Following the Seattle Seahawks lackluster performance against the Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card round of the NFC Playoffs, fans wondered what happened to their team.
The team started the season 5-0 heading into their Week 6 bye. While the defense certainly did not look great through those five games, the offense made up for the defensive struggles, and the Seahawks looked like a force to be reckoned with in the NFC.
The Seahawks looked like a serious contender through five weeks of football, backed by what appeared to be an MVP caliber season from Russell Wilson. Wilson had thrown 19 touchdowns through these first five games and recorded a QBR average of 123.8, the best in the league at the time.
Coming out of the bye, the Seahawks kicked off divisional play against