The Morning After: Seahawks Surprising Season Comes to an End
Offense
Defense
Special Teams
2.9Game Rating
Reader Rating: (19 Votes)

I have become accustomed to being let down over the decades when Seahawks teams I believed in fell short of their potential. That frustration played a large role in my passion for blogging as I wanted to research and find indicators to help me better anticipate just how hopeful I should be about my favorite team. Those indicators have served me well as a useful counterweight to my oversized and irrational fanatical side. This team, though, surprised me. Time after time, they surpassed my expectations.

It would have been another wonderful surprise had they found their way past the Cowboys last night. That they fell short leaves me less upset than almost any end to the season I can remember, outside of the Super Bowl. This was a season that never should have been, and almost never was. They rediscovered their identity, both as a hard-nosed team and as the underdog.

How they accomplished this feat cut against league trends, and rankled many fans who see fault and foolishness where I see beauty and conviction. This game will serve as validation for the naysayers.

No doubt, the Seahawks coaches were far too stubborn with running the ball against Dallas. It was easy to see this coming.


This may be a game similar to Carolina, though, where the team needs to take advantage of the Cowboys overcommitment to defending the run by roasting them through the air.

From my Tale of the Tape preview

Unlike the Carolina game, Brian Schottenheimer never adjusted. People will say the final touchdown drive was what they should have been doing all along, but that ignores the fact that Dallas was playing different defensively in that situation and Seattle always scores touchdowns in those situations.

Also unlike the Carolina game, the Cowboys mounted a more effective pass rush that had men in Russell Wilson’s face almost every time he dropped back. They also had far better cover corners than Carolina.

I will not defend the way the game was called by Schottenheimer because I agree it was a good example of his limitations as a play caller that has serious implications for the ceiling of this offense while he is at the helm.

The idea that Seattle would have clearly won this game had they just passed more is flawed. There was enough disruption from that Cowboys defensive line and the coverage was good enough from their secondary that more throws might have meant swapping 0-1 yard gains on the ground for negative yards from a sack or turnovers. Part of what kept Seattle in this game was not turning the ball over.

Losing sucks. People will always look for whipping boys. Schottenheimer is an easy target here and deserves some lashing. I also think Dallas wins this game 55-60% of the time no matter how the Seahawks called plays on offense. The Cowboys defense played well. Their offensive line played far better than I expected. Dallas won this game more than the Seahawks lost it.

Even with the offense sputtering, the Seahawks had the lead going into the fourth quarter, and very possibly could have been leading at halftime if not for two of many defensive miscues from Shaquill Griffin on the night.

Even after giving up the lead, had Seattle not allowed Dak Prescott to run for a first down on 3rd and 14, the Seahawks would have had the ball with plenty of time to score a touchdown and take the lead.

One of the worst red zone offenses in football was allowed to go 3 for 4 scoring touchdowns. Turn one of those into a field goal, and Seattle might have won.

Special teams was bad again. They allowed one punt return for a touchdown that was called back due to penalty, and then allowed another massive return.

Had this game been played in Seattle, I believe the Seahawks would have won. Dallas is a completely different team on the road, and the Seahawks have one of the league’s best homefield advantages. The focus has to be on getting back to contending for a Super Bowl, and that was incredibly unlikely to happen with this roster and this path of three straight road games.

The Seahawks have to find a way back to hosting playoff games, and that means winning division titles. Their roster was cobbled together this season with lots of players who may not be back.

This is not like 2012 where the Seahawks just need to add a few pieces to an elite young core. They need to both be smart about which veterans they re-sign, and which they let go to make way for younger and cheaper options.

The offensive line is a perfect example where J.R. Sweezy and D.J. Fluker are both free agents. Both were key to the Seahawks success this year, and yet they have injury concerns that will not simply get better with age. They may be costly as well given the premium for offensive linemen these days.

Sign them both, and you will have less money to spend on defense, where the roster is most in need of a talent infusion. Nobody who played next to Bradley McDougald looked promising. Both corners were decent, but pretending they were more than that could lead to more disappointment.

Linebackers were a mess. Bobby Wagner was brilliant, but he was mostly surrounded by ineptitude. Barkevious Mingo should absolutely be cut. Shaquem Griffin has not shown himself capable of stepping in, and Austin Calitro is a backup.

K.J. Wright played wonderfully in what is likely his last game in a Seahawks uniform. Wagner pleaded his case in the postgame for why his teammate deserves to get paid. It is true. He does deserve that. I would also be disappointed if they paid him much.

Wright has been injured all season, and is turning 30. Rookies can step in and have an impact at the linebacker position. There is also an argument to be made that Mychal Kendricks is more valuable than Wright at this stage in their careers. Kendricks is a better athlete, a year younger, and does not have the injury concerns that Wright does.

