Seattle In The Driver’s Seat

With a surprising start, the Seahawks have catapulted into first place in the West and right now look to be in the driver’s seat for the NFC West title if they continue to improve and gel under Pete Carroll’s leadership. With a winnable game coming up Sunday in Saint Louis and a bye week following, they have a couple more weeks to get Russell Okung ready to play without pushing his recovery as well as allowing bumps and bruises around the team in general to heal. They appear to be poised to make a serious run at the title following the bye.

Most fans figured Seattle would use this year as a chance to get their younger players acclimated to the NFL and the team would get better as the season wore on. What they didn’t figure on was such a fast start coupled with the collapse of San Francisco, the early favorite to take the West. Some of us said that Seattle might surprise some people this year and they could become a contender for the NFC West title if they improved enough from week to week as the season progressed. They have exceeded even those expectations so far and a victory Sunday in Saint Louis will most likely put them in sole possession of first place in the West going into their bye week. The only team who can match their record is Arizona who plays at San Diego this weekend and after the Chargers loss to Seattle last Sunday, you can be sure they will be looking to atone for that loss at home. I wouldn’t want to be the team who has to play San Diego this coming weekend but somebody has to do it and I can’t think of a better candidate from Seattle’s perspective than Arizona. Read more…….

I looked at the remaining schedule for all the NFC West teams and have concluded that it’s really Seattle’s title to lose right now. Here’s the breakdown:

Seattle: Finish: 9 – 7 Currently: 2 – 1

Projected wins: @STL, Ari, @Oak, NYG, KC, Car, STL
Projected losses: @Chi, @ARi, @NO, @SF, Atl, @TB

Arizona: Finish: 8 – 8 Currently: 2 – 1

Projected wins: TB, Sea, SF, STL, Den, @Car
Projected losses: @SD, NO, @Sea, @Min, @KC, Dal, @SF

San Francisco: Finish: 6 – 10 Currently: 0 – 3

Projected wins: Oak, @Car, Den, STL, Sea, Ari
Projected losses: @Atl, Phi, TB, @STL, @Ari, @GB, @SD

Saint Louis: Finish: 5 – 11 Currently: 1 – 2

Projected wins: @Det, Car, KC, SF
Projected losses: Sea, SD, @TB, @SF, ATL, @Den, @Ari, @NO, @Sea

This looks like it could be a tight race to the finish and any team who stumbles a time or two could take themselves out of contention. Every team in the division has some problems to overcome but in Seattle’s favor is they have the most experienced quarterback and the makings of a pretty good offensive line to keep him upright and healthy. How that line develops and gels as the season progresses will tell a lot of the story for the Seahawks. Even though the San Francisco 49’ers were supposed to have the best upcoming young defense in the division, it’s been the Seahawk’s defense who has kept their team in tight games and shown themselves to be a force to be reckoned with in the early going.

Bradford is a wild card in the division. He looks to be the second best quarterback even as a rookie but hasn’t got the supporting cast that Hass does or Saint Louis could be a serious contender. Right now they look to be a year or two and a couple more drafts away from turning it around as they build around their rookie quarterback. Arizona lost a lot of players from last season including their star quarterback Kurt Warner and haven’t been very successful in replacing that talent drain. Anderson is not coming close to Warner’s production. San Francisco has talent but it’s still coming together very much like the Seahawks. I think San Francisco has a chance at finishing strong but Alex Smith is a big factor in that development. I think having Hasselbeck will be the big difference this year in the West and gives the Seahawks the best chance of being the team to put it all together and improve the most as we play out the 2010 schedule.

All the teams in West are breaking in new personnel in critical positions and the team who gets it’s players on the same page and playing team ball will be the one to pull ahead and take the West most likely. While the individual talent on each team will have a big impact on each team’s ability to do so, the coaching can’t be overlooked. Whichever coaching staff can best tailor their game plans to the available talent and put those players in a position to succeed will give their team the best chance of being the one to gel and be the top contender for the West title. In that respect, I think Seattle has an advantage in that Pete Carroll and Jeremy Bates are showing themselves to be very good at getting production out of their rookies and newly acquired players as well as devising game plans that address each opponents strengths and weaknesses. With coaching being so important in developing teams, I feel Seattle certainly is in the hunt and should continue to improve from week to week.

Right now, I really think Seattle is in the driver’s seat and the other teams in the division are chasing their ability to focus on what’s important and compete at every level of the game. That competiveness was drilled into the Seahawks from day one under Pete Carroll and it’s clear that it’s becoming a big part of Seattle’s new identity. The capability of Seattle’s staff to make adjustments and outcoach their opponents during the game will also become a huge factor as the season rolls along.

I know I’m not alone in assessing the Seahawks chances of taking the division this year and becoming a perennial contender in the future to be looking pretty sweet right now. Considering the way Seattle’s played the last two seasons that’s kind of a scary position to take after only three games played but somehow this feels different on a lot of fronts. The coaching, the competitiveness, the way the young players are responding, and above all, the never quit attitude speak loudly as testament to the fact that this team bears no resemblance to those teams that played here the last two years. Looking at Cleveland’s 0 – 3 start, it’s kind of looking like Seattle made the best choice by not giving Holmgren the keys to the empire and instead handing them over to Carroll who is bringing a fresh start and bright looking future to the franchise. While Holmgren might be at the start of another 5 year plan that will eventually bring Cleveland success, I’m sure no one would trade that for the fast track re-build that Carroll has pulled off and the resulting exciting team he has fielded.

So how do you Addicts rate the chances of a division title this season at this point? Do you feel the team is on the right track and only time is needed to grow into a legitimate contender? How do you rate Pete Carroll’s program so far? Do you think the team will continue to grow together and improve as the season progresses? How do you rate the chances of the other NFC West teams to win the division given each teams schedule? Let’s hear what you Addicts have to say.