There’s just nothing to like about that season by the Seattle Seahawks. Not a damn bit of good came from it. That’s two years in a row of spinning our tires in the mud, with not a lot to show for it. All we got was another year older. Instead of being the next great dynasty, we’re just another good team. One Super Bowl win, with the hope that we’re able to squeeze another one out of Russell Wilson before he moves on. More and more, it’s looking like instead of a Brady/Manning/Roethlisberger situation, we’ve got a Drew Brees situation. Maybe one title is all this group gets. Maybe we spend the rest of our time with this core just slowly getting worse, until it’s just Wilson and Carroll, and a bunch of stiffs, regularly finishing in 3rd and 4th place in the NFC West.
The worst part is, I don’t even know how to define this season. Yeah, the O-Line stunk, but they didn’t stink in every single game. Yeah, we lost Earl Thomas, but there were plenty of times where this defense looked inept with Thomas in there. If you go game by game, it’s a pretty frustrating exercise.
The Seahawks barely beat the Dolphins at home in week 1; the offensive line was definitely our primary fault in that one. Wilson’s ankle got rolled up on, and that was the genesis of Hobbled Russell Wilson.
The Seahawks lost on the road to the Rams in week 2; again, the O-Line was crushed. We lost three field goals to one, in the second game where the offense was totally out of sorts.
The 49ers were some home cooking in week 3; but, then Wilson got rolled up on again, this time injuring his knee, sending him to work with a brace for the rest of the regular season. No fun there.
The Jets on the road were supposed to be a big test in week 4; they ended up being 5-11 on the year and one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Seahawks, with Hobbled Russell Wilson, won by 10 points and settled into a much-needed BYE week.
The Seahawks were able to squeak by the Falcons in week 6; I think we all know enough of that game. One bright spot was that, even in spite of a disastrous third quarter, we were able to fend off a last-minute drive, like we weren’t able to do in 2015. The defense, when most everyone was healthy, was certainly better in 2016 than 2015; but the defense was rarely healthy.
Just when we were hoping to build on some momentum of a 3-game winning streak, we went and tied the Cardinals in week 7. The third game out of six for the Seahawks where the offense was absolutely manhandled. Of course, had Hauschka not been a ninny, this would’ve been a win.
The Seahawks followed that up with a road trip to New Orleans, and a baffling defeat in week 8; but, a defeat very similar to ones we have every year. Not a good look for our defense, but the fact that our offense was held to 13 points (the other 7 attributed to an Earl Thomas fumble return for TD) against that defense is unconscionable. Four games out of seven where the offense was a fucking trainwreck.
The Seahawks played the Bills on Monday Night Football in week 9; turns out Rex & Rob Ryan are the cures for what ails this offense. It was less encouraging for our defense to give up 25, but they were able to foil a 2-minute drive at the end of the game to lock it up (again, shades of this not being the 2015 season).
In a game everyone expected the Seahawks to lose, they went into New England on Sunday night and upset the Pats 31-24. Even with Michael Bennett on the shelf, this was a watershed game for our defense, as Kam returned and locked down Gronk in New England’s final series. This was also a coming out party for C.J. Prosise, showing what this offense can do when it has a healthy, dynamic running back.
The Seahawks followed this up with a dominating performance over a then-contending Eagles team at home in week 11. Prosise had another big impact in this game, with a 72-yard touchdown run, before leaving injured and not returning for the rest of the season. Not a ton of people talking about the loss of Prosise as the 2016 Seahawks’ downfall, but let’s just say if we’d had him healthy for the full season, things might’ve gone a lot differently for this offense.
On the heels of another 3-game winning streak – and probably the best 3-game stretch for this team in the 2016 season – the Seahawks went to Tampa in week 12 and had their fifth terrible offensive game of the season. This one is all on the O-Line, but one could argue things might have gone differently had Britt been healthy. Either way, after going down 14-0 in the first quarter, and giving up no points the rest of the way, that was a real missed opportunity for the Seahawks, allowing the Bucs to hang around in contention for a while longer.
Injured guys started trickling back for the next game, at home, against the Panthers in week 13. Britt was back, Bennett was back, Rawls had worked his way back to being a workhorse, Wilson was on the mend. For the first time in a long time, things were FINALLY looking up for the Seahawks. We crushed the Panthers, 40-7, and this was around the same time where we always go on our late-season runs of dominance. But, because 2016 is the fucking worst, this was the same game where Earl Thomas broke his leg and was lost for the season. Hashtag WeCantHaveNiceThings.