Those represent just a sampling of the decisions John Schneider and Pete Carroll will have to make this offseason. While this season was incredibly fun and joyous, it was not a clear step forward toward building a championship roster. Young players like Jacob Martin, Rasheem Green, David Moore, and the corners must show dramatic improvement next season. Schneider must have a terrific draft, and make wise use of his cap space.

Having Wilson at quarterback and Carroll as a coach who can architect a defense, represent significant advantages for Seattle in making this new ascent. Brace for more change this offseason. For now, savor a year that was far more than any of us could have reasonably expected.

16 Responses

  1. Steven Dominguez

    Brian,

    Great perspective, as always. Agree that we all got more than we expected, but also think that we’ve got a lot to look forward to. We made significant progress in areas that we’re unexpected this year. For example, as the season started did anyone think Jarrran Reed would have 10 sacks? Anyone expect Russell to make progress this year in actually dumping off the ball? Tre Flowers successfully making a position change, Willy Dilly (Dissly) as an offensive weapon, Delano Hill actually contributing, etc. etc. Lots of unexpected incremental progress this year, so I think we can expect much more next year too.

    In an effort to turn the corner to the positive, I found it cathartic to make a top 10 list. Here are the top 10 things I’m looking forward to next season:

    10. Expanded playbook – it won’t take much to add to our offensive creativity
    9. A better kicker – or at least one that can tackle when needed
    8. Russell dumping off the ball – stepping up into a pocket was a start
    7. Willy Dilly – hopefully he can come back strong from his injury
    6. Dickson – our best defensive weapon will deliver more knuckle-balls inside the 5
    5. More pass rush – one more bonafide rusher will do – Jacob Martin? Trade? Draft?
    4. Offensive line moves – Jamarco? Jordan? George? Others will step up next year
    3. Healthy Doug – Doug being healthy is lethal. David Moore progress is a bonus
    2. The Draft – Few picks, but lots of available D linemen and perhaps a hidden gem?
    1. More Run Game – We’re just getting started

    Reply
    • Andy

      It is funny but every off season, people are saying the same stuff and nothing really has changed. The team surprised me and exceeded my expectation. I was expecting a .500 team. Sometimes we tend to think something good has happened at ONE time, and we expect to be the same in the future. For example, Reed is not going to get 10 sacks next year. It is one of those things “Every dog has its day”. It is not going to happen. It will always come down to PC and how he can adapt, which I don’t think he can. People say the team has its identity back. But the identity that embedded within that philosophy has always been there. They just have better personnel and execution.

      I didn’t expect them to win last night, but that was a winnable game. PC is a good coach, not a great one. Last night just demonstrated his ineptitude to make adjustments or changes on the fly. This is not a knock on him, but he is an one trick pony coach. Only knows and does one thing. One thing that really pissed me off that he didn’t even trust a first ballot HOF qb and Garrett trusted his. In his career, so far, Prescott has the lowest passer rating against Seattle. And Garrett trusted him. PC didn’t. That was an underlying theme of the whole game. Just imagine if that were Aaron Rodgers or Big Ben, they probably would have a fitted, but RW is not that type of a player. He does not complain; a team player.

      Regarding the draft, JS and PC have been horrible in picking players since 2012 when they hit a home run. Accidentally, that was the last time when Scott was still around. Don’t have really faith in their evaluation anymore. Griffin are Ifedi are a bust. The only good return is Clark. But the guy didn’t show up when it counted. Should have never picked RP that high. They could have had a really good secondary player at that position.

      This team will never win another SB as long as PC is still around. Probably making into the playoffs and gets bounced in the 1st or 2nd round. Not going to win the West as long as the Rams are still around. I hope RW does not extend his contract because that would be a waste of his talent. He is not going to win another one soon.

      Reply
      • Brad

        I don’t think it’s so much PC doesn’t trust his quarterback. I think they had too much trust in their running game. Adjustments needed to be made at some point.
        I was overall happy with the season. It’s clear the offseason will show a lot. Who will they choose to build around? That’s the question.

    • Doug

      Great post Brian, and reply Steven. I will be crossing my fingers about Dissly (and there have been reports of him working hard at VMAC recovering) because that patellar tendon injury is one that many struggle to come back from.

      This was essentially a red-shirt year for Green and I expect to see a lot more from him next year. Martin had a great rookie season which shows promise for next year also. The DL may be ok even without a major draft infusion but with many good draft prospects, there may be some help coming to a good young core.

      Agree with Brian that this is not quite like 2012 in terms of the D quality coming back, but it may not be too far off. Flowers was remarkable in his first season as a safety conversion at CB, and Griffen’s first season as CB1 was ok. Both should be better next year. The key weakness of the D is at LB–I just don’t see KJ coming back on a new contract unless his medical prognosis is outstanding. Kendricks may or may not be available. The Seahawks need a high-quality addition to the LB unit.

      Thank you, Brian, for another great year of Seahawks discussion! Looking forward to the 2019 season already.

      Reply
      • Doug

        Brian, I have made a New Year resolution to support what I like to read on the internet. I always seek out your column post-game, and really appreciate your insight to the team and its performance.

        I have signed up through Patreon to support Rob Statton’s great blog and would like to do the same for yours, but I don’t see a link?

        Let me (and perhaps others) know how I can best support your blog and the fine work you do!

        Cheers,
        Doug

  2. jdk

    Maybe you are right. Maybe if the Seahawks passed more, they wouldn’t necessarily have won. But Wilson has delivered magic time and again for this franchise and I believe he would have found a way to win this game if he had been given a true opportunity.

    As a fan, I feel like Seattle wasn’t even given a chance to see more of that magic because of a stubborn insistence on a philosophy that simply wasn’t working in that game.

    I believe this team could have played toe to toe with anybody and could have outscored even the highest of the high flying offenses (see Kansas City), if Pete had been willing to give it a chance to do so.

    Reply
    • Andy

      To be honest, I am getting sick and tired of people making excuses for PC. Nobody holds him accountable for anything. If the team wins, then he gets most of the love, but when they lose, then it is always someone else. Last night was Schotty. The recurring theme is getting so old that it reminds me of the 8-track player back in the days. This is PC’s team, not Schotty, not RW, not BW etc. The thing that pissed me off the most is that he didn’t even trust a first ballot HOF qb whereas Garrett trusted his. We can talk about personnel, execution, and everything else, but that was the underlying decided factor of the game. Didn’t expect them to win, but that was a winnable game. Instead of going down swinging, they stuck to be safe and not playing to win. So, in a way, they deserve to lose and PC owns that loss like the SB debacle.

      Reply
  3. Joe

    Generally pleased with the season, though I do see this playoff loss as a coaching
    failure, they also probably wouldn’t have been there without many coaching successes.

    I am still struggling with the question of if they can have a “complete circle” to use Pete’s term (tough run game and top tier D) with a top paid QB, or if they should even try. It seems like something has to give there, because you’re asking for dominance in every phase of the game with a ton of resourced dedicated to 1. Color me skeptical.

    Reply
  4. cchansen

    I love being a Seahawk fan. They possess such a unique persona one never knows what they’ll do next. They take me on one wild ride. It goes from frustration to hope and everything in between.

    This season was so enjoyable for me. It was intense, confusing at times, then to great heights followed by deep descents and back again. Anyone who loves roller coasters can dig it. It was exciting, interesting, and therefore fun. Thank you Seahawks and all of HB crew and members. I learned a lot.

    The Bryds say it better.

    “To everything, turn, turn, turn.
    To every season, turn, turn, turn.”

    Reply
  5. Steven B.

    Brian,

    I agree to a point. This season far exceeded my expectations and was alot of fun. However, the failure to adjust to what is happening on the field and the incredible predictability of our offense is a massive failure. I have never been more disgusted with the final game of a season as I am now.

    The game is in Dallas is, in my opinion, the most egregious error of the Pete Carroll era. The super bowl play call was correct based on the defense the Patriots were in. The adjustments necessary in Dallas were OBVIOUS and were never made. It is even worse when you have an example from earlier in the year when they made the necessary adjustments.

    The quality of the defense on the other side does not matter if you fail to make the necessary adjustments. If they adjusted and you still lost then you were simply beaten by a better team. Now, we have to go through the off season wondering ‘what if the coaches had put the game into the hands of one of the best quarterbacks in the league’.

    Reply
  6. Kurt Z

    Hey thanks for the great year and a good forum.

    This year turned out to be Fool’s gold.

    From a GM’s perspective, the team saw itself stepping back in 2018 because it made a BIG bet the previous year that they had a roster that could win it all in 2017, so they mortgaged their future with draft picks and salary cap…. And they lost.

    Didn’t even make the playoffs. The stars quit on the coach. (‘member that Rams home loss.)

    Usually everyone gets fired but PC threw all his assistants under the bus to keep his job. It is his team after all,….. until its not.

    PC/JS expected to go 6-10 ( with their second place schedule ) and maybe get the 9th pick in the draft, find a real difference maker,….. but two things happened that they didn’t count on.

    First – the NFC collapsed. Utterly fell apart.

    Kirk Cousins (and his contract) killed Minnesota. Green Bay imploded, Carolina came unglued. San Francisco and Arizona would get relegated if they were playing English Premier football.

    See those extra four losses in there?

    Second – Chris Carson stayed healthy, for the most part.

    Gotta give PC some credit on this front. Instead of the brain-dead, 1979-thinking that PC is stuck in most of the time about bell-cow running backs (give ’em the ball 30 times a game until they die) he kept his carries in the low twenties and rotated in Davis and the rookie. Nursed Carson along and it worked.

    They got some good O-line play in front of them and the backs were able to punish teams.

    RW is an effective play-action QB who throws a good deep ball, but he has to have a long time to get through these long-developing plays (that PC likes)

    10-6 instead of 6-10.

    But now we are off-track.

    Our roster is short 5 players. We don’t have that much money to throw around, now that a whole bunch of guys need to get paid.

    Draft picks are SO much cheaper to control.

    If Ciara’s husband needs his $35 mil……

    A Fool’s gold year.

    Reply
  7. Hawkhomer1

    Hi Brian,
    Love your commentary. I was also pleasantly surprised by how well this team did this year. It was a great ride to be sure. That was a far more entertaining season than the 8-8 seasons of the past and we really were in all the games until the end.
    With that said, I see a potential regression next year. We far exceeded on the takeaways this year and I do not see that happening again next year. While we did suffer some nagging injuries, overall we were relatively injury free, Thomas and KJ being the exceptions.
    In 2012 you could see the coming ascension, but the horizon looks murky with this squad. With the lack of draft picks it will be difficult to fill all of the holes. We must sign Frank to a long term deal. I also think that if KJ is healthy we need to consider him a priority. Linebackers seem to have a longer NFL lifespan than most other position groups. If he would take a 2 year team friendly deal we should keep him. I have faith in Pete’s ability to coach up the secondary so would like to see them get some help for Frank and Jarren with the first pick.
    I love the run first offense. The guys we have on the line are built for it. Even with the improvement RW was still sacked way too much. Had we tried to pass more he may not be standing now. It also chewed up clock which kept this OK defense on the sidelines and fresh.
    As always the glimmer is back in my eyes and my heart springs eternal for what next season has in store.
    Go Hawks!

    Reply
  8. Rowdy Yates

    I would love to watch RW play for a wide open OC. But that will never happen under Pete.

    Nick Vannett blocked super well against Dallas. As Brian and other noted, Shaq’s play was subpar.

    With new ownership there’s a slight chance Pete will be gone. Again, love to see RW unshackled. Even if it means less wins. (I want to be entertained more by Seattle ball. Don’t want to see anymore 4 yard play calls on yet another 3rd and long). I say spend a 1st or 2nd on a game changing WR. Hope to improve the DL in house, therefore.

    Reply
  9. michael mccarthy

    Hi

    This could really be a genetics thing. I remember his dad with at least 5 great teams with 12 to 13 win seasons. I don t remember a playoff win. It was always the same.
    A great O line, a great and good running backs, during the season his teams just rolled over opponents. So much to expect. And in the playoffs teams loaded the box, scared the quarterback, and nothing.

    Reply
  10. JoeB

    This is NOT 2012 revisited, Hawk fans. Too many players were filled with one-year contracts and others are becoming free agents. It will take two more years of transition through good drafts and picking up pieces to fit. The refit isn’t over… it’s just beginning.
    My mom taught me the way to trim back a bush is in third, a third of the branches each year. That’s what Seahawks need to focus on. 2011 is over. 2012 starts next April.

    Reply
  11. SikHawk

    We lost coz,
    1- C.Bass tore his hammy, otherwise he scores & we win by 1pt. GET A GREAT PLACE KICKER
    2 – DJF & Shaq.G shuda NOT played. Trainers deserved to be sacked, as prior to this they cud NOT even figure out how to fix A.Collins migraine, Ravens did & getting good play from him now.
    3- Brians right, Dak won it at 3&14. Cowboys OL caught fire, it happens!
    4- JRSweez did great with broken bone, but this combined with DJF Hammy, meant there was NO Fizz in run game. J.Symmonds IR really hurt us. So GET RUSS a tall WR/TE to help Tyler & Doug, as Explosive plays to WR would also create run gaps. D.Moore needed to do more. Willy Dilly IR hurt us big.
    5- Next Year there will be big jumps from contract year & sophomore players;
    CJProsise
    Tre Flowers
    Other Shaq.G
    R.Green
    J.Jones
    J.Symmonds
    Willy Dilly
    R.Penny
    D.Hill
    Teddy T
    G.Ifedi

    Extend F.Clarj J.Reed & Russ
    Franchise ET3 & either trade him for a 1st or get a SB winning HoF season out of him, the collect a supplemental 3rd for him in 2020.

    Pete is a defensive genius & our great new OL Coach will now be able to draft great OL’s, unlike Cable.

    JOYOUS SEASON THAT WILL BE SURPASSED BY WINNING SB in FEB 2020.

    Reply

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