BRANDON GUSTAFSON

Seahawks Quick Hits: Offense hits lowest low at worst possible time

Jan 9, 2021, 5:38 PM | Updated: 7:03 pm
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson...
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson threw a pick-6 and completed only 11 passes against the Rams. (AP)
(AP)

The Seahawks’ first home playoff game since 2016 wasn’t much fun for Seattle and its fan base as the Los Angeles Rams, who entered the game with a major question mark at quarterback, dominated in every facet of the game in a 30-20 win that ended the Seahawks’ season.

Recap: Seahawks done with 30-20 loss to Rams | Instant Reaction

The game was brutal for Seattle basically from the start, and the Rams’ offensive and defensive lines dominated at the line of scrimmage to dictate the way the game went, which was not in the Seahawks’ favor.

Now, like every season since 2014, the Seahawks will be watching the Super Bowl from home as their season is over after just one playoff game. It was also the first home playoff loss for the Seahawks since 2004.

Let’s get into some takeaways from the game and look ahead to the 2021 offseason.

Offense hits lowest point at worst time

First, let’s give credit to the Rams. They entered the playoffs with the league’s best defense, and they showed why in this ballgame.

But this offense, which started the 2020 season so hot it looked like quarterback Russell Wilson was going to win MVP and have a chance to set a new NFL record for passing touchdowns, lost that magic in the second half of the season. And in the playoffs, when Wilson and that unit were needed most, it failed to come close to answering the call.

We’ve grown accustomed to the Seahawks’ offense struggling early and figuring things out late for a close win, even as that group slowed down in the last eight games of the regular season. But that never happened in this game. In fact, it really never came close to happening.

Wilson found DK Metcalf on a broken play for a first-half touchdown, and the pair connected on another touchdown when the game was out of reach in the fourth. But other than that? It was seemingly the culmination of Seattle’s offensive demise over the second half of the season.

Wilson was under duress all game, the Seahawks couldn’t sustain drives and were 2 for 14 on third down, and the offense couldn’t feed running back Chris Carson more because of the lack of first downs.

Entering the game, the Rams had a question mark at quarterback as starter Jared Goff had recent thumb surgery and was questionable to play. Even though he was active, Goff didn’t start – John Wolford did.

Wolford left the game in the first quarter with a neck injury, leaving Goff and his injured right thumb to enter and play the rest of the game. And still, at the end of the day, he and Goff combined for 12 completions on 25 attempts and 184 yards. That was better than Wilson’s day. Seattle’s QB went 11 of 27 for 174 yards and the two touchdowns to Metcalf. Wilson also threw one interception that was returned for a touchdown, and he could have been picked two times on the same drive in the third quarter.

After seeing the offense do a complete 180 from the start of the year to this final game, Pete Carroll, his coaching staff and Wilson appear to have some soul searching to do.

Lose the turnover battle, lose the game

After the Seahawks’ win over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 17, Carroll told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant that he liked the way that the offense was playing because they weren’t turning the ball over.

The Seahawks went 12-4 this year, and Carroll pointed out that Seattle was 12-0 when they were positive or even in turnover differential. Naturally, that meant that the Seahawks were 0-4 when being negative in turnover ratio or, as Carroll says, losing the “turnover battle.”

Well, even with the Rams rolling out a backup quarterback and later one whose right thumb had been operated on 12 days before the game, Seattle’s defense didn’t record a takeaway while Wilson threw an interception on a blown up screen pass that cornerback Darious Williams returned for a touchdown.

Seattle’s special teams, which had been lights out all year, also gave the ball away when cornerback D.J. Reed coughed up a fumble in the fourth quarter that resulted in a Rams touchdown.

So two turnovers for the Seahawks equaled 14 Rams points. Los Angeles won by 10. Adds up to what Carroll has preached, and unfortunately, his squad came up on the wrong side of the turnover battle and the game.

Big questions ahead this offseason

Well, with the season done, all you can do aside from looking back and asking “What if?” is look forward. In that sense, the offseason is coming up, just faster than the Seahawks would have liked.

This offseason will be a critical one for Seattle, as well.

The Seahawks have key players set to hit free agency in Carson, cornerbacks Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar, linebacker K.J. Wright, center Ethan Pocic and tight ends Jacob Hollister and Greg Olsen. Additionally, safeties Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs only have one year left on their contracts and each may be seeking a new long-term deal. Plus, the Seahawks don’t have picks in the first or third rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft, and the salary cap is expected to go down by roughly $20 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of the salary cap going down, defensive end Carlos Dunlap and defensive tackle Jarran Reed are players to watch as each only have one year remaining on their deals but are set to make over $11 million. Can the Seahawks afford to keep both? Will one or both be looking for a long-term deal this offseason?

There’s also questions at general manager and the coaching staff.

GM John Schneider has just one year left on his deal and other teams could interview and sign him away by offering more control than he has with the Seahawks.

On the coaching staff, will offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer be back? He’s been a rumored name in head coaching searches, and after the offense’s slide over the second half of the season, could the Seahawks look to change things up anyways?

Then on defense, Ken Norton Jr. was the coordinator for the worst unit in football through eight weeks, but in the second half of the season, that group was arguably the NFL’s best. Did that turnaround buy him more time in Seattle? Or will the Seahawks look to bring in a familiar face in Dan Quinn or Gus Bradley, two former Seahawks defensive coordinators who are currently available.

Last year’s offseason, aside from the trade for Adams, seemed to be about filling out the roster with capable role players. This offseason looks to be about whether or not the Seahawks can and want to keep the band from 2020 together.

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Seahawks Quick Hits: Offense hits lowest low at worst possible time