Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Friday, May 05, 2006

When Pessimism Gets On My Nerves...

Seattle fans are too used to ineptitude. Too used to Woody Woodward, to Wally Walker, to all the GMs who consistently had awful offseasons. We're too used to having to force ourselves to find little glimmers of hope admidst the clouds. Now we have Tim Ruskell as Hawks GM, and local pundits don't know what to do with themselves. Apparently one gets readership by being contrary, and so the current contrary position is against Ruskell's claim that the Hawks as constituted now are better than the team that lost the Super Bowl. I personally thought this was obvious. Tacoma News Tribune columnist Dave Boling thinks otherwise, backed up last night by KJR talking head David Locke (again, Locke, please for the love of God stick to the Sonics. You just make yourself sound foolish anytime you speak about anything else). So, as Colin mentioned a couple of days ago, it's time for a fisking.

"Every NFL executive starts this week with a rush of confidence that his team is better than it was before the weekend’s draft. They’ve added new blood, and their minds are dancing with the possibility of these guys exceeding all expectations. And some of them do. Seahawks president Tim Ruskell (is it only me who sees the resemblance to Karl Rove?) went somewhat further in his estimation, though. He claims that the Hawks are not just better than they were last week, but, by implication, better than they’ve ever been. After having only two first-day picks, and bringing on board a slim manifest of six unproven rookies, Ruskell said: “I think I can say we are a better team than the one that lost the Super Bowl.”"

Do you see the logic Dave is trying to express here? Since every NFL executive thinks their team is better after the draft we should disregard them. NFL execs are nothing but small children with sugar plum dreams.

The Karl Rove resemblance aside is fairly odd and I'm not sure what to do with it. Are we supposed to like Ruskell more or less?

His opinion of the draft is sure fun. Only two first day picks? Only six unproven rookies? How dare one be optimistic! Now, if we'd have four first day picks and 12 unproven rookies, similar to the 49ers, then we could definitely say we were a better team. Again, logic=bad.

"Better than the NFC champs that had a franchise-best 13-3 season? I think I can say that’s a little premature. Of course, he doesn’t mean they’re literally ready to take the field and roll to the NFC title as-is. If he wants to set the bar that high this early, it’s up to his guys to meet the challenge. Still, it seems that every season starts with too many question marks to open it with such a public exclamation."

I'm wondering when Dave Boling would say it's "mature" to say the Hawks are better? If they start 8-0? Is that better? It appears that the only legitimate claim then is to win the Super Bowl. We have too many question marks now? What on earth do you mean by that Dave Boling?

"Let’s take inventory. Seattle lost Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson and its most reliable receiver in Joe Jurevicius (five catches for 93 yards in the Super Bowl) as free agents."

So far you have convinced me that you haven't paid attention to either football or this offseason. Steve Hutchinson = guard = replaceable by Tom Ashworth/Floyd Womack. Joe Jurevicius is a loss, yes, but the stats he racked up were mainly a product of the injuries to Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram.

"Tight end Jerramy Stevens has had knee surgery and will miss minicamps, leaving that position thin for the time being."

Jerramy Stevens is going to miss minicamps? OH NOOOOO!!! It's not like he hasn't been a part of this team and offense for forever and should know it well by now. He is going to miss minicamps! Perhaps he should ask Walter Jones how to cope. Come on, Dave, you can do better than this.

"The center and right guard will be a combined 72 years old by the start of the season."

(Stunned Silence)
This is your next argument? That Robbie Tobeck and Chris Gray are old? It probably doesn't matter that we have solid young replacements on hand for both, does it? Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if Gray is beaten out in training camp.

"There’s still nobody who appears ready to excel at returning punts."

Peter Warrick sure seemed explosive in the postseason and has the talent and past history to succeed. Perhaps if we'd drafted Jeremy Bloom you'd be happy... or maybe you're just stretching to find flaws. Also, little hint. When you're trying to make a claim that we're not better than last year, don't use a last year flaw to make said point.

"To replace Jurevicius’ 55 catches and 10 touchdowns, the Hawks signed Nate Burleson, who totaled 30 catches and one touchdown. And they brought in linebacker Julian Peterson, a two-time Pro Bowl performer with the 49ers. Burleson’s totals were down last season because of injury, and Peterson has had two seasons of limited production after a torn Achilles in 2004. Based on previous performance, Peterson could be the best linebacker the Seahawks have ever had. Or he could be this year’s Jamie Sharper. If he returns to anywhere close to earlier form, he’s one of the most versatile, sideline-to-sideline linebackers in the game, and the Hawk defense is vastly improved. If Burleson comes back as he did in 2004, with 68 catches for 1,006 yards and nine touchdowns, his arrival also is significant."

And we start to get to the crux of the issues. Nate Burleson and Julian Peterson could be question marks. It doesn't matter that Nate is a proven 1000 yard receiver, he was injured last year and so must be a question mark (and so, I suppose, Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram are by extension). Ridiculous. The Peterson stuff is even more absurd. David Locke was harping on this too. Yes, maybe he will still be slowed by his Achilles injury (going against every published medical update on him). If he turns into a Jamie Sharper, who will replace him? DD friggin' Lewis, the same starter from last year. In other words, Peterson will either upgrade us or we'll stand pat. How awful.

"Other additions to the asset accountings are first-round cornerback Kelly Jennings and second-round defensive end Darryl Tapp. Jennings, at 178 pounds, is a “cover” guy who could be vulnerable to getting out-muscled to the ball. Tapp, too, is undersized."

