It was great today doing the show from Winter Park and gaining professional closure to this fantastic 2012 season.
It started with an off-air chat with OC BILL MUSGRAVE, still depressed and frustrated we didn't win. He mentioned he could have called different plays and done a bunch of stuff to help the team win, but I disagreed -- the game was lost in large part when Bill lost his starting QB into the game. No slight on JOE becauase he gave his best, but given he never had led the team in a significant spot and hadn't thrown a pass for a year, yeah, our OC gave his all and it wasn't meant to be.
The I saw LB TYRONE MCKENZIE in the cafeteria. He's one of those unsung stars for this playoff team. He led us in ST tackles and is a smart, wonderful guy. His pain re: the season ending was doubled because he injured his shoulder in the season finale and couldn't even help Saturday night. It bugged him greatly he became hurt at the worst time of the year and it pained me on the team plane watching him try to store his luggage in the overhead. Good guy, bad beat.
Good team, bad beat. Maybe they paid an emotional fee Saturday night because they gave so much just to get there? The way we zipped down the field that first drive afforded me the opportunity to feel we truly had a chance, even though we really didn't.
Today was a day for me to transition from self-loathing to the reality this is a team on the improve and it will be even better next year. The next step includes closing out teams like Indy and Washington on the road and playing with more poise late in close games. Being one of the youngest teams in the league there undoubtedly were growing pains, and all of our talented kids performed well for the most part.
Into the offseason I called this the most significant draft in the history and still feel it was. And we hit on many of the picks and, thus, became a playoff team. We'll hit on another quality draft, and that will help next season.
I am in favor of bringing back WR JEROME SIMPSON and trying again. I know Jerome has more to give and could complement the offense well. His foot injury hindered his chances to assist this year and he genuinely had some pop to his game when healthy. I want to try again with Jerome Simpson.
PHIL LOADHOLT wants to stay here -- he told me -- and needs to be re-signed. Our OL has a chance to be one of the best in the game and needs to stay in tact. For all the dumb penalties he commits he was very good in pass protection this year and even better blocking for ADRIAN.
Dabbling in free agency is fun, and I'd like them to bring in a big-timer to change the game on the outside. If we head into the season with like GREG JENNINGS, PERCY HARVIN, Jerome and MICHAEL JENKINS we'll be more than fine. JARIUS WRIGHT would be the fifth guy and gives you slot appeal in certain sets. Plus, RUDOPLH obviously has become an upper echelon TE in the game, and with Adrian in the backfield spreading out talented stock gives the offense more tools with which to play.
I need to think out the defense in terms of free agency and the draft. I like our secondary but still feel we need safety and CB depth. That also goes for the LB unit, and a starter may be needed there.
In all, it was good to say "goodbye" to many members of the organization and also to see them still grieving the end to what was a fast-flowing, super-cool year and one I never will forget.
... SEAHAWKS: Into the year, I picked Ravens-Niners in the SB with San Francisco winning it and very well could be accurate. I want to be wrong, though, and would like to see Seattle house the gold. Here are 10 reasons why:
(10) HEATH FARWELL. Former Vikes' LB/special teamer is a quality human being and very good at what he does. Guys like that should be rewarded with a Super Bowl win.
(9) DARRELL BEVELL. People here never gave him proper due for the work he did with the Vikings. Darell -- a quality person like Heath -- is very good at what he does and burns the blitz better than any OC I have met.
(8) PETE CARROLL'S approach. It used to bug me Carroll brought the college-FB vibe into the NFL and had his assistants all wear white shirts during preseason games because "it gave a feel of positivity." I was wrong.
Pete's zest for life and coaching is infectious and his positive approach in a wise-cracking, negative-ass world is refreshing. He's a very good manager of man and has proven to be a good HC. I'd have no problem seeing him win it all.
(7) Seattle generally is a run-first team that plays a 4-3 defense. The league is pass-happy and most of the teams remaining play 3-4 defense. I'd like to see the 'Hawks prove you can have your own identity despite all the changes and win at a high level.
(6) Their fans are awesome, not rude, loud and empassioned. Fans like that have to be loving this run.
(5) The team owners' name is PAUL ALLEN. Aw.
(4) SIDNEY RICE. He has had nagging injuries all of his career and is playing at a very high level right now. There are many -- including me -- who felt the Seahawks were stupid to give him $18 million guaranteed because his body was breaking down. It was a bad take and he changes games.
(3) RUSSELL WILSON. Clearly the diminutive kid should have been a first-round pick and went in the third round. He's probably the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year. When I chatted with Rice before we lost at Seattle, Wilson was running with him and I thought it was a ball boy or equipment guy. He's tiny. But he's good, elusive and cold blooded. Russell Wilson is a cool cat, a born leader and has a terrific arm. He's proving wrong all the GM's who feared selecting him due to his size. Good for him.
(2) Seattle will have to win out on the road. After beating Atlanta it would have to go to Green Bay or San Francisco to close, and teams that win three consecutive road game this time of the year are tough, destined and cool.
(1) And the number-one reason I'd like to see Seattle house the prize? It wouldn't be the freaking Green Bay Packers. If it's Seattle at Green Bay in the NFC Title Game I swear I am throwing a Seattle-based party that day. We'll serve seafood and coffee. We'll listen to JIMI HENDRIX music. I'll dust off my JOHN CARLSON jersey he signed when he played for the Seahawks. I'll erect a makeshift Space Needle. The fountain by my front door will be called Puget Sound. I'll invite the lovely and quirky AMELIA RAYNO, the Strib's beat writer for Team Tubby so she can search for Big Foot in our make-believe land of Oz.
We don't want Green Bay to win the Super Bowl and, in fact, the hope is it loses this week at San Francisco.