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, July 28, 2006

NFL: The Addiction Returns

Starting tomorrow, Cheney, WA, becomes not just home to the worst university in the state as well as a piss-poor attempt at maintaining a livable community. Yes, the Seattle Seahawks descend on Cheney in a futile attempt to create a winning atmosphere in the area.

This heralds the return of the NFL to my daily experience of living and breathing, which also heralds the return of my wife muttering curses under her breath every Sunday as she does various chores around the house while I sit on my duff and watch Houston vs. Philadelphia.

Fortunately for us, who better to answer everyone's questions about the upcoming season than the premier Seattle sports columnist (as well as one snappy dresser), Steve Kelley!

Take it away, Steve!

Can the Hawks make it back to the Super Bowl this year? — Dean Johnson, Shelton

Steve Kelley: If you're asking me to make a prediction - remembering that I'm never right - I would guess the Hawks lose to Carolina in the NFC Championship game. Which means they've had another successful season. Everything broke perfectly for them last season until that Sunday in Detroit. They certainly have the talent to get back there. They have the toughness. They have linebacker Julian Peterson, an ingredient they didn't have last season. But it's such a long way from here to Miami and Super Bowl XLI. So much can go wrong. The secret as a fan is to enjoy the ride.

An actual answer, and not a bad one at that. Picking Carolina is a reasonable pick, even after we destroyed them last postseason. Steve's also right that I would consider that to be a successful season. I'm not a Yankees fan, where it's do or die. I'm a Seahawks fan. Before last year, a successful season was a wildcard berth and a 1st round exit.

Last year at this time I thought Holmgren should be fired and the defense was going to stink because it was made up of rookies and rejects. This year the team looks great. I look at the schedule and drool - I see four games that we may have trouble in and expect to lose one on top of that. Am I being an idiot again? And if so, what am I missing? — Steve, Kent

Welcome to my world, Steve. That's the beauty and the beast of sports. I think two-thirds of Seattle thought Holmgren should have been fired. Now they want him to be their neighbor. I don't think any of us knew how good GM Tim Ruskell was. His job last season reminds me of the job Mariners GM Pat Gillick did in 2001. Ruskell has a great eye for talent and an obvious plan for putting a team together. As for us being idiots again, let's talk in January.

Another reasonable answer. I actually blogged after the Washington game that this was it for Holmgren (remember his atrocious, Hargrove-ian calls towards the end of that game? As for Gillick's job in 2001, the difference is that Gillick did it by mortgaging the future and blind luck (like Franklin being awesome, Pineiro being awesome, etc.). Ruskell didn't mortage any future in building last year's team, and he continued that trend this offseason, not overpaying for Ty Law.

The secondary seems to be the only chink in the Seattle armor. Steve, do you feel that Hamlin is healthy enough, and do you think that Kelly Jennings will contribute enough to put this defense over the edge and into the top 10? — Jason Meyer, Sacramento

Every day at mini-camp when Kelly Jennings walked off the field, all of the people standing around, including many ex-NFL players, looked at him and said, "Man, he's tiny." So there is reason to be concerned. As for Hamlin, I don't think he knows yet. And he's not going to get many chances in the exhibition season to test is health. I'd be scared to death to play football again if I were him. But he's tough and just like Nate Burleson is the key to the offense, l think Hamlin is the key to the defense. And just like Joe Jurevicius' absence will be felt on offense, the absence of safety Marquand Manuel will be felt equally as much on defense.

Is this seriously Kelley? His only idiotic claim in this paragraph is that Marquand Manuel will be seriously missed (say hello to Mike Brown, Seattle!). The secondary is a major source of concern (not THE major source of concern, as our special teams really need to improve as well), and the longer Jennings holds out, the lower my expectations go. Rookie cornerbacks do not normally succeed in the NFL, and we play against some amazing passing offenses (St. Louis, Arizona, NY Giants, etc.).

Is D.J. Hackett ready to be a No. 1 receiver? He may have to be if Darrell Jackson's recent problems with staying on the field continue. I think Hackett is ready - do you and the Hawks? — David Spencer, Mercer Island

There are days when Hackett looks ready and days when you wonder if it's ever going to happen. He has the size and speed, but there are serious questions about his ability to play through injuries. And as one coach said last year, we're going to find the answer. So Hackett looks like the season's biggest question mark on a receiving corps full of question marks.

I highlight this question just for the sheer idiocy of the question. No, Hackett is not a #1 receiver. He never will be. At best, he will be another Bobby Engram. Second, I wouldn't call him the corp's biggest question mark. Let that tag go to Peter Warrick, an individual who oozes talent and could become a real playmaker this year.

Now, fun aside (and real props to Kelley for writing non-tripe for the most part), the point of this post was to put forward our schedule for previewing all 32 teams. Some places go by divisions (we did last year), and others go by power rankings. Both are good, but don't really highlight the goals of every NFL team. This is, of course, to be one of the 12 teams that gain entry to the NFL postseason. The beauty of the NFL is that the majority of teams start out the season with real optimism that this could be the year. However, a few teams do not have any shot at all of reaching the postseason.

Thus, first Gavin and I will unveil the three teams we believe have absolutely no shot of reaching the postseason this year (this will be the No F'ing Way group). Next, we will unveil the 12 teams that have a small possibility of reaching the postseason (this will be named the Only One Pig Will Need to Fly group). We have designated 11 teams as having a high probability of making the postseason (the On the Cusp group). Finally, 6 teams are sure bets of reaching the postseason (or it would take a miracle, or a rash of severe injuries, for this team not to make it to the postseason (the Championship Caliber group).

Basically, we believe that 9-10 postseason teams will originate out of our final two groupings, with the last 2-3 being the year's cute surprise teams (like the Bears last year).

If you disagree with us, tell us why! Drop us a line, and Gavin will only make fun of you a little (though if you are disagreeing with me, then Gavin will probably agree with you).

I can't wait! Go Hawks!

posted by colin_hesse @ 3:25 PM  0 comments

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