Seahawk fans, it's time to face facts. Our beloved team may be spending next January the same way we do, watching the NFL playoffs at home. The Seahawks have started the season 1-3, with embarrassing road losses to both Buffalo and New York. The only thing standing between the Seahawks and no wins at all is a victory against arguably the worst team in the league in the St. Louis Rams. While we are only a quarter of the way through the season, there are several reasons why this inability to win football games may continue.
The Seahawks face a very difficult schedule ahead of them. Road games against Tampa Bay, Dallas and Arizona are all tough contests, and judging by the way they have played on the road this year, could easily all be losses. Combine that with Philadelphia, Washington, New England and Green Bay all coming to Qwest Field and you're looking at a tough slate. It seems we are facing karmic retribution for all of those pillow soft schedules we played during our four consecutive division titles run. Winning nine games this season, which may be enough to qualify for the playoffs, will be an uphill battle facing this kind of competition.
The Seattle offense is still a mess. While injured wide receivers Deion Branch and Bobby Engram have returned, the offense still seems to be unable to find any kind of momentum within a game. While there are bright spots on the offense, such as Julius Jones and John Carlson, a higher level of consistency will be required. Matt Hasselbeck has struggled mightily so far and while some of this can be attributed to him not having any talented wide receivers, that is no longer an excuse with two starters returning. The offense should get better as the returning players reintegrate themselves into it, but with the team already two games behind the Cardinals within the division, that improvement will need to happen sooner rather than later.
The Seattle defense, thought before the season to be an elite unit, has been anything but so far this season. They surrendered 33 points in an overtime loss to San Francisco in week two. This is the highest point total allowed to the 49ers since Seattle moved into the NFC West. The Seahawks allowed 44 points and more than 250 yards rushing to a New York Giants team missing their best offensive player in Plaxico Burress. This shouldn't be possible for a defense featuring four pro bowlers. While some of the blame should be placed on the players, it's time to consider a change from the antiquated schemes and predictable seven-man blitzes of defensive coordinator John Marshall. With Jim Mora taking over the team next season, Marshall's place on the coaching staff isn't guaranteed, and this definitely isn't a good way to endear himself to a new regime.
Despite all of these problems, there is still hope this season. The Seahawks enjoy one of the best home field advantages in the league. The offense should come around with time and the defense is simply too talented to continue getting embarrassed. The other teams within the NFC West haven't exactly proved themselves to be juggernauts either. A home win against the Packers next Sunday could be the first step toward climbing back into this race. Fans of the Seahawks should temper their expectations for this season though, the odds are against us.
The Tennessee Titans remain unbeaten after defeating the Ravens last Sunday and are establishing themselves as a legitimate Super Bowl contender in the AFC this season. The Titans appear to have found the ingredient missing from their team when they were bounced from the playoffs in the wild card round last year by San Diego. Already featuring a fierce defense and brutal rushing attack, the quarterback switch from Vince Young to veteran Kerry Collins has given the Titans a competent passing game to balance out their offense. If Collins can continue to manage games and play within himself, the Titans could be a champion in the mold of the Baltimore Ravens team that won the Super Bowl in 2001.
Zorn's Redskins continue winning
Remember that Washington Redskins team that got dominated by the New York Giants in the season opener five weeks ago? If you can't, don't worry, they don't exist anymore. The Redskins have reeled off four consecutive victories since then, including impressive road wins in Philadelphia and Dallas, and currently sit atop the NFC East. With quarterback Jason Campbell grasping the West Coast offense brought over by first-year head coach and former Seattle Seahawk Jim Zorn, the Redskins have established themselves as possibly the best team in the league's toughest division. Look for the Redskins to make the playoffs this year.
John Dorgan is a freelance writer from Sequim. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.