JIM MOORE

Moore: O-line, run game share blame for Seahawks missing playoffs

Jan 1, 2018, 10:00 AM
Thomas Rawls and the Seahawks' run game were a disappointment in 2017. (AP)...
Thomas Rawls and the Seahawks' run game were a disappointment in 2017. (AP)
(AP)

If the Seahawks had made the playoffs, how far do you think they would have gone? It would have been interesting to see them face the Rams again, and maybe it would have turned out differently than it did two weeks ago, but seriously?

That team wasn’t good enough to make it to the Super Bowl. We could sit here and think: if this happened and that happened, maybe they could make an amazing run like other wild-card teams have, but come on. The Seahawks weren’t going to suddenly become a great team, not after what we saw in 16 regular-season games. Too many flaws, too many injuries.

O’Neil: Missed kicks by Walsh kept Seahawks from playoffs

I always have a hard time predicting the outcome of games anyway, but the Seahawks were particularly confounding this year, and they ended the season in appropriately unpredictable fashion. I thought they’d roll past the Cardinals, especially after Bruce Arians made the comment about CenturyLink being Arizona’s home field since his team had won three games in a row in Seattle.

I also thought that the motivation of winning to have a chance at the playoffs was more of an incentive than Arizona had with its bid to finish with an 8-8 record in what might be Arians’ last game as coach.

In no scenario did I picture Kerwynn Williams, a third-string back, running as well as he did in the first half. Nor did I think the Seahawks would be completely inept on offense in the first two quarters.

And in the end, after Arizona prevailed 26-24, I guess it was fitting that Blair Walsh missed a 48-yard field goal that could have won it. Talk about the scapegoat to end all scapegoats – from what I saw on social media, Walsh was solely responsible for the Seahawks missing the playoffs.

I got a kick out of that, and with Walsh’s comment afterward. When asked what happened with the kick, he said something about it “not going where I wanted it to.” For whatever reason, I love that explanation, a pretty straight-forward reply that summed it up.

Many 12s blamed Walsh for the 9-7 season, said he cost the Seahawks at least three wins against Washington, Atlanta and Arizona. In the Redskins game, he missed three field goals, and I can almost go with the 12s on that one. But was Walsh on the field in the last minute when the Seahawks’ defense allowed Kirk Cousins to dissect the secondary with a shocking game-winning drive? Was he responsible for the running game being one of the worst in Seahawks’ history? Was he responsible for the pass protection breaking down or the run defense not being what we’re accustomed to seeing?

Good Lord, give the man a break. He wasn’t the best kicker in the world, I’ll give you that. And by pinching pennies, the Seahawks screwed up by signing him and not paying Stephen Hauschka to return. I also never thought they should have signed him in the first place, figuring he’d be a mental basket case after blowing that game-winning kick against the Seahawks in the playoffs two years ago.

But to blame him for all that was wrong with this team? I’d put offensive line coach Tom Cable, the offensive line itself and the running game way ahead of Walsh as the reasons why this team fell short of expectations.

Besides, if Walsh had made the kick, the Seahawks would have been five spots lower in the draft – so in a way, he should be praised for missing when nothing was on the line anyway after the Falcons beat the Panthers to lock up the last playoff spot.

The most amazing stat of the season isn’t the penalty yardage, which nearly broke an NFL record. It’s the fact that one running back, J.D. McKissic, had one rushing touchdown, a 30-yarder against Indianapolis in September. How is that possible? In 16 games, the Seahawks had one rushing touchdown from its running backs. I know I already wrote that, but it’s so unbelievable, it bears pointing out again and again. This from a so-called run-first team.

As long as Russell Wilson is the quarterback, the Seahawks will be back in playoff contention next year and for the next decade. But changes are coming, and I hope we see them with both the roster and the coaching staff.

The Seahawks will have decisions to make with many star players, and for one reason or another, whether it’s age or injury concerns or salary cap issues, I don’t expect Cliff Avril, Kam Chancellor or Michael Bennett to return. I also wonder about Richard Sherman, who will be coming off a torn Achilles at the age of 30 and making $11 million in 2018.

Among the unrestricted free agents, I’d expect Jimmy Graham and Sheldon Richardson to sign elsewhere and would hope the Seahawks would make offers to Paul Richardson, DeShawn Shead and Bradley McDougald that will keep them here.

I won’t miss Graham at all. I know he was a touchdown machine this year, and he deserves all kinds of credit for coming back from a patellar tendon injury two years ago. But he never seemed like a good fit with the Seahawks, and I can’t see them offering $10 million a season, though another team probably will.

And I’m ready to move on from Cable, who I’ve always assumed was a good offensive line coach, and that might still be the case. Plus maybe the chef can only be so good without the proper ingredients, but whatever, I’m ready for a new chef. It’s time to see what a new man in charge can do with that line. You’d think that you would have seen improvement, either in the running game or pass protection, at this point in the season, and I didn’t see it.

I’d also get rid of Thomas Rawls. I don’t even care what his contract situation is, I’d just dump him after a lackluster season that ended with a taunting call. I used to love the guy – he sure seemed like he’d be a great replacement for Marshawn Lynch, and now he just acts like a buffoon out there, celebrating 7-yard runs like he just won the Super Bowl.

And the retirement chatter about Pete Carroll? I don’t expect him to quit now, even at the age of 66. This will be a new challenge that he’ll want to tackle.

This will be one of the busiest offseasons ever for general manager John Schneider, and I think when we look back on the 2017 Seahawks, we’ll call it a temporary detour for a team that will compete for titles in years to come.

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Moore: O-line, run game share blame for Seahawks missing playoffs