STACY ROST

Rost: 3 words that underline the state of the Seahawks’ season

Dec 11, 2023, 3:04 PM | Updated: 11:20 pm

Seattle Seahawks Stacy Rost...

Ji'Ayir Brown of the San Francisco 49ers intercepts a pass intended for DK Metcalf of the Seattle Seahawks. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks fans aren’t happy.

After Sunday’s 28-16 loss to the 49ers, completing a San Francisco sweep of Seattle for the season, I put out the following prompt:

“If I were to describe the 2023 Seahawks season in one word it would be ______”

The responses probably won’t surprise you. “Disappointing” and “predictable” were the most popular replies, but others included:

• Regression

• Underachieving

• Painful

• Weak

• Discouraging

• Misjudged

• Identity-less

• Collapse

There’s been some regression, and blowout losses have been painful. But those last three were most interesting to me personally: misjudged, identity-less and collapse.

All highlight how the Seahawks got here, and importantly, their biggest challenge moving forward.

Seahawks’ Carroll has interesting answers to two tough questions

“Misjudged” applies not just to how some fans and critics – including myself – saw the season unfolding, but also to how the team’s decision-makers evaluated this group. Never mind the trades they’ve made in previous seasons, highlighted by sending two first-rounders to the Jets for safety Jamal Adams. Look at this year’s midseason deadline.

Seattle sent a second-rounder and fifth-rounder to the Giants for defensive lineman Leonard Williams. It wasn’t October’s biggest blockbuster, but it did indicate that the Seahawks are a team and a front office that views themselves as contenders in a relatively weak NFC. They hadn’t been playing like one of the conference’s top teams but were certainly in the playoff picture at the time, and the hope was, presumably, that adding Williams could boost a defense that was going to face some of the league’s best rushing offenses in November and December.

It’s hard to be upset with a team for being aggressive – particularly in a market where fans are calling for an MLB team to do the same – but it does beg the question of whether Seattle brass assumed this team was more competitive than it has been.

The Seahawks haven’t looked like a consistent contender in the weeks that followed, and “identity” is part of that issue.

Head coach Pete Carroll has always coveted a balanced offense and strong run game, but despite investing two second-round picks in running backs, Seattle’s offense is averaging just 92 rushing yards per game (28th), down from 119 in 2022 (18th).

Defensively, the Seahawks started the season out strong against the run, but they haven’t been able to sustain that against teams like Baltimore and San Francisco. In fact, there’s not much defensively they’re doing well at all. They’re allowing the fifth-most yards per game and the sixth-most points per game. They’re ninth in sacks but aren’t using those plays to get off the field; they’re allowing opposing offenses to convert on a third-worst 45.7% of third down attempts.

All of it has led to what feels like a “collapse,” and it’s where Carroll’s biggest challenge yet lies. Having fun is easy when you’re winning, but keeping your messaging alive becomes a challenge with the first four-game losing streak the Seahawks have faced under Carroll. The story of the remaining games won’t just be about whether Seattle can turn the season around and make an improbable playoff run, but also about how Carroll can keep a collapsing record from turning into a collapsing culture.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks Injury Updates: Latest on Geno Smith, Devon Witherspoon
What’s to make of Drew Lock playing solid in first Seahawks start?
Instant Reaction: Hawks’ skid hits four with loss to 49ers
Tempers flare between Hawks, 49ers; DK Metcalf among two ejected
The Big Plays: Highlights from Seattle Seahawks’ loss to 49ers

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