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The game ended with a series of cataclysmic coaching decisions, bad run blocking, and a Blair Walsh shank. It would be easy to focus there, and we will return to that in a bit, but the real story of this game happened far earlier. The Seahawks were playing for a chance to make the playoffs at home against a battered divisional rival with Drew Stanton at quarterback, Kerwynn Williams at running back, and a guy named John Wetzel at left tackle. Arizona had nothing to play for other than pride, and yet, they were undeniably more motivated from the opening snap all the way through the halftime whistle. In a game the Seahawks needed, they had zero yards of offense in the first quarter, 24 yards of offense at the half, and allowed Arizona to score 20 points with the 30th-ranked run offense consistently finding holes to exploit. The last time the Seahawks played at home with a chance to move into the division lead, they trailed 34-0 at halftime. There were no new major injuries, though, to point to this time. I have seen this before, but not since Jim Mora was the head coach. There are more than a few players in that locker room who did not want to be there, and were already thinking about the offseason. A big part of Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s offseason will be identifying those players, and the coaches who lost them, and clearing them out of the system.

Compare this to the 2010 season finale when a 6-9 Seahawks team was facing a 7-8 Rams team at home to decide a division title. Matt Hasselbeck was lost to injury a week earlier when he hurt his hip simply by jogging untouched into the endzone. Touchdown Jesus himself, Charlie Whitehurst, was thrust into the spotlight. The defense was led by aging Lofa Tatupu, David Hawthorne, Marcus Trufant, Jordan Babineaux, and Lawyer Milloy. The game was ugly. Ruvell Martin led the team in receiving with 85 yards. Mike Williams caught the lone touchdown. Raheem Brock led the team with 2.5 sacks. What was never ugly was the effort and desire. Leon Washington was beaming when the game ended 16-6 in favor of the Seahawks and he got to wear a division champion cap. They did not care that they were a 7-9 division champion and everyone was laughing at them.

The coaching staff wrung every ounce of potential out of that roster. They won with guys like Kenwan Balmer and Will Herring and Kelly Jennings. Juxtapose that to losing with Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Michael Bennett, Frank Clark, Shaquill Griffin, Paul Richardson, Jimmy Graham, and others. Not only losing, but losing to team led by a journeyman quarterback who was apparently playing with a partially torn ACL, a injury-decimated offensive line (that was not good to begin with), and a defense missing both their starting safeties and their second-best pass rusher.

A learning disability is technically diagnosed when a person’s IQ projects a far higher expected test score for a given skill (like reading or math) than the person’s actual score. That gap implies the person has the general capacity to do better, but there is some impediment keeping them reaching that potential. Some of what ails this Seahawks team is absolutely a learning impediment. Penalties, repeated mistakes, and inability to demonstrate clear improvement across the season tells us that. How much of that is players who are checked out an disengaged from the learning process versus coaches who are failing to reach their players is not as black and white.

The offense has been a disaster for two seasons. Darrell Bevell helped this team win a Super Bowl, and is a better coordinator than we give him credit for. It is also time for him to move on. He has had enough kicks at the can, and this team needs a new set of eyes to figure out how to get more from his offense. Bevell has always struck me as a hard-working, earnest, coach who is more competent than gifted as a play caller. I would love to see the Seahawks make finding a fresh face offensive coordinator a priority. They may even have that person in house with guys like receivers coach Dave Canales or even assistant receivers coach Nate Carroll, Pete’s son. I would also love to see quarterbacks coach, Carl “Tater” Smith, transition into retirement. He is going to be 70, and has never been the right person to help Wilson get the most out of his skills.

Those two changes alone could be big. But as much as Seahawks fans nod their heads at that thought, with the image of what a difference a guy like Kyle Shanahan meant to Matt Ryan, we must also acknowledge that things could get worse. There is no guarantee that change will be positive, only that it is necessary.

Russell Wilson had a confounding season. He set a personal record for total touchdowns and was a legitimate MVP contender, but also played a significant role in the teams struggles to play well early in games. He was pretty bad the past three weeks in a number of aspects. While some are suggesting the team considers trading him while his value is highest to get assets you could use as part of your rebuild, I see that as highly unlikely. It is far easier to swap out coaches around him and try to find a better fit who can unlock more consistency from him.

People who say Wilson is the whole offense and yet is faultless in the team’s struggles are both inaccurate and insulting to all the players who have contributed to Wilson’s numbers. Anyone who has seen Baldwin make defenders look foolish or make ridiculous catches like he did yesterday for the touchdown has to know that it is disingenuous to say Wilson scored all but one of the team’s touchdowns. Even if you think Wilson is perfect, it was clear the team needs more than just relying on him to be a productive offense.

The offensive line has been a disaster for three seasons, and subpar for seven seasons. Every Seahawks fan seemingly wants Tom Cable to be replaced. That one is not as clear to me. We are in a time when almost every team in the NFL is struggling with line play. Where Cable is clearly a problem is his consultations with the front office on what types of players he wants to work with. He asks for guys who are raw so he can mold them. He fixates on strength and run blocking potential and almost ignores quick feet, balance, and awareness in pass protection. There is evidence, though, that he is capable and willing teacher. That has a lot of value in a landscape where nearly every linemen coming out of college is going to be need to be taught how to run block due to the proliferation of simplified spread offenses in college.

It was Cable who moved Max Unger from guard to center. It was Cable who turned James Carpenter into a near-Pro Bowl guard, turned J.R. Sweezy into a highly sought-after guard after playing defensive line in college, and shaped Justin Britt into a Pro Bowl alternate at center. He also helped revive Marshawn Lynch’s career. People forget, but Lynch was far from a productive back in his first season-and-a-half with the Seahawks. Yes, he had the Beast Quake run, but he averaged 45.5 yards per game and 3.6 yards per carry in his first 22 regular season games for the Seahawks. The headstrong Lynch finally relented and went into Cable to ask what he needed to do, and after a productive conversation about how to succeed in a zone blocking scheme, Lynch went on to average 104.6 yards per game and 4.5 yards per attempt in the final 9 games of the 2011 season. Believe it or not, Lynch had not eclipsed 100 yards in a regular season game with the Seahawks before that talk with Cable, and then went over 100 yards in six of the final nine games of that season.

