The Morning After: Seahawks Have Bitter End, Need Fresh Start
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Sports means different things to different people. Some people love the thrill of the games. Some are drawn to the social aspect of gathering with friends and family, and care less about the outcome. Bandwagon fans are known for joining the fanbase when the team is playing really well. Hardcore fans follow their teams through the lowest of valleys and the highest of peaks. No one type of fan is better than another. If you are taking the time to read this article, you probably follow the team pretty darn closely. That means you have probably experienced the cyclical nature of this franchise. What we are witnessing this season is likely the end of an era. What we had hoped would be a resurgence of Seahawks football built around an MVP-caliber quarterback, is turning out to be a team not good enough to contend, with very little upside.
The Seahawks are not getting good performances from many of their top tier players. Jamal Adams is nowhere near one of the best defenders in football, sometimes playing like one of the worst. Carlos Dunlap has been mostly absent. Jordyn Brooks has been closer to awful than good. A defense that looked so dialed in and disciplined in the first half against the Rams, collapsed in the second half.
Give the Rams some credit. Matt Stafford and Robert Woods put on a clinic with some of their timing patterns. And while everyone is dragging Adams for the back-breaking deep ball, I saw that as more fortunate for the Rams than impressive. Stafford severely underthrew the football. Jackson deserves credit for making the adjustment, but Seattle had defenders behind Jackson. That usually is a great position to be in. It was a little like when an offensive tackle has blocked an edge rusher and then the QB rolls outside and suddenly the defender has a clear line to the QB and the blocker has lost all leverage.
Either way, Seattle did not make a play on that ball and should have. Even with that pratfall, it was not the defense that primarily disappointed in this game. They had a much tougher matchup, and still performed better than the offense overall.
The offense left a ton of yards and points on the field in the first half. Being at the game provided a good vantage point to see how well Shane Waldron had schemed for the Rams. There were players open on nearly every play Seattle ran. Russell Wilson hit a number of them, but also didn’t seem to see a bunch of them either, or gave into pressure too quickly. After half, Wilson inexcusably took a sack on 2nd and 10 when the team had been near midfield. He held onto the ball forever, and forced a 3rd and 22. That play was the turning point in my mind. It forced Seattle to punt again with a slim lead the game was never the same.
The most damning evidence of Wilson’s underperformance was the play of Geno Smith after Wilson’s injury. Smith drove the team 98 yards rather easily for a touchdown, and then nearly did it again before settling for a field goal. Smith outscored Wilson in two drives.
It was not just the points, but how the plays unfolded. Smith was hitting slant routes to DK Metcalf on time. He threw a perfectly timed screen pass. He found the tight ends multiple times. He threw the ball away to avoid sacks. These are things we have criticized coaches for over many years. The fact that Smith did all of these things in very short order begs the question whether Wilson has been the reason those things were not happening this whole time.
Before folks take this point too far, let me be clear that Wilson is ten times the quarterback Smith is. He has gifts that Smith will never have. The point here is that there appear to be things that Smith does better than Wilson, and that those things may allow the offense to run more smoothly in certain situations.
Smith will never throw Wilson’s deep ball. He will throw a lot more interceptions. He may also run the offense closer to the way it is intended.
We will get to find out as Wilson is out for a while, probably at least six weeks. Seattle’s season was destined for mediocrity with, or without, Wilson. Now we get a chance to learn about where Wilson is worth all the money he gets paid and where some of his shortcomings hamper the coaches and team. This is a critically important period in franchise history.
What is on the line is whether the rebuild this franchise needs will include Wilson, or if he is traded either at his request or to stockpile some draft choices.
Given that this team has a ceiling far lower than a Super Bowl, it would be best to lose a lot and see what we have in young players. That is where I am at.
Keep in mind, I acknowledge that not all fans are the same. Some may think its ridiculous to even consider starting over again and/or trading Wilson. I am not interested in teams that are not either contending for a Super Bowl or on the path to contend.
This team has maybe two players on the ascent. DK Metcalf and Darrell Taylor are decent bets to get better and better. It is not clear anyone else is in that category. When you have as many veteran starters as Seattle does, you need to be contending. If you are not, you are locked into a mediocre purgatory that will never result in a Super Bowl.
There is massive risk in starting over, especially if it means firing your coach, and possibly your GM, and possibly trading your franchise QB. The odds are that you will not become a contender by blowing everything up either. The NFL is hard. That’s why winning a trophy feels so damn good.
I just see a team that likely will not make the playoffs this year, and even at their best, might win 1 or 2 playoff games. I would always prefer the risk and hope associated with starting over than the lack of risk and hope associated with middling football.
If I was in charge, everyone on the roster would be available for trade before the deadline. Even Bobby Wagner. Even Tyler Lockett. Even Duane Brown and Chris Carson and Jamal Adams. The only people I would not move would be the two young players on the ascent I mentioned.
The system needs to be flushed like it was in 2010 when John Schneider and Pete Carroll made a record 200+ roster transactions. Young players need to see the field and be allowed to make boneheaded mistakes to learn and grow.
There is so much more to gain from that approach than clinging to the ghost of what this team once was. If this was a Madden season, I would sim the rest of it so I could get to the draft and free agency. The games do not matter. Even if the team beats Pittsburgh and New Orleans and Jacksonville the next three weeks and sits at 5-3, they are largely irrelevant.
I have no doubt that will sound harsh to some of you. I understand. I may just have different priorities. I have sat in half empty Seahawk stadiums before and watched bad football teams. I have sat at home and watched atrocious coaching and terrible quarterback play.
I do not believe there is a coach better than Carroll just sitting there who wants to come to Seattle. I do not believe there is a better GM than Schneider easily available. I certainly do not believe it would be simple to replace Wilson. None of my feelings are based in naïve underestimation of the perils of starting over. I just have no interest in hopelessly mediocre (or even slightly above average) teams. I believe this group is akin to the 2008 Seahawks. As god awful as 2009 was, the team cleaned house and was on the ascent just one year later.
We will learn a lot in the coming weeks. Do not expect Smith to be Wilson. He is different, and likely far worse. What parts of the offense click on that have been dormant will be what I will be looking out for. It will not be nearly as fun as the thrill of a contending team, but at least it will be different.
For now, be kind to yourself and your fellow fans. There may be fewer of them, but the ones who remain will rejoice the most when the franchise rises again.