Seahawks, Eagles are similar only in their 4-7 records
Seahawks and Eagles, who will meet Thursday at CenturyLink Field, are each 4-7. But the Seahawks are a rebuilding team. The Eagles were expected to be better this season.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The records are identical.
The explanations are not.
At 4-7, the Seahawks are rebuilding while the Philadelphia Eagles are reeling and those two story lines provide the most compelling tension for Thursday's prime-time intersection.
For Seattle, there is still a question of what these Seahawks could become. Philadelphia is left to rue what the Eagles could have been. They certainly were not supposed to be 4-7. Not after re-signing quarterback Michael Vick before the season, trading his backup Kevin Kolb to Arizona for former Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, then signing one of the premier free agents, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. Add on free agents like defensive end Jason Babin, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins and running back Ronnie Brown, and these Eagles were supposed to be all that and a bag of chips.
Instead, the Eagles have been outscored 88-41 in the fourth quarter, they've been unable to convert all their offensive yards into points, and they'll be missing Vick for the third consecutive game because of broken ribs as Vince Young starts at quarterback against Seattle.
So where did it go wrong?
Well, it takes time in the NFL. That's as true in Seattle — which essentially started over when Pete Carroll was hired as coach — as it is in Philadelphia where the Eagles have a Pro Bowl patchwork of a roster.
"This is the ultimate team sport," Asomugha said this week in a telephone interview with Seattle-area reporters. "And you need to play together as a team and just understand the guy next to you. All that sort of stuff takes a little bit of time and that's where we are right now."
Talent has not turned out to be the trump card that everyone assumed it would be back when the Eagles were being evaluated according to star power.
"It's been a unique year in the National Football League, I think, with the lockout and so on," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "So we're working to take all these guys that we had come in and we're working to get better as a football team."
The game doesn't have playoff implications, but there is the matter of NFC pecking order. Seattle believes itself to be a team on the rise, one that is developing an identity behind Marshawn Lynch's steel-toed running style and a defense that's built to resemble a wall.
The Eagles will be a test in that regard. They've got an explosive-grade offense even without Vick and receiver Jeremy Maclin, who's also out for Thursday's game. Young passed for 400 yards last week, DeSean Jackson remains one of the league's top-flight — and most flighty — receivers while running back LeSean McCoy leads the NFL with 1,050 yards rushing.
"This is as wide open of an offense as you're going to see," Carroll said.
If yards were points, the Eagles would have no problem. Only New Orleans and New England have outgained Philadelphia this season. But as easily as Philadelphia moves the ball down the field, the Eagles are decidedly average inside an opponent's 20-yard line, which is where Seattle's defense is at its best.
That very well might be where Thursday's game is decided: a red-zone standoff between a Seattle team that sees itself as a rising contender and a Philadelphia team trying to show that it can become the bona fide heavyweight everyone imagined it would be.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @dannyoneil.
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