When does tinkering become too much?

Published on October 10, 2010 by     T.C.

I’m relatively certain some physical laws apply to the perception of time and its association with the speed of moving bodies.

The Seattle Seahawks’ roster, for instance, changes at the advanced rate generally attributed to the aging of dogs. And it has to do with the shuffling of bodies through the locker room.

After lousy games, such as the one a week ago at St. Louis – an embarrassing 20-3 defeat to a former division doormat – the hastening of time is welcomed.

They pulled it off by launching themselves into the future, trading for running back Marshawn Lynch, who brings power, speed and an aggressive attitude to the field. His appearance made the St. Louis game seem like an ugly-but-distant memory.

Monday was a period of mourning and dire projections among fans. Tuesday brought word of the Lynch deal.

By Wednesday, the Hawks practiced with vigor, and fans were talking about how his addition improved the effectiveness of every aspect of the team.

I can’t imagine anything else they could have done to more thoroughly shove aside the gathering cloud of doubts among their constituency in just the span of a few days.

And that’s without Lynch even touching the ball in a game.

For those whose job requires monitoring such things, the topic of continuity vs. talent upgrading has been steady since Pete Carroll took over as coach, and John Schneider came on as GM/wingman.

Transactions are up over 200 since then, although many of those involve the likes of Cord Parks and Joe Pawelek shuffling on and off the practice squad (10 combined transactions between the two).

But how much is too much? When does it simply detract from the necessary sense of unity? Or even loyalty?

It’s fairly argued that unless a new player is demonstrably better, it’s preferable to keep somebody who’s been with you, who knows the schemes, who has paid some dues – even if only briefly. To a large extent, those questions will be answered at the end of the season when the win-loss record becomes the ultimate evidence.

Although it may be cold comfort for those who find themselves on the street – or in Cleveland – apparently the dearly departed are treated with respect.

Word has it that Carroll addressed the team at the time of the release of veteran running back Julius Jones, who was whacked to make room for Lynch. He professed his great admiration for Jones’ professionalism and dedication to the team. He said that he was “one of them” and it hurt to see him go, but the move was made to make the team better.

And it did.

A running back like Lynch can step in and produce immediately.

So can a receiver, like Brandon Stokley, now an old Seahawk veteran with a game under his belt.

But injuries and turnover on the offensive front finally caught up with the Seahawks at St. Louis. No other unit relies so much on shared experience and cohesiveness. And against the Rams, it was a disaster.

It only takes one of the five linemen to blow an assignment or block for the play to get clobbered. Every lineman can grade out with high numbers, but if each has one play that is a miserable failure, that can mean five aborted plays that can kill drives. They either need to get better or time their mistakes to make them all at once.

The expected return of first-round draft pick Russell Okung to health will help, but the line is thin and the backups unproven. Although they’ve been plundered at times, too, in-season pickups Tyler Polumbus and Stacy Andrews probably have done better than could be expected considering their being immediately cast into the breech by injuries.

As for the other changes up there, holdover reserves such as Mansfield Wrotto and Steve Vallos had chances to prove their worth as starters here and never made convincing cases, so now we see such players as Breno Giacomini, Allen Barbre and Lemuel Jeanpierre brought in as back-ups.

Are they upgrades? We’ll find out if they ever have to play.

A week from today we will get a chance to see what difference Lynch makes on the field, and not just in perception.

But who knows how many other spots will have changed by then?

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