How much things change in a span over a few years. Widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the game coaching a team at the forefront of the NFL, Pete Carroll is entering a 2018 season something he really hasn’t seen since joining the Seahawks: an underdog.
And it may be what he likes. Before the Legion of Boom dynasty started in Seattle, he took a team not many considered to be worthwhile and showed that he could build a strong team on both sides of the ball, mainly defense. In 2012, with the help of rookie Russell Wilson at quarterback, Seattle made it to the Divisional round against Atlanta. In 2013, Super Bowl champions. In 2014, another Super Bowl appearance.
Then…we see it all the time now: the interception at the goal line. Many in the media have obliterated Pete Carroll for the decision of having Wilson pass instead of handing the ball off to Marshawn Lynch, who was having a good day (over 100 yards rushing). After the game, the Seahawks players took the high road of saying they trusted their coach, including Lynch (where many thought he would have lost his mind).
Regardless of what was said, it was the beginning of the decline for Seattle. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn left to coach the Falcons and players started to make their exits one at a time. The Seahawks lost to Carolina in the divisional playoff in 2015 and then got smacked by Atlanta in the divisional the year after. Then last year, Seattle didn’t even see the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Worse, players who have exited stage right in Seattle are now saying that their trust in Carroll went out the window in that Super Bowl and they practically tuned him out (Cliff Avril, Bruce Irvin, Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, etc.). Also whether it is related or not it doesn’t seem Earl Thomas (holding out) or Kam Chancellor (complaining of nagging injuries even in the off-season) wanting to get in again. And when you tune out a head coach, bad things happen.
Before the decline in Seattle, you heard that if you signed with the Seahawks, nothing would be given to you and you had to earn it. Pete Carroll seemed to be the players coach while being a rah-rah coach and had the college mantra where the young players were really excited to have. When those young players turn to veterans like what we saw in Seattle then things change. They get tired of it. Now some point to that. Others point to maybe the exit of Quinn had something to do with it as he somewhat preached that “brotherhood” in Seattle as the defense was a well gelled defense in Seattle’s Super Bowl years as opposed to after it where we saw instances of players bickering and fighting with each other on the sideline.
Last year’s team many believed Russell Wilson’s effort netted the Seahawks more wins than they should have, thus giving the belief that he should have won the MVP in 2017 (I wasn’t one of them mind you). But whether you agree or not about the MVP argument, Wilson probably did save Seattle from finishing dead last in the NFC West. However with all the hits Wilson has taken, the chances are if it continues to happen, he will not see all 16 games, which could mean massive disasters in the Northwest.
Worse, the drafts of recent years for Seattle hasn’t shown much in the way of major results and their top pick in 2017 Malik McDowell, may never play given his injury issues over an ATV accident. Adding on, the moves the Seahawks have made over this time period has also been somewhat questionable, trading Pro Bowl center Max Unger to New Orleans for Jimmy Graham. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but Graham never really looked comfortable in Seattle’s offensive system like he had in New Orleans while Unger left a void that is somewhat felt today in Seattle as Wilson is normally on his back after throwing passes. The running game has been a disaster since the Super Bowl run, even in Lynch’s last year with the team while the signings of free agents like Eddie Lacy and Fred Jackson while Thomas Rawls couldn’t do much either.
Seattle is starting anew somewhat. They are younger which means Carroll is hoping to have the youngsters buy in to the philosophy. However, some of these youngsters saw first-hand the likes of Sherman, Avril, Bennett, and others who just tuned out Carroll so the biggest question is, will these youngsters buy in or follow suit of the previous veterans?
To me, Seattle has more of a chance of getting the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft than making it to the Super Bowl. With the Rams investing in a super-team and the Niners figuring to make massive gains in 2018 Seattle won’t be dominant like they were in their own division. Adding on top of that, the schedule isn’t too forgiving with seeing road trips to Denver (always hard to win there), Chicago (who should figure to be upstart), Detroit, and Carolina while hosting the likes of the Vikings, Chargers, and Packers, all of whom figure to be in contention for the playoffs. If Seattle keeps afloat and ends up 7-9 or 8-8, I think Carroll’s job is very safe, but from the looks of it, this team is a Russell Wilson away from being 3-13. And that’s a far cry than when the Seahawks won a super Bowl with an inexperienced Wilson at quarterback. But even with Wilson, Seattle is still capable of being a 5-11 or a 4-12 team, which is not going to please the fans in the Emerald City. So this year Carroll has to show that the Seahawks rebuild is going better, and faster that many believe. And if he doesn’t, he may be something he hasn’t been too familiar with since his days in New England: having a burned rear end with his hot seat.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat