The Seahawks, with the Playoffs all but officially out of the picture, will look to finish the year strong and have seven games remaining to grow together as a team. The Hawks are currently 3-6 after upsetting the Ravens and are now on the downhill side of their schedule, difficulty wise. As you may have seen, Mike Sando posted an article today that detailed NFC West teams and their strength of schedule. In it, he revealed that the Seahawks actually had the NFL's toughest schedule for the first 10 weeks.
Let that sink in for a second.
The Seahawks, according to records right now, had the toughest schedule, over the first ten weeks, of any team in the NFL. With close games at San Francisco, Cleveland, and against Atlanta and Cincinnati that resulted in losses for this team, it's a bit flummoxing to wonder where this Seahawks team would be had the ball bounced their way a little bit in all of those four games. Not making excuses, but had a play or two here and there gone differently, we could be looking at a very different situation.
Two late-game kickoff returns that buried Seattle at San Fran after trailing by only two with under four minutes remaining. A called-back kick return touchdown by Leon Washington that would have been the difference at Cleveland. A 61-yard field goal attempt that missed wide left against Atlanta that would have won the game. More special teams flubs against Cincy put the game out of reach despite the Seahawks being within one score with under five minutes to go.
You could even make the argument that the Seahawks were 'in' the Dallas game until late - being down 10 is definitely not an insurmountable deficit. Anyway - this is the way of the NFL and obviously you'd have to make the same argument for opposing teams when the Seahawks won, so I'm not trying to complain about bad luck regarding where Seattle stands, but the argument I am inclined to make is that perhaps this team is closer to being good than a lot of people think.
I know that after a few of those tough losses in the past month or so, the idea that Pete Carroll and company might be sitting on the hot seat was thrown around in local radio and media, but when you sit back and take a look at what the Seahawks have done, that idea seems ludicrous.
The massive and nearly comprehensive overhaul of the roster notwithstanding, the Seahawks have managed to stay competitive in both of PC/JS's seasons thus far, and already have a few big upsets to their credit. They've improved the defense and upgraded nearly every position on the offense.
One of the biggest, if not THE biggest criticisms leveled at this new regime is in reference to the decisions made at the quarterback position. This has been a dead horse to beat on and I'm not going to go too in depth about this again, but for all the potential options that were available to this front office, I'd say their conservative approach thus far hasn't hurt the team. Bringing in Tarvaris Jackson over spending a kings' ransom on Kevin Kolb, Kyle Orton, Carson Palmer, or spending their first round pick on Andy Dalton has looked to have been a prudent decision; at the very least not franchise damaging.
That said, most people believe a 'quarterback of the future' must be acquired this offseason, very likely in the Draft, and the final seven games have some implications for how that will play out.
The Hawks face the 28th toughest schedule according to current records in the second half of the season, or maybe more accurately, the 4th easiest. With upcoming games against St. Louis, Washington, the struggling Eagles, then the Rams once again, it's conceivable that a month from now the Hawks could be sitting at 7-6 heading into the home stretch and out of the top 10, maybe even top 20 in this year's Draft.
The homestretch includes games against the 49ers and Bears, both hot teams, and against the Cardinals, who have shown some fight the past few weeks. The major argument going around right now features a matchup of sides dedicated to losing to secure a better draft pick vs winning to create that culture and bring happiness for their fans in the short term.
Now, I believe that if the Seahawks want their QBOTF, he needs to be taken in the first round. Past that though, I have no strong feelings.
There are studies being floated that say you can still pick later in the first and get your franchise QB and there are studies that say the odds of this are minuscule compared to those teams picking in the top 3-5. The real-life answer is that every single draft, every single team, and every single player is different so quoting odds and precedent on where now-elite quarterbacks were taken in the first round is pretty meaningless to me other than "they were taken in the first round."
What are the odds that Pete Carroll and John Schneider will find a player that fits the Seahawks system and will continue to improve and will live up to their potential and will thrive in this city and with his teammates and will not get injured and will have the mental toughness to win in the NFL and will win games and will have poise and will be a gamer and will... the list goes on. Short answer: no one knows.
So am I going to offer a solution to the Seahawks dilemma? No. Do I feel strongly either way about it? Not really.
Here's my point of view, and if you're still reading you may actually care: I'd rather go 3-13 than 6-10. I'd rather go 10-6 than 6-10. Basically, and I thought this prior to the season too, I just don't want to go 6-10. Or right around there.
My biggest concern is that the Seahawks will win just enough games to take themselves out of the running for the top-2 QBs, (Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley) who, right now, appear to be heads and shoulders above the rest, but still keep them from really gaining that elusive 'winning culture'. Winning does tend to beget winning and I'm not arguing against that idea, but does going 6-10 make you any better off than if the Seahawks lost their remaining games and benefitted from that top-3, top-4 pick? In the real world? I doubt it.
Here's the problem though. They'll probably go 6-10. Or right around there.
Why? The same reasons they're 3-6. Inexperience, youth, newness to the system, - all these factors have caused the Seahawks, though possessing great potential, to play very inconsistently. It goes to my point above that this team is probably better than we give them credit for.
So what does my little theory mean? It means, probably, the Seahawks will pick somewhere around 8-12, with a possibility of picking as high as 6 or as low as 14 or so.
Now, I want to make this abundantly clear: I definitely understand and empathize with the crowd that is willing to take one more bad season to pick up that potentially franchise-altering (for the better) quarterback. I do. I am on board with that. I also understand and empathize with the crowd that believes winning is more important and that the QB situation will figure itself out and you can't necessarily depend on odds and precendent. I get that too. I do think it's possible to be on both sides. Because, I pretty much am. Is indifferent a good word for it? No. Probably not.
It's not about 'rooting' for this team to lose or win for me, because really, I've already resigned myself to the (in my mind) inevitable fact that the Hawks will not be in the hunt this year for Luck/Barkley OR the playoffs.
(Hell, those two guys might decide they like college and stay in another year anyway).
The Hawks will win some games they're probably supposed to lose. They'll probably lose some games they're supposed to win. There's the outside shot they'll win out or even go 9-7 and that would be awesome, but I'm not holding my breath. There's an outside shot they'll lose out and finish 3-13, but I'm definitely not putting my money on that either, nor would I enjoy it (because dear lord, what if Luck and Barkley... and Landry Jones and Robert Griffin III stayed in school?).
So what am I going to do in the meantime? I'm just going to have fun watching my team and hoping they win every game. Like I have been doing for years. Because it's the only thing that makes sense. I know, and I touched on it above, that this team IS better this year than last, and IS getting better game by game, and more importantly, I think THEY know that too. That's what I can take away from this season until we figure out who this mythical QBOTF will be.
That's all I got because all this strategic fandom and pondering the implications of winning or losing every game just hurts my head.