Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Turf Monster of Glendale-- Seahawks 20 @ Cardinals 17

Perhaps it was closer than it needed to be, but the Seahawks managed to escape the desert with a victory. Glendale's football stadium, formerly University of Phoenix, now State Farm, has been cursed for the Seahawks.  That's where the repeat Super Bowl hopes were dashed.  That's where the team finished in a 6-all tie.  That's where Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman played their last snaps in a Seahawks uniform.

Now, it appears Earl Thomas has played his final down for Seattle.  Another victim claimed by the turf monster of Glendale.

The Seahawks also lost their promising young tight end, Will Dissly, to a season ending knee injury.  As devastating as that injury was, unlike Thomas, Dissly will be a fixture in Seattle for years to come.

The Seahawks defense should have had an easy go of things facing off against rookie quarterback Josh Rosen in his first career start, but that wasn't exactly the case.

Rosen looked relatively sharp and certainly unsphased by the gravity of the situation. If not for just about everyone around him imploding, the rookie might have pulled off his first win.  That would have crushed the confidence of the Seahawks going forward, but multiple drops and fumbles by the Cardinals offense kept Seattle in it.

Despite Chris Carson's last minute scratch from the lineup, Seattle had great success with their rushing attack, largely in part of Mike Davis' 101 yards and two touchdowns. 

I was shocked to see the vitriol on twitter for Seahawks Offensive Coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer.  Not necessarily the fact that it exists, but the sheer volume of it.  I saw several people sincerely calling for Schotty to be fired in season.

Look, every time a new coordinator is brought in to a team with a new system, you can expect there to be some time before everything gels.  Not only is the coordinator and scheme new, but the offensive line coach is new and the personnel is vastly different. 

The confusing thing to me is that we're actually seeing improvement already through these first few games.  Back to back 100 yard running backs isn't something we've seen in recent history when Bevell was at the helm. 

For years, Seahawks fans begrudgingly granted Bevell's offenses the leniency of not getting their shit together until the latter half of the season.  Every season seemed to take Seattle several games before we saw the team gel and produce.  Why are we not granting this same courtesy? Sure, we've seen some struggles, but can't those be chalked up to growing pains?  We shouldn't punish the struggles while overlooking the progress that is being made.

I would be remiss to not talk about Earl Thomas having potentially played his last game in an historic career in Seattle. I'm sure someday I'll write a lengthy piece on everything Thomas has meant to this franchise and our city-- but I'm not ready to do that today.

This saga did not need to end as ugly as it had.  Teams grow, suffer setbacks, change, and turnover all the time.  It's the nature of the business.  Seattle was extremely fortunate to assemble a roster so rich with talent that the only thing that could stop it was Father Time and the salary cap. 

Earl Thomas was the first draft pick of the Pete Caroll era. He was the youngest of the Legion of Boom. I think breaking his leg when colliding with Kam Chancellor terrified him.  After all, he hadn't ever suffered such a devastating injury in his life before that. He even tweeted in the immediate aftermath of that injury that he might never play football again.  That showed just how scared he was.

He healed up and responded remarkably to that injury. He had another great season. Still, he saw long-time teammates leave in messy divorces with the team.  He saw dear friends and colleagues Chancellor and Cliff Avril forced out of the game they love as results of devastating injuries brought on by the same reckless playing style that Earl employs.

With all of the change surrounding him and the harsh reminders of his own mortality, Earl Thomas was understandably scared. Still only 29 years of age, this is uncharted territory for him.  At his age, he has to understand he's on the back nine of his playing days. Realizing that so much in life is out of your own control, Earl wanted to control the one thing he still could-- his availability to the team without a contract extension.

Holding out for a better deal almost never works for players, but it's literally the only thing they can do to force a team's hand. I understand why it happens, but in cases like Earl and Pittsburgh's LeVeon Bell, at a certain point you have to accept things as they are and keep playing.  Few things in this world are as fleeting and finite as NFL playing careers.

I heard from a reliable source, but admittedly haven't seen factual evidence supporting the claim, that Thomas ignored the team doctor's recommendation of having a rod put in his leg to strengthen it the first time it broke.  Apparently, this new break was in the very same spot.

Whether you're mad at Earl for giving the finger on his way out the door or you're mad at the team for not paying him the money he deserves, this whole situation sucks.  This, like all of the other recent breakups is going to stain the legacy this group created in their short time here.  

In time, it will pass.  Even the most disgruntled players won't be able to deny that their best performances came while they were Seattle Seahawks.  10-15 years from now, this team will reunite in various forms to be celebrated for what they accomplished together.

I wish the best for Earl Thomas and hope he continues his career at a very high level.  More than anything, I want Seattle to power ahead and try to recapture that lighting in a bottle. 

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