Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Exact Moment You Know

First, give Jim Dunn a round of applause for winning he Suicide contest.

Also, Dunn wants to know what’s wrong with the Seahawks, and it’s a fair question. And though I’m not sure I have a good answer, I’ll try to answer it later on. But first I want to talk about something else.


A strange thing happened this Sunday. My Seahawks were eliminated from Super Bowl contention.

Wait a minute, Jim, you say. The Hawks lead that division. They are tied for the second seed in the conference. Pretty soon they’ll get back their stud players, like Hasselbeck, Engram, and Locklear. Nobody in the NFC looks that strong, including Chicago. There are 6 games left and you only play two with winning records, and one of those is at home, where you have lost three regular season games in the last three years. Surely you aren’t throwing in the towel on the season now.

I am doing exactly that.

It isn’t that the Hawks lost to the 49ers. Even good teams have bad games. San Diego, who I think is the best team out there, lost to a fair to middling Kansas City. Teams lose sometimes. A loss doesn’t necessarily spell doom. Look at the Steelers last year.

But there is a moment in every season when you know—when you become certain—that the season is headed for the penthouse or the doghouse. Last season, for me, it was the Dallas game. When Babs picked off Beldsoe and ran it back into field goal range, I didn’t even need to see the game-winning kick, I didn’t even need to see the rest of the games, I knew that season was special and that we’d be going to the Super Bowl.

And even when we struggled against San Francisco and Tennessee last year, I knew we were going to the Super Bowl. And even when the pundits pointed out we never won a playoff game, I knew we were going to the Super Bowl. And even when our MVP running back left in the first quarter of the Washington game with a concussion, I knew we were going to the Super Bowl. And even when nobody but Hawk fans picked the Seahawks to beat Carolina, mighty road warrior Carolina, can’t-be-stopped-Steve-Smith Carolina, defense is going to chew the Hawks up and shit them out Carolina, I knew we were going to the Super Bowl.

Destiny is destiny.

The season before, when we made it to the playoffs and lost to the Rams, I never held out much hope we’d make it to the big game. I’d stopped believing that when Hawks lost to the Rams the first time, giving up a 17 point fourth quarter lead. From that game on—despite the fact we were 3-1—I never thought we had a shot.

Every team has a moment like that in every season. The defining moment when you, as a fan, know your team in prime time or prime cut. I don’t think this phenomenon is special to me. Surely you Pittsburgh fans have felt it from time to time, season to season, that moment when, no matter how much you hoped you were wrong, you knew the season was over.

My moment for the Seahawks this year came when Seneca Wallace chucked away our last chance in San Francisco. That interception, while not the only reason we lost the game, was the exact moment I knew our season was no damn good and our team was no real contender. If destiny was on our side, we would have struggled in that game and won. It was an important game to win, and Super Bowl teams win the important ones, no matter how they struggle otherwise.

Holmgren can scream all he wants. Ain’t gonna change destiny. Hass can come back and Alexander can return to form. Ain’t gonna change destiny. We can win every game left on our schedule, win the division, get a bye and a home game. Ain’t gonna change destiny. You can hope against hope, wave your banners, rub your daughter’s Buddha belly for luck before games, eat nothing but blue cheese and limes until the Super Bowl, promise God you’ll go to church every non-football Sunday for the rest of your life, and it ain’t changing destiny.

The die are cast and you’re staring down pea-soup green snake eyes.

Destiny is destiny.


Now, what’s wrong with the Seahawks?

It would be easy to point to the injuries. Certainly you can’t ignore them. When you lose you stud RB and your stud QB and parts of your line and your TE and one of your best receivers for weeks and weeks, you’re going to have problems.

But it’s not injuries that are the key problem. Not really. It’s three things, in order from least important cause to greatest.

1. Timing

We’ve had unlucky timing. For some reason we have been getting people at their best. Like Chicago. They were ripping things up early on when we faced them, and they’ve cooled off considerably since then. It was just bad luck we faced them when we did. San Francisco is another example of bad timing. The couldn’t do squat early in the season, getting their doors blown off by most everyone, but they turned it around just in time to face us.

This sounds like excuse making, but it isn’t. A good team should win those games anyway. But there’s a difference between facing the Giants without five of their defensive starters, like the Bears did, and facing them with a full team. Those breaks went to us last year; this year they’re going to other teams.

2. Holmgren

Almost everything he’s done this year has been stupid. And not just stupid, but stubbornly stupid.

I don’t want to give you a big run down of mistakes he’s made, the getting away from the run game after game when it’s working, the going for an unnecessary first down when the game is all but rapped up and all you have to do is kick a chip shot field goal, the ridiculously predictable and repetitive play-calling that goes Sunday after Sunday like this:

1st Down: pass (Incomplete.)

2nd Down run (2 yards.)

3rd Down pass (complete for 6 yards.)

4th Down: punt.

No, let’s not go through it all because I don’t think you want to be bored by it and I certainly don’t want to relive it. But let’s look at one play in microcosm.

It’s late in the fourth quarter and you’re facing fourth and two, down by six points. Your MVP RB has made a return to the field this very day, but he hasn’t done squat. He’s got about 30 or so yards for the entire game.

Meanwhile, you have your backup QB in the game, who has struggled with his throwing all day, but who has quick feet.

The Niners are going to stack the box.

What do you do?

Why, you hand the ball off to Alexander, of course.

This is Holmgren’s problem. Arrogance. He believes that he should never have to call a play that will deceive the opposing team, but merely do the same old plays over and over again while doing them better than anybody else.

And that’s a fine philosophy unless—unless it isn’t fucking working.

