Just a point of clarification: the title of the post isn’t at all sarcastic in nature. I think that now is a great time to remind a good number of Seahawks fans why they should root for their team to win. And yes, I do think it’s sad that fans need a reminder why winning is positive, even if it feels like its detrimental to the future of the team.
You really want Andrew Luck so badly that it hurts the core of you. That’s your argument. Do you realize that Andrew Luck and Ryan Leaf have more in common than just a four-letter last name that starts with “L”? The draft is a crapshoot, and there’s more to losing than the benefit of a good draft pick. Hell, I’ll admit, that realist inside me quietly whispers “losing out sucks now, but will pay off in the future.”
“Dude,” he says, “You know who was drafted around 10 last year? Michael freakin’ Crabtree, man. Don’t you want equivalent talent like Michael Crabtree in green and blue for 4+ years?! And come on, be real. If the Seahawks make the playoffs this year, they’re going to get CRUSHED. You know it. It’s likely they’ll draw the Saints or the Giants. They both CRUSHED the Seahawks this year!” The realist side of me is a real asshole.
The big question being kicked around right now is this: are the Seahawks better off not making the playoffs? The realist is probably right; if the Seahawks do make the playoffs, they’ll likely get crushed. Despite six to seven wins, most advanced statistics place them in the bottom of the league in nearly every offensive and defensive category. Let’s be really clear: the Seahawks are not a good team, and the chances of being competitive in the playoffs are about zilch. But does it matter?
Does the division championship banner that’ll hang from Qwest Field’s rafters have our record on it? Will it mention that we were subsequently crushed? No and no. I think it’s important to understand the implicit benefits of being a ‘playoff team’, despite being in a position that affords almost zero chance of being competitive:
1. Attracting and retaining talent on the field. This is always a critical topic, but it’s especially critical this year for the Seattle Seahawks. A number of impactful Seahawks players are free agents after this season (Chris Clemons, Brandon Mebane, Chris Spencer, Mike Williams, Leon Washington, etc), and if many do not return, only more holes will open up on a roster that already resembles a block of Swiss cheese that’s still somehow lingering from 2005.
Making the playoffs creates a very impactful story to our free agents: “The Seahawks are a team in need of your talents; although the Seahawks may not be on par with some of the best teams in the league, it’s getting better and it plays in a weak division. It affords you the chance to consistently reach the playoffs. And you know how it goes: any given Sunday.” That’s a powerful message. Let’s take the Buccaneers for example: they’re a better team than the Seahawks, but what chance do they have of ever leapfrogging both Atlanta and New Orleans for either the division crown or even a wild card seed? Not likely.
In addition to a number of players the Seahawks must focus on retaining, there are a number of impending free agents around the league that would significantly help the Seahawks become a much better team. I’m a firm believer that making the playoffs and emphasizing the huge opportunity within the Seahawks organization will contribute to drawing high-profile free agents.
2. Attracting and retaining coaching and front-office staff. The Seahawks are a team that can only go up, and playing in a weak division can put some major wins under a coach’s belt, feathers in their cap, or whatever lame metaphor you’d like to use. Brian Schneider made a rag-tag group of guys into arguably the best and most consistent special teams unit in the NFL. You can bet your ass that he’ll be heavily sought after by better teams in the league. Hell, San Diego is arguably an elite-special teams away from being a Super Bowl contender. Seattle’s special teams torched San Diego this year and arguably was the deciding factor in the game. You think they won’t come knocking on Schneider’s door?
3. Keeping fans interested and fanatical. Qwest Field consistently sells out. I can’t remember the last time a game was blacked out. Fans love the Seahawks, and despite their recent struggles, they continue to show up every Sunday and scream their lungs bloody. Oh, and they buy tons of Seahawks gear, jerseys, concessions, and other things that leads to money in the pocket of Seahawks players and the organization.
4. It’s the playoffs! Despite our slim chances, it’ll be SO AWESOME to play more than one game in January. I mean, when’s the last time that’s happened? Too long ago, that’s how long.
Forget the team building and future planning. That’s John Schneider and Pete Carroll’s job. Not every elite team in the NFL is built on consecutive years’ worth of high first round draft picks. For now, root for your Seahawks to win today, win next week, and attain its first playoff birth in a few seasons. That’s my job and yours, a 12’s job.