Picture yourself a month ago, Seahawks fans, if somebody had told you that in the subsequent four Sundays …
Russell Wilson would have two significant leg injuries. …
Thomas Rawls would have a scant 25 rushing yards and his chassis would be up on blocks again. …
And Seattle would have a loss to an L.A. Rams team that, at the time, looked like it could be one of the worst in the league. …
End of Days, right? It had the makings.
But before sending the Seahawks off on their bye week, coach Pete Carroll allowed himself to be veered into talk that this club has the potential to be the best team he’s ever had.
“We’re off to a better start than maybe you guys or anybody thought,” Carroll said.
That’s not true. Many of us predicted that the Seahawks had the talent to get to the Super Bowl this season. I thought they looked like a 13-win team.
So, at 3-1, even with a loss to the Rams, the Seahawks are pretty much where just about everybody expected them to be.
They just got there in some entirely unexpected ways. And that’s made the rest of the season such an intriguing prospect.
How could a team that sometimes treats September like a very long Monday morning have pulled this off?
The schedule has helped. Their three wins were against teams with a combined 3-10 record.
But the loss in Los Angeles might not be so surprising, after all. The Rams’ 3-1 record indicates they could be a competitive threat in the division and more significant than was expected.
Carroll pointed to a couple of statistical explanations for the Hawks overcoming obstacles thus far. Compared with last year’s 2-2 start (that bled into 2-4), the Hawks defense has twice as many sacks of opposing quarterbacks (12) and half the number of sacks on Wilson (nine).
So, for all the hand-wringing over the newly configured offensive line — certainly valid in the first couple of weeks — this group is clearly more adept at protection than last year’s line.
Although you couldn’t tell it from Wilson’s health, which was more endangered last season, but imperiled this year by a couple of nasty hits.
In the absence of Rawls (with a leg fracture that will cost him at least several more weeks), Christine Michael is averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Is that enough to carry the Hawks?
Stats can be an incomplete measure of such things, but Marshawn Lynch averaged 4.2 yards in Seattle’s 2013 Super Bowl-winning season.
Another wild card has been the contribution of tight end Jimmy Graham, whose recovery from last season’s severe knee injury left expectations for 2016 a little vague.
With back-to-back, 100-yard receiving games, though, Graham appears to be fully healthy and totally assimilated into the offensive scheme.
Suddenly, he becomes the kind of mismatch and threat that defenses have to scheme for, which makes life easier for Doug Baldwin and others.
The running game, averaging 3.3 yards per carry, is far below accepted standards for a Carroll offense.
But if Wilson can return to somewhere near full mobility, he will make a difference with his threat to run. He has 28 rushing yards on 15 carries on his wobbly wheels, roughly 150 fewer yards than he had through four games last season.
His good health, alone, should bring the run-pass balance back to where Carroll prefers it to be.
Every reason for the preseason expectations remain intact. Carroll cited the experience and leadership, the remarkable consistency of the defense, and the “coming of age” of Wilson.
“We’re moving forward and moving in a good direction,” Carroll said. “We’re going to get better.”
Fair enough, coach. That could be entertaining to watch.