The word "mediocre" has certainly had it's turn quite a bit the last 24 hours. I guess because Seattle is 6-5. I think that's quite silly, personally. Granted, Seattle's remaining season is in jeopardy thanks to the DB suspensions we're facing, but let's look back at the first 11 games.
Some people say we are mediocre. This assertion is based on the team's record and it's home/road split. It is most certainly not based on talent or on statistics. Seattle was #4 in DVOA before the Miami game, they were #2 in defense DVOA, and they are widely regarded as one of the most talented young teams in the NFL. Even after this loss- a loss I'd put squarely on the defense- Seattle will still likely have a top 5 defense for the season through 11 games. No, this argument is not based on those aspects. It's based on a 6-5 record. "You are what your record says you are."
I get that. I also think that saying is a load of crap. Ask stat guru Bill James what he'd think of a 16 game sample and he'd probably tell you that the W-L outcomes would be next to meaningless for determining how good a team actually is. The sample size needs to be much, much larger to avoid statistical noise.
But my feelings aside, here we are at 6-5. That's not great. Let's assume for a moment that your record really does say what you are. Let's also forget that Seattle's first 8 games were very tough, and that we've played one more road game than home game at this point, or that in August we'd be happy with 6-5 given the difficulty of the 1st half of this season. And let's also forget that Seattle is just one of three NFL teams (Patriots, Falcons, Seahawks) not to suffer any multiscore losses all season. Even the Packers, Texans, and 49ers have been blown out at times this year. That said, even just focusing on the 6-5 aspect, I'm not really seeing a compelling case that this team is mediocre.
Why? Because last year's Superbowl champion finished the regular season with the basically the same winning percentage that the Seahawks currently have, and they were nowhere near as well rounded as this Seahawks team or as good statistically. As much as it sucks losing on the road, nearly all west coast teams throughout NFL history have struggled on the road. Compare that to the champion Giants, who struggled AT HOME. At least the Seahawks have an excuse.
Further, Seattle has led in every road game. And they led in the 4th quarter in 3 of their 5 losses. To go 1-5 on the road in those circumstances is extremely unusual, it is definitely not normal and not sustainable. This is exactly why sample sizes matter. Everyone knows that anything can happen in one game, but it's almost just as true that anything can happen in only a few games too. Like Arizona starting 4-0 or Philly starting 3-0. Outcomes should be treated with suspicion when used for analysis, even more so when in small samples.
I think what we are seeing this season is a young team that is still playing young. The penalties and the key mistakes to barely lose games are evidence of that. I also think that this team, while very good, has room for improvement. The upgrade potential over Trufant and Hill is considerably large, especially if we got a pro-bowl talent at either of those spots. The upgrade potential at Jeron Johnson's 3rd safety spot is significant. There is room for improvement in the pass rush, even though it's one of the NFL's better pass rushes this season. To a lesser degree, there is room for improvement at WR, TE, and OL on offense. And what does this FO do other than constantly making its roster better?
I seem to remember a lot of brutally close losses during the Holmgren years too, especially on the road. Right now, this team is basically as good as any team Holmgren ever fielded save his 2005 team, and by seasons end it would not surprise me if the 2012 team was better statistically. And those Seahawks teams played a joke of a schedule.
If nothing else, we are a contending team in a very good NFC. Sometimes teams "underachieve" and win fewer games than their level of play deserved. Last year's team had 8.2 "estimated wins" per FO but only won 7 games. They also underachieved. That said, the 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, and 2003 Seahawks seasons were all overachieving years who's win totals exceeded their estimated wins, meaning that Seattle won more games than their statistics indicated. So in a way, it could be argued that the law of averages demands we have a couple seasons where the team suffers more than it's share of tough, close losses. This just ended up being one of those years.
Hopefully this team can get luckier or improve to the point where luck doesn't factor quite as often. I'm starting to think that Seattle is beginning to push the boundaries of how unclutch a team can be on the road. I mean, Wilson has a passer rating around 110 in his last two road games combined and is 0-2. At some point, Seattle is going to start winning those road games. It's hard to play that well at QB and still lose the game, especially with the supporting cast the Seahawks boast.