipped across my body as Carlo chased me around the dining room and kitchen. The final blow and embarrassment at the hands of Archie Manning’s only successful kid, Ricky’s, second interception.

My pride, emotions, and adrenaline spent, I finally vacated the eerie scene mid-way through he third quarter to avoid embarrassment. I could no longer take the circumstances as they unfolded. If I had remained, without a doubt, the night would’ve concluded with lawnmower blade, a lifeless Dwight Yokum, biscuits and mustard, and a call to 911.
For what it’s worth, which is not much, I was able to salvage individual observations and factors that lead to the Sunday Night Massacre.

• For the first time since the excusable SBXL, Matt Hasselbeck looked rattled. He wasn’t the cool, calm, arrogant leader we had lovingly grown to expect every Sunday. After it became apparent that Tommie Harris is to our interior offensive line what Tyson was to Spinks, Matt lost his command and control of the game.

• The Bears defense routinely used Hasselbeck’s superior mastery of the WCO and legendary in-game intellect against him by showing looks that forced Hass to either audible to a play that the Bears defense knew was coming or force him to throw to his third or fourth best read/option.

• The only chink in the Seahawks armor is, and for the near future will remain to be, the cornerbacks. Even with that, Hawks defensive coordinator John Marshall challenged Grossman and his perpetual “WOW! That surprised me!” eyebrows to beat them. It wasn’t a bad strategy considering Grossman’s embryonic status in the league. Hats off to Grossman for being up to the task.

• The key to the Hawks defensive success last year was creating QB pressure, by utilizing LB blitzes. With that, you would assume such pressure would only be intensified this season, with the addition of Julian Peterson and maturation of the already prolific Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill. But, through four games the blitzing mayhem all Hawks fans have grown accustom to has been scarily absent. In my opinion, this means that the league has re-familiarized itself with Marshall’s schemes and tendencies. Hopefully, the bye week will be used to devise and develop new ways to get the LBs involved in rushing the passer.

• It was refreshing to see Russell Davis back on the field. Besides the greatness that goes with being related to yours truly, Davis will be a godsend in the future weeks for this team. Playing in the NFL purgatory that is Arizona over the six seasons has left Davis under appreciated to the NFL layman. Make no doubt about it however, he’s good and will pay huge dividends as the season progresses.

• Generally speaking, I lay this loss directly at the feet of Mike Holmgren and his staff. It was apparent a quarter into the game that the Bears knew when, what, and how we were going to accomplish aspects from both offensively and defensively. The Seahawks players were fed to the lions, or in this case the Bears.

While emasculating to all of our egos as fans, it’s not reason to panic. Over the bye week Holmgren and his band of merry men will hunker down and revamp and revitalize the their plans – as they were exposed, nationally, this past Sunday. The Seahawks will also be welcoming back numerous dinged, injured, and concussed starters and role players return to the playing field.

Overall, the game and perspective needed by all of us, reminded me of a story one of my 44 ex-step-half-grandfathers had told me. Adding to the story’s relevance, albeit personally, was his passing a few nights before the game.

During one of his numerous missions inside a gunner bubble during WWII, all looked bleak for this great man.

His bubble was shattered and exposed. Blood, guts, and a morbid smell covered himself and the crew. For a fleeting moment – panic beset all of them as they internally wrestled with their own mortality.

Upon further examination, all of them soon realized that no one was actually hurt, nor was there evidence of a source of anyone’s blood.

A buzzard had struck the plane. The blood was that of the bird. The horrific smell that of a scavenger’s digestive tract.

They weren’t dead or even injured. All they had to do was wash off, regroup, and carry on.

Thanks for the perspective, Smitty.

Quick Hits

• Throughout NFL Draft history, there’s always been particular players or positions from particular schools you’d want to avoid like the plague. BYU or University of Houston QBs, anyone from “THE” Ohio State University under John Cooper, defensive linemen from the University of Alabama, etc. But, one man appears to be breaking a draft “no no”. History told us Braylon Edwards would be average at best, coming out of the University of Michigan. So far this year he’s been great – bucking a long line of Big Blue WR busts.

• I wonder if Mike Huard and Archie Manning ever get together to discuss the “what ifs” of their QB offspring. Each father has given to the league one QB with a golden arm, devastating physical gifts, but questionable leadership and intangibles. And another QB that lacks the physical skills of the other but appears to possess the intangibles. What if they had given the league one kid with the entire package?

• I’m not buying Terrell Owens' explanation of his recent overdose. It’s clear to this writer, having known many tormented souls in my life, that the man clearly cried out for help with his recent suicide attempt. Something tells me that this is only the tip of the iceberg. It wouldn’t surprise me if he doesn’t finish out the season in not so “Big D” – to seek additional help.

• Am I the only one that was completely turned-off and horrified by Shaun Alexander’s proclamation that he healed himself through prayer? The only thing that would’ve been worse would be if he had argued such healing with Matt Lauer on the Today Show.

• Even though the Patriots and Bills won this past week, I’m not entirely ready or comfortable handing either of them the crown in the AFC “Big” East. All the teams in that division are still a disappointment in my eyes. This week – I’m pronouncing Rutgers to rise up and snatch the division.

• The New Orleans Saints are for real, at least right now. The key to their team has been the addition of Reggie Bush and the dominant play of their CB’s: Mike McKenzie and Fred Thomas.

• While they maybe the most balanced and best team in the league right now, it’s still got to be tough for San Diego Charger fans this year. I wouldn’t be happy having the Peyton Manning of coaches, Marty Schottenheimer, running things.

Mule Sniff

When he was hired, I didn’t like the move. It wasn’t the kind of big name or sexy candidate I had grown accustom to seeing. Sure, it’s nice being able to boast about the school being the only Division-I program to have minority head coaches in both football and basketball. But after that, I just didn’t “feel” the hire.

Well, I was wrong.

This week’s sniff goes to Tyrone Willingham and his 4-1 Washington Huskies. Good luck against the suddenly mortal Trojans Saturday. And congratulations on what appears to be a bowl-bound season.

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