Despite Seahawks sitting at 3-5, playoffs are very much still in play
At 3-5 heading into the bye, it’s safe to say that the 2021 season has not started the way that the Seahawks were hoping, especially after going 12-4 a year ago.
But that doesn’t mean you should count them out going forward.
“The Seahawks certainly had a lousy start to their season,” Mike Salk said during Thursday’s edition of The Mike Salk Show on 710 ESPN Seattle. “They’re not where they want it to be after seven games, and yet they are definitively in the playoff hunt. That seems obvious, right? You’ve heard it from Pete Carroll. You’ve heard it from Jeremy Fowler. And yes, yesterday we heard it from Matt Hasselbeck.”
Well, let’s see what that trio said this week and then check out what Salk had to add.
Legendary Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck
“I don’t know what the vibe is there, but around the country, people are optimistic with this seventh wild card situation,” said Hasselbeck, pointing to the NFL expanding the playoffs this year to 14 total teams. “The Seahawks absolutely have a chance to get into the playoffs.”
ESPN NFL Insider Jeremy Fowler
Fowler joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy on Tuesday prior to the NFL trade deadline, and he thinks that star quarterback Russell Wilson is a big reason why the Seahawks have high hopes for turning this season around.
“I feel like they feel if they can just hang on until Russell comes back, that they can still get into the wild card,” he said.
Wilson, of course, hurt his finger in Week 5 and needed surgery to repair it, but it’s believed he’ll play in Green Bay in Week 10 when the Seahawks return from the bye.
Fowler added later that head coach Pete Carroll and the play of Seattle’s defense, which has improved over the last few weeks after a historically poor start, are reasons people around the team could be a playoff contender going forward.
“I know people in Seattle, they still feel like they have good defensive pieces if they put them in the right spot and if Carroll kind of figures that side of the ball out,” he said. “It just seems like Pete Carroll is at another crossroads this year with the defense, while last year was with the offense. It’s come to a point where are you have to wonder how long he’s going to be in that place and be able to figure it out. I think they are betting on him doing that and he’s got the pedigree to do it, and the defense has to improve and it has shown some signs over the last few weeks.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll
Salk interviews the Seahawks coach on The Pete Carroll Show the day after each Seahawks game, and after Seattle beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-7 before hitting the bye week, Carroll shared what his message to his team was before the week off.
“To stay focused on this very next step and take everything that’s happened and grow from it,” he said. “We know what happened, but then let’s all take this next step together and that means everybody is going to do their thing and be held accountable.
“We have a chance to have a really good football season. It doesn’t look like that to many people, but we really don’t care about anybody on the outside in that regard. We’re going to direct our focus based on what we know we can get done, so here we go. The second half is already underway.”
Carroll said that the level of belief in the locker room is “pretty strong” thanks to good leadership from the players.
“We’ve had to deal with disappointment more than anything else. We’ve had to put that in a place so it didn’t distract us from the next step we take,” Carroll said. “It’s been hard because we’ve been too consistently close. Those are tough lessons, but I think we hardened from it and we can grow from it. I know we have a chance. We’re going to be really healthy coming back (from the bye). We’re in a good place.”
710 ESPN Seattle’s Mike Salk
“They do,” Salk said Thursday morning of the Seahawks having a chance at making the playoffs. “And it’s amazing how quickly the NFL playing field can even out.”
Salk pointed to the Seahawks’ next two opponents – the Packers and Arizona Cardinals – as being arguably the two top teams in the NFC, but they’re now both dealing with issues at quarterback with injuries or health concerns that could cost their star signal callers a few weeks of playing time.
“While the Hawks may not be in the same class as some of the top teams in the conference, they are definitely in the hunt for the last wild card spot, and if they can get in, well, top teams have certainly shown their mortality,” Salk said. “And I think we saw with the Atlanta Braves (in the World Series) that you don’t necessarily have to have the best record in the regular season now.”
Plus, Salk said, the Seahawks should get healthier with Wilson likely returning as well as some other key players on offense.
“We know that (running back) Chris Carson is hoping to practice next week,” Salk said. “There’s even hope that rookie (receiver) Dee Eskridge could practice after the bye as well. That would be like almost a midseason addition via trade, except he just shows up on the team.”
And while the trade deadline has passed, the Seahawks could still make big-time additions to the team.
“Now there are some intriguing names available at receiver. DeSean Jackson was cut by the Rams at 34 years old. He does still have plenty of speed as he showed against the Seahawks a couple of weeks ago, and I know Pete Carroll has been interested in him since his high school days, so maybe that’s an option,” Salk said. “They could also be joined by Odell Beckham Jr. … and we mentioned the name (of linebacker) Jaylon Smith a few weeks ago. He was just let go again by the Packers.”
Listen to the full segment from the first hour of Thursday’s Mike Salk Show at this link or in the player below.