It has been several weeks since the Seahawks have made any news. At that time, the notable changes came by way of coaching personnel, but since then it has been quiet.
After this season was over, there was a lot of questions about key player decisions. Looking at the needs of the roster and the amount of cap room ($14,123,861 per overthecap.com), clearing up some cap space is needed. But where will it come from?
One of the options, strong safety Kam Chancellor’s future with the team, was answered already. The Seahawks allowed the Feb 9th roster deadline to come and go thereby guaranteeing his contract extension for 2018. The 3-year extension was signed in August 2017 before the regular season began. It included an injury clause that guaranteed his base salary.
Unless he chooses to retire, which it seems he plans to play, the Seahawks will have to pay his base salary of $5.2 million which will go against the cap space. At the time it was signed many critics thought it would hamstring the organization. In hindsight, that may have occurred.
It is the offseason. One thing that kicks into full gear in the offseason is the Coaching Carousel, and boy is it going with the Seattle Seahawks.
Coaching has dominated the week for Seattle. It started last Wednesday with the announcement that offensive coordinator Darrel Bevell had been fired, then followed closely with the announcement that offensive line coach/assistant head coach Tom Cable was also let go. Rumors abounded about defensive coordinator Kris Richard had a tenuous hold on that position.
Over a week has passed since the end of the Seattle Seahawks 2017 season. To say that this year has been tumultuous would not even raise an eyebrow in Seattle. The Seahawks were making news, whether it was good, bad, polarizing, thought-provoking, and outrageous, off or on the field.
But that it wasn’t any different than any other year under head coach Pete Carroll. So why did this season end in disappointment? Not the sudden devastation of losing a playoff game, but a slow death-rattle-like loss of identity. As the season progressed, we kept waiting; waiting for something to turn, something to change. When the season ended, it looked like nothing changed.
Last January, after they were eliminated from the playoffs, the main concerns were the offensive line and the running game. But the kicking game became surprisingly unpredictable too.
Seahawks went to fix the concerns that followed them into the off-season by signing kicker Blair Walsh. They continued to acquire free agents like running back Eddie Lacy. Before the regular season began Seahawks traded wide receiver Jermaine Kearse to New York Jets for defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.
Right before kickoff I quickly listed a few things that I hoped the Seahawks would give to all their fans for Christmas. My list included:
1. Stop the run.
2. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin and tight end Jimmy Graham with quality and successful targets.
3. A clean game for guard Germain Ifedi.
4. A run game of our own.
5. A touchdown on our first offensive possession.
With the Seattle Seahawks bogged down in injuries, fans were concerned about today’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.
As of halftime today, 12’s have to come to the conclusion that there is no more home-field advantage when the majority of the Seahawks All-Pro players are on injured reserve or out of the game. After the disastrous ending of last week’s game, the concern centered on the defense.
With both linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright leaving the game with injuries, the conversation was whether either one or both would be able to play. Earlier in the week, there was the threat of suspensions on defensive ends Michael Bennett, Sheldon Richardson and defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson. Although Seattle lost Wright for the game having not cleared concussion protocol, everyone else was available for the game. On the offensive side, everyone was relatively healthy.
A few hours removed from the end of the game still hasn’t made this loss any less excruciating. Trying to drum up facts to feel good about is still a frustrating exercise. Coming off the best overall performance of the season with a win over Philadelphia, Seattle looked poised to start their typical December run. They are 18 – 5 in December since quarterback Russell Wilson has been under center.
All signs pointed to a team coming together, developing at the right time and finding their elusive identity. They even won the coin toss for land’s sake! From the beginning, the defense looked strong allowing only one field goal. But penalties and a turnover in the offense were the beginning tremors that would erupt later in a full seismic meltdown.
This is arguably the most complete game that the Seahawks have played this year. From the opening drive, the game seemed to go in favor of the Seahawks. The offense was led by quarterback Russell Wilson who once again turned into a wizard. He was scrambling his way out of would-be sacks and finding receivers like tight end Jimmy Graham for the 9th time in 8 games.
This week’s victory over San Francisco felt like a broken record. The distinct discrepancies between the two halves, the defense keeping Seattle in the game, missed field goals, and the offense finding its footing in the second half. They were able to pull out a win but still did not answer the questions of where this season is heading.
Seattle’s record is now 7-4 yet concern still arises that they will not even make it to the playoffs. Something that has only happened once in the 8 years Pete Carroll has been the head coach. This season has witnessed key contributors like corner Richard Sherman and defensive end Cliff Avril placed on IR; strong safety Kam Chancellor hasn’t played in two games with growing expectancy that he will also join them on IR.
We had two weeks to recover and get prepared for this next rollercoaster ride with our beloved Seahawks. In those two weeks, I was able to come to the certain conclusion that we are never going to enjoy a predictable win. The first half was proof of my hypothesis about the season so far. The most glaring example was our five-minute flounder in the red zone which ended in zero points.
Going into halftime, the Seahawks left at least 14 points on the field because of key drops. Tight end Jimmy Graham was the culprit of two dropped passes including one in the end zone. Running back Thomas Rawls dropped another with the open field in front of him. Penalties by the offensive line stalled the drive, with guard Germaine Ifedi, committing three. The only turnover of the half by Rawls resulted in a touchdown by quarterback Eli Manning to tight end Evan Engram. Cameras showed a sideline exchange between wide receiver Doug Baldwin, offensive line coach Tom Cable, and quarterback Russell Wilson although later the situation looked like all had cooled off.
The Seahawks have made news this week. Being one of the more outspoken teams on social issues, players like defensive end Michael Bennet and wide receiver Doug Baldwin could be seen on CNN talking about equality and justice. The team made strides on this issue by announcing that they are starting a new foundation called SeahawksPlayers Equality & Justice for All Action Fund “to support education and leadership programs addressing equality and justice.” Being as outspoken and comfortable as they are in the spotlight, they can highlight their emapthy and outrage as they face the multitude of question on this subject. Off the field the Seahawks have remained true to what they have always been.
Now, on the field has been a different story.
As the Seahawks get ready to play on Sunday Night Football, some of the painful questions that have come up over the last 3 weeks are still demanding to be answered. There have been questions about the fabled defense. Are they getting old? Have they lost their identity? There were comments made by safety Kam Chancellor calling out the defense after last week’s loss to the Titans, referring to their undisciplined play. The offense has also been put under the microscope: Why is quarterback Russell Wilson inaccurate? Is it in his head? Is the O-line ever going to get better? Where is tight end Jimmy Graham? Running back Eddie Lacy? Have they lost their identity as a run first team? Where are the big plays?