|What gesture is he really making?|
I've never been a huge fan of FOXSports' Adam Schein, and this week he has joined the chorus of national writers who are incapable of interpreting a Seahawks' win (over the Eagles, in this case) as anything but the opposition throwing the game:
I took the time to do a video rant on Cosmic SCHEIN this week on FOXSports.com to explain why the Eagles shouldn’t fire Reid. And then his team travels cross country and loses to the Seattle Seahawks. Actually, they didn’t lose. They got manhandled for three quarters by a relative bunch of clowns. Forget the 31-14 score. The effort and execution were pathetic all game.
That's the way this cookie always crumbles for the national media. The Seahawks never win, the other team just loses. No Seahawks victory contains any element of the Seahawks doing anything to actually earn or deserve it. It's always the fault of whatever team went into a Seahawks game cocky and came out clocked. To the national media, the Seahawks are an inert, faceless element with no sentient qualities or nameworthy players except their sucky QB, which other teams just seem to trip over because they weren't looking.
I'm usually one to try and put the shoe on the other foot. I try to see all sides and not let my fandom color things, and sometimes it makes others question that fandom. Let's get the perspective out of the way: The Eagles really did play like they didn't want it. They played like the Seahawks did for Charlie Whitehurst. They were missing three crucial starters, five once Mike Williams was done falling on people's heads, and were playing on the road (big-time) after a short week. Vince Young is just not an NFL quarterback, and three of his four interceptions came on awful throws/decisions. Their LB corps sucks in almost every facet. All things being equal, the Eagles really did make enough independent mistakes to lose the game.
If only things were equal to the pundits. Enough is enough.
The Passing Game
National media: can you name any of the Seahawks players who were also out on Thursday? No, no, besides Sidney Rice, jackasses. That's too easy. Well, actually, come to think of it, why not start there? Rice's absence should have made things worse for Jackson and our receivers, not better. He's been drawing tons of coverage downfield and Jackson has been locking on to him since they took Qwest Field together. There should have been some immediate downward spiral for the Seahawks passing game as coverages zoned in on Mike Williams and Doug Baldwin, undeterred by the threat of Rice. And the loss of two starters on the offensive line should have absolutely doomed Jackson against poor, maligned Jason Babin.
So it's not as if the Seahawks lacked their own key injuries to balance out the playing field.
Instead, Seattle had a bunch of bit players rise to the occasion whose names you're probably only barely aware of. Golden Tate you know from the draft reels, but Zach Miller is an under-the-radar guy and Michael Robinson is completely anonymous outside the NFC West. Crucial third-down completions from Tarvaris Jackson to these guys kept the game alive. With half an O-line and a crippled, second-rate quarterback.
Despite the predictions of some C-list defensive tackle whose name I've already forgotten, I think Jackson acquitted himself just fine. And yet the only story the talking heads can come up with is whether Andy Reid's seat is actually hotter than Pete Carroll's.
The Running Game
What's that you say? Of course Marshawn Lynch bulldozed over the infamously bad Eagles run defense? Easy matchup? Fair enough. But how do you explain the previous four games? Yes, Evan Silva, I know that you think of Lynch as
...mediocre talent...compensating with difference-making volume. He leads the NFL in rushing attempts and touches over the past four weeks, and during that span only Michael Bush has scored more fantasy points among running backs. You can make a case that Lynch is an RB1 until proven otherwise. Just keep in mind that Philadelphia's run defense has stiffened lately.
Lynch is still averaging under four yards per carry on the year.
That run defense has stiffened all right. Like a corpse. Do you know what an 8-man front is, Evan? It's where defenses stack an extra player in the box to prevent the run, something made much easier by the absence of a WR like, oh I dunno, Sidney Rice. So the Eagles did this against Lynch. A lot. Marshawn destroyed them. Just like he's been doing for five straight weeks now.
I forgive you for your facts taking five weeks to catch up to the present - it happens. It's certainly better than people taking two years to notice Chris Spencer's improvements. God, it was like watching Groundhog Day. But I would think you'd have noticed Lynch posting 109 yards against the Ravens' #1 run defense. Yeah, it was only 3.4 YPC, and yeah, he got more opportunities because of David Reed's fumbles. But then how do you explain the 5.9 YPC against the previous two NFC East opponents? You don't get to smirk at Lynch's high November workload while ignoring its YPC, then turn around and cite his year-long YPC as if there hasn't been an earth-shattering trend upwards.
No, Evan, you're just cherry-picking. Defaulting to your default faulty preconceptions. You and Walter Football. Taste the rainbow, gentlemen.
The Line Game
Oh, I love this one. In a desperate but typical attempt to turn all the negative energy over this game inward towards the Eagles, Philly beat writer John Miller offers this up:
Jason Babin is the poster child for these Eagles. He’s going to do what he wants to do, the team be damned. He’s already told us that he wants to get a lot of sacks, so he can make a lot of money. Winning football games is a secondary concern.
