Updated Nov 9, 2012 - 5:42 pm
Seahawks almost ready to be Super Bowl contenders
I'm not worried about the Seahawks.
I'm not concerned about a defense that has shown some glaring weaknesses in recent weeks. I'm not afraid that a rookie quarterback is leading the 31st-ranked passing offense as the team prepares for a run at a playoff spot. It isn't keeping me up at night that inconsistency is holding this team back from achieving its potential. I'm just not worried about it.
I believe this franchise has a legitimate chance to do something that a Seattle team has not done since 1979 (can it, Storm fans). The Seahawks are Super Bowl contenders.
No, I'm serious. I'm just not serious about it happening this season.
Before all you Seahawks fans start drafting your scathing critique of me and my opinion in the comments section, I realize that this team is certainly capable of achieving some great things this season and could very well make a run at the Super Bowl if a lot of positive things happen at the right time. A hot team in the playoffs is hard to beat, just ask any team named the Giants.
Young Seahawks defenders like rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner should be more consistent next season with another year under their belt. (AP)
Let's face it, we were wrong about the Seahawks in many ways from the get-go. We believed this team had an elite defense that could stop any opponent. Armed with Pro-Bowlers in the secondary, athleticism at linebacker and a brutishly large and stout line, this defense was the talk of the town. They have size, speed and a devastating mean streak. Everything you want in a defense, right?
Yes, but they've shown they're not quite ready for primetime.
We were also wrong about the offense. We thought that Marshawn Lynch would be the only real source of productivity. We thought Russell Wilson would be brought along at a snail's pace with the hope that he just wouldn't do anything to lose the game. OK, so we weren't totally wrong about that, but what we have seen is that the training wheels have slowly come off for Wilson and he is showing us all he is fully capable of being a good NFL quarterback nine games into his rookie season.
So how does this all add up to a team that is a Super Bowl contender? The 2012 Seahawks are a work in progress, but we've seen a glimpse of what this team is capable of on both sides of the ball, and that is dominance. We have not yet seen this team play a game where both the offense and defense played at a high level.
Early in the season the defense lived up to the hype with strong showings against the Cardinals, Cowboys, Packers, Rams and Panthers. Then they showed signs of weakness against the Patriots' passing attack (although, who doesn't?), they were dominated on the line of scrimmage by the 49ers, Detroit moved the ball whenever they needed a third-down conversion and last Sunday Adrian Peterson ran right down their throats on a day Christian Ponder was channeling his inner Stan Gelbaugh.
The offense started off as we expected it to be, maybe even a little worse after we were tantalized by watching Wilson carve up the Chiefs in the preseason. But steadily it became serviceable, then decent, and now after scoring 24-plus points in three of the last four weeks it has blossomed into "good".
So to refresh, we are looking at a defense full of talent but underachieving of late and an offense that is showing that more can be asked of it than we once thought. That's not quite the recipe for a championship. Not yet.
Keep in mind that this defense is young. It is the fourth-youngest in the league with an average age of 25.2 years. Inconsistency is to be expected of a young defense, especially one that starts five players who have less than two years of starting experience. We've seen so many good things that it is easy to forget how young and inexperienced the group really is. That's not an excuse for their play of late, but it is more of a reminder that the inconsistency can be fixed as the unit matures. And, more importantly, we haven't yet seen how good it can be.
Add a legitimate quarterback prospect to the mix who is showing week by week that his learning curve is on par with what he demonstrated at Wisconsin (need a refresher?) and the Seahawks should soon have all the necessary components to contend with the elite teams in the NFL. The thing that stands out to me about Wilson is that he has patiently shown he's capable of more at almost every turn. He's never once looked overwhelmed and he strikes me as a player that is simply waiting for his head coach to allow him to make more of the plays he knows he can make.
The Seahawks have a great foundation to build upon, youth and talent on both sides of the ball and especially at key positions. They have an identity and they have the means to impose their will. We are very close seeing the defense grow out of its youthful inconsistency and blossom into a top-five unit. The offense, with Wilson and Lynch at the helm, should be a top-15 performer by next season as the handcuffs are taken off and a balanced attack is allowed to develop. That combination is a recipe for Super Bowl contention.
The most frustrating thing about it all is that we can see how good they can be before they're capable of realizing that potential. But the exciting part is that this team is good enough to make things interesting while it learns. I fully expect the 2012 Seahawks to make an appearance in the playoffs and I think we should be disappointed if they don't.
But make no mistake, this is not the year as some people want to believe. No, the best is ahead and from the looks of it, it could be an amazing ride, the likes of which we haven't seen in this town in a very time.
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