Cable is also a person who players almost uniformly respect in that locker room. He was asked to work with a very young and cheap line the past few years. The fact that the plan backfired big time is not all his fault. Are we sure that another line coach would have gotten more out of these players the past few years? I’m not. However, if keeping Cable means keeping him closely involved in player evaluation, than the team is probably better off taking their chances elsewhere. Just be warned that it is damn hard to find really good offensive line coaches, and this is not exactly an attractive situation to enter.

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Kris Richard was a big drop-off from Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn. He may be capable of reaching their level one day, but he was far more raw as a play caller from day one. I don’t think he is as strong of a positive motivator as Bradley, or as confident in his game planning as Dan Quinn. Unlike Cable, he has been handed immense talent. The results have been mixed. They managed to remain the top scoring defense in his first season, and 3rd in scoring defense last season, but fell to 13th this year. When injuries struck both last season and this season, Richard showed no ability to coach his way through the deficits.

The Seahawks were 25th in scoring defense after losing Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. My question with Richard has always been whether he was experienced enough and clever enough to amplify the talent on the field or whether he was simply a custodian. The implication of such major slides when guys like Earl Thomas, Chancellor, Sherman, Bobby Wagner, and K.J. Wright miss time is that he is not a guy who can scheme around weaknesses, which also implies he will not be the best at amplifying strengths. Rocky Seto was somewhat of a co-coordinator with Richard when they both were promoted following Quinn’s departure. Seto left to become a minister this past offseason. There are a number of indications that Seto was a key part of that defensive staff, and helped to augment where Richard was weak.  I think it is very unlikely that the Seahawks will move on from Richard, but my current assessment is they could do much better and would be wise to pick someone else to coach the next wave of young defenders about to join the system. Vic Fangio would be the dream hire.

Seattle continues to mismanage their special teams. The fact that the team resigned Jon Ryan to an expensive contract without bringing in any competition goes directly against their core philosophy and has cost them dearly in field position. Ryan was a disaster again yesterday. Even his long punts were completely lacking in hang time. I greatly appreciate what Ryan has done in his Seahawks career, but I never want to see him punt for this team again. Walsh was a disaster from the moment they signed him. The punt and kick coverage teams were not good this season. I would love to see the team bring in a new special teams coach, but I don’t expect Carroll to let Brian Schneider walk.

That brings us to the big kahuna himself. Carroll shot down rumors that he was considering retirement. I’m glad. There is a decent amount of chatter on Twitter that Carroll needs to get with the times and update his philosophy to incorporate more passing. That may be true. What I know is that there is nobody, outside of possibly Bill Belichick, who I would rather have in charge of rebuilding this Seahawks team. Carroll knows who he is. He knows what he wants. He is an excellent evaluator of defensive talent and has a proven scheme. When times get tough and numerous hard decisions must be made, you want someone who is clear-minded about their philosophy and values. Few are better equipped than Carroll in that regard.

Beyond whether he stays or goes, my hope for Carroll is that he challenges himself to reevaluate some aspects of his messaging and areas of focus. There is new hope there as Carroll finally acknowledged in his postgame press conference that it was not enough for the team to be great at finishing. Their slow starts in games and seasons have doomed them. Study the teams that start the strongest. Adopt some new approaches, and make that a point of emphasis from your very first OTA practice.

Players are another matter. Some are easy choices. Blair Walsh. Gone. Ryan. Gone. Jimmy Graham should never wear a Seahawks uniform again. He is a really good guy, who was a terrible fit for the identity of this team. He came in with a reputation of being soft, and leaves with the same reputation. I gained respect for him as a person when I got a chance to meet him and talk with him a few times, but I lost respect for him as a player and teammate when he very clearly appeared to be going through the motions this season with an eye on going elsewhere as soon as his contract allowed him to walk.

There is a hugely important set of lessons there that I hope John Schneider has internalized. First, stop trying to trade established receiving talent. Players who are already successful in another team’s passing offense are highly unlikely to be happy and well-utilized in this offense. Carroll will continue to preach balance. This will not become a high volume passing team. Guys like Percy Harvin and Graham are not going to relish the transition of going from focal point and star to role player. You are much better off relying on developing players through the draft in your system or recruiting players in free agency who opt-in to become part of what you are building and how you are building it. Guys like Zach Miller, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Sidney Rice, and Luke Willson are great examples of the mentality you want.

Second, never ever ever…ever, bring in a player who has questions about toughness. Don’t do it. There are medical red flags and character red flags in the draft process that disqualify a player from even showing up on a team’s draft board. Carroll and Schneider should have a playing style category that all players are screened against. If you regularly turn down contact, you are disqualified. If you sulk when the ball does not come your way, you are disqualified. If you rarely win physical confrontations like 1v1 blocking, you are disqualified. Graham failed all of those. Harvin failed some. Toughness is not just about hitting people. It is about how you handle adversity. Harvin failed there miserably.

Earl Thomas represents a far harder decision. He is young enough, good enough, and important enough, to justify a contract extension. I’m just not convinced the team would get what they paid for. How motivated will he be if Chancellor and Sherman do not return and the defense goes through a rebuilding process? He at least contemplated retirement after his last injury. After never missing a game, he’s missed at least one game in each of the past two seasons. The team talked itself into signing Chancellor to an extension, and now his career is likely over. They will still be paying his contract and have that salary cap hit. Thomas is going to be far more expensive.

Everything I saw on the field indicates that Thomas maintains his level of play regardless of who is around him. The team would be rolling the dice either way here. Keeping him would be a major salary cap risk. Trading him would be a major talent risk. My slight lean is to trade him if you can get at least two first-round picks for him. The Thomas decision is the toughest the front office will have to make.

