By Jim Moore
While watching the Seahawks in the first two games, you could be optimistic or pessimistic depending on your point of view.
If you’re a loyal 12th Man who supports your team no matter what, you could mention several reasons why the Hawks will be OK this weekend and in the future:
• The games were on the road, and we’ll certainly be better at CenturyLink Field;
• The offensive line is young and inexperienced and needs time to jell;
• Sidney Rice did not play, and when he returns, the passing game should improve;
• We’re playing the Cardinals, and their defense is terrible, so surely we’ll move the ball against them;
• Our defense was mostly solid against the 49ers and Steelers and should be even better at home.
But if you’re like me, you watched those games and thought that this team has a chance to be the worst in franchise history.
I’m old enough and have been in Seattle long enough to have seen every Seahawks’ season since the team was formed in 1976. There have been a lot of bad Seahawks’ teams, but this one could out-bad them all.
The gold standard for Seahawk futility was established in 1992 when Tom Flores’ team went 2-14. The 2011 team appears to have a few things in common with the ’92 team.
• In Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst, this team has two quarterbacks who aren’t very good. In Stan Gelbaugh, Kelly Stouffer and Dan McGwire, the ’92 team had three quarterbacks who weren’t very good.
• The ’92 team had decent running backs with Chris Warren and John L. Williams. The 2011 team also seems to have decent ball-carriers with Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett and Leon Washington.
• In spite of having some talent, the ’92 offense was horrible. It scored 140 points all year long, an average of 8.8 a game. That remains the lowest point total ever since the NFL went to a 16-game season. The ’92 team was truly Mariner-like in its ability to generate much of anything — even the 0-16 Detroit Lions from 2008 scored 268 points.
The Seahawks have averaged 8.5 points in losses to San Francisco and Pittsburgh. (AP)
The 2011 team has averaged 8.5 points in its first two games, mustering fewer than 200 yards against the 49ers and the Steelers. It appears to have receiving weapons, but the line can’t give Jackson enough time to get the ball to them on a consistent basis. And even when Jackson gets the time, he’s not all that accurate anyway, just like Gelbaugh.
Anyone who was here in 1992 must remember turning on the TV and expecting the same thing week after week — a gritty effort by the Seahawks’ defense that you knew would go for naught because the offense was so brutal.
Here’s how good that defense was — defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy was named the NFL defensive player of the year, and he played on a 2-14 team!
The 2011 team does not have any defensive player of the year candidates, but the Seahawks’ best players, aside from Earl Thomas, are found on the defensive line — players such as Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant, who are huge and athletic, just like Kennedy.
But that ’92 offense, man, you have no idea … well, yes you do; this year’s offense is just like that one — 3-and-out, punt; 3-and-out, punt. I forget who the punter was for that team, but I’ll bet his right leg was as sore that season as Jon Ryan’s will be this year.
In 1992, I kept wondering how good the Seahawks could be if they had just a decent offense to go with that terrific defense. They maybe could have been a playoff team — if the offense kept the ball more frequently than it did, the defense would have been more rested and even better than it already was.
Here’s something that could be within the reach of this year’s team — at one point in the season, the ’92 team went 14 quarters, 50 possessions, 216 plays and 223 minutes without scoring a touchdown. That’s a record that should stand forever. But if any team has a shot to break it, it’s Pete Carroll’s team.
The best part about having a team that could be the worst in franchise history is the chance to draft Andrew Luck. In ’92, the Seahawks could have had a shot at Drew Bledsoe but made the mistake of beating the Patriots in Foxboro in the third week of the season. What a memorable 10-6 victory that was!
Here was the problem with that — the Patriots also went 2-14 that year and “won” the tiebreaker by losing the head-to-head matchup with the Seahawks. They took Bledsoe with the first overall pick. The Seahawks took Rick Mirer with the second pick, and he became one of their worst draft choices ever, a quarterback who never panned out.
Even the 12th Man can see that this year’s team, best case, will finish 7-9, and that’s stretching imaginations to the point of hallucinating. And even if 7-9 wins the NFC West again, you’re not going to win the Super Bowl with a sub-.500 team. You need a top-shelf quarterback to earn the trophy.
Yes, that playoff win over New Orleans was fun. But it resulted in the Seahawks drafting 25th overall, below several teams that are clearly better than they are, including the Saints and the Eagles. I don’t want to see something like that happening again this year.
With Luck as the potential prize, if the Seahawks are going to suck, I’d rather see them completely suck than partially suck, even if it makes them the worst team in franchise history.