Go back and look at Marshawn Lynch’s 40-yard touchdown run, a cutback right through the gaping hole that Babin had created by racing up field at the snap of the ball. That’s part of the Wide-9 technique – getting up field – but Babin was laughably out of position. The defensive end in professional football must – must! – set the edge to contain running backs from getting wide. The next time Babin does this will be the first.
This is just plain bad football understanding, plus questionable vision. Watch the play. No cutback lane wide enough to drive a truck through can be blamed on one player. Babin didn't create that hole, their defensive line did. By getting collapsed to the inside by a mediocre blocking tight end and a couple of second-string offensive linemen. That calls for embarrassment, Philly fans. There was hardly any defensive line left for Babin to set an edge on. He also got jolted so hard by Cameron Morrah that he looked dazed as he whirled around trying to find Lynch.
But no, Jason Babin has gone in one game from a sympathy figure who was mistreated by the evil Seahawks, to the "poster child" for a team of greedy malcontents (wasn't Desean Jackson the poster child?). Yep, twelve sacks on the season is merely another hint of his self-centeredness. Facts changing to fit the agenda. I get that this is less about football and more about feeding the pissy, poisonous atmosphere of the East Coast sports markets - attention-grabbing over analysis and all that - but isn't anyone actually watching the games over there?
And don't forget Miller's mention of the Seahawks going "4-7 against bad competition", blowing right past the part where Seattle had the strongest strength of schedule to start the season.
The Popularity Game
The national media liked Pete Carroll in his first Seattle season. He was good for the occasional punchline and oddball news. Reviving Mike Williams' career, starting the season strong against bad competition, the addition of media-approved Russell Okung and Earl Thomas. Yep, life was good. Especially once we defied the writers' traditional hopes and put an NFC West team in the actual playoffs, holy cow. And then turned around and beat the defending Super Bowl champions. It was quite the opening act for the former USC coach.
But in 2011, something has changed. Shocker of shockers, Pete Carroll actually seems to want to go on winning. They signed what appears to be a universally hated quarterback. They committed to building through the draft - not through the exciting headliner picks, but boring, unheard-of late rounders.
The national media's smiles faded quickly. Now it's a terse, implied "Okay buddy, joke's over. We know what you really are. Go back to the Pac-10."
I used to chalk it up to Tarvaris Jackson hate and Matt Hasselbeck loyalty, but that's no longer a sufficient explanation. This isn't just ignorance and South Alaska Syndrome. It's more like a dogged determination here to marginalize this team. Fingers in the ears. It's echoes of the contempt Carroll often got from the markets he beat at USC.
You've seen the sound bites. Every Seahawks loss brings about some rumor about front-office turmoil, Carroll being on the hot seat or in hot water with John Schneider or whatever. Kam Chancellor gets nothing but condemnation for a couple of big fine-drawing hits and no acknowledgement of the textbook-perfect tackling form he shows the rest of the time. (Eagles fans on Russell Okung right now: "Taste of your own medicine, Seahawks.") Lofa Tatupu should have been kept around for the magical comeback that no other team seems to be expecting. Brandon Browner keeps racking up the interceptions, but CB stays high on pundits' wishlists for Seattle because they assume a former CFL player can do no good. And Carroll seems to be in no hurry to whore himself out in filling that darling position of reporters', the quarterback.
I don't know what it is that's drawing the nation's ire, but it seems to be a combination of things. No doubt the football community is up in arms over the Seahawks' hubris in actually defeating East Coast teams. Their physical, unrelenting style of play contributes. James Carpenter seems to have insulted everyone's mother at some point, so unanimous is the backlash over Carroll drafting him. Maybe it's just that this front office doesn't follow the usual media-approved formula of glittery marquee free-agent signings and endlessly stacking up the dramatic fade passes to the corner of the end zone (like this?) for the league to slo-mo from a low angle and stuff into cell phone commercials. And the media always has the USC sanction mess to fall back on when they run out of criticisms.
And did I mention the QB position remains unaddressed? I guess Pete shoulda signed Vince Young instead.
While the Seahawks have done their darndest to swerve the wheel of their fate, the inertia of national opinion has remained steady and unaltered, oblivious to the fact that things change. Their remarks are out of proportion. I thought everyone loved a rebel. Carroll's certainly a rebel, throwing conventional NFL wisdom to the wind whenever he can. And it's gotten him a scrappy, opportunistic team that's throwing aside Pro Bowl defenders (both past and future) and is arguably only three solid draft picks away from long-term playoff contention.
Perhaps Seattle trouncing the Eagles on a national stage will take the Seahawks' reputation out of the hands of the media and give them some real exposure. This is a very, very interesting football team. The Pete Carroll Seahawks defy analysis, defy extrapolation. They've got that "What's up with these guys" vibe to them. They make plays. They beat the odds. They win, and never at the times you expect. That's worth some respect.
Aaaaaaand now that I've used that fatal word, it's time that I end this article and stop pretending that I care what Adam Schein thinks. I only pretended to care because I write better when I'm pissed.