MICHAEL GREY

Seahawks have overcome a first half full of challenges

Nov 5, 2014, 9:06 AM | Updated: 9:36 am

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are 5-3 after passing several tests during the first half of the se...

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are 5-3 after passing several tests during the first half of the season. (AP)

(AP)

Adversity.

The word gets used so often over the course of a NFL season that I’m not even sure what it means anymore. There were times last year when everything from Skip Bayless’ opinion to media requests for Marshawn Lynch to Cris Carter’s opinion of the Seahawks’ wide receivers were described as adversity when that label hardly seemed to fit.

The Seahawks may enjoy playing with the proverbial shoulder chip, but those rate as annoyances more so than adversity to me.

In 2014, however, the adversity is real, and while it’s taken a toll on this year’s team, there are positives to be found in the fact that Seattle has largely passed those tests.

The most obvious and damaging is, in fact, the damage. Injuries have been headline news for the Seahawks since the beginning of training camp. They have played an enormous role in the way that this team has performed and, at a much more basic level, the team that has even seen the field. It’s not just the players that are missing but the toll the injuries take on the consistency of execution, the play on special teams and the averages of the players that have remained on the field.

As a result, rumblings can now be heard about the “struggles” of the Seahawks from experts like Herm Edwards, who this week predicted that Seattle wouldn’t even make the postseason much less repeat as champs. From any reasonable perspective it’s easy to see a 5-3 team that hasn’t been as dominant as a year ago, but how far off are these Seahawks?

Purely by the numbers, they’re half-way to a 10-win season and that alone should keep them in contention unless, of course, you believe that even more bad news is headed their way. Just what have these Seahawks done to provide food for that thought?

Defensively, this team is far worse in the red zone than a year ago – ranking 26th compared to second – but they are still fourth in total defense, sixth against the pass, fourth against the run and 10th in points allowed.

Those are good numbers, extremely good numbers. To be in the top 10 across the board and in the top five in half of those categories paints the portrait of stout defense. As historic as they were a year ago? No. But a very good unit that has required starting minutes from guys like Marcus Burley, Brock Coyle and Kevin Pierre-Louis.

Offensively, it’s a different animal with an even greater effect being felt from injuries to the offensive line and at tight end and fullback. The Seahawks’ signature run attack has been challenged by those absences and Russell Wilson has been forced to shoulder even more of the responsibility.

This doesn’t even bring to mention the fact that behind the scenes Percy Harvin was punching teammates and subsequently traded. And that, as a part of the failed Harvin Experiment, Doug Baldwin played out of position to start the year and saw his production suffer. Then there’s the fact that just a couple of weeks ago, Wilson was answering questions about his blackness. It also says nothing of the stories surrounding Lynch’s future, or the far more pressing issue of games in which he finishes with single-digit carries.

Passes are up, runs are down, their second-leading rusher is their quarterback, the quality of the depth at running back is still very much a question mark and distractions have existed in abundance.

Does any of this sound like the description of a team that’s 5-3?

There’s the good news. Despite all the adversity that has crept into the Seahawks’ title defense in 2014, this team still has five wins in eight tries. Every goal that coach Pete Carroll could put on the dry-erase board in the preseason is still within reach. Better still, by the time the season ends the Seahawks could look far more like the team from a year ago as players return from injuries.

If they win their remaining home games and get one road win – just one – they will be a 10-win team. It certainly wasn’t where most thought that this team would be at the halfway point of the season, but considering the backdrop it’s nonetheless remarkable.

As always, thanks for reading and feel free to join the conversation any time on Twitter @TheMichaelGrey.

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Seahawks have overcome a first half full of challenges