Yowzers, a lot of people were pissed at my post yesterday. Good. I was pissed, I'm tired of this disfunction, I'm tired of Houshmandzadeh popping off, I'm tired of how this once great team is looking a lot more like a perennial bottom dweller than a five-time division champ. I am pissed off about it. Like I've said before, the time for rational thinking will be here soon. I'll get a jump start now.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh is a talented #2 WR, much more so if he has a true #1 drawing a double team. He lacks the speed, the hands, and by his own admission, the ability to get open in two-man coverage. If you can't get open when you're being double teamed, you will not be a number one receiver. Ever. That's what makes #1s special, that's what makes Randy Moss a hall of famer. Houshmandzadeh has simply not lived up to the promise that he made to Seattle fans, and that is why I dislike him -- though that is 100% adjustable based on his performance next year. It's taken to a different level by his attitude and apparent lack of respect for people around him (at least, relative to the respect he exhibits for himself). I defended him early on in the season, I called it "swagger." I don't think it has raised the team up and given them all confidence, so I've got to remove that label.
Deion Branch is not a talented receiver any longer. His injuries have slowed him down too much, and that was his only sincere weapon. He seems to drop more balls than he used to, and he cannot get open on almost any route, regardless of the coverage. This wouldn't be a problem if he was simply a slot receiver with no one significant behind him, but that is not the case. When we use three wide sets, Housh moves into the slot (which he should) and Branch slides out to flanker (which is absurd). A third round draft pick was spent and another (2010) traded for Deon Butler. He should have been in the game a long time ago. That is not Branch's fault, it's Knapp and Mora, but the fact is that Branch adds the least to this offense and is paid the second most. As for Branch saying, pompously, to the fans "you're either with us or you're against us," probably nothing irritated me more. We are still showing up 67,000 people strong to watch a team that is 9-23 in the last two years. We are WITH the team, Deion, just not you.
People are saying I'm being too negative. You're right, I am. It's a very negative time for the Seahawks, what do you expect? This is poorest state that the team has been in under Paul Allen's ownership, and if you want this blog to sugarcoat that and be all candy and tulips, it's not going to be. I've tried to put a positive spin on as much as I can throughout this whole abyssmal year, but we just laid three flipping ostrich eggs in three straight weeks. It's embarrassing. Here are some positive thoughts that I can come up with though:
Nate Burleson is an excellent number two receiver, and was fine as a quasi-number one. He is also the quietest and probably most explosive of any of our wide outs. He does not have the raw physical talent that Houshmandzadeh has, but he is much better in open space and represents a threat any time he touches the ball. I would not have a significant issue with a Burleson - Houshmandzadeh - Butler trio next year, but Housh needs to be inside as much as possible or we need someone better than Burleson in order to free Houshmandzadeh up in man-to-man more often. Knapp has been terrible at creating that match-up all year.
John Carlson is finally getting a chance to show the kind of playmaker he can be when he's allowed to be one. There was a period in the middle of the year where we were all, I think justifiably, a little concerned. He is who we thought he was, and that is phenomenal. John Carlson needs to be a centerpiece of this offense going forward, and I think he will be. There is no single player on this offense that gives me more hope than Carlson, especially because he has already proven that he can succeed with multiple QBs (in fact, he was arguably better with Seneca, but there are clear extenuating circumstances).
Max Unger has played very well all year, including the last two games at center. He gave up one monster sack where he just whiffed on a guy, but other than that, he's been solid. He looks like a keeper for certain, and with Sims playing pretty well too, we might be closer than we think to having at least one side of the line locked up. That line can be "fixed" with the 2010 draft and could be playing at a high level together by 2011. If the Seahawks can grab a solid guard in free agency, the process could be sped up quite a bit.
Defensively it's a lot easier. I think we have a very talented defense that is just not playing at a high level right now. All of our Linebackers are potential pro-bowlers -- Leroy Hill, Lofa Tatupu, Aaron Curry to start, but how about David Hawthorne? Kid has been a stud filling in for Lofa and making a lot of people even forget that the quarterback of our defense isn't out there. Make no mistake though, he isn't. This team immediately gets better with Lofa Tatupu out there, which is a key, key thing to remember as we crawl back into contention in the next year or so.
Josh Wilson has been excellent all year, clearly the best performing member of our secondary at this point. He's a playmaker, yes, but he has also become a solid cover corner. Trufant has had a very bad year, but that shouldn't really come as a huge shock. Tru missed all of training camp and never learned this new Tampa 2 scheme first hand. I believe he'll be back and more adequate than ever before in 2010.
Brandon Mebane. He hasn't really blown the world up like we expected, has he? That's too bad, but it's not a surprise. There is no pass rush from the outside and Colin Cole hasn't been as good as promised (but he has been very stout against the run). Mebane is still an excellent player and has huge, huge upside in this league. If we can get him a serious pass rush threat on the edge (Osi Umenyiora wants out of NYG, in case you hadn't heard), Mebane can become a dominant player in the middle. Imagine putting a true nose in next to him (if, say, 360-lb Terrence Cody falls to the second) and you've got an incredible line.