The front office has room to improve itself. They made their biggest splashes early in the draft when they focused on selecting players with unique physical talents who were then molded by the coaching staff in a way that amplified their strengths. Thomas was the fastest safety most had seen. Chancellor was a massive safety that many thought was a linebacker. Golden Tate had the toughness of a running back playing the receiver position. Sherman was far taller than the average cornerback. Wagner was fastest linebacker. Wright was the tallest linebacker with the longest wingspan. Even guys that did not pan out like Jameson Konz were athletic freaks. They have far fewer examples of players with those unique physical traits in recent years. I’d like to see them get back to taking those players with pronounced gifts in one aspect, even if that means they are higher risk.

This team once prided itself on being bigger, stronger, and faster than their opponents. They intimidated just getting off the bus. That simply is not true any longer. It starts with getting pushed around on the offensive line, and increasingly getting pushed around on the defensive line. For the first time in a long time, the team may be in better shape to step forward on the offensive side of that equation. Cliff Avril is gone, and Michael Bennett seems to think he will be as well. There are no clear replacements for their production. The Malik McDowell injury was massively damaging in a number of ways.

Schneider understands how important toughness is to winning in the NFL. He has to find the best places to infuse it. He also has to take a hard look at his scouting department and ask where upgrades may be necessary. I am willing to believe that some of the reason for the major difference between the early Schneider drafts and the more recent ones is that literally every position was really up for grabs early on. Young players had a real chance to get snaps and compete for starting spots that helped them grow and learn. There simply were less openings the past few years. That is not the whole story. Great players find their way onto the field.

Shaquill Griffin forced the team to play him ahead of Jeremy Lane and others. Justin Coleman did the same. Frank Clark earned a spot in a competitive defensive line rotation. Chris Carson beat out veterans and higher draft picks. Talent finds a way onto the field. All of those names are recent examples of finding new, young talent. There just has not been enough.

This season ended with Wilson leading a late-game comeback drive, the coaching staff getting conservative far too early by relying on a dreadful run game, and then watching a Blair Walsh kick sail wide. It was a comeback that should not have been needed by a quarterback who played a uneven game, an offensive line that was a mess, and a defense that looked disinterested for an entire half. There were terrible penalties that showed a lack of discipline and judgment. Coaches made decisions that indicated they had not been learning and adapting to the team they had instead of stubbornly gripping to the team they wanted. And finally a player who replaced someone far more reliable just so the team could spend money on other players who were total busts could not do his job. The end was fitting and bitter. Cackling Bruce Arians rides off into the sunset thinking he won something meaningful, while Pete Carroll and John Schneider set out to do something Arians will only ever dream of. It is time to build a new champion.

40 Responses

  1. Andrew Merzetti

    Great column, Brian, as usual. Gotta say I hear you on Cable but it’s like his whole design is just too…complicated, or physically demanding, or just a bad fit for the team philosophy, or something. He gets decent results individually a bunch of times but it adds up to garbage.

    Reply
  2. Steve

    You cannot call for Bevell and Richard to be replaced and question Cable, but let Carroll off the hook. Those three are Carroll’s top Lieutenants. If their competency is questionable then so is Carroll’s. What does it say about Carroll if he’s blind to their short comings? I think his rah rah, Polly Anna optimism has worn thin with a lot of the players, especially team leaders – Baldwin, Thomas, Wagner.

    I don’t think I’d trade Wilson, but he’s reached his potential and plateaued. They need to build around what he is, because I don’t think he’s going to get any better. In fact I hope his decision making doesn’t regress any more.

    Reply
  3. Harry

    Good write up Brian. Year after year it seems the same glaring Achilles heel is staring back at us, the Oline. Even during the Super Bowl year the Oline sucked (McQuisten!) but Russ and Marshawn made it work. It has only gone down from there. For this, I put the blame on JS for consistently being cute and trading down our first round picks. There’s a real drop off apparently from a first round Offensive lineman and a second rounder. Even Britt who I guess we now count as a win was horrible for a year or so and is now just passable after being moved to center. A team without a running game is doomed from the start. Until the Oline gets at least average, the future for Seahawks is grim indeed.

    Cable\Bevell need to go, but it I wouldn’t be so sure as others are that this happens. Carroll is loyal to a fault. We could all be talking about the need to git rid of Cable and Bevell a year from now. Why not? We’ve been talking about this for the last 3 years. Paul Allen needs to step up but I don’t think he does. I mean he’s a rich computer geek who probably knows little regarding football and know’s it so totally defers to Pete and John.

    Reply
    • Hawkman

      Great reply – agree whole heartedly especially on canning Cable and making the O-line the important unit it needs to be !

      Reply
  4. Uncle Bob

    OOOOOOOOOOO……….love the closing line.

    The challenge for the “bosses” will be……will they be able to do it? PCs post game podium stint evokes a lament that reminds me of “Can’t see the forest for the trees.” But immediate evaluation is premature, let this game, this season, with all the warts, sink in before making the important decisions. The flip side of his comments is, he is at least looking at the trees trying to see what’s there.

