(Image credit Dean Rutz, Seattle Times)
This week on The Seattle Sports Union Podcast, Abraham DeWeese and myself brought the issue of the state of the Seahawks up with So-Cal Seahawk Rob English. Rob has continued to take an optimistic approach, almost as if not believing in the magic would kill the Tinkerbell-like Seahawks. Afraid to jinx things, or talk too loudly, as the decade of success has hit the largest speed bump possible.
Is he correct? Or perhaps is he just whistling in the graveyard, hoping the scary dark night will end and the sun will rise upon a bright future for another decade?
There’s a lot of moving parts here, and decisions to make. The current roster is a mess, with a lot of practice squad players and no real clear vision. The players seemed to know the writing was on the wall during the Bears game and that the loss was inevitable.
In other words, they quit on the season. That’s not something that happens too often in the NFL, and when it does, it typically leads to a coach being fired.
So where to start? Let’s start with the big 3.
No, not the Oakland Athletics rotation from 2002.
General Manager John Schneider, Head Coach Pete Carroll and QB Russell Wilson. There’s a 4th person who will play the role of arbiter, but she’s the Owner of the Seahawks, and that’s Jody Allen.
General Manager John Schneider –
There’s no doubt he deserves a fair bit of the credit for helping build the dynasty. With his first 3 drafts as the GM, he hit it out of the park. Drafting cornerstones like Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, KJ Wright, Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, etc. The 2010-2012 drafts are insane in their haul and quality.
However, he’s definitely had some rough last few seasons, with some severe misses in the early rounds and lack of depth. Poor talent analysis has led to late camp trades to try and patch holes and then there’s trades of absolute desperation like the Jamal Adams one where we gave up WAY too much.
Riding on the success of 2010-12’s drafts, Seattle enjoyed a level of success we never had before. But lately things have smelled a little of desperation in an attempt to keep the competitive window open. This year’s draft was 3 total players, of which none impacted the team. Was it his last?
Head Coach Pete Carroll –
Pete is a polarizing figure even to this day. He made some questionable decisions during his tenure at USC and fled before the axe came down, jumping to Seattle. Here he has mostly been a positive force, sharing his energy and excitement with his team in a way not really seen on NFL sidelines before. It was a college-style attitude and it brought a breath of fresh air to the franchise and football in the Northwest.
He’s clearly a magician in training up talent for secondaries, this is no doubt. He also has his way of running a defense that no one can talk him out of. When he has the right talents, it works to great effect (see Legion of Boom). But he has his weaknesses as well. He insists on running an archaic style of offense that sputters in front of NFL defenses and his base defense consistently gets exploited by today’s great QBs.
Consistently keeping and protecting very poor coordinators has led him to have teams cursed with the same weaknesses time and time again. On both sides of possession the line has been a point of issue for 5-6 years, and each year he protects mediocre replacements and poor coaches. Coaches like Darrell Bevel, Ken Norton Jr and Tom Cable have ruined teams that otherwise might’ve been great.
If your job was to ensure you mowed the lawn and every day your boss came out and looked at the lawn after you cut it and you always missed a patch of 10 feet in front of the door, how long would you expect to keep the job? You’re on year 11 of that patch being not cut…and it’s as tall as the door now.
Quarterback Russell Wilson –
Assuming nothing crazy happens in the next few years injury-wise (knock on wood), Russell Wilson will be a Hall of Fame QB. This is known around the league and there isn’t anyone out there who would disagree with that statement (if they know what they’re talking about).
Do you get rid of a Franchise QB in the NFL? There’s MAYBE 7 in a league of 32 teams. Heading into 2022 there will be 11 or 12 that will at the very least kicking the tires on finding an upgrade or an actual QB to play for them. If we deal ours, do we want to join that 2nd class of NFL teams that can sometimes take decades to find a great QB?
That’s the risk. And yet we don’t know, do we? He may demand a trade. Rumors say he definitely did last season and that was after a 12-4 year. After the train-wreck that was 2021…..who knows. While I personally believe he wants to stay and make it work, he also is incredibly frustrated with the offense and no protection from the line. He’s spent 10 years running for his life on the field and he can’t do it forever, nor should he have to. So do you trade the man when he demands it, or do you hold him to the contract and try to make him happy?
Owner Jody Allen –
So, this is the situation she faces. Pushing back from what’s been viewed as a kind of silent ownership where fans wondered if she was paying attention after inheriting the team, she has recently been vocal that she’s not happy with the situation.
Does she get rid of one? Of two? Of all three?
The burden she faces is that this is the age of instant gratification. Fans want change and want it to look like things are being done. They want their team to be good RIGHT NOW. No doubt she’s feeling this pressure.
No team can sustain a competitive window indefinitely
There’s ultimately a point where they need to step back for a year or two and get rid of contracts and re-load. The Hawks have done everything that they could to keep that window open and they’ve burned a ton of draft capital and actual capital to do so. But it’s severely crippled their options looking forwards in the short term while the current team fails. They don’t have the currency to correct the current roster or the depth that comes from good drafts/spending to do so.
Let’s step back for a moment and look at one of the consistently great NFL teams. The top of those being the New England Patriots. Since 2001 they have had 2 losing seasons. JUST TWO. But let’s examine the mitigating factors:
- HOF QB
- HOF Coach who’s superhuman and could be a HOF GM too.
- Played in the weakest division in professional sports for 2 decades (Jets/Miami/Buffalo….6 free wins a year)
The Seahawks have only 1 of those qualifiers. Mind you Pete is a good coach. But he’s not HOF level, at least not yet. The NFC West has been consistently one of the best divisions in football the past 2 decades as well.
But even the Patriots had down years. Yes, they still went to the playoffs due to their division, but they had years they needed to shed contracts and draft some young talent to re-load.
So why not work something like that here? But does Jody trust these men to get the job done?
End of an Era?
In this hyper politicized, crazy 24/7 sports journalism and social media world, Mrs. Allen will definitely feel some pressure. She’s a notable businesswoman who can handle things with ease, but she’s also a bit unknown to the NFL world.
It’s the opinion of this amateur sports journalist that she’s likely to at least make an appearance of change. The easiest and least demoralizing move to make would be to wave goodbye to GM John Schneider. Bring in her own GM who she would give some power over Carroll and hopefully draft better.
The NFL salary cap is set to jump quite a bit after the covid restrictions from last season and so there will be a bit of room to perhaps buy their way forward out of this quagmire. The revenues for the Seahawks can easily handle spending the cap money. With a smart GM and a pocketbook, we could be at least a wild card contending team next year.
The Dirty Duck’s Analysis
Coming shortly in another article, I will break down what my plan of action would be for the Seahawks moving forward. In both a “Trade Russell” universe and a “Keep Russell” universe. I’ll try to be financially reasonable and I’ll assume that Pete Carroll stays no matter what, as I think that’s the most likely outcome. So, it’ll be a Pete defense and offense.
But I’ve got some interesting ideas, and I aired at least one on the podcast. Stay tuned.
Either way it should be an interesting offseason for the Hawks and Seattle!
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