Some of us milling around at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank Sunday morning (Oct. 3) lamented the fact that the local televised N.F.L. offerings didn't include the Seahawks-Rams extravaganza out of St. Louis. That left many of us to monitor the game the old-fashioned way: on hand-held electronic devices updating game info online in minute-by minute increments.
The night before, when thousands of us had invaded the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the featured game of the weekend, some of us had spent pregame and half-time conversations contemplating the likelihood of having both the Hawks and the Washington Huskies finagle road victories. Obviously just one was up to the task: The UW's last-tick, 32-31 win over USC made the trip home for ecstatic Seattle-area fans a great way to greet October.
Football fans, of course, when they aren’t noshing hotdogs or swigging beer, talk about football: college and pro. Several times during the weekend, the subject of the Seahawks was greeted by skepticism that a Matt Hasselbeck-helmed offense could lead the team to the playoffs for a change. That seemed to be confirmed as my flight departed California, with St. Louis yielding just a field goal in the Rams’ 20-3 triumph, their first win against Seattle in half a decade.
I wrote after the Hawks’ first preseason game that new coach Pete Carroll might be breeding a quarterback controversy. At that juncture, five-year vet Charlie Whitehurst looked like a competent starting guy. After that game, though, the coaching staff seemed to be saying a collective “sorry, Charlie” to the younger QB, who used to be the backup for San Diego. Moreover, Hasselbeck didn’t look bad during the early going of the regular season. But he also was part of repeated blown opportunities, so much so that he — the team leader, after all — seemed to be the key reason for Seattle being 2-1 instead of 3-0.
Now, going into a bye week, the Hawks are 2-2, and that, laughably, is good enough for tiesies amid the timid ranks of the NFC West division, where the consensus preseason fave 49ers are 0-4 — the football equivalent, perhaps, of the Seattle Mariners in baseball. After the Hawks' bye, the Road Voyeurs go to Chicago to face a Bears club that could be 4-0 after a Sunday-night tussle with the Giants.
Suddenly, then, the Huskies would seem to have seized the momentum in the race to capture the majority of the attention among local sports fans. The Dawgs’ next two are at home against opponents that would seem to be more evenly matched to the Huskies than was USC, with its considerable home-field tradition and advantage. Wins the next two weeks against Arizona State and Oregon State would give UW four of the presumed six wins needed to interest bowl-game bureaucrats. A fifth could be penciled in with the Apple Cup game. The sixth could come at home against UCLA or at Cal or Arizona.
The Hawks? They don’t play well after bye weeks, which compounds problems associated with going on the road: the double whammy of futility, if you will. Carroll and company should use at least a part of the next two weeks poring through team archives and recalling what happened to the franchise three decades ago, after management elevated Dave Krieg when Jim Zorn’s best years clearly were behind him. It could be a solution for the problematic offense accomplished the old-fashioned way: by replacing the quarterback.