Friday, January 10, 2014

Confident in Seattle

There are three games that will take place between right now and the Lombardi Trophy presentation. A maximum of three games will be played before this magical season is in the history books.  It's important that we acknowledge the importance of this game without succumbing to the fears of this roller coaster ride coming to an abrupt end.

I'm sure everyone, players and fans alike, are experiencing some degree of anxiety for tomorrow's match up against New Orleans-- but that's playoff football.  Its winner take all, do or die, win or go home from now until the big game in New York. 

As much as I respect the talent and accomplishments of Drew Brees, Sean Payton and guys like former-Seahawk, David Hawthorne-- I have the utmost confidence in the abilities of our team.

Pete Carroll and John Schneider have changed the culture of Seahawks Football.  They stripped the team
down to it's bare frame and built it up into their own vision of greatness in the past four seasons. Their every move has been scrutinized but they have stuck by their mutual philosophy regardless of how its perceived by anyone on the outside. 

Even Carroll's coaching style has been repeatedly called into question.  His motivational, 'rah-rah' style has been viewed as insincere or phony-- counterculture in a league rife with 'do-as-I-say' machismo. However, time and time again, Carroll has shown that his methods are not only extremely effective, but built for longevity. 

Not every move Carroll and Schneider has made has been a home run, but even those moves that seemed to be 'misses' have put Seattle in a better position overall.  You can go as far back as Pete's inaugural season with the team.  Among the many moves that were initially made, Carroll brought in one of his star halfbacks from his days at Southern California, the oft-troubled LenDale White.  Seattle's run game at the time was abysmal and White, even with his constant off-field issues, seemed like an immediate improvement.  

White showed up to Seahawks camp in great shape but was cut shortly after mini-camps concluded.  It's possible that a potential suspension was looming for violation of the league's substance abuse policy, but it seemed like there was a sense of entitlement and a lack of work ethic that played into the the team's decision to cut him.

"It became apparent at this time that LenDale was not ready to be a member of the Seattle Seahawks," John Schneider said. "It just did not appear to be the right fit at this point in our program. We wish LenDale all the best with his future."

This seemingly insignificant move spoke volumes to what was then just starting to be built.  'Always Compete' and 'Win Forever' weren't just clever catch phrases or marketing slogans-- they were the law of the land.

Since then, the team has overcome everything from the decision to not return the franchise's greatest quarterback to a handful of suspensions and injuries that drastically shook up the depth chart.  Through every obstacle, Seattle seems to emerge stronger.

Now we have a team with extraordinary talent from top to bottom who plays not just for themselves, the team and the fans-- but for each other.  If someone goes down, next man up.  The team has each other's back. If nothing else, the obvious camaraderie that this team shares should give you confidence that they will do everything to avoid the let down we experienced last year when the season ended in Atlanta.  

Seattle outmatches the Saints on every level but there are a few players that I will spotlight who must have great performances to ensure that the NFC Championship Game will be played at the CLink.

Russell Wilson-- Fortunately, Wilson won't be expected to put the game all on himself.  That's not to say that he won't have to make a few clutch plays with both his arm and his feet, but the biggest thing for Russell is that he plays as mistake free as possible.

Marshawn Lynch-- We don't need to see Beastquake II, but a 100-yard performance would be spectacular.  Lynch is at his best when he systematically breaks the will of the opponent.  I want to see Marshawn early and often tomorrow.

Bobby Wagner-- When I went back and watched some of the season highlight reels that have been making the rounds on Facebook, I came to the realization that it isn't Earl Thomas or Richard Sherman that is the MVP of this defense-- it's Bobby Wagner.  Whether its against the run or the pass, Wagner gets it done all over the field for 4 quarters.  A big game from Wagner would go a long ways towards a win.

Percy Harvin-- Harvin is slated to start in his second game as a member of the Seahawks this weekend.  I know that Seattle has managed to have a fantastic season despite only seeing Harvin on the reunion special against the Vikings, but 3 explosive plays from Harvin could be the difference in tomorrows game.

Clinton McDonald, Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel-- Yes, I'm talking about the big dudes.  The Saints are coming in with an 'us against the world' mentality and they think that they're going to duplicate the success they had on the ground against Philadelphia in the Wild Card round.  These four mountains of men need to hold the Saints ground game at bay to force Drew Brees into throwing on the league's best secondary.

Enjoy your Blue Friday, 12s. The game tomorrow is going to be a great one. A victory Saturday moves us within one game of the grand prize.  I hope, like me, you'll be watching it will ample snacks, strong drinks and loved ones.

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