In case you haven’t heard, football is back. The sport we Americans have come to know and love thrust itself back into living rooms everywhere this past weekend when NFL action showed its beautiful face for the first time since February.
A new season comes as a relief to millions of football fans across the nation after a labor dispute between players and owners threatened to kill the season. The lockout-ridden offseason left fans thirsty for any semblance of football, turning ESPN into something of a 24-hour law program covering anti-trust and litigation issues instead of featuring the hard-hitting, awe-inspiring highlights we have grown accustom to.
The anxiety and fear about a world without football turned out to be fruitless. The legal dust has settled, and we are once again at peace with the proverbial sights and sounds of NFL football. The undying thirst for football has finally been quenched.
However, if you are a Seahawks fan like me, our reunion with football was not a pleasant one. Sunday’s loss against the San Francisco 49ers left little room for optimism as the team lacked energy, rhythm and spunk – all crucial components of a winning team. I realize the season is long and there is still plenty of time to turn things around, but Pete Carroll’s plan to go young has left much room for error and skepticism in the short term.
In fact, the optimism that did stem from this game was more about whether the team looked bad enough to legitimately have a chance at drafting Andrew Luck in next year’s draft. Obviously, I would love to win and win now, but if it is indeed a losing season, I fully endorse a “Suck for Luck” campaign this season.
The offense looked inept with newly acquired quarterback Tarvaris Jackson at the helm. Though Jackson was under pressure for much of the game, he does not seem to posses the most important trait competent quarterbacks in this league must have – the ability to make quick decisions in the pocket. For now, just call him “Tentative Tarvaris.”
In any case, the Hawks did show some signs of life with a resilient second half that saw a 16-0 halftime deficit dwindle to a mere two points. The defensive line showed promise and fortitude, holding star running back Frank Gore to a lowly 59 yards on 22 carries. Jackson and the offense were even able to find some form of continuity as well, posting 17 second half points.
The good vibes did not last long before San Francisco’s return specialist, Ted Ginn Jr., took over the game, virtually shooting it dead and burying it all in the form of a kickoff return and punt return for touchdowns.
Sunday’s game was evidence that the pitfalls of Carroll’s youth movement could be numerous. Overall, the roster turnover has been tremendous since Carroll took command. Only three starters remain from the previous coaching regime, and the average age of the team has dipped to a juvenile 24.5 years.
The offensive line features three new faces and will take time to mesh as a unit. The defensive backfield also features two inexperienced starters in rookie cornerback Brandon Bower and second-year safety Kam Chancellor. Groundwork for future success has been laid, but until they find leadership and consistency at quarterback, wins will be at a premium.
Carroll is adamant this team can win, and win now. For that alone, I urge you to withhold judgment and pessimism for a few more weeks. The season is long, and as we learned last year, anything can happen in the NFC West.
Whatever happens, the NFL and Seahawks are back to stay. Ultimately, that is more than I expected a couple of bleak months ago. Football rescues us from the monotony of school and work, turning what would be lackluster Sundays and Monday nights into weekly holidays instead. Football season is upon us, and for that, I am thankful.