Hawks' window of opportunity may be closing
Seattle's window of opportunity yawned wide back in the first week of the 2006 season. Fresh off a Super Bowl appearance, the Seahawks were...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle's window of opportunity yawned wide back in the first week of the 2006 season. Fresh off a Super Bowl appearance, the Seahawks were one win into a 3-0 start and had just traded for Deion Branch, a former Super Bowl MVP.
"This was a known commodity for this team in a period where we have this quote-unquote window," president Tim Ruskell said when the Seahawks acquired Branch from New England.
That window looks a whole lot smaller these days. Branch is now among Seattle's prodigious list of wounded wideouts, the Seahawks are 1-5, and it's tempting to say that the window slammed shut in Mike Holmgren's 10th and final season as Seahawks coach.
"Sometimes, all the best-laid plans go out the window," Holmgren said Monday. "It's nobody's fault. It's just a situation [that] is created that is difficult."
Is that it for Seattle's window of opportunity then?
Well, not quite so fast.
See, the window of opportunity isn't so clearly defined as it once was in the NFL, back in the early days of the salary cap. Used to be a franchise could amass a nucleus of young talent, then watch it mature and hold on until age or injuries caught up.
A team's window of opportunity is not nearly so neat and tidy anymore.
"It's a hard thing to define," Ruskell said this week. "It's a nice thing to be able to say because it paints a pretty picture."
But things change too quickly in this league for that to be accurate because windows open unexpectedly as they close. Seattle is one of five NFL teams to win 50 or more regular-season games over the previous five seasons. Only two of those teams currently hold winning records.
Atlanta was a rebuilding project as recently as two months ago. The Falcons are 4-2 with a rookie quarterback and tied for first in the division.
"It's changed so much that you can be out of the window and all of a sudden back in it," Ruskell said.
Of course, some teams do mortgage the future for a run at the Super Bowl. Tennessee did just that early this decade before plummeting in the standings in 2004 and 2005. San Francisco's free-spending ways caught up to that franchise this decade as well.
"Some teams have done that, mortgage the ranch for the push," Holmgren said. "Then they say it's worth it. That's a decision that every organization has to make."
Holmgren said that doesn't explain what has happened to the Seahawks this season.
"I've never been in a meeting where we've said that," he said. "We weren't pushing for any timeline that I know of."
Seattle bolstered its defense with free agents such as Julian Peterson, Patrick Kerney, Deon Grant and Brian Russell in 2007. Peterson and Kerney have each made the Pro Bowl as a Seahawk, but only one player drafted by the Seahawks under Ruskell has reached the Pro Bowl: Lofa Tatupu.
Holmgren said it's not whom the Seahawks have added recently, but rather whom they've lost that has made the biggest difference this season. The explanation is more physical than financial.
Nate Burleson suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1, Logan Payne suffered one in Week 2. Bobby Engram missed the first three games because of a broken bone in his shoulder, and Branch didn't make it through two quarters before injuring his heel as he came back from knee surgery.
After six games, the Seahawks don't have a wide receiver who has caught more than nine passes.
"Look at the team and see that it's not the team that we lined up the first day of training camp," Holmgren said. "The fact of the matter is, that's the reason. That's the reason we have not been able to score enough points."
• If Seahawks LB Leroy Hill doesn't hear from the NFL by today about his hard hit on Tampa Bay WR Ike Hilliard that knocked Hilliard out last Sunday, it's all but certain he won't get fined for the hit. "You hate to see that happen," Hill said of knocking Hilliard unconscious. "You never want to hurt anybody."
• QB Matt Hasselbeck missed practice for the second straight day with his injured back.
• RG Floyd Womack didn't practice Thursday and was replaced by Ray Willis with the starters.
• WR Koren Robinson returned after missing Wednesday's practice.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com. Times reporter José Miguel Romero contributed to this article.
|Contending with disappointment|
|Seattle is one of five NFL teams that has won 50 or more games during the past five seasons, and while the Seahawks' struggles this season are the most severe of those five, they're hardly alone in finding difficulty:|
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