It was as ugly and disappointing of a loss as they come in the National Football League. The Seattle Seahawks were seemingly handed a golden ticket to get John Wolford or an extremely injured Jared Goff in the first round of the playoffs and they had nothing to show for it. It was a flat-out embarrassing loss that ended what once seemed like a magical season in Seattle.
For whatever reason, the Seahawks offense did a full 180 from the beginning of the year and a lot of blame goes to Brian Schottenheimer who will face criticism and a potential firing over his units performance over the last half of the season. The Hawks averaged just 22 points over the last nine games and if you take out a gimme 40 point performance against the Jets, that number shrinks to just over 19.
That lack of offense and seemingly lack of character was apparent in the Wild Card Round against the Rams where the Hawks were unable to move the ball the entire game. Wilson threw just 174 yards and a costly interception, Chris Carson ran for just 77 yards on 16 carries and Carlos Hyde was left on the sideline after putting up just four yards on five attempts.
The defense deserves credit for how they played for most of the game. At one point this was one of the worst units in the NFL that really turned things around at the end of the season. They limited the Rams to just 10 second-half points but the Seattle offense couldn’t get anything going and embarrassed themselves out of the postseason. Pete Carroll said this of his offense’s performance based on where they were at one point this season.
“As I look back now, I have a lot of work to do to figure it out, but I would think that we might think that way a little differently. At one part of the year, it was available, and we took it, and then in the second part of the year, against the really good defenses that we played, they were able to keep us out of that kind of a mode. I wish we would have adapted better under those circumstances.”
That shouldn’t make Schottenheimer feel easy as this is mostly on him. It is also on the offensive line and Wilson who seems to wear a magnet when it comes to getting pressured. The Rams were able to get to him 16 times this season and a total of 5 times in this Wild Card game. The Hawks have forever had a weak offensive line but this should really be the tipping point and if a change isn’t made now, it seems like it never will be made.
“The 5 man rush was difficult,” Carroll said. “That’s how you stop the passing game; you rush the passer and make it really hard on them. If you can’t find ways to get the ball out, if you can’t find ways to slow them down, then you’re up against it, and that’s when bad things happen. That’s where the turnovers happen and the sacks happen, that’s how it goes. We weren’t able to do it effectively enough.
Now this focus will head into the offseason and boy it does not look pretty for Seattle who will have a million things to discuss and evaluate. The first thing that Carroll must do is determine if his staff is the one that he wants to keep. You can actually make arguments for both coordinators being fired but I don’t think that will happen. If anything, the guy on the hot seat should be Schottenheimer. A former Seahawk, Brock Huard was very critical of the Hawks coaching staff after the game and even went after Pete Carroll.
“It’s going to lie with Pete Carroll first. That’s where it lies,” he said. “He’s the head coach … it has to lie with him because ultimately, he oversees it and he meddles. And he even said so after the game that the reason they (committed a false start) and broke the huddle (late) in the most critical junction of the fourth quarter when at least there was some sense of life still after a five-minute injury (timeout) was because he kind of meddled in the play call and everything else. That can’t happen, so I think it starts at the very top.”
After he determines that, Carroll and the front office guys will need to make decisions on the 24 unrestricted free agents they have entering this offseason. And we aren’t just talking about a few low-end depth guys, a lot of these players are instrumental to what the Hawks do.
This is an offseason that sees Chris Carson, Mike Lupati, Shaquill Griffin, K.J. Wright, Greg Olsen, Ethan Pocic, Quinton Dunbar, Bruce Irvin, Philip Dorsett, Carlos Hyde, and a whole bunch of others decide on whether they want to stay or they want to go.
“Hopefully everything works out,’’ Griffin said. “Hopefully I can be a Seahawk forever.’’
But that may not be the case and Seattle is going to have to draw up the board and decide what direction this team is going to head in. The Hawks have just over $17 million in free cap space which is towards the bottom of the league. For reference, the Jags have the most with over $73 million and the Saints have the least with under $95 million, yes…it is confusing. All in all, the Hawks are in an okay spot to spend and we know they draft well.
I think Wilson will be asking for upgrades on offense and there are a couple of spots that stick out like a sore thumb. The Hawks need an offensive line upgrade badly and that can be easily accomplished through the draft or in free agency. Next up is setting up a legitimate running game in the backfield, something they haven’t had since the prime days of Marshawn Lynch. I think a guy like Aaron Jones could be a very fun addition to the Hawks and while they don’t spend much on offensive weapons, this could be a huge help.
Then there are fixes on defense and especially in the secondary that need to take place. Jamal Adams can’t do it all on his own this next season and it’s up to Seattle as to how they go about adding talent there without a first-round pick this season. The main focus should be shutting down opposing defenses so it doesn’t all fall onto Wilson’s hands.
The Hawks at one point looked like they were legitimate Super Bowl contenders but were hardly recognizable from that same team come this last Wild Card game. This offseason should be used to reflect and potentially make some bigger changes that get the Hawks back to Super Bowl contention.