    Those of us outside the forest patch think we have a clearer view, though we lack the inside knowledge that might aid accuracy. We tend toward embracing “The straw that broke the camel’s back.” thinking. If only Walsh had been accurate on this kick or that….or all of them, then we’d be golden. If only we’d kept Alex Collins . Too bad Wilson isn’t 6’4″….. If only Bevell could “figure out” how to use Graham. And on, and on. The old saying above of course is loaded with irony. There is no “THE” thing, it’s the accumulation of too many little things (though some arguably appear bigger). Brian’s comments do a very good job of enumerating many. I share the skepticism about the abilities of this coaching staff to capitalize sufficiently on the available talent. We’ve got, maybe, the best talent depth we’ve had in quite awhile. Griffen, Coleman, and Maxwell as a group, aided of course by Thomas, are probably better gamers than at least half the league has, and I’d argue as much as three quarters……..and that’s AFTER losing Sherm and Chancellor. Something is going right there. And I agree, with the right set of circumstances, we could survive successfully without the all world talents of Earl Thomas. Take a look…….twelve teams just advanced to the playoffs WITHOUT him. He’s not the indispensable man……………….no single player should be or is. It’s what you do with what you’ve got that matters. Which brings us back around to the coordinators/coaches. I might cut Richard a bit more slack because he is learning, albeit somewhat slowly, and he’s had to attempt to adjust to more significant injuries than his two predecessors. Could we improve, yep. Should we? Only if it’s a definite. On the offensive side it’s more clear. We need an offensive coordinator who is more able to capitalize on a mobile qb (ala Shurmer, though he’s probably on the HC carrousel this year or otherwise unavailable) But as I’ve mentioned before, I would want the OC to have ABSOLUTE control of the entire offensive structure, not this shared “leadership” of the O-line coach/run coordinator/assistant hc that dilutes authority/responsibility. It maddens me to see Cable holding what looks like the same play card as Bevell and wondering if they “discuss” play calls to be sent to the qb (which might explain some of the poor clock management that gets us down to the last second of the play clock too often).

    Team scheming has gotten stale. We’ve .500 at home this year, and pretty much every loss this year followed the same pattern of poor first half play in addition to the unforced errors. There may be a player attitude element, but I suspect that the formations tip too much. I could point to almost any of those lost games, but yesterday is fresh so let’s go there. How many times did RW not have an open receiver? When did Az. (or any other team who beat us)become the shutdown secondary of the league? Yeah, it looked like our receivers too frequently gave up on their routes without looking to get open however, but could it be that the defenses were just too easily prepared for what we do because we’re too predicable? That would be my vote, and be the biggest contributor to justifying changing the Offensive (double meaning intended) coaching staff.

    It is a time for lamentation, and then time to move on to the machinations of the off season. We’ll have the 18th pick in the first round. I would hope we would take a highly likely impact player rather than play the “more picks are better” crapshoot…….but we’ll have to see. Sure, we need to figure out how to improve our odds in the 50/50 world of draft picks, but don’t waste a highly probable pick if it’s there.

    No silver bullets out there though. There’s lots of work to be done, and changes to be made if we hope to get back in the race with the Rams and probably the 49ers. As Yoda would say; “There is no try. There is only do or do not.” See ya’ll down the road guys……………happy new year.

    Reply
    • Hawkman

      If you watch the all 22, you will see that there were open receivers many of the times people don’t think there were. It is just that RW has only about 1.6 seconds or less ( sometimes more but not often ) to view to try to see two progressions and then get trampled or run for his life . Since he is shorter he needs very good guard play to allow him a early pocket to feel comfortable in his reads. He hasn’t had that since 2014 ( and then not great ). Cable Must go !

      Reply
  5. Rowdy Yates

    I don’t agree with your wish, Brian. Your hope that the Hawks will look to take more “physical freaks” in the next draft. I hope they look to take proven talent on the O-line. Ifedi may become as good a lineman as James Carpenter in another year or two, but by then the Hawks won’t be able to afford him. Therefore, I believe, a failed experiment was repeated by choosing to go with raw talent,
    instead of proven ability. This staff, therefore, repeated a major mistake. (In today’s NFL, if your strategy is to “Coach up” talent into game-ability, you better be able to coach said player up in one year, not 3-4 years. Or else you get another Ifedi, slow-learning on the job and hurting the team with substandard play).

    Also, I don’t agree on your Tom Cable assessment. It’s past time Cable was held accountable. Remember when he was “excited” about this year’s O-line? So why is this line still trying to gel, Mr.
    Cable? Why did they look and play like the worst OL in the NFL, again—still hoping to become competent in week 17.

    At this point, I can’t blame any player who no longer buys into Pete’s system. A few short years ago, it was easy to believe in
    Always Compete, etc. But you have to practice what you preach, or belief melts away, and there have been far too many double standards at play with this team’s management. (There was a bit of magic and a breath of fresh air at the beginning of Pete’s stay in Seattle, when everyone believed that it was all about a player’s on field performance, as to who topped the depth chart. That money and draft location didn’t matter. Moves like Eddie Lacy scuttled that perception.

    If I were Paul Allen, I would demand that Pete let go of half of his total control. That Pete stick to the D and let some new and
    talented OC and talented OL coach build an Offense around R.
    Wilson’s talents. (Who those talented coaches might be is up for grabs—-a dice roll like the draft, so somebody needs to choose wisely).

    At the beginning of the season, many fans felt, legitimately, I believe, that his team’s SB window was still open. Now we’re talking rebuild. That’s a big part of whyI don’t believe this regime can resurrect itself. Too many evaluation gaffes, double standards and lack of savvy coaching, especially in game situations. So, for once, my opinion aligns with the perceived majority: PC needs to evolve, or depart. And if JS goes, too, I won’t worry about it. (JS’s once sparkling track record is now littered with the debris of poor personnel moves, poor drafting, etc. To try to be fair, I will concede that the disappointing results of the J.Graham trade were due to poor coaching—“trying to fit a round peg in a square hole,” instead, of putting JG in the best possible position to succeed. (Not a new point, I know, but none of this post is new, though the arguments, I believe, are valid).

    Thanks for the ride, Pete.

    Go Hawks.

    Reply
    • Brad

      I think the veteran regime on this team has to take some of the blame. I don’t know if personalities are clashing, but there seems to be more of a rift between coach Carroll and his veteran players. Carroll does better with young, strong-minded players. This group has perhaps been together too long.
      I also think they need a stronger personality coaching the defense. Richard is no Quinn or Bradley. Players like Bennett seem less motivated. I know Bennett is physically declining, but he looked dejected half the season, like he is ready to move on. Tough year for him. How many times did we see him stumble and ALMOST shoestring tackle a quarterback. Too much negative media attention for this team as well.
      I am definitely ready to put the 2017 year behind me. One of the most frustrating seasons to date, given the talent and all those expectations.

