Seahawks 3 Takes: Is it time to go all-in before Super Bowl window closes?
Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom, Jake and Stacy caused a bit of a stir on Twitter this week when he posed the question of whether the Seahawks were missing their Super Bowl window, especially when looking at moves the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs have made this offseason.
The Kansas City Chiefs make me feel like the #Seahawks are missing their Super Bowl window. At some point you have to simply go for it!
The Seahawks have been making it to the final table through a conservative approach. At some point you have to be willing to go all in. pic.twitter.com/xexvIAOG0e
— Jake Heaps (@jtheaps9) July 14, 2020
While the Seahawks went 11-5 in 2019 and made it to the divisional round of the playoffs before losing to the Green Bay Packers, Seattle now hasn’t made the NFC Championship since the 2014 season. The team has added some players this offseason, but none have been seen as “superstars,” which quarterback Russell Wilson said the team needed to add ahead of the 2020 season. The Chiefs, meanwhile, locked up star quarterback Patrick Mahomes and defensive tackle Chris Jones, keeping the core of their 2019 Super Bowl-winning team in place for years to come.
Do the Seahawks need to be more aggressive in order for Wilson to help lead the team to another Super Bowl appearance? Heaps and fellow former NFL players Michael Bumpus and Dave Wyman all shared their opinion on Wednesday’s edition of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore.
The Seahawks entered the 2019 offseason with roughly $60 million in cap space, which had fans and analysts expecting a major move or two. That ultimately didn’t happen, and while the Seahawks were adding depth and rotational pieces, the Chiefs locked up arguably the best player in football and were able to retain Jones, when some thought he’d have to be traded because he was seeking money Kansas City didn’t have. Heaps thinks it’s a tale of two teams when comparing the Seahawks and Chiefs heading into 2020.
“It just seems like you have a franchise (the Chiefs) that has set themselves up pretty nicely even with massive contracts that they’ve forked out to multiple players and they seem set up and primed and ready to really compete for a Super Bowl every single year over the next two or three years,” Heaps said. “So you look at the Seahawks and I think it leaves you wanting. It leaves you wanting them to make a bigger move on either other side of the ball.”
The Seahawks added some projected starters in free agency such as tight end Greg Olsen, defensive ends Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin and right tackle Brandon Shell, but many like Heaps think the team has yet to add a true impact player on either side of the ball this offseason. In addition to wanting a splash move, Heaps wants to see Wilson be more of a focal point of the offense.
“I think part of that equation is leaning into your quarterback as well and coming up with different strategies from 2019 and learning and growing in 2020, and I don’t think those are things that aren’t happening,” he said. “I would be surprised if they didn’t look at 2019 and say there are things that need to change. And I would hope so.”
A big part of the 2019 Seahawks’ season was one-score games. Of Seattle’s 12 wins, including the playoffs, all but one were won by eight points or fewer. Heaps said that teams that win like that typically don’t end up as champions, and that the Seahawks so far haven’t added anyone that can truly impact the team’s point differential.
“In the past decade, there’s only been two organizations that have won the Super Bowl that had a point differential of under 100 (2010 Saints and 2012 Ravens),” he said. “… So when we talk about how great it was that they won so many close games (in 2019) – it was, it’s a very difficult thing to do and it was entertaining … but when it comes to winning the Super Bowl, it’s extremely difficult, and that stat goes to show you that you have to be more than just winning by the skin of your teeth at times.”
Wyman (read his opinion later in the article) said that the Seahawks have a history of making aggressive moves in trades and free agency under general manager John Schneider. Heaps said that’s true, but it hasn’t been the case this offseason.
“I’m looking at this from a short-sighted lens,” he said. “… I look at the urgency of the window of Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner and feel the urgency of the opportunity that is in front of them from the 2019 team to the 2020 team … I see that this team is so close to putting together a pretty awesome year, and I have not seen the move that’s going to help them get over the top and help them get back to that Super Bowl conversation.”
Bumpus agreed with Heaps’ sentiment, especially when comparing the state of the Seahawks to that of the Chiefs.
“When you see a team with a Patrick Mahomes, with Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and you look at the defense and they’ve got Frank Clark – a guy who used to be on this roster – you kind of see it slipping away because they’re younger, they’re more explosive, they take more risks, they’re more exciting,” he said. “And as a Seahawks fan and maybe even as a player, you look at that – ‘Man, that’s a really explosive team. How do we slow that down?'”
Bumpus pointed to the offense as one area that the Seahawks haven’t quite adapted over the years, as head coach Pete Carroll still employs a run-first approach that can be seen as conservative.
“I think the Seahawks’ offense six or seven years ago was perfect for the NFL … You fast-forward six or seven years and you look at these offenses now, they’re super explosive, they’re throwing the ball down the field, the running backs are getting a lot of receptions,” Bumpus said. “It’s changed a bit and there’s nothing wrong with the approach Pete Carroll is taking, but at some point you’ve got to realize your quarterback is getting up there. He’s 31 years old. In real life, that’s young. In the NFL, he’s getting up there, he’s got experience.”
But if the Seahawks are going to make a big move to “save” the offseason, Bumpus thinks it has to be at pass rush, where the Seahawks struggled mightily in 2019, accumulating just 28 sacks – second fewest in the league.
“You’ve got to roll the dice with (Wilson) and go all-in and that’s why I want them to pull the trigger on (Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue) even if you’ve got to give up a first-round (pick) and a couple guys,” he said. “Go get this guy even if it is for just a one-year deal because you don’t know how much longer you have … It’s time to go win right now and there has to be a sense of urgency, but that’s just not what Pete Carroll does. He’s slow and steady and he’s had success that way and that’s why it’s hard for me to see him really changing and switching it up. But I’m with Jake, there has to be a sense of urgency. That window is closing. I still think it’s open and think they can sneak through that thing, but something has to be done quickly.”
Wyman has been vocal abut how much he trusts what Carroll and Schneider do when building teams from year to year. Even with the Seahawks’ biggest move of the offseason being the trade for Quinton Dunbar, who may not play as he faces armed robbery charges in Florida, Wyman thinks the team has been plenty aggressive overall since Carroll and Schneider were hired in 2010.
“First of all, they’ve given Russell two really huge contracts,” he said. “… As far as them not being aggressive, I’ve always understood that they’re in on every deal. Like even talking to Antonio Brown and we know they brought in Colin Kaepernick. They’re in everything. And I mean (Percy) Harvin (in 2013) and what about (Jadeveon) Clowney last year? It looked like there was no way they were going to do something like that and they got that done. Duane Brown (in 2017) and Jimmy Graham (in 2015). I feel like it’s not like they haven’t tried to do that.”
Wyman also pointed out that in the case of the Chiefs, their major impact players on offense and a handful on defense were all drafted and developed by the team.
“With Kansas City, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, at least those guys were already there, right?” Wyman said. “They were in place and yeah, they signed Chris Jones, but I just don’t see the difference that the Seahawks have not been aggressive and John Schneider has not gone out. What about (Cliff) Avril and (Michael) Bennett signings that year (2013). To me, I feel like it’s not like they haven’t been aggressive. I mean, how much more aggressive do you want them to be?”
You can listen to the full conversation in the third hour of Wednesday’s Bob, Dave and Moore at this link or in the player below.