So is Lofa Tatupu, Bryce Fisher, and Chuck Darby. Hmmm... maybe Ruskell knows something we don't.

"Most other additions, such as safety Mike Green, formerly of Chicago, and the other four draft picks, can be viewed as providers of depth."

Mike Green is this year's Marquand Manuel, and is actually better than Manuel. If Hamlin isn't healthy we have STILL upgraded that position.

"We certainly cannot overlook the importance of re-signing the league’s top rusher, Shaun Alexander, nor of keeping emerging defensive tackle Rocky Bernard from free-agency escape."

But we can certainly try.

"For the past several years, the Seahawks staff has stressed the importance of keeping that offensive line together. And so it seems that the loss of Hutchinson could have a destabilizing effect across the front."

Yes, losing Steve Hutchinson a few years ago and replacing him with Floyd Wedderburn, that stalwart of the trenches, sure destabilized our entire offense to the tune of being 7th best in the NFL. Woe! Sackcloth and ashes!

"Center Robbie Tobeck and right guard Chris Gray had very strong seasons."

But they're old per argument above.

"And utility lineman “Pork Chop” Womack is worthy of a shot at Hutchinson’s vacated position."

Sure is. Nice of you to notice. Womack was good enough to play tackle in the NFL. He'll be great at guard.

"But that leaves you a first-year starter at left guard, two 36-year-olds at center and right guard, and a second-year starter, Sean Locklear, at right tackle."

Let's do some fun work with semantics here. Dave is trying to use words to put our offensive line situation in the worst possible light. Remember, this was, hands down, the best offensive line in the NFL last year. Here's my take:

This leaves you with the best left tackle in the NFL in Walter Jones, a solid proven young player in Pork Chop Womack, a Pro Bowl Center in Robbie Tobeck, a serviceable guard in Chris Gray, and one of the top young tackles in the league in Sean Locklear.

See where that takes you? Wordplay. Learning is power.

"If that line doesn’t come together and hold up under pressure, Sunday afternoons will start to look considerably less appealing to Alexander and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck."

Yes, if FOUR of the same five starters don't come together, we will suck. From a statistics point of view, this is taking the "5%" shot. Also, wasn't the point of this article why we won't be better next year? Is using absurd hypotheticals really making the point? Wouldn't it be better to take their performance last year, adjust slightly and go forward?

"Beyond that, when does last year’s first-rounder, center Chris Spencer, start to pay dividends? If Tobeck can hold him out of the starting lineup again, Spencer could go into his third season without making a contribution."

Yes, so we will definitely not be a better team next year... I guess. Thanks as well for making my point about o-line depth Dave. That 36 year old center has a first round pick backing him up.

"So, with minicamps starting this weekend, here’s what we need to see before assessing this as an improved team:

• If Burleson and Peterson can run and move and are back up to speed."

If Peterson can run? Yes, watching him run in a minicamp will definitely prove to newspaper columnists that he is recovered.

" • If some combination of Tobeck, Gray, Spencer, Womack and Tom Ashworth can become a unit in the middle of the offensive line."

I'm sick of writing about this. We'll be good in the middle. Count on it.

"• If defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs starts to consistently produce like the first-round pick that he was in 2004."

Because otherwise we won't be a better team than last year. Wait... what? Wouldn't this be a possibility for improvement?

" • If safety Ken Hamlin can fully return from the off-field head injury that sidelined him much of last season."

Otherwise we'll just have to go with Mike Green, an upgrade to Marquand Manuel and have a better defense than last year. I guess.

"• If Alexander can run as well with a fat wallet as he did when he was playing for the big contract."

Which we will be able to tell in the minicamp. Also, I can use more absurd hypotheticals to defend this worthless article.

"That’s a number of issues to resolve if this team is going to make itself better than its immediate predecessor."

Or we could just look at it logically and say from a common sense standpoint that it is. Maybe that's just too obvious.

Look, there are always question marks in the NFL. What gives Ruskell (and us) optimism is his approach to having multiple answers to each question mark.

- Lose Hutch? Fill in with Ashworth/Womack.
- Tobeck/Gray old? Fill in with Spencer/Ashworth/Womack.
- Lose Joe J? Fill in with Burleson.
- Burleson overrated? Fill in with Warrick/Hackett/Urban.
- Jerramy Stevens hurt? Itula Mili healthy.
- Peterson not recovered? Fill in with DD Lewis.
- Hamlin not recovered? Fill in with Mike Green.

Our depth is so good, Ruskell's moves have been so good, we are optimistic. We have a better team this year. It is deeper and more talented. Take that, naysayers.

posted by Gavin @ 10:11 AM  3 comments


At 11:37 AM, Blogger Tash said...

In defense of the THREE TIME SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS - the New England Patriots (may they live forever) -

~you said~

"So these amazing gurus with their 10 picks draft exactly zero players for the secondary!"

Ummmm... let me suggest the name Willie Andrews??? Haaaaa!! We did draft a safty!

By the way. How did the super bowl go??

At 11:55 AM, Blogger colin_hesse said...

It went awesome. In my brain, where a completely different game was played....

At 4:49 PM, Blogger Tash said...

This was prhaps the worst year for playoff offical's since who knows when.

Pitt/Seattle... Zebras changed all those games.


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