      Reply
    • Hawkman

      I agree with your view on the o-line and Cable for sure – He has had enormous input on FA’s , draft choices etc. to no avail in how many years ? ENOUGH!

      Reply
  6. Frank

    Thanks Brian for a thoughtful assessment of what changes are needed for 2018 and beyond. I think most 12s will be unhappy if we don’t see significant changes in the coaching staff. I’m hoping that the front office finds the magic touch that they had early in the regime especially with Pro Bowl level players. It will be a fascinating off season.

    Reply
  7. Zack

    It throubles me that their best drafts came shortly after Carroll left the college ranks, where he was monitoring talent for years and had an edge on who to draft. That edges is now past, and our drafts have not been as fruitful.

    Reply
  8. Steve

    Most successful teams are built around two or three A level players, half a dozen B level types, and the majority C’s, with a handful of D’s in backup roles. (The levels generally correspond to salaries).

    The Seahawks roster has something like 6-8 A level players commanding big salaries, a couple of B’s and a preponderance of C and D level players. In this age of salary cap limits that isn’t a sustainable formula. When Wilson began pulling in $20 million a year, keeping all those other top salaries meant the team had to go cheap on the o line and with key backups. Unfortunately, too many free agent (Jockell and Lacy) and late round draft picks have been disappointing.

    Reply
  9. Kurt Z

    Lets face it, win or lose, the SB window closed on this team, this core of players/coaches yesterday.

    That heavy burden, being the bully, having to take everybody’s best shot, playing in all those extra games over the last five seasons has taken its mental toll on everyone.

    Can you blame some of these guys for being happy on the sidelines that the rugged, (brutal for the NFL) schedule all Seattle teams have to face with the travel (a day each way when going to the East Coast) is over and they get to rest their war torn bodies?

    The PC/JS regime of Win Forever was exciting and energizing for young hungry players who were insulted by other teams passing them over, feeling the rah-rah love of Pete, the excitable recruiter.

    Now, the whole thing is suffocating, for these middle-aged guys who got their second contracts and can see that they are one bad, awkward play from having their careers “cut” short. (Remember the leg break heard round the locker room, that was ETIII trying to make an interception, get us a turnover: almost cost him his career)

    They are businessmen now, moving into the off-season, and knowing that JS’ reputation is that he can ruthlessly turn over a roster ( which he did when he came, and has now started with last year, moving like half the guys.)

    If JS really got control, I think he would change most of the staff including PC, but it is PC’s team and…..

    I bet the old man retrenches. Maybe a couple coaches move on, but PC will go down with his crew…..

    We will have to wait until it is crystal clear that the whole locker room has quit on Pete, say after an 0-5 start….

    Because next year, the games we should have lost early on, to both LAR and SF in the beginning of the year, we WILL lose them next year. Garoppolo is a WAY better Pro QB than RW is right now and Goff should have beat us twice, if not for the rookie drop in the end zone down there.

    We don’t even realy get a schedule break next year as we finished second in the division. And we are in salary cap hell.

    Our draft pick isn’t high enough for a real generational player at RB or OL. Last years pick will never be the same with the multitude of facial and cranial fractures cuz you cant play DLine with those lingering injuries.

    We need to go 5-11 next year to get one of those top ten picks and hope a hot young coach can turn this around.

    Treasure the ride.

    The greatest five years in Seattle pro sports history.

    Reply
    • John

      Garoppolo? Dude has played 5 games and he’s better than Russ? Clearly, the sky is falling.

      Reply
      • Uncle Bob

        I’ll tap the brakes on elevating JG over RW too, even though I’ve believe that SF should be expected to improve significantly next season with JG at the qb spot. Garoppolo is a dramatic example of what I advocate in having a coordinator/coach who tailors the game scheming to suit his player(s) skills and opponent tendencies. Watch his passing game and you’ll see he does the dink and dunk thing (a lot) with about a 14 nano second release (only a slight exaggeration). While Shanahan held him out for a few games at the beginning, he put him in sooner than many thought. I suspect that means JG is a quick study given Shanahan’s scheme complexities (though there’s probably some dial back there too). I think Russ would benefit from a mix of similar plays (quick routes/tosses), especially when the running game is as weak as it is. But for whatever reason(s), PC/DB/TC have chosen not to go there with any significance.

  10. Drunken Rant

    I think we’ve also established that we spent our top draft pick last year on someone who makes bad decisions. Who the HELL celebrates getting drafted into the NFL by joyriding around on an ATV? Follow that up with McDowell’s drunken Atlanta rant and I think we can consider that pick effectively flushed.

    Reply
  11. Squinty Vernier

    Reversion to the mean. It happens. Everything is waves and we’re headed for a trough.

    Very good article.

    A study of body language of the “business men” i.e. the well paid vets, might reveal who to eliminate and who to keep.

    Reply
  12. 1976Hawk

    Overall, Brian, a thoughtful article except on two fronts: Richard and Cable. How can you justify keeping a DC who is last in the league on 3rd and longs? Like a previous comment on here, if Always Compete is your mantra; than how is that stat holding true to that philosophy? It isn’t. Richard needs to be held accountable and let go.

    Furthermore, Cable got results three years in a row (2012-2014). Since then, it has been a Lyndsey Vonn slalom run to the bottom of the NFL in rushing yards. For three years we’ve been abysmal. You can site putting resources towards defense, but as the Hawks have shown this year, if there’s a guy worth paying, they will pay him. You were spot on with Cable’s ability to not spot talent. He’s absolutely not been good for almost 4 years. Heck, he even stated Joeckel was playing as the best left guard in the league in 2016 prior to his ACL tear. That should tell us all we need to know about Cable’s talent evaluation skills (Joeckel is not good).

