The Seattle Seahawks completed the practice-league season Thursday (Sept. 2) with an inconsequential loss in Oakland, about which was famously observed: 'êThere'ês no 'êthere'ê there.'ê
There also weren'êt many 'êthems'ê there. The stands at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum were so sparsely populated that you'êd have thought the occasion was an A'ês-Mariners game. Raiders fans, typically among the most robust (peculiar? macabre?) in the National Football League, must have conspired to stay home and pick up, say, a satellite feed of the Seattle-Phoenix women'ês basketball semi-finals game, which the Storm won handily as it blows toward what many feel is an inevitable league championship.
Far more Seattle-area sports fans seem trained on the Seahawks, a team with its third head coach in as many years. The Hawks, having fielded backup players to bumble their way through the 27-24 loss, notching a 1-3 preseason record, now face a number of critical dates.
The first is hours from now, when the club must trim the roster to the league limit of 53. Even if certain on-the-bubble scrubs had shown well Thursday, it isn'êt likely many made convincing cases that they should stay. New mentor Pete Carroll and his associates no doubt pretty much know by now which guys they want.
This knowledge may not quite extend to one star ... well, falling star. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, said to be the savior receiver when he arrived in Seattle last year, led the club in receptions. Unfortunately, given Seattle'ês 5-11 mark in 2009, that'ês like Ichiro boasting that he'ês the best hitter for the 52-82 Mariners. Even given his 79 grabs last year, Housh is considered expendable and may have been traded as you read this.
The other critical dates for the Hawks number 16, corresponding to the number of games they have to play. Given yet another coaching change and no great upgrades in talent, one struggles to project a winning record for this club.
Start with the incontrovertible: Seattle plays eight away games and usually loses on the road (1-7 record last year). Fortunately this year'ês feature five opponents picked by many to finish third or fourth in their divisions. Of the five, St. Louis and Oakland seem the most vulnerable. It'ês more difficult to predict road wins against Denver, Chicago, or especially Tampa Bay, which may as well be Baffin Bay for a Hawks contingent that travels about as well as the average agoraphobic.
Seattle, of course, will play three times at home against division foes: St. Louis, San Francisco, and 2008 and 2009 champ Arizona. That leaves home tiffs with the Chargers, Giants, Chiefs, Panthers, and Falcons.
Through all this, one obvious loss looms: a Nov. 21 date in New Orleans with the world-champion Saints.
Given the uncertainty surrounding all the new on- and off-field personnel, then, another 5-11 season may actually be the best fans can anticipate. As the Sept. 12 home-opener against San Francisco approaches, the only safe date on the schedule is Oct. 10, when there definitely won'êt be any 'êthems'ê there because Seattle draws a bye.