If it’s not working the whole game, why do you think it will work with the game on the line? Why not fake the hand-off, roll Wallace out, and give him an option to either run or throw for the first down?

What? Running to the left? Are you trying to make everyone remember that the Hawks screwed up and lost Hutchinson? Are you trying to rub that gaff in to show your displeasure to Ruskell and front office? Cause that’s the only way that playcall makes any damn sense.

I love Holmgren. He’s a great head coach and an even better human being, but he’s had his head up his ass this entire season. Hopefully he can turn it around.

Or who knows how far we’ll fall.

3. Toughness

The team is soft.

I can’t tell you how much it pains me to say that.

I am not soft. I come from the hardest section of Jersey City. I spent most of my childhood with my stomach growling and fighting gangs of kids twice my size who liked to set skinny white kids on fire because they saw Roots and held a grudge. I’m an ex-amateur boxer, a body builder, and I spent some time toting a gun and a grenade around in defense of my country.

And I like the Seattle Cottonhawks.

Hell, it’s a miracle some of them can stand, having jelly for a spine.

This is not true of all the players. Matt Hasselbeck, Walter Jones, Bobby Engram, and DJ Hackett are excused from this discussion. The rest of them are soft. Some are just kinda soft, like Darryl Jackson. And some of so soft they’ll have a second career as pillows, like Jerramy Stevens.

Stevens is so soft he got kneed in the nuts on national television and giggled like a schoolgirl. Had to have Robbie Tobeck defend his honor like they were pinned or something. And Robbie is like 4 foot 2. That’s how soft Stevens is.

The Seattle Seafeathers.

The defense is not excused from this conversation. Soft, soft, soft, right down the line. I tried to think of one exception and failed. Maybe Lofa Tatupu, maybe Rocky Benard. Maybe. But no, probably not.

Hill and Tatupu were not soft last year. But something seems to have happened to them in the meanwhile. Maybe they got here and the soft disease took them over. One year in and already they fit right in. Soft, soft, soft.


It isn’t just missing tackles, it’s shying away from contact. It isn’t just not getting the yards, it’s avoiding the hit. It isn’t just missing the game, it’s missing it when you could play.

You want to know what’s wrong with the Hawks, Dunn?

200 + yards to Frank Gore.

Are you kidding me?

They’d probably give up 100+ to Al Gore.

That’s what’s wrong with em, Dunn.


And again, you have to lay it on Holmgren’s doorstep. And also Ruskell’s. After hearing all the Ruskell talk about bringing in “character” guys, I wish he’d bring in some players with the character to show up for work on Sundays, take the hits, and dish some out.

Cause it’s getting kinda embarrassing for a big strapping fellow like myself to say I like the Seattle Softhawks.

Seattle’s Main Obstacles:

1. Everyone, it seems


Baltimore over Pittsburgh, Cincinatti over Cleveland, Tough Favre over Soft Seattle, Rams over the 49ers, New England over Chicago, USC or the SEC champions over a lame rematch, anybody over Joe Theismann, please, black people over Kramer, destiny over hope, at least for now, turkey over stuffing. Happy Thanksgiving, and enjoy.


Blogger Sonny said...

Turkey over stuffing? That's ridiculous.

This is my favorite post of yours so far. Not because it speaks of Seattle doom---because I still they'll be better than you do--but because it was well thought-out.

You should post the link on the Seattle forum.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Jim Valvis said...

You think they're ready for that much honesty, Sonny?

Man oh man, they're already ripping on people for even questioning almighty Holmgren. Do you thnk they could handle having their team called soft? Even if it's true?

Nah, I wouldn't count on that.

And really, I'm sick and tired of the neverending crap that comes my way over there. It's gotten to the point where it's a chore even to go there and read the latest thread about what an asshole I am.

I'd just as soon listen to Christmas carols and fa-la-la.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Sonny said...

Message boards are pissing me off. I used to post on the Tribune Review Steelers sit.

Then someone went to another site, took my screenname (this one, SteelSonny), copy and pasted all of my posts, and then proceeded to mix in insults and bad language so it looked like I was doing it.

Anyway, I prefer to write for the smaller audience here. However, I am going to see if I can get the link to this site posted on the PG and Trib sites. Increase the traffic a little.

5:58 PM  
Blogger Dunn said...

so they defend Holmgren there? wow! here Cowher has had only 3 losing seasons in 14 years, won a super bowl and people are running him out of town because he doesn't yell as much...this town is ridiculous.

I havent heard much dissent for Holmgren otherwise, are you really that much the minority?

10:52 PM  
Blogger Jim Valvis said...

Well, in their defense, Holmgren is the only coach to ever take the Hawks to a Super Bowl, and a lot of people love him for it, including me.

It seems that Holmgren is just starting to get some criticism. There was a piece in the Seattle Times (a day after I wrote my piece... hmmm...) criticizing him today. But it isn't like anyone wants to drive the guy out of town. Just let him know that he's been way too easy on this group of players.

Honestly, I think he would have realized that by himself. He was livid after the SF game. And I can't blame him.

And yeah, Sonny, before this year I never spent much time on message boards. A complete waste of time. I keep telling myself I'll stop responding to every idiot who attacks me and then I do it anyway.

I prefer to write in this kind of format myself. Mostly because I like to flesh out ideas, and messageboards are good for only two things: smack talk and in-game comments. The debate stuff never fails to descend into chest-beating and name-calling.

(As for this post, I forgot to exempt Josh Brown. He's been something else this year, and it's only because he's been money in the clutch that the Hawks are even alive. But when one of the toughest guys on your team is the kicker, you've got major problems.)

5:08 PM  

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