Note: This is this week’s Crunch Time I wrote for the Cheney Free Press
Dear Seattle Seahawks fans,
It’s not the end of the world.
I understand that many fans were up in arms this last Sunday after the Seahawks lost to the St. Louis Rams, 34-31, in overtime. For some, it was a continuation of the heartache of Seattle’s 28-24 loss to the New England Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl.
Some folks are probably upset because it should have been an easy win for Seattle. Many experts predict the Rams won’t make the postseason and called the Seattle win an upset, even though some experts label St. Louis’s defense as the best in the league.
It was only the first game of the season and while Seattle was the only team in the NFC West not to win a season opener, it’s still a long season. That said, there are several questions and unknowns surrounding the Seahawks this season.
The first one is the shape of beloved running back Marshawn Lynch. There were rumors that “Beast Mode” was considering retirement after last season. Lynch, 29, has nine seasons under his belt. Against the Rams, he had only 18 carries for 73 yards.
He has had off-days before. In the 2013 season opener, the Carolina Panthers held him to only 43 rushing yards. He turned it around in the 2014 home opener against the Green Bay Packers where he had 110 yards with two TDs.
Rams defensive linemen Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald made headlines after stuffing Lynch on fourth-and-one in overtime. Is this just another off day for Lynch or is “Beast Mode” winding down?
Another question is how newcomer tight end Jimmy Graham will fit into Seattle’s offensive picture? Graham, who came from the New Orleans Saints, made quite an impression in his debut with the Seahawks, having six receptions for 51 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown. It wasn’t the most in terms of receiving numbers — that belonged to wide receiver Jermaine Kearse who had eight catches for 76 yards — but it was still a good showing.
One uncertainty is Seattle’s offensive line, which has a combination of veterans and rookies this year, including Drew Nowak, who hasn’t started an NFL game in three years and took over for Max Unger at center.
The O-line couldn’t stop the Rams’ defense from recording six sacks on quarterback Russell Wilson. In a post-game interview, Seahawks offensive line coordinator Tom Cable said the O-line struggled in the beginning but “grew in those first 30 minutes of the game.”
Seattle’s defense also has new and experienced players, including “Legion of Boom” members Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman. Then there’s safety Kam Chancellor who hasn’t reported to play. Chancellor requested a new contract, one year into his four-year deal, and has opted to hold out until he gets it. While I understand he wants a better deal, his actions are counterproductive. After Sunday’s game, he lost $1.87 million in fines, forfeitures, and lost wages. Head coach Pete Carroll said negotiations between the team and Chancellor haven’t progressed, though the Seahawks said they would move forward without him before the season started. Some critics think Chancellor may have the leverage he needs in negotiations if Seattle continues to lose, though that number pales in comparison to the number of fans who believe the Seahawks should cut ties with him.
The question of Wilson’s contract status was answered before the start of the season. Wilson, who was on the last year of his rookie contract, and the Seahawks agreed to a four-year deal worth $87.6 million. Although some of his recent comments regarding his faith and personal life may have rubbed some fans the wrong way, Wilson is a great face for the team. Now it’s time to see if he’s worth the money.
Then there’s the upcoming schedule. Seattle is going to have tough road games against Green Bay, Cincinnati and Dallas. They should have easy wins against Chicago and Detroit. I would have said the same thing about San Francisco but the 49ers displayed a strong running game and defense in their win over Minnesota on Monday night.
Some experts predict the Seahawks will make it to the postseason and win another NFC West title, but it may be an uphill battle if they want to make it to their third-consecutive Super Bowl.