    I agree with a previous comment as well: PC’s philosophy works well on guys who are young, hungry and want an NFL payday. Bennett for example, as you said yourself in earlier articles this year: is slower, doesn’t have the same drive, is good for two offside penalties a game and look at his distraction with his political views (I’m not here to say he’s wrong on his political views). Every week it was the proverbial question: is Bennett sitting or standing? That is a distraction no matter how you slice it. It is no longer about the team, but about the player. Young, hungry talented guys are needed on this roster. Roster turnover is necessary and shouldn’t be feared but embraced. Especially if “Always Compete” is in play. You’re right, the defensive side of the ball no longer intimidates or strikes fear in opponents. Instead, they’ve been exposed as old, injury proned, self entitled and most of all “poor losers”.

    With that being said, not all is lost. We still have excellent foundational pieces: Baldwin, RW, Wagner, Carson, Griffin, Clark, Naz Jones, Jarron Reed, etc. The older guys should be used to acquire picks so we can go through the “retooling process” (as the FO is calling it). As for coordinators, IMO we should go for young, hungry innovative guys on both sides of the ball, who want to seize on an opportunity to work with these players and make a name for themselves.

    It will be a highly interesting and exciting off season no doubt. But, it makes it more fun as well.

    Reply
  13. andy

    We can sit here and diagnosis all the “issues” w/ this team, but like I’ve said for the past couple of years, you start w/ leadership. The culture of competition and individualism is nice and great when your talents are stacked, and when your players are stronger, faster, and more physically gifted than the rest. However, when those physical attributes go away, then this is what you get. PC did the same thing at USC and he hasn’t changed a bit so I am not optimistic about his post-game comments as much as Brian. The guy is old and aging people don’t adapt or change that easily. If he can do it, then we might have a chance. If not, then history will repeat itself. Adaptability and accepting changes are not an easy thing to do when you have past successes. But that is the separation between good and great. PC is a one-trick pony. That is not a criticism or denigrate of his skills and talents, but he only knows one way of doing things. Btw, he still has a losing road record when RW has a winning one during his NFL career. Personally, I don’t see major changes. Maybe some minor “adjustments” to appease the fan-based. But if he can prove me wrong, then we might still have a chance.

    Seattle fans are still in “shocked” when we have been “feeding’ with the narrative of this team’s “greatness” for the past 2 or 3 years, after the SB debacle. However, it has been in decline, steadily in the past 2 or 3 years. I truly believe PC and JS think the window is closing fast so they tried to have the last “ride” w/ all the acquisitions, but didn’t anticipate the thing calls “injuries”. You win with talents but winning championship requires more than having a bunch of individual physical talents. It needs direction, a culture of teamwork and synergism, and strong leadership. , However, IMHO, even without the injuries, we probably would have made the playoffs, but not good enough to win the big one. Seattle fans have been longing for a winner for so long that when we HAD one, we just don’t want to let it go (it is not an easy thing to do). Let reality sets in and don’t be nostalgic about the past. Those memories should be treasured, but it is time to accept reality and move toward the future. The game calls football is truly a young man game that needs strong leadership from the top.

    Reply
  14. Crispy

    Richards should go

    Britt stunk at guard, stunk at tackle and now is ‘good’ at center? Maybe but he keeps getting burnt. He has been with the line the whole time it has stunk.

    If we can get something for Earl, yes trade him

    RW is a coach killer. We need to find someone who can get the most from him.

    This year I have liked Bevells calling, but RW won’t throw the ball.

    Teach him to throw on the back step, if its not there throw it away, unless in a 2 minute drill.

    THROW THE BALL RUSS!

    Its correct, the changes may make things worse, but this is not good enough.

    Reply
    • Kurt Z

      There you go Crispy.

      RW is a coach killer, a team destroyer, who in the end, is all about himself.

      He doesn’t throw in tempo cuz deep down, he isn’t a system guy. He wants to show you how its gonna fail, then do it his way so HE can show you what it takes to win – The Ball in his own hands.

      The problem this year is that something is wrong with his velocity. AC joint sprain, age, diminuative size, whatever it is now, he winds up and throws like he is pitching a baseball, so he is late on his delivery.

      And inaccurate.

      In forty plus years of athletics, player, coach, referee, I have seen these kinds of personalities come and go every once in awhile.

      Surprisingly talented, shows you that he’s on the coach’s side, a real leader, someone to bulid a team around when he has got his own agenda. Sure not gonna let any other talent out shine him.

      Reminds me a bit of Kobe Bryant – that fucker retired (two numbers!?!) with all those rings and the perfect record for him –
      The Most Missed Shots in the History of Basketball.

      Kobe always had to have the ball in this hands, then has the temerity to blame AAU for ruining American basketball, when it was KOBE who ruined AAU basketball first.

      Seeing RW running around, like some bullshit Turkey day frat boy in a flag football game, spinning around and throwing it up in the air for grabs…. He had the ball in his hands last in that Super Bowl….

      Until he threw to New England. Biggest missed shot in Super Bowl history.

      That’s how RW will ultimately be remembered.

      Reply
      • Bob

        Pretty tough, but some truth for sure. The play at the end of the first half yesterday was maddening. Russ scrambles for about 10 seconds and is unable to find an open receiver. Replay shows a wide open Lockett, but instead Russ ends up throwing it away. Punt. His consistent inability, or desire, to step up in the pocket (when it’s there) and instead pirouette into a scramble that leads to a throw away kills drives. I think he’s too old to change.

      • Hawkman

        Now I am not saying that there aren’t issues with RW , But you two are whet behind the ears. If his O-line since day one was decent up the middle so he had Normal time ( NFL time , 2.7 to 3 seconds , average protected time ) maybe just maybe he wouldn’t be so gun shy . Does he have limitations , yes . But I would bet a TON if he had a decent O-line especially up the middle with a run game added in he would eventually settle back down and be a quality QB for several more years !!! O-LINE < O-LINE <O-LINE! watch other teams with decent O-lines and how their QB's play and respond ( all 22 is the best )!

