The Seattle Seahawks are 3-5, in last place in the NFC West, and have no realistic chance at a playoff spot. They are bad. Worse still, they are boring.
If there is one silver lining in the team’s shambling performance over the past few weeks, it has given fans a vision of how things could be even worse. When rumors started this offseason that Russell Wilson was unhappy with the team’s direction, some advocated the team may be better off without him anyway. I think we can now safely establish that’s probably not the case.
It’s understandable why the Seahawks would have Geno Smith around as a backup quarterback. He’s a good team player, a veteran presence, and if you squint reallllllllllllllly hard, he can replicate some facets of Wilson’s game in that he has some mobility and is physically capable of throwing a football.
A backup quarterback is something you can game around. However, when you don’t have any faith in that quarterback to actually throw the football, have a suspect offensive line, and are also playing a backup running back, something has to give. Against the Saints on Monday, the Seahawks at one point ran the ball nine straight times. They seemingly ran the ball on every first down. It didn’t matter if the Saints had nine men in the box; they were running. Needless to say, it didn’t work. It was terrible, boring, predictable football.
While the defense was able to limit the damage of the Saints offense on Monday night, they still struggled on third downs (screen passes and runs on third and long seemed particularly problematic) and committed numerous penalties to extend drives.
These issues were not unique to the Saints game and have been present for prior seasons as well – they are just coming to a head as the team tumbles toward the bottom of the standings.
For years, the Seahawks have adopted a singular strategy to fix problems– identifying an issue from the prior season and then attempting to plug it. After the team lost the 2014 Super Bowl thanks to an ill-advised throw into the endzone, the team went and got Wilson a bigger end zone target in Jimmy Graham. In 2017, as Wilson was getting pummeled behind a swiss cheese offensive line, they acquired all-pro tackle, Duane Brown. In 2020, after feeling the absence of Earl Thomas the year before, they traded a pair of first round draft picks to the Jets for free safety Jamal Adams. As Braiden Bell noted earlier this week, Adams has been a particularly sore spot this season after getting a hefty contract extension in the offseason. He’s dropped easy interceptions, is no longer fast enough to get the quarterback on blitzes, and is not fast enough to cover receivers one-on-one.
When a quarterback sees Adams coming on a blitz, he knows a hole is open in the defense somewhere. This leaves the Seahawks without a good option. They can either double-down on the blitz, send more pressure that absolutely has to get to the quarterback, or they can pull a different player into coverage (which in their case is often inexplicably a defensive lineman) to cover Adam’s spot, which reduces the pressure on the quarterback and lessens further the chances they actually get to the passer. There are no good options there.
For many teams, falling to the bottom of the standings means at least a chance to rebuild, a shot a lottery ticket with a top 5 picket. Not this year. That draft belongs to the Jets in exchange for Adams.
So what is the good news? What can the Seahawks do to turn things around? For this year? I’m afraid, not much. Even the return of Wilson from injury within a few weeks is going to be hard-pressed to rally the team to the playoffs.