The Morning After: Pit Proves Bottomless as Seahawks Fall Further in Loss to Bad Bears
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The stages of grief are meant to be mostly linear experience. I have been in acceptance since week three of this season. It took most people much longer to reach that point. Yet, this demonic version of our beloved Seahawks finds ways each week to pull us back in anger and depression. Their dark magic this week involved losing to what was a 4-10 Chicago Bears team led by their third-string quarterback and without their most dynamic playmaker and best receiver. Nick Foles became the latest journeyman quarterback to outplay our $35M franchise player, and Shane Waldron once again found ways to avoid leaning on what was working in favor of relying on a quarterback who just has not been good.
I wish there was a good case to be made for how the Seahawks could rise back into contention. The truth is, no matter what steps they take after this season, it would take a ton of good fortune for this franchise to be more than a playoff team anytime soon.
This defense has been the lone part of the season to exceed expectations, and they fell on their face against one of the worst offenses in football. Maybe that can be forgiven on short rest and after their offense has abandoned them for so long. Even as one of their most ardent supporters, I have never thought this defense was more than above average.
I have been vocal in defending them because so many have called them terrible or just as bad as the offense. Statements that are patently false. This would not be the week where I try to shield them from friendly fire. They were every bit as responsible for this loss as the other two phases of the game.
Special teams was maybe the worst. Michael Dickson had his worst game of the season. Jason Myers was Jason Myers. Kick coverage was bad.
The offense at least had Rashaad Penny and some good run blocking. Penny looked like a difference maker for the third time in four games. Heck, he might have been one in the Rams game if he wasn’t battling cramps and the coaching staff utilized him.
Waldron consistently responds to success in the running game by taking out their best back and then going pass heavy. The only time all year where they went to the run and stuck with the run was the third quarter against the Steelers.
Fans used to make fun of the run-run-pass Seahawks offense. It deserves just as much scorn now but for a very different reason.
Seattle should have run-run-run much of the game yesterday. By any statistical measure, the run game was more effective than the passing game. Russell Wilson was back to being maddeningly inaccurate and unwilling to get rid of the ball on time. Had Waldron called a run play on 3rd and 4 from the Bears 8-yard line, the Seahawks would have won this game.
Instead, Wilson was called on to pass and took a 13 yard sack that ultimately led to our Pee Wee league placekicker to miss and give the Bears the opening they needed to score the go-ahead touchdown and two-point conversion.
The margin between winning and losing can be that thin in the NFL. One play call. Seattle has lost five games by three points or less. I absolutely believe Waldron has been bad enough to be the reason they have lost a lot of those games.
But it is really on Pete Carroll for not putting his foot down about adhering to his philosophy about running being the part of the game that completes the circle of toughness.
It would be one thing if the Seahawks were showing just as much ineptitude in the run game as the pass game, but there have been real signs of potential on the ground in the last 4-5 games and there has been a lack of commitment to grinding opponents into the dirt.
Carroll has wandered so far from his core philosophy and is so entranced by Wilson that he has lost touch with what made him the best coach in franchise history.
Wilson doesn’t need another sycophant enabling his delusions of grandeur. He needs a strong hand who will both force him to face his flaws that are holding his team back and help him see that the path to the legacy he longs for is by being a complimentary aspect of a great team and not the star around which every planet orbits.
This game was not a good case for even that last sentence. The Seahawk had a strong run game, and Wilson was still a significant part of why the team lost. He was inaccurate on simple throws, took bad sacks, and forced throws downfield.
It feels more and more like this will be Carroll’s last season as head coach. I think most of us are ready for that change, even if it means the team strikes out a time or two on his replacement. It will be deeply ironic that one of the key aspects of Carroll’s downfall will be dedicating too much resource and energy to placating Wilson and building around him considering the narrative is all about how he holds Wilson back.
Whether it is the seven receivers they have drafted in the past few seasons, the trade for Jimmy Graham, the departure from a physical run game, the rejection of a trade with the Bears that could have had Seattle with two first round picks and Mac Jones or Justin Fields, or even granting significant influence in the choice of Waldron as the OC, many of the things people criticize Carroll for are traced back to his unwavering loyalty to Wilson.
That certainly was the point-of-view from many members of the championship Seahawks teams.
If this is Carroll’s last season, there are a few names that appeal to me as replacements. Doug Pederson is probably the top of my list. I like him as a leader, and believe he has made good assistant hires. He also has shown the moxie to make big and tough decisions at the most critical time. That he has ties to the area only helps.
Dan Quinn is another name I would support. He was always the ideal succession plan to Carroll in my eyes back when the team was on the rise. Despite the way things ended in Atlanta, I consider his tenure there a big success. Getting all the way to the Super Bowl and having a monster lead over Belichick and Brady cannot be set aside just because they faceplanted. He also hired Kyle Shanahan as his OC, showing he has a good eye for assistants and is willing to totally hand the reigns over to his OC so he can focus more on defense.
I have met Quinn multiple times and was always impressed. He is humble, tough, and no nonsense. He likely has learned a few things that could help him succeed in his second go-around as a head coach.
Brian Daboll is interesting. He is the OC for the Bills, and has helped get the most out of Josh Allen while commanding a dynamic offense that mixes the run and the pass. I have questions about whether he would want to relocated across the country considering his family ties to Buffalo, but he is intriguing for sure.
Whether Wilson stays or is traded to help kickstart the rebuild, I truly hope he finds a way to drop the reality distortion field that surrounds him and faces the things he really needs to work on. I do not believe he is done as many Seahawks fans do. He is a good person and can be a great quarterback for many seasons to come, but he has to be a different player that makes different throws and has a different decision tree in his head than he was when he was an elite runner.
It shows up even in decisions to scramble now where he thinks he can spin away from Robert Quinn or outrun someone, and simply gets eaten up without problem. His willingness to acknowledge where he is physically and how that impacts the choices he has to make is the key to him having the successful end of his career he so craves. There is some sick poetry in writing that after a flailing loss to the Bears team he broke out of shell against as a rookie.
Teams have the option to start interviewing new coaches starting this week, so the likes of the Jaguars and Raiders will already be reaching out. That could accelerate decisions within the Seahawks organization. Most likely, they will wait until the season ends, but it is possible we could hear something sooner. The offseason watch starts now.