Had the Seahawks made the playoffs, I’m certain a topic of conversation would’ve been: what do the Seahawks do well? If things had gone differently – i.e. if the Seahawks won and the Panthers had beaten the Falcons – we’d currently be preparing to go on the road to Carolina. The Seahawks would’ve been considerable underdogs in this game, and we would’ve been sitting around wondering how the Seahawks might match up with the Panthers. Where is our edge? In what universe could you imagine a Seahawks upset, as they’re currently constructed?
Boil it all down, and you come back to the question: what do the Seahawks do well?
Well, at TIMES, the Seahawks have done lots of things well (except run the ball), so we should probably refine that to say: what do the Seahawks do consistently well? Or, to put it another way: what DOESN’T need fixing for 2018?
I’m a little bit at a loss with this question, because I don’t think there’s even one single thing the Seahawks do consistently well. Sure, they have Russell Wilson, and he’s a good quarterback you can win a championship with, but all too often he fails to step up in the pocket and make quick decisions with the football. Either because he can’t see what’s going on (and he’s being super-careful with the football to not throw it into harm’s way), or he’s constantly waiting for something better to come along. And, he thinks he can beat everyone when he escapes, which leads to further issues (fumbles, intentional groundings, sacks, holding penalties on the O-Line because they have no idea where he’s going). For everything he does well, he does something that holds this team back, and when the rest of the team isn’t up to the task, our margin of error is extremely low, so more often than not that Russell Wilson Magic is useless.
The running game is what it is: a total fucking disaster. That’s partly on the O-Line and partly on there being no dynamic running back on this roster for the last two years.
The receiving game is okay, but even there we have issues. Aside from Doug Baldwin, guys don’t get consistently open, and Doug Baldwin can’t do everything. Jimmy Graham seemed to always disappear unless we were 15 yards away (or closer) to the endzone. Just about everyone aside from Doug (particularly the tight ends, particularly Graham) had issues with drops, which this team obviously can’t afford when – again – it can’t run the ball and can’t provide consistent protection for its quarterback.
The O-Line is what it is: a total fucking disaster. Luke Joeckel was a bust. Germain Ifedi is certainly trending towards the bust category (though, I want to see him get multiple years in one position before I make that declaration). Ethan Pocic was a rookie. Duane Brown came in mid-season and I don’t think ever became totally used to what we’re trying to do here (and how our quarterback plays). And, quite frankly, Justin Britt made too many fucking mistakes to be considered anything but a so-so player. He’s certainly not worth Max Unger-type money, and once the dead money isn’t prohibitive, I’d seriously consider getting rid of him and moving Pocic over to center (where he played so well in college). Don’t forget, it was Britt’s boneheaded and pointless dive that landed him on George Fant’s ACL and started us down this whole messy road (when it appeared Fant was going to take the next huge leap in his development in the pre-season). Consider me off the Justin Britt bandwagon.
So, for those keeping track at home, that’s NOTHING about the offense that I trust as far as I can throw it. How about the defense?
Well, the pass rush was hit or miss. Sometimes it was on point, sometimes it completely disappeared. Michael Bennett got way too much playing time, and struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness down the stretch (as anyone could’ve predicted). Cliff Avril’s loss (probably for good) was a huge blow. Frank Clark was probably our most consistent player, but he never made that leap to superstar status we were all secretly hoping we’d see. And, most annoyingly of all, we were never able to find a consistent interior pass rusher. Malik McDowell is the biggest fucking moron on the planet and might have ATV’d his way out of football before his career even started. Which necessitated in us trading for Sheldon Richardson, who was okay, but who also never really seemed to fit in with our scheme or make any sort of an impact. Jarran Reed took a baby step forward, but was never a consistent threat. Naz Jones looked great for a rookie, but got injured and probably hit the ol’ rookie wall. The back-end of the roster guys would flash from time to time, but never consistently. Way WAY too often, opposing quarterbacks had all day to pick apart our defense, and it seemed like we only ever got pressure when we blitzed, which isn’t this team’s way (but maybe it should’ve been; maybe we should’ve gone hyper blitz-happy and seen if that would’ve helped spur more turnovers).
The run defense is SUPPOSED to be this team’s strength, but all too often it was a weakness. The 49ers and Titans early in the year ran all over us. And the Jags, Rams, and Cowboys had no problem whatsoever gaining big chunks of yards on us late in the season. Teams with elite runners doing whatever they wanted: that rarely ever happened before this year.
Then, you know, there’s the pass defense. Earl Thomas missed a little time. Kam and Sherm missed a lot of time. Jeremy Lane lost his job early and often. Byron Maxwell came in off the street and started over Lane almost immediately! And he’s no prize pig! Shaq Griffin looked pretty good for a rookie, but I’d still like to see a lot of development in him before I annoint him with Lockdown Corner status. Justin Coleman looked pretty good for a slot guy. Deshawn Shead never really came back from his injury (aside from a few special teams snaps). Bradley McDougald was a solid pickup at safety (and a HUGE improvement over Steven Terrell/Kelcie McCray). When everyone was healthy, the pass defense was okay, but even then, everyone was healthy for that Deshaun Watson game, and he threw all over us! Tennessee didn’t have any trouble moving the ball down our throats. And even the Redskins had no trouble marching down the field late on our pass defense. Then, once you factor in everyone’s injuries, you could argue this was the weakest part of our team by season’s end.
I guess, if you had one position group to laud this year, I never really worried about the linebackers, until the end of the season, when it was obvious Bobby Wagner’s injury was severely limiting his mobility. And, K.J. Wright had that concussion game he missed. And, I’d be hard pressed to say I loved our veteran depth; the drop-off from starter to backup was pretty severe. Seems like we could’ve filled those spots in the draft if we hadn’t completely neglected it the last few years (opting for undrafted free agents and veterans on minimum deals over actual draft picks).
So, no, nevermind. There are zero position groups you could say I was 100% comfortable with over the course of the season. Every single player on this team played a part in why the Seahawks are not in the playoffs right now, and if they WERE set to play in Carolina this weekend, they’d surely get their asses destroyed. I hope the guys who remain on this roster in 2018 take a good, long look in the mirror. Do you want to be here? Do you still love the game of football? Let’s maybe think less about that paycheck and more about wins and losses.