It was hard not to be deflated over the Thomas injury, but I refused to believe things would fall apart just because he was out. We still had Kam after all! Well, week 14’s game in Green Bay should’ve been our first clue that the rest of this year would just be a formality. Aaron Rodgers did Aaron Rodgers things and the Seahawks were blown out for the first time since 2011. Also, this was the sixth terrible offensive game, but mostly due to Russell Wilson’s interceptions.
In week 15, we handled the Rams on Thursday Night Football, in the game where Richard Sherman put Darrell Bevell on blast. He would go on to put most everyone else on blast the rest of the year, in what should’ve been our second clue that the rest of this year would just be a formality. The Seahawks don’t lose their cool. Even when they lose their cool, it’s for a reason. There wasn’t much of a reason for this.
In spite of the Seahawks being an up-and-down team, they held their fate in their hands. All they needed to do was beat an underwhelming Cardinals team at home, then finish off the 49ers on the road. Simple, right? Win those two games, lock down the 2-seed. Lock down the 2-seed, get the first round BYE. Get the first round BYE, then host the Falcons in the Divisional Round instead of the other way around, and maybe our crowd does enough damage to their offense to allow the Seahawks to win and host the NFC Championship Game for the third time in four seasons. But, the defense gave up 34 points to the Cardinals in week 16, and all of that was washed away. The third and final clue that the rest of this year would just be a formality: now we’d be a 3-seed, be forced to play in the Wild Card round, and have to go on the road to the Falcons, where we would go on to lose.
The Seahawks were able to take down the 49ers in week 17, but it was a lot closer than it should’ve been. Was it us taking it easy, knowing the Falcons would lock up the 2-seed in a matter of hours? Was it the defense continuing to struggle without Earl Thomas?
Then, the big Wild Card win at home. The last hurrah, over a pretty inept and banged up Lions team. Not a lot to learn from that, and ultimately the next game would look nothing like this one.
I mean, how do you wrap your head around a season like that?
To start, you can’t say a damn thing about it without getting into the offensive line issues. This was the second year in a row that the Seahawks went with a bullshit, makeshift O-Line, instead of ponying up the money for proper blockers. Justin Britt had his position moved for the third time in three seasons, and that was the ONLY move that worked. He’ll go into the final year of his rookie deal in 2017 as our starting center; that makes me happy. You can take the other four guys and throw them in a fucking volcano for all I care.
The Seahawks, in their prime, 2012-2014, always got by with Just Okay offensive lines. Adequate, middle-of-the-road, doing just enough to let Marshawn Lynch run by them, and to let Russell Wilson run around them. Then, slowly but surely, all the good parts were stripped away: Unger traded away; Giacomini, Carpenter, and Sweezy allowed to hit free agency; Russell Okung – probably the most talented of the bunch – also allowed to hit free agency and sign a terrible deal in Denver. Ending up with two rookies, a second-year player getting his first starting action, a third-year player switching positions for the third time, and Garry Gilliam, the only guy starting in the same spot from the year before. Oh, and don’t forget the two free agents – Sowell and Webb – who were terrible, lost their starting jobs, and won’t be around beyond this season.
And, I get it. I understand what the Seahawks were doing. There’s only so much money to go around, and they preferred to give that money to their star players at the skill positions. Wilson, Baldwin, Graham, Bennett, Avril, Wagner, Wright, Thomas, Sherman, Chancellor. Those guys take up a lot of money. Where can we save? The O-Line! Hell, we’ve got Tom Cable, surely he can build them up to be respectable by season’s end!
They damn near did it in 2015. It looked like, once Patrick Lewis took over at center, things settled down for that unit. Then, we got into the Divisional Round, against the Panthers and their ferocious interior linemen, and that unit was reduced to rubble.
But, without much of a choice, they did the same thing again in 2016. As I mentioned, Britt was moved to center and that worked. Glowinski was drafted in 2015 to be a guard of the future for this team, so why not let him work on his craft in actual games? Germain Ifedi came at the price of a first round draft pick in 2016, so there was no way he wasn’t starting. They made it through the season mostly unscathed, and you can ALMOST see a future with those guys in those spots, but they’ve got a lot of work to do.
And, while the guards made PLENTY of mistakes, and were often the worst parts of this unit, in my book they’re taking a back seat to the tackles, who were God-fucking-awful. George Fant was a tight end in college, and here he was as our starting left tackle. He was almost constantly over-matched, when we weren’t chipping defensive ends with our tight ends and running backs to give him a little help. Gilliam was a little better – particularly later in the season, when he essentially had his manhood questioned by the coaching staff – but he too was often overmatched. Together, neither of them are starting talents in the NFL. Gilliam is a guy who might be a swing tackle for a good team, a 6th guy on the line who can start for you in a pinch. But, he has no business being in there everyday. Fant should’ve had this year to just develop in the background, but since this organization did absolutely nothing to replace Okung – aside from signing Sowell, who is a known commodity as one of the worst tackles in football – Fant was put in a position he had no business being in. And, in that sense, he did all right. He could be another guy who is a quality swing tackle, but he probably shouldn’t be a starter either.
This team needs, at a minimum, two new offensive tackles. Ideally, one high in the draft and one as a free agent. Luckily, we’ve weathered the storm of our salary cap being up against it, and should have enough extra money to make some moves, as 2017’s cap looks to be up to $170 million or more. Not so luckily, we draft 26th again, and no quality offensive tackles will be there waiting for us. I don’t know what the free agent market is going to be like, but things are going to get REALLY salty in Seattle if this team sits back and does nothing.
Aside from that, it’s a lot to do with what I was talking about yesterday: our shoddy depth. Starting with the 2013 draft, let’s look at who panned out:
- Luke Willson – backup tight end
- Spencer Ware – quality running back who we waived; he’s playing well for the Chiefs
- Paul Richardson – 4th receiver, started coming on in this year’s playoffs with Lockett injured
- Justin Britt – starting center, with 2016 being his first good year
- Cassius Marsh – backup pass rusher & special teamer, 3 career sacks
- Frank Clark – quality defensive lineman
- Tyler Lockett – quality receiver & returner
- Mark Glowinski – guard, started in 2016
- Germain Ifedi – guard, started in 2016
- Jarran Reed – quality run-stuffing defensive tackle
- C.J. Prosise – quality running back who can’t stay healthy
That’s it, and I’m really stretching the definition of “panned out” with some of these guys. The quality guys who we still have on this team include: Britt, Clark, Lockett, Reed, and Prosise. Beyond that, when you talk about this team’s depth, it’s a lot of young guys who haven’t really gotten a chance to start – because they’ve been boxed out by all the studs we’ve got starting on this team – but these same guys also aren’t making the most of their opportunities when they do find themselves on the field. That means the coaches are failing them, or that they’re just not working very hard, but I don’t think this coaching staff or this team would sit by and let a bunch of slackers fuck around in practice.
Also, not for nothing, but when I talk about depth, I’m mostly looking at the secondary. The depth on the O-Line is, I’m sure, a real problem, but so are the starters, so why beat that dead horse? There’s solid depth at receiver – as shown by how P-Rich stepped his game up in the playoffs this year like a fucking CHAMP! PROUD of you, boy! – and at tight end. There’s also good-enough depth at D-Line and in the linebackers’ room to get by. Where this team – and particularly this defense – struggles is when we get into the depth in the secondary. When Kam Chancellor goes down (as he seems to do every year now), and when Earl Thomas goes down. When, inevitably, Richard Sherman goes down (because he’s such a monster tackler; I can’t imagine those shoulders will hold up forever). Or, like in this last game, where Shead went down with what looks like an ACL. We thought Jeremy Lane would be enough – and I think he did okay, I’m not in this big hurry to run him off the team – but this team needs more back there. It’s a shame too, because that’s supposed to be Pete Carroll’s specialty. He should be ashamed of the depth we had back there in the secondary – particularly at safety – and he should be looking to shore that up in a major way in the upcoming draft.
No team stays healthy for a full year, but you’ve got to have guys to come in there and pick up the slack. We weren’t able to do that this year. That, and our O-Line troubles, doomed us for two years in a row.
It sounds insane to be this disgruntled about a team that hasn’t been to a Super Bowl in the last two years, but that’s what comes with success. We’re not very far from those teams, in terms of talent and in terms of years, but we’re also trending in the absolute opposite direction.