The Morning After: Seahawks Can Fight No More After 28-23 Loss to Packers
Offense
Defense
Special Teams
3.0Game Rating
Reader Rating: (12 Votes)

Pick one word to describe this Seahawks season. Mine would be, “tortuous.” An odd choice for a team that won 11 times in the regular season and a playoff game. It could be interpreted as ungrateful or spoiled. I do not mean it to be. This season has exhausted me. It has raised and lowered my expectations from game-to-game, play-to-play. Areas that were strengths became weaknesses, and vice versa. I felt like I was on a roller coaster built on top of merry-go-round. Trying to make sense of this team was disorienting to the point of nausea.

There were thrills, to be sure. The win against the 49ers was as happy as I have been in years. Seattle looked like a legitimate title contender in that game. A ferocious defense, paired with an MVP quarterback and budding young offense. Then, catalyst Jadeveon Clowney has a major injury that renders him ineffective the rest of the regular season and the offense recedes into a funk, including their star quarterback and their injured top receiver.

The second 49er game is another perfect example of what this season was. A talent gap that was too much to overcome for the first half before roaring back in the second half and coming within inches of winning while making a series of crippling mistakes.

Outside of San Francisco, there are no complete teams in the NFL this year. A team with so many flaws and injuries like the Seahawks could compete with anyone due to their QB and their coach.

An increasing number of fans will scream at the screen when seeing any credit being given to Pete Carroll. While they will get no argument from me that he made major errors in relying on the base defense all season, keeping this special teams coach, and a number of teeth-gnashing game management decisions, I believe there may not be another coach in the game who could have squeezed more effort and unity out of this roster.

John Schneider deserves at least as much scrutiny. There were very few games where the Seahawks roster was more talented than their opponents. Quarterback, receiver, and running back were the areas of strength. The Packers, for example, are not a powerhouse by any stretch, but they had a more talented player at almost every position on the field. Seattle cannot afford another Malik McDowell, L.J. Collier, or even overdrafting a position like running back as they did with Rashaad Penny.

Seattle was starved for pass rush this season. They traded away Frank Clark, which made a lot of sense strategically. Then they signed Ziggy Ansah, which was a complete failure. Shaquil Barrett signed a 1 year, $4M contract with the Bucs and finished with 19.5 sacks. Those who listen to our podcast know I was advocating for him last offseason. Robert Quinn signed a 1 year, $10M contract with the Cowboys and finished with 11.5 sacks. He was another obvious target.

Green Bay went the more expensive route, signing Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith to four-year deals worth over $50M, but were rewarded with 26.5 sacks between them.

Chase Winovich was taken with the 77th pick, one Seattle owned. Imagine if the Seahawks took D.K. Metcalf with their first pick and Winovich with their 3rd. Or even if they had found a player other than Jacob Martin to include in the Clowney deal.

I am not calling for Schneider’s ouster. I love him as our GM. I also believe he has not maximized his chances to surround Russell Wilson and provide Carroll with a great roster. Give the Seahawks one or two more quality players and they probably win that game yesterday.

It is impossible to ignore the injury situation. I do not start there because depth is part of your team. People forget the 2013 Seahawks played for weeks without either starting tackle, as well as lost their starting center for a long stretch, and had Brandon Browner suspended. K.J. Wright missed a bunch of games and Sidney Rice was lost for the year. Fans tend to think of that team as being healthier because the players who stepped in were talented and capable.

That said, this Seahawks team is not very deep at a number of positions, and even where they were, they suffered major losses. Running back 1, 2, and 3 were lost. Tight ends 1 and 2. Left guard 1 and 2. Center 1 and 2 (or 3 if you think Pocic was behind Hunt on the depth chart). Left tackle 1 played hurt all season. DE 1 and 2. WR 3. DT 2. DT 1 for six weeks. In all, no team had a higher total of player games lost to injury than Seattle.

How might have this game have turned out differently if Will Dissly was healthy? What about Al Woods? Chris Carson? Those were real, and the team did their best to overcome them.

It contributed to that hollow feeling as a fan that made it difficult to truly believe this team was capable of a sustained run of quality play. Many will blame the coaches. Finger pointing happens. I just see a team that was not one of the five most talented in the NFL when healthy (maybe not even the ten most talented) that was decimated by injury. Better game plans or game management decisions may have resulted in a few better outcomes. Better talent would have as well, and is more independent of coaching.

For this particular game, it was there for the taking. Green Bay is not a great team. The offensive game plan was not good enough early. Seattle’s defense was not very good this year, and that proved to be their downfall against a mediocre offense. Giving up 3rd down after 3rd down will kill a team. Even with all that, Seattle very well might have won had Malik Turner made the simple catch on the team’s last drive.

Wilson was terrific in the second half. The completely different mentalities between the first and second half gets aggravating. It has been that way for a long time. Brian Schottenheimer will spend the offseason trying to figure out how they can start stronger. Seattle finished 15th in the NFL in first half scoring and 8th in second half scoring. There is no reason they cannot be consistent across a game. Figure that out, and you likely also figure out how to be consistent across a season.

This team will look very different next season. The 2020 offseason will set the course for the next 3-4 years. Seattle has a ton of cap space, and create a bunch more by cutting Justin Britt and Ed Dickson. They could consider cutting D.J. Fluker as well. They also have four picks in the first three rounds of the draft, and six picks in the first four rounds.

The flipside of all this opportunity is that Seattle has needs all over the place. They need a nickel corner, an outside corner to push Tre Flowers, defensive ends, defensive tackles, right tackle, center (if Britt is released), receiver, and tight end. You could argue they need more linebackers and even running backs as well.

There will be time to discuss the offseason. For now, we lay to rest a tumultuous season full of heart and heartache, joy and aggravation. We have seen a glimpse of what may become one of the best receiving duo in the game with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. We saw Wilson vault into being a true MVP contender. We saw Carson become one of the games best runners, and Penny shed the bust label. We got to know Quandre Diggs and loved what he can do for this secondary the next 4-5 years. There were shimmers of potential from Marquise Blair and Rasheem Green and Cody Barton and even Shaquem Griffin. Shaquill Griffin became a reliable cover corner. With all that went wrong, this team made a lot go right while facing the league’s toughest schedule. That flips to what should be one of the league’s easiest schedule next season.

If this version of the Seahawks can go toe-to-toe with the most talented roster in the NFL while splitting two games, win eleven games and a playoff match, what will next year’s crew be capable of? I look forward to finding out.

Thanks to all of you for supporting the blog and podcast this season. We are on track to meet our goal of donating another $20K to Ben’s Fund later this year, while also improving the quality and amount of content we are providing. It’s never too late to join our community at patreon.com/hawkblogger. We may try to organize some live events during the offseason. I wish you all a great new year, and stay tuned for draft and free agency content soon!

13 Responses

  1. Scott Crowder

    You forgot, they need a LT and pretty much an offensive line.

    And I’m so tired of saying that every year.

    Reply
  2. Uncle Bob

    I am so glad the agony is over for this season……….well, almost over…………….there will be the insufferable Niner fans who have a few years of pent up obnoxiousness to release on the world. Shannahan showed his master touch Saturday when he made adjustments on the fly from the first snap on which just crushed the Vikings. Green Bay will suffer similarly next weekend. If only………………………….

    I didn’t see the podcast with Warren Sharp ahead of the game last night, but apparently I had an innate sense of his primary message. His best predictive message, for those who didn’t see it, was if the Seahawks came out aggressive in the beginning of the game and held a lead at half time they stood an excellent chance of winning. I will admit, I turned off the game at the two minute warning of the first half. We’ve seen the pattern too many times in the past. I know better (I think/wish/hope) that the offensive opening script isn’t intended to be three and out, but we see it too often in games that are lost. (I did enjoy watching old episodes of Firefly on my dvr though.) We are not in the building so when folks make a hard statement about whatever it is they believe “the problem is”, it’s purely speculation. I will say though, poor starts to games are a definite pattern. For me that brings into question who and how opponent scouting and game plan prep are done. Being generous, I suspect that the “personality” of the current coaching staff (it’s not just Pete, though the staff are his hires) is a risk averse. “wait and see” style. Unfortunately it usually takes them until half time to figure out how they will respond. I’m, quite frankly, tired of that. It’s the difference between good and great. Considering the talent level and injury loses this season the staff did a good job of coaching……………………….but to advance beyond last night they needed to be great. They didn’t do it, and probably can’t. I’m done with that discussion for this season.

    Spring is a time of renewal, and so it is for this team and we fans. All the machinations of the draft prep and subsequent event, the free agency shuffles, and maybe, just maybe, some coaching staff upgrades are ahead of us. Hang on to the hope comrades, it’s all we got now.

    Reply
  3. king.

    Great wrap up Brian.

    A few questions (I know you almost never respond in the comments’ section, but still):

    1. I see a roster built in Pete’s vision. Do you really think the lack of depth and talent is on Schneider, or, as I see it, it is more reflective of a collaboration of the two, with choices made with a strong nod to the kind of player Pete wants to see? I have a hard time giving Pete credit for wrangling 12 wins out of a depleted roster when I think he was at least 50% responsible for that roster.

    2. Do you think there is any correlation between the physical style that Pete wants to play, with a strong emphasis on the run, and the injury rate? The defense had some injuries this year, but Diggs, McDougald, Shaquill, Flowers, Wagner, Wright, Amadi, Reed, and Clowney all dressed last night. Yeah, some were nursing knocks, but what team isn’t this time of year. The only real losses were an ineffectual Ansah and Kendricks, which going to more nickel might not have been the worst plan anyway. The defense wasn’t below average this year because of injuries. It was just below average. But there was real carnage on the offensive side of the ball. Lineman, tight ends, running backs. Maybe coaches who emphasize creativity, use of space, a little more passing, and intelligence as opposed to physicality are also putting their line and running backs through less wear and tear?

    3. I agree with you 100% that San Francisco is the only complete team in the league, but I am curious why you don’t consider Baltimore in that group. They were #1 DVOA total offense, rushing offense, and passing offense. They were #4 DVOA total defense, #4 passing defense, and #19 rushing defense. They were #10 DVOA special teams. I contend that Baltimore was missing one crucial part of being a truly complete team and that their incredible season was a testament to how well they used analytics and scheming to compensate for the one thing they lacked: a reliable passer.

    I probably won’t get any answers, but I pose the questions in an intellectually honest fashion in any case.

    Have a great off-season!

    Reply
  4. Michael

    Brian just a quick note to thank you for continuing to share your passion with us and for again providing Hawks fans with tremendous analysis and insight during the season. Really enjoy your work and appreciate all the time and effort you put in to Hawkblogger. Looking forward to an eventful offseason!

    Reply
  5. Kyle

    Thank you Brian, for all the heart and soul you pour into your fandom and into this blog. I eagerly anticipated your posts every week, especially this morning after.

    I appreciate you are willing to think outside the box and leave no stone unturned in your analysis. You’ve got me thinking about Schneider’s role in roster construction, and how much of the depth issues might be connected to his decisions. I don’t know how answerable it will ever be given Pete’s hands on the team as a whole but it is worth considering.

    Reply
  6. Rowdy Yates

    The aim of “Always Compete,” of course, is improvement.

    But how can a great coach improve is he believes he’s got all the answers?

    “Always Compete” in the 2nd half, is what’s Pete’s philosophy equates to, and like many others have stated here and there, it’s no fun to watch to watch a team play half the game with one hand tied behind its back.

    We ignorant fan know that it’s all about who scores the most points.

    Reply
    • Andy

      Because he is an arrogant and narcissistic oilman salesman. But if Seattle fans keep buying the same BS, then they should stop complaining.

      Reply
      • JC

        That same arrogant and narcissistic oilman salesman was on the verge of tears last night describing Russell Wilson… said “I didn’t do nothin, he just walked in here like that.”

  7. Andy

    Brian,

    You forget that PC has authority on all personnel matters, including the draft. JS is just a paper pusher in dealing with minute details, not the ultimate decision-maker, PC is. So it is on all PC’s shoulder. He needs to change his ways or Seattle fans will have to put up with the same BS for the next two years. I’ve been saying this for the past few years, with PC and RW, this team will be 9-7, 10-5, make the playoff, one and done, not going to be a contender. I don’t think anything will change because PC CANNOT change. But if this is what Seattle fans want, then this is what you get. Stop b*********.

    Reply
  8. Daryll

    I don’t understand why you think Schneider builds this roster. The PC/JS job descriptions are not a traditional Coach/GM relationship. JS works for PC. JS is a GM in name only, he is really an assistant GM to PC. PC has all the final decisions on everything. JS and his team work to identify available talent and present their findings, by all accounts PC values the work and input, but PC makes the final decision on who to draft or who to cut or who to trade. Why don’t you get that?

    Reply
  9. Andy J

    The Seahawks weren’t alone. Curious why you think Shaquil Barrett did not receive interest around the league last year?

    Reply
  10. Kurt

    Thanks again Brian for the great writing and your continued intellectual input into this strange pursuit – pro football

    PC has almost completely lost interest in the first half of a football game, just as long as you don’t get blown out. I think he’s a points guy and saw the Green Bay game as a halftime deficit of 14-6. Make the halftime adjustments and then win on the last possession.

    That archetype did not work in Green Bay. We got BLOWN out in the first half and they toyed with us the rest of the night. Stops when they needed, first downs too. It was entertaining but the NFL wanted the Packers to win too so there was that.

    The REAL burden that killed us is RWs deeply unfair, team demoralizing contract. Since he has come off his rookie contract, we are what are – three to four athletes short of a championship team. When the Chiefs play the Niners in the SB you will get to see where that extra 19 mil a year is playing (Richard Sherman / Frank Clark)

    Happy Off / Season

    PS bet we don’t sign Clowney cuz of Ciara I mean salary constraints

    Reply
  11. Adam

    You’re a legend Brian. Love reading your morning after assessment. Really appreciate all your effort.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.