After a 42-7 loss to the Rams, which only counts as one loss even though it felt like 10, the Seahawks still have a reasonable chance to make the playoffs if they win their last two games against Dallas and Arizona.
That’s a rational view of Sunday’s game at CenturyLink Field, and although it’s accurate, it’s also unrealistic. Plus it’s ridiculous to think that this team, as a No. 6 seed, could somehow win three straight games on the road and go to the Super Bowl.
Pete Carroll will tell his team that they’re just two weeks removed from an impressive 24-10 win over the Eagles, who were 10-1 at the time and are 12-2 now. If they’re good enough to beat the Eagles, they should be good enough to beat anyone in the playoffs, including the Rams. That doesn’t seem possible after watching Sunday’s game, but it’s the same Rams team that lost to the Eagles last week.
And if I’m Carroll, I would have milked “Tell the Truth Monday” for all it’s worth, reminding the Seahawks that playoff teams in the NFC look unusually vulnerable this year. If they can post a strong finish, who knows what can happen in the playoffs. Wild-card teams have gone on to win the Super Bowl before. And again, if I’m Carroll, I don’t care if someone says it’s more like “Stretch the Truth Monday” if he rolls out some of that nonsense as it pertains to his team this year.
I agree with those who feel like a magical era of Seahawks’ football ended on Sunday. Might as well say that for two reasons – I believe it’s likely the case, and if it’s not, maybe it will motivate the players to prove the doubters wrong. Clearly key injuries have caught up to them, and it might be the main reason why this season has gone sideways. It’s possible with all healthy hands on deck, the Seahawks could be 10-4 and winning in December like they always have in the past.
But let’s face it, most of their marquee players, many of whom are sidelined, won’t return next year for one reason or another. Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett are past their prime, and Avril has a career-threatening spinal injury. So does Kam Chancellor. And would you want Richard Sherman back at the age of 30 coming off a torn Achilles with an $11 million cap hit? At the very least, we’ve seen the end of the Legion of Boom. I don’t think you can call it the Legion of Boom anymore if Earl Thomas is the only one left in the band.
Changes need to be made along the offensive line, and maybe now, because of the magnitude of Sunday’s defeat, they will happen. If it had been a three-point loss instead of a 35-point loss, you could still pretend you’re on the fringe of being a Super Bowl contender. This is a team that went three-plus years of never having suffered a double-digit loss, and here’s where they are now, getting blown out by a division rival at home.
Luke Joeckel will likely sign somewhere else as a free agent, and I’m completely fine with that – I thought he was overpaid as a one-year Band-Aid at $7 million for the 2017 season. Germain Ifedi needs to improve in a hurry or be replaced. And Duane Brown is in line for a contract extension, but his bid for a bigger deal took a hit Sunday – he looked more like the overmatched Ifedi than the Pro Bowler he’s supposed to be. Brown and Justin Britt are the only two players assured of spots on the O-line next year, and I’m hoping that George Fant will return to take over at right tackle even though he was a left tackle when he tore his ACL in the preseason.
The Seahawks have a long list of unrestricted free agents, but the only three I’d like to see them re-sign are Sheldon Richardson, Paul Richardson and Luke Willson. Problem is, Sheldon Richardson will probably get better offers elsewhere. Paul Richardson has had a good season, establishing himself as the second-best receiver on the team. And Willson? If Jimmy Graham departs, Willson and Nick Vannett would still give you two solid tight ends in 2018.
Graham has been terrific in the red zone this year but still doesn’t look like he’d be worth a three-year, $30 million investment to me. In the last two games, he has one catch for minus-1 yard.
If you’d prefer to maintain hope for this season before we move on to next year, the Cowboys are the next opponent, and if the Rams can rush against Seattle for 244 yards, I wonder what kind of game Ezekiel Elliott will have against the Seahawks after returning from his six-game suspension.
And I’m curious about the spat between Earl Thomas and Bobby Wagner, which started innocently enough with Thomas saying Wagner maybe should not have played with his hamstring injury. Wagner replied via Twitter in a since-deleted post, telling Thomas to stop being jealous about other people’s success. So apparently there’s friction between the two All-Pros, but it might be nothing more than frustration talking with Wagner.
This team suddenly has all kinds of moving parts, and most of those parts don’t move as quickly as they used to. I’m with Carroll, though, trying to figure out how this team can look like one of the best teams in the NFL two weeks ago against the Eagles and look like the Browns on Sunday.
There’s still time to salvage the season, but with so many weaknesses, ranging from punt coverage and the running game to the kicking game and offensive line, it looks like the Seahawks’ five-year playoff run is about to end.