Rest of NFC West catching up with 'Hawks? Duh!

ESPN.com's ubiquitous NFL reporter John Clayton weighs in this morning on whether the Seahawks' run as the class of the NFC West might indeed be coming to an end.

In Seattle, Mike Holmgren is enjoying a three-year run atop the NFC West that included one trip to the Super Bowl. But there is no doubt the Seahawks can hear footsteps as big and as loud as a Sasquatch's. ...

Clearly, their run at the top may be coming to an end. Age is creeping into their offense. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, fullback Mack Strong, left tackle Walter Jones, right guard Chris Gray and tight end Marcus Pollard all are in their thirties. Halfback Shaun Alexander turns 30 this fall, a nasty little number for a running back.
He details the strides the other teams have made to close the gap, which included coaching hires and savvy personnel moves. And while I don't disagree that the rest of the division isn't as bad as it has been, I certainly don't think it's time for Seahawks fans to worry too much about the upcoming season.

Is the rest of the division catching up? Of course they are -- it's the natural cycle of events in the NFL. No team stays great forever (see Rams, St. Louis, Greatest Show On Turf), and downtrodden teams are bound to make strides. It's the beauty of the league.
"They needed to," Alexander told reporters earlier this week when asked about the great offseasons of the Cardinals and 49ers. "When you win the division three years in a row, it says enough. I think it's going to be a challenge this year, but challenges are good. We've never been a team that wants to hope that someone else plays bad. We don't care what everybody is doing. We want to go out and just do what we do best, and that takes care of itself."
The reality is that neither the 49ers, Cardinals or Rams are ready to supplant the Seahawks just yet. I still believe the offense is the best in the division -- although Arizona with its playmakers could catch up if Matt Leinart continues to develop -- and the defense has been fortified with veterans who will complement the Seahawks' still-young core. And never underestimate the moxie of a team that just knows how to win, despite the myriad injuries last year that can't possibly be duplicated.

This smells more like a journalist trying to create smoke where there's no fire, to me.

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