      • dave

        I agree with Hawkman, get RW a decent O Line, running game & some good coaching before you throw him under the bus. IMHO RW is a top 10 QB, there are probably 25 other teams that would love to have him.

  15. hawkdawg

    The continuing, I daresay stubborn, defense of Cable is utterly mystifying. That Emperor wears No Clothes. For the last three years he has had youth, experience, high round “talent,” cheap, expensive…the whole gamut…and his lines have ranged, game to game, from mediocre at the very best to embarrassingly awful much more often. My fear is Pete’s stubbornness will not let him admit this. I hope Schneider will gently lead him to the right place, or we will once again be stuck with a line coach and talent evaluator whose best days are manifestly far behind him.

    Reply
  16. Jinn

    The defensive line in particular looked like they just weren’t all that interested in post season football. I wonder if since most of them know what a super bowl contender looks like, and knowing we aren’t that this year, they didn’t see the point. They clearly weren’t competing like they “wanted it”

    Reply
  17. AB

    For me it’s coaching …
    The D doesn’t want to play for Richard,
    The O line doesn’t know how to play for Cable, and
    Bevell has no idea what to do with Russ, Jimmy, Doug and Co.
    This year ‘on paper’ I was more confident than any other year but it was obvious to me early that the coaching has once again gotten worse this year not better and they have in turn collectively lost the group.
    Clean out time at the HC, OC, OL and DC position. The talent is very much still there in the playing group.

    Reply
  18. Rowdy Yates

    People have faulted Carroll for being “Too loyal” in regard to his sticking by his inept assistant coaches. But it seems to me that
    fans who want to give Carroll another year are making the same kind of mistake.

    I recall Carroll talking last year about schooling Russ in Advance Quarterbacking, but then there “Wasn’t time” for Carroll to further Russ’s skills. (Something more important must have come up).

    I doubt that Mike Holmgren and Pete Carroll’s egos could co-exist, but Holmy as an O. C. would be a major “Shot in the arm.”
    Remember how often Holmy’s first fifteen scripted plays use to roll the Hawk’s O down the field?) As opposed to Bevell’s
    repeated “Three and Out” play calling.

    Bevell’s predictability is off the charts. Other teams have said they know what’s coming. (40 yard bombs and 4 Go routes to keep PC happy when Cable’s latest OL is yet another sieve, is a ludicrous
    “strategy.”

    And seriously, folks, why not try to hire Peyton Manning to teach Russ how to Read a defense pre-snap, and therefore How to audible? (One strategy for neutralizing blitzes, I hear).

    If the Hawks retain DB and TC, another year, I’m just going to have to do something healthy on Sunday afternoons, go on a bike ride, or buy a hula hoop, etc. Instead of drinking too much beer and talking at the TV, because “My team” is being stupid. Again.

    Enough is enough. PC & JS have forgotten how to walk on water. Or maybe their luck just ran out.

    Reply
  19. Hawkman

    I agree with a lot of your opinions, some not. First and foremost Cable has to go . His views on O-line talent has hit how many times over the years ??? He has been involved in FA’s ,the draft and trades to bring in talent and what has it got this team ? They can keep Britt at C and Brown at LT ,pick up a true Quality FA Guard and draft at least two more guards and then hope that Fant or Pocic ( who can’t play inside) will be the answer at RT , and one of them should be . That all by itself will hugely help or fix the run game with Carson back healthy , Davis and Rawls ( if they would at least give him a chance !!!)It should also allow RW to settle down without the immediate pressures from the inside . Lastly on offense get rid of J Graham , can’t stand any players that won’t give 100% and he doesn’t !!! I would bring back Kasen Williams for what he showed in preseason can’t be coached , you either have that or you don’t ! Defensively they need to work more on the D-line with a couple of fresh faces inside and out . It looks like Dion Jordan could turn into something. In my humble opinion LB is the easiest place to draft so they should be able to draft there as needed. Back field , I keep Maxwell, Shaq, JC, Shead coming back , hopefully work a deal with Earl and RS still has a contract ( get rid of Lane ) . Keep McDougal and let Kam go.
    I agree with fresh OC blood , but Cable must Go !!!! Why not bring back Gus Bradley on the D ?
    I honestly don’t think they are that far from being able to make another run IF they fix the O-line and add some quality to the D-line.
    I have been calling for Cables head and a commitment to the O-line since 2014, now Finally ,hopefully they will heed the call and put the importance of the O-line where it belongs !

    Reply
  20. Mylegacy

    Great article Brian, as usual.

    2017 Bit of a bummer, what?

    I really wish Carroll was 10 years younger. He and John came in and built a contender. A real legit, half a decade contender. Bravo. Great years! When Carroll and Co. came in they KNEW what they wanted and went to work gathering the players they needed. They got good (and lucky) in the draft and in their non-draft pick-ups.

    But like most contenders, guys get old, injured, too expensive… you know the drill.

    At some point the Contender is left with too many holes to be filled and must be rebuilt.

    We have the technology. But, do Carroll and Co. have the time?

    If he’s willing to stay to rebuild, (we’re in a fantastically strong spot to start a rebuild), to get us back to the top and to stay and see the Contending years through to the end – THEN – I’d love to be a fan for that trip.

    Carroll wanted to build a run first offense with a bruising, faster than god defense. He did. If he rebuilds will he still want to go run first?

    I am stunned by the size and quickness of SO MANY front 7 defenders. On many teams. I wonder if a run first offense is still the way to go? However, I would be really happy if it is. Two or three backs, motion, screens, speed, options, blocking, power. Mated with big play passes.

    Lombardi style ball control smash mouth football. OK – the first hint I’m old. Very old. I grew up in Hamilton, Ontario and their Tiger-Cats were MY Tiger-Cats (still are with the Seahawks a close second) from 1957 to 1967 (11 years) they were monsters. While I grew from 11 to 22 MY team were gods. They’ve NEVER been near Monsters since – except for a year or two.

    Once the Genie has left town…sometimes the little beastie never wants to go back in that town’s bottle. We’ve seen magic in Seattle. Beautiful magic. IF – Pete was younger I’d give my next 10 years fall and early winter up, to watch him try and lace the cleats back on the genie.

    If Pete and John want to make the commitment. I’ll back anything they want to try. Win, lose or draw – it would be an exciting trip! Now, if only my incurable cancer lets me join those two long enough for me to make the whole trip with them.

    Reply
  21. dhd

    This article would look totally different if the team just had Hauschka, and yet we’re acting like the sky just fell. It didn’t, and this team could rebuild sufficiently to contend in one freaking off season. I think it’s obvious that the team has personnel issues, and until it fixes those issues, I can’t see why everyone is so adamant about Bevell and/or Cable. No OC could succeed with Seattle’s o line, it’s RBs, Graham and others dropping important passes, and Carroll insisting on establishing the run with no running game personnel. Bevell and Cable were at the wheel for the most successful years of this franchise’s history, and now they forgot how to coach? NO! They are fine if you give them some players who can execute. Stop listening to Cable as an o line scout, or just stay the course with the current group, which is actually improving. Now, the hard part, get another RB or two who can backup Chris Carson, get Carson one or two additional blockers upfront, draft another few defensive prospects, and maybe you’re back in the playoffs in 2018.

    Reply
    • Uncle Bob

      As one of those that frequently advocates for a change in coaching at the coordinator level I’ll not argue with your perspective but rather, offer some thoughts for consideration. I don’t believe these guys have “forgotten how to coach”, my point is they aren’t coaching to the talents of the current players, and to the changes in the approach of the competitors. One way to put that is, what worked two seasons (or any number you’d prefer)ago, doesn’t necessarily work today. I have said equally as often, we have good coaches, but no longer championship coaches. If we only faced the bottom half of the league, we’d be golden (part of why there will be so many coaching shuffles in the next month or so mostly in the bottom half). But the championship guys are a different matter. And I focus more on the coordinator level because we make somewhat regular changes to assistant coaches each season. For example, last season Sherman Smith, a favorite with we older fans who had affection for his days as a back on this team, who had been running back coach for awhile, was fired. I don’t know who replaced him, but apparently it didn’t help much as our running game went further downhill. That begs the question: “Did the wrong guy in charge of running backs get fired?” I could go on in that vein throughout each position group, but that’s a decent example. As this team has declined in a slow but ever downward arc the past few years we need to look at what hasn’t changed. There are a couple “myths” that get into the discussion. One is, we need to rebuild. Yet each season something around 1/3 of the roster changes. Sure, a core of long term players (high visibility) remain, which give legs to that meme, but in this CBA world of today there’s constant roster churning which resembles “rebuilding”. That goes to another popular myth about “Super Bowl hangover……”. Yeah, that loss sticks with us, but the actual number of players on todays roster who actually lived it, and presumably suffer from that experience, is a distinct minority, albeit the team “leaders”. However, what is still in place is the upper level of coaches………….who may have some “hangover”…..I don’t know for sure, but if someone wants to make that argument then it shouldn’t just apply to the players.

      We’re at a cross roads with this team (though many will poo poo that idea). A significant number of our competitors are demonstrating equally significant improvement, and we aren’t………….even if we “tread water” we fall behind. As fans, we really don’t know where the most significant decision short comings are, that’s insider knowledge, but we do know who’s tasked with the responsibility………and it ain’t the players alone.

      Reply
      • David

        I think it’s easier to blame coaches than players, because it’s more fun to think that with one simple change, things would be right again. The problem is, in this case, you have players who just plain suck. Give this same group to Bill Walsh, and he’d cut them and draft new guys. It’s obviously not Darrell Bevell’s fault that the o line can’t block, and yet everyone is calling for Bevell’s job, instead of telling the truth, which is that Seattle needs new linemen, still, and a new running back or a healthy Chris Carson. It’s frustrating, but the team would be better served to find good players and keep these good coaches to make them the next champion players.

      • dhd

        Bob, it’s so much more simple than a discussion about coaching or identity. The team had much better linemen, and a pro bowl level Marshawn Lynch when it went to two super bowls. The team has replaced them with horrendous linemen who completely miss blocks regularly and set records for penalties. The team lost Sherman and Chancellor and Avril, all extremely important to the past success, and replaced them with rookies and slightly above average backups. It’s painfully obvious why the team didn’t score points or stop other teams, and yet everyone on here wants to blowup the whole foundation and make Pete start over with new coaches while also trying to draft, sign, and coach up the new talent that we’ll obviously need too. Seems a lot simpler if you just replace the pro bowl talent with potential pro bowlers from the draft and free agency, and coach them with assistants who already have rings. That’s my two cents.

  22. pkgoode

    I think that the case is clearer cut for moving on from Cable. The zone scheme has failed because — if you believe Ray Roberts and Dave Wyman — the talent in the backfield and on the OL isn’t there. What talent is there either gets held back by the constant shuffling or is misused: E.g., Roberts says that Britt is the only center in the NFL who pull for run-blocking, but the zone scheme doesn’t allow for pulling. Wyman points out that the few times the lineman have gone man and pulled guards or Britt have been successful.

    It’s also time to move on from this two-headed coordinator setup with Cable in charge of the running game. That’s actually the best case against Bevel — the offensive coordinator should be trusted to run the entire offense and all offensive coaches should report to him. If Carroll believes that Bevel is up to this, then give him control; otherwise, get a coordinator who has his full trust. That’s Management 101.

    Richard, I’m not worried about, although they might take a hard look at Board and Barrow. Take Avril, Chancellor, and Sherman away from Quinn’s and Bradley’s defenses and they would struggle too, especially if Wagner and Wright were playing hurt.

    Reply

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