The Morning After: Seahawks on the Brink After 30-17 Loss

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1.5

Facts first. The Seahawks fell to 1-2 after their second straight loss. They are last place in the league’s best division. They have only lost one game to an NFC opponent, and have a chance in the next two weeks to get above .500 and start division play 2-0. Their offense has scored at least 17 points in the first half of every game this season. They have scored a total of 13 points in the second half of their three games, dead last in the NFL. The only team they have beaten is winless. A winless team beat them rather easily. Opponents are converting nearly half their third downs (49%).

Now analysis. Despite an offseason I was very encouraged by and a bevy of quality players throughout the lineup, I had less enthusiasm heading into this season than any in many years. I could not quite identify the reason why until after the Titans game concluded.

There are two seasons being played simultaneously by the Seahawks. One is to determine the outcome of this particular campaign. The other is to determine the outcome of this regime. Football, like everything else, is cyclical. A single season is the shortest cycle, and with a predictable beginning and end. Player careers are usually the next shortest, with many lasting just a few seasons. Coaches cycles can be shorter than players, but since age does not limit them, good ones can stick around much longer than most players. General Managers are next. Then Owners. Each is like a rung on a ladder, where if one gives way, the next is there to stop the fall. Seattle is in a rather unique position where the outcome of this season could lead to a slide all the way down the ladder, with only the owner as a backstop. Even there, I have some questions.

Seattle has a roster built to compete this year, with a number of their best players on the wrong side of 30, and precious few blue chippers under 27 years old. Players, coaches, the front office and fans have grown weary of the good-but-not-great purgatory they have experienced the last six years. Tensions boiled over this offseason. Whatever has been reported, the reality is Mark Rodgers has been in Russell Wilson’s ear for years telling him Pete Carroll is holding him back. Carroll has heard from other players that Wilson is holding them back. My sense is both Carroll and John Schneider are closer to walking away than attacking a rebuild. This all adds up to a tinder box of tension underlying this season.

If things go wrong, we could be looking at a total reset in Seattle. That is not hyperbole or drama reveling. It is how the stars have aligned. How wrong would they have to go? That is where the debate can be had. It might be as simple as another year without a playoff win. Not making the playoffs would increase the odds. A season where they finish near .500 or below greatly increases the odds. To keep things as they are, the best odds would be to get to at least the NFC Championship game, and winning a single playoff game probably still tips toward staying the course.

The team we have seen through three weeks would seem to need a lot of improvement to make the playoffs. Their ceiling likely gets set in the next two weeks. Either they completely turn things around on defense and find a way to sustain production on offense this week, or any dreams of contending for the NFC crown can be put to bed.

The season may be longer than ever, but it may prove to be quite short for Seattle.

Carroll has found a way to lead his teams back from the brink multiple times. Even the 2014 Super Bowl team fell to 6-4 after a demoralizing loss in Kansas City, before winning every game the rest of the way and earning the top seed in the NFC. They lost two straight terrible games last year to fall to 6-3, before winning six of their final seven contests and claiming the division title.

That team, though, benefitted from a very soft end to the schedule. Looking at the Seahawks road this year, they may only be favored to win five games the rest of the way. They will absolutely have to control their division to compete, and this is a division that will be tough for any team to control.

Watching the Seahawks defense play evokes visions of a rodeo clown trying to grab a greased pig. They played well against what appears to be an awful Colts offense, and had some early moments against the Titans and Vikings, but there is no cohesion or consistency, and there appear to be fatal flaws.

We all knew the cornerback position was bad. That was assuming DJ Reed was a good corner and Marquise Blair was a potentially great nickel corner. Instead, Reed has been a borderline starter. Blair has bad when he played and then injured. Ugo Amadi has not be good either, and was a big part of the problem yesterday. Tre Flowers is every bit as bad as he has ever been, giving far too much cushion and breaking up zero passes.

We had hoped Jordyn Brooks would take a major step forward, maybe even be a Pro Bowl candidate. Some of us thought the pass rush would be very productive from a variety of players. We had expected Jamal Adams to play like the All-Pro safety he has been in past years. None of those things have proven to be true.

Pulling the strings is a defensive coordinator that nobody outside of Carroll believes should be a DC in this league. Ken Norton Jr. is a motivator, not a tactician. Try to remember the last time the Seahawks defense came out with a plan that the opposing offense struggled to defeat. Try to remember the last time a good offense was held down. Even if you can think of some examples, they are the exceptions and certainly not the rule.

Reed and Flowers made comments about scheme after the game. I am glad they are speaking up. It will not make a difference. Norton is who he is. Carroll can get more involved like he did last season, and that should help, but unless he is going to strip Norton of game plan and game calls, this is Norton’s defense.

The talent is there to be better. Outside of corner, many of the Seahawks defensive starters would start on other defenses. They are just not playing as a unit, and no amount of talent can be consistent when that happens.

Offensively, there were some very hopeful signs early on. Wilson was finding D.K. Metcalf in the rhythm of the offense, and was throwing over the middle of the field. Chris Carson was running successfully. The tight ends were getting involved. And then…they just stopped.

Wilson exits the game with the top passer rating in all of football, and has still not thrown an interception. Yet, knowing more of the offense is on his shoulders at the line of scrimmage, he has to take a significant portion of the blame for the scoring struggles. On one particular series in the first half, Seattle was driving for what looked like another touchdown.

Minnesota showed only six players in the box (near the line of scrimmage) on first down. That is almost always an easy QB decision to check to a run and get 4-6 yards (or more). Wilson chose to stick with a pass play, knowing there would be extra players in coverage, and forced a throw that was incomplete. Then they faced a 3rd and 3 and the Vikings bluffed having lots of players in the box, only to back off as it got close to the snap. Wilson either did not correctly identify the defense, falling for their bluff, or chose again to throw into extra coverage. The pass did not have a chance and the Seahawks chose to settle for a field goal, which Jason Myers missed.

Those are just two examples. You can be certain there are many more in each game. I have reached the point where I do not believe it is realistic for Wilson to be considered in the same tier of QBs as guys like Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Mahomes, and Brees. Those are guys who can lift a team to a Super Bowl with MVP-level play. Wilson is the best QB to ever play for the Seahawks, and a likely Hall of Famer. He is very capable of winning Super Bowls, but he needs a far higher level of talent surrounding him than those players I mentioned.

The team has now provided him with three different offensive coordinators. They have gone from a heavier run team to one of the heaviest pass teams, back to more balance. They have given him one of the best receiving duos in football, very good tight ends, very good running backs, and an offensive line that ranks somewhere toward the middle of the league (and might be higher with a QB who was better at pre-snap reads, stepping into the pocket, and getting rid of the football quickly). I question how much more Wilson needs to lead a team to a Super Bowl-level offense.

Shane Waldron has not yet proven he is worthy of being an OC, and now he must show his mettle as a leader of men through adversity.

Dee Eskridge has not yet finished a full NFL game, and while he may help, it’s silly to think the absence of the third receiver is keeping the Seahawks offense from functioning for long stretches of time.

All of this falls on the shoulders of Carroll. The head coach is responsible for everything that goes well and everything that does not. I will forever give him the lion’s share of the credit for taking this franchise from a ruinous state before his arrival to the best stretch of football in our history. I just wonder if his stay here has run its course.

I see a mediocre team right now. Most importantly, I see a team that will vastly underperform expectations. That will lead to significant strife in the locker room, which we are already seeing. It will lead to fan fury and what is far worse, apathy. Fans losing interest is usually what gets owners uncomfortable. We do not know what Jody Allen will do in adverse moments. Only she can make the call to move on from Carroll.

More likely, Carroll could make the call to pass the torch. John Schneider cannot fire Carroll, and I do not think he would if he could. Should Carroll be let go or choose to leave, I am not convinced Schneider would want to stay. His draft history the last 4-5 years is a big reason the team is in the state is right now.

I believe a lot of this could fall to Bert Kolde. He was Paul Allen’s best friend, and they partnered on pretty much all of the major front office decisions for the Trail Blazers and Seahawks. I would expect Jody Allen to lean on some of Kolde’s advice based on prior experience.

There is no Tod Leiweke in place to lead the search for a new coach and/or a new GM. Finding the next Jim Mora Jr is far more likely than finding the next Pete Carroll. Good head coaches are tough to come by. Should they make front office changes to the coach and/or the GM, the new folks will have to make a decision about whether Wilson is more valuable as part of the rebuild in Seattle or as trade bait to get a series of draft picks.

At least some of you are reading all this thinking, “Whoa dude! They have only played three games. Chill out.” I am not predicting what will happen. I am acknowledging the dominos that are lined up. The chain reaction has started. Seattle needs a win in each of their next two games to halt this Rube Goldberg machine from gaining steam.

It is fine to stay focused on what is right in front of us and not worry about what may be. It is also fine to just enjoy Seahawks football for the nachos and the beer and the friends you get to watch the game with. For me, I am always processing where this team is relative to the goal of winning a ring and the overall health of the franchise. If you’ve been a Seahawks fan long enough to remember moving trucks pulling up to the headquarters, and hopeless season after hopeless season, you tend to both cherish the good times and be wary of how bad the bad times can get.

I see a team built to compete this year that currently looks closer to a losing season than reaching a Super Bowl. I see a franchise closer to major change than sustained success. Turning this around would be Carroll’s greatest Houdini act. He has had a very good track record against the 49ers and Kyle Shanahan, and then has the Rams coming to visit Seattle. You want to believe Seattle can get them both and claw back into the NFC West race at 3-2. It is very possible they drop them both and sit at 1-5 with the season effectively over.

I will be here regardless of the outcome, as will most of you. The only thing that outlasts seasons, players, coaches, general managers, and owners are fans. We are the constant. We feel the joy and the pain, stick through the highs and the lows. We keep the history and pass it on. This is going to be a crossroads season. Pay attention closely. There is drama ahead either way.

Founder, Editor & Lead Writer
  1. You are so contradictory in your ‘assessment.” Not quite sure where you get all the
    “good’ players perspectives. Brook, when or where did he show that he can be a good starter in the league? All the corners have been horrible since the time they are here. BW is getting up there. DL, where the hell do you see they can be starters for any other team? You’re so delusional in your assessment. F*** PC and JS have been saying this for the past 4 or 5 years. But Seattle fans are so freaking dumb or naive or both. Who knows? He is no messiah. He was “good” when he had the horses. Hit the jackpot with two drafts. After that and Scot’s departure. Downhill. He is just another coach with no horses.

    Regarding RW, he is what he is; a short QB with limitations. But he is a first-ballot HOF. He is no Brady or Manning, but there are not many Bradys or Mannings around. AR, please, great physical talent, but another f****** loser and horrible leader. I would not trade RW for AR.

    The most critical missing link for this organization is the good scouting department. The whole organization went into the shithole after the two jackpots. Fix that, and you will be fine. But I doubt PC and JS know who is good. Great Reset in Seattle. Can’t happen in a nicer city.

  2. The Hawks got out-schemed and outplayed Sunday. They looked uninspired and soft; unable to stop Minnesota from moving the ball and unable to get anything going offensively. It was one of the most maddening performances I’ve watched from them in some time. The back-to-back losses really puts them in a hole in the NFC West.

  3. “And then…they just stopped.”

    I’m sensing the same things, particularly with Wilson. It feels like he’s always looking only for the long bomb, trying to force the magic rather than dink and dunk down the field. At one point in the game I asked the room “Will Wilson keep it short and grab some yards or is he going for another long bomb?”

    Does Shane Waldron go take a nap after the first quarter?

    Where’s Adam’s and Diggs?

    Could corner get any worse if we just switched them out every time they got ridiculous?

    I was very excited to see Metcalf perform, and seeing Dissly getting opportunities.

    Thanks as always, Brian!

    1. In the second half of the Titans game, Wilson threw 16 passes. Eleven of them traveled fewer than 6 yards past the line of scrimmage, in the air. A twelfth went only 10 yards. A thirteenth was a long TD.

      Against the Vikings, Wilson had a really great first half. Four drives, 2 TDs and 2 FG attempts. I feel like picking apart plays from that first half is really reaching to find bad things to say about the QB. Maybe he could/should have made a couple of different decisions, but even the all time greats aren’t perfect. He looked in control of a well oiled machine.

      In the second half, which started, for the offense, in the back half of the third quarter and down 7, Wilson threw 14 passes and all of them were short throws except for two bombs on 3rd and 12 and 4th and 12, down 13 points with less than three minutes to go. And one of them should have resulted in DPI, which, if the defense could have gotten off the field after, might have saved the game for Seattle.

      The boom or bust qb narrative is just that, a story, a fabrication (at least in the last two games and probably over his career).

      We see what we want to see and what Pete Carroll fans want to believe is that Wilson has been over-rated and that the team is loaded with talent, because it shifts the blame off of the coach and onto the qb.

      People keep saying that the common denominator through three OCs is the qb, but the other common denominator is the defensive head coach who meddles with the offense when he should be taking charge of a defense that has been bottom half of the league for going on half a decade.

      Wilson isn’t perfect, but he definitely belongs in the conversation with Rodgers and Brees, neither of whom have dragged bad teams to Super Bowls (I’d suggest that isn’t even a thing–even great quarterbacks need talent around them to go to the dance).

      And he definitely isn’t the reason Seattle is stuck in good not great. If anything, he keeps them from being lousy.

      1. Jeff is right. Here is my take on the offense and how great a job Waldron is doing despite the epic failure of the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Defense.

        I went over the numbers. They went back to Waldron’s offense this game. 5 passes to Everett and one to Dissly (for 39 yds, the longest play of the game). They threw 2 to Carson and 3 to Homer. Wilson was a perfect 11 for 11 for 142 yds when passing to TE’s and RB’s. He was 12 of 17 for 156 yds passing to WR’s. That’s 3 yards more per attempt to TE’s and RB’s than to WR’s. That part of the game was working great.

        It’s an easily debunked false narrative that Wilson went for the fences too often. He did in OT last week on the final possession, but it wasn’t the case this week.

        In the first half they rushed Carson for 10 carries for 74 yards.

        Yeah, 7.4 ypc. They could run the ball.

        In the second half, Carson only had 2 carries for 6 yards. That’s not really Waldron’s fault. It was still too soon to give up on the rushing attack when they finally got the ball with only 6:34 left in the 3rd Quarter, down 7.

        And they didn’t.

        To start the second half, they handed of to Carson who promptly rumbled for 5 yards. Then Collins carries for 6. After starting run-run, they decide to throw the ball on first down. After a short incompletion to a WR, Wilson had to pass again on 2nd and 10 and got sacked. On 3rd and 19, they can hardly run it so after a short dump off to Homer, they punted.

        They had not given up on the run game nor Waldron’s game plan at this point.

        But our defense was on the field for 5 more minutes as the Vikings go 11 plays for 70 yards for a FG and suddenly the Seahawks are down by 10. There is 13:47 left in the 4th Qtr and it is likely the Vikings will run 5 more minutes off the clock their next possession. We’ve got to score a TD and hope we can hold them to a FG. Many OC’s panic at this point and break from their running game. If the Seahawks can put together a 4 minute drive for a TD and say the Vikes drive 5 minutes for a FG, then that leaves 4-5 mintues for some Wilson magic to pull this one out.

        Waldron doesn’t panic. He gives the ball to Carson. The plan is to believe in the system. But Carson only gets one yard. Next play, 14 yds to the TE. They are sticking to the new offense and it’s working.

        And then Tyler Lockett gets injured.

        The next play a 3 yard loss on a toss to Carson. Then that pass to Swain that, I’m sorry, Graham or Dissly make that catch. Baldwin makes that catch. Lockett makes that catch Freddie did not make that catch. What can you do? Be perfect?

        That’s not on Waldron or the offensive philosophy or coaching.

        And then the Vikings took 7 minutes off the clock on a 12 play, 88 yard drive and it was over. With two minutes left, down 13 there was no magic. Just a sack.

    2. I agree with Brian, the Pete Carroll era has fallen apart & should be ended, but i doubt that will happen until if/when the team is sold. Brian mentions that Schneider is responsible for the bad drafting, but as i understand it the final decision is Pete’s. He constantly reaches for players he has a man crush on, not taking into account the level of competition they faced at the college level. There is a reason why most teams focus their early picks on SEC players. Its Pete that wanted Harvin, Graham & Adams, even though those trades cost multiple 1st round draft picks to build the future with players on rookie contacts. Pete has to go, but not gonna happen this year, probably not next year eithor.

  4. Marco, Calling Brian delusional is in itself, delusional. I agree with Brian. Most of our players would start on other teams. Why don’t you tell us who wouldn’t make the cut, other than our corners? And to call us fans dumb is a cheap shot. Guys like you come on here after the fact and try and demoralize others with “I told you so” or “you are just plain wrong”. Next time come out with it before the fact. Also, sounds like you aren’t from Seattle, so are you here just to rub it in? If so, you are the lowest of low. Go yell at your wife or kids, instead.

  5. How did we manage to trade two 1sts for a Pro Bowl safety and then turn him into junk? Make no mistake, Jamal Adams was terrible on Sunday. Maybe even worse than that, he was irrelevant.

  6. My trusted sources have informed me that when PC finally retires he’s gonna entitle

    his memoirs, “Coach Speak.”

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