John McGrath

McGrath: Not even Nostradamus could have predicted Seahawks big turnaround

Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin (89) is hit by Ravens free safety Kendrick Lewis as Baldwin scores a touchdown on Sunday.
Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin (89) is hit by Ravens free safety Kendrick Lewis as Baldwin scores a touchdown on Sunday. The Associated Press

Richard Sherman is back to his sassy self. Known for delivering sound bites with a crunch, the cornerback spent a few months in Pause Mode — sort of like the Seahawks — before rediscovering some attitude.

“Let’s call all those people who wrote us off,” he said last Sunday, “and call for their jobs.”

Ouch, Rich. The truth hurts.

On the night of Nov. 15, having watched the Arizona Cardinals all but clinch the NFC West title at CenturyLink Field, I typed these words on my dusty, trusty laptop.

“It was great fun, winning back-to-back conference titles, but reigns of dominance are cyclical in sports, and the remainder of 2015 now looks more about retooling for the future than returning to the Super Bowl.”

Such skepticism could’ve been cushioned with the caveat that seven games remained on the schedule — almost half the season — but, no, there would be no cushion. This was a free-fall leap from faith.

“The time has come,” I concluded, “to identify 2015 as a lost cause.”

OK, so I’m not Nostradamus Jr. At least I didn’t predict the specific date the world would be destroyed by an asteroid apocalypse.

And I had company. Nobody familiar with the way the Seahawks bumbled and stumbled through the first half against Arizona — at one point, they were outgained 185-8 in total yards — foresaw those soft-shell losers morphing into these hard-boiled winners.

In just four weeks, the Seattle has taken conventional wisdom and flipped it as casually as a diner cook with a spatula.

Old conventional wisdom: The offensive line is a patchwork group put together on the cheap, more prone to drawing 15-yard holding penalties than fending off pass rushers and clearing running lanes. Despite Tom Cable’s reputation as a superior line coach, a peerless leader only can do so much.

New CW: Thanks to Cable’s molding of the Five Blocks of Granite, there’s a chance Justin Bieber could move the chains on a third-and-2.

Old CW: Quarterback Russell Wilson has been distracted by his status as a national celebrity with a pop-star sweetheart. He insists nothing has changed, that he’s still burning with competitive determination, but fame — and an $87.5-million contract — can corrupt the work ethic of the most dedicated pro athlete.

New CW: Motivated to prove why he’s worth $87.5 million, and blissfully attached to a significant other, Wilson will throw for 470 touchdowns before he’s intercepted.

Old CW: The emotionally devastating fallout from Heartbreak Pass, which deprived the Seahawks a second consecutive world championship, will haunt the Seahawks through 2015 and, perhaps, for as long as Pete Carroll prowls the sideline. Carroll lost more than a Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. He lost his credibility as a head coach.

New CW: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Old CW: Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin is an earnest overachiever, but gaining the separation required to make catches in the end zone has not, is not, and never will be his strength.

New CW: Baldwin is on his way to joining former Seahawks receiver Steve Largent in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Old CW: Richard Sherman’s toned-down voice symbolizes the Legion of Boom’s absence of swagger. The brash cover corner, whose bellowing of “Crabtree!” during his postgame interview following the 2013 NFC Championship Game could be heard by frightened children in Bora Bora, has entered that inevitable phase of life when words are preceded by thoughts.

New CW: Richard Sherman is back, liberated from his ill-suited ambitions to speak softly. He said those of us in the media who gave up on his team should lose our jobs, and while I appreciate the candor, I’m thinking unemployment is a bit harsh for writing sentences about the Seahawks such as: “The time has come to identify 2015 as a lost cause.”

Because it was, it really was.

Until it wasn’t.

jmcgrath@thenewstribune.com

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