Last weekend, a Pacific Northwest mini-miracle occurred. First, the Seattle Seahawks beat the Carolina Panthers, 30-24, pushing their record to 11-3 this season. Later that same day, the San Francisco 49ers lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 22-29, handing them their third loss and more importantly, vaulting the Seahawks back to the top of the NFC West.
As a result, it’s more probable than ever that the Hawk’s final game of the regular season, December 29th at Century Link Field, will bring these two west coast franchises into an epic battle for both top seeding in the playoffs and divisional bragging rights for months to come.
There’s still one game to go before the Seahawks and 49ers will face each other, and each team faces their other remaining divisional opponent—Seahawks host the Arizona Cardinals and the 49ers host the Los Angeles Rams—which could easily result in an unexpected, but not entirely shocking loss. However, without a loss, both teams will be pushing all their chips on the table to secure that week one BYE in the post-season. And that brings me to:
My Seahawks Holiday Wishlist.
- The Seahawks play the 49ers on Dec. 29th and win. Gifting the Hawks some well-earned rest before the playoffs won’t be easy, but I believe it’s achievable and there’s nothing I want more for this team right now than to take the division and quiet the Hawk-doubters and 49ers-lovers simultaneously. With the Hawks/49ers rivalry fully reborn this year, it would be supremely satisfying to dismantle any notion that it’s an even contest. Get the win, close the books, and brag about it all year.
- The Seahawks win their way to the Super Bowl. It’s tempting to go big and wish for a Super Bowl victory, but just getting there is enough for me. I fully trust Pete Carol and Russell Wilson to handle it from there as best as they can, and win or lose, being the best in the NFC would be an incredible accomplishment. Having said that, if they got to the Super Bowl, I’m confidant that this year’s MVP-caliber Wilson could and would lead an offense to challenge for the title.
- A Seahawks rematch against the Baltimore Ravens. To see this wish realized this year would require it to be a Super Bowl matchup, which would be a very compelling game that millions of people would love to watch. But, when we look back at this year and evaluate the three losses we’ve (currently) have, the game against the Ravens stands out as one we could’ve, maybe even should’ve won. Wilson had a bad game, throwing a pick-six as well as a watching a short pass to D.K. Metcalf get fumbled and scooped for another Raven’s defensive score. Without those two unusual scores, the score would’ve been 16-16 and I’d love to see those two teams fight it out in overtime.
- The Seahawks Offensive Line stays healthy all year. I know, I know, it’s unfair and obvious to wish for anything health related, but after watching Wilson get obliterated in the pocket for the past few years, I just desperately want to see him operate with protection and time. This year, I thought the Hawks O-Line took a big step forward in that regard, but injuries tragically compromised them before it was ever fully realized. Can you imagine the success this team would have on the ground and through the air with a top-tier line? It would be ridiculous.
- Russell Wilson runs QB-Sneaks in 4th & 1 situations. It doesn’t happen often, and it’s not totally aligned with the Seahawks conservative-offensive philosophy, but when we’re facing 4th & 1 and the field position makes it reasonable, I’d like to see the Hawks go for it and use Wilson to fall-forward and move the chains. It’s one of the safest plays in terms of conversion percentage and injury risk, and given Wilson’s comfort being a ball-carrier, it’s so strange that they don’t do it more, if ever.
- Tyler Lockett stops returning kicks. Okay, this one is like that gift you open the night before you open the rest, because we already got it. After Lockett hurt his leg earlier in the season, the Seahawks had to replace him in the returner role on Special Teams. At that time, I lobbied for one of our other depth receivers to take over, which has come to pass for the most part, with the Hawks using multiple players since then. However, last week against the Panthers, Lockett finally appeared to be back to his former self (8 catches, 120 yards, 1 touchdown) and I fear about a potential return to, um, returns. Keep him healthy and keep him off Special Teams, we need him more than we need those slightly-better-than-replacement return yards.
- Jadaveon Clowney dominates the playoffs. When healthy, Clowney is like a wrecking ball doused in gas, lit on fire, and flung carelessly around until he finds contact with some unfortunate soul. He disrupts everything an offense is trying to do and elevates everyone around him to do more and play better. The former first rounder has been an extraordinary addition to the Seahawks defense and we absolutely need him to get healthy so we can unleash him with abandon.
- Quandre Diggs dominates the playoffs. Similarly afflicted by health issues, Diggs is a real difference maker when anchoring the Seahawks defensive secondary. Since joining the team mid-season, Diggs has made consistent, game-momentum-changing plays across the field. He runs fast, hits hard, and has legit ball-hawking instincts. At the beginning of the season our Linebackers were our defensive strength, but with Clowney up front and Diggs behind them, the entire unit has been improved. He’s not Earl Thomas, because nobody is, but he’s ET-Lite, and with this team, that’s more than enough.
- John Schneider wins Executive of the Year. This is unlikely, as there are other candidates that better fit the narrative usually applied to this award. Schneider hasn’t overcome upheaval at the quarterback position, nor was he forced to find a new and successful head coach, but he did make three trades this season, and each one made measurable, positive impacts on the team. First, he fleeced the Houston Texans to get Clowney, then he quietly stole Diggs from the Detroit Lions, and then finally he grabbed Josh Gordon (see wish 10) off waivers for nothing. All three moves added far more value to the team than they cost and most-crucially didn’t cost the high draft capital that some other high-profile players demanded. He’s never won it (no Seahawk has) and its overdue for drafting Wilson in the 3rd round 8 years ago. It’s time for Schneider to win it.
- Josh Gordon finds whatever he needs to get right. In case you missed it, earlier this week, wide receiver Josh Gordon was suspended indefinitely from the NFL for use of a banned substance. And in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, this is Gordon’s 5th substance abuse issue. It’s clear that this is an addiction issue that he can’t manage on his own. It’s derailed his at-one-point very promising career and sent him packing from Cleveland, to New England, to Seattle, and now, essentially out of the league entirely. It’s a real disappointment and I wish it hadn’t happened.
- Russell Wilson continues doing what he’s doing for years. Let’s get the obvious out of the way, Wilson is an incredible quarterback playing at an extraordinary level. I’m not even talking about stats, which to be fair are spectacular on their own. But I’m more focused on his leadership of the team. When he was first named the starter, rookie Russell was drowned out by that team’s top personalities, Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom. But over the following years, Wilson’s eternal optimism and belief-in-self won out, now defining the team’s modern mentality more than anything. The Seahawk’s are beyond lucky to had Wilson leading the team and I hope we won’t have to discuss a change at the position until 2030.
- Doug Baldwin is cloned and returns to the Seahawks. Okay, this is truly unfair—not to mention likely impossible—but it’s my wishlist and I’m wishing for Doug 2.0 on the Hawks. Recently retired and seemingly uninterested in playing in the NFL nowadays, Baldwin was, is, and always will be my favorite Seahawk player. He perfectly blended chip-on-the-shoulder passion with big-plays-in-big-moments clutch-ness, carrying the receiving core for years. In addition to my wish for a new Doug, I would wish for a shift in his approach to the game as well. To better fit this new Seahawks team, I’d wish for the former “Angry Doug” to be reincarnated as “Buddha Doug”, a peaceful warrior dominating the slot with utter Zen.
Okay, that’s my wishlist and this is my last post of the year. Between now and 2020, I hope we see the Seahawks beat the Cardinals, beat the 49ers, and enter the playoffs with a BYE week to get everyone healthy. This has already been a season defined by close wins and narrow odds, but I see no reason to think the magic is going to run out now. Maybe that should’ve been my final wish, but a new Doug Baldwin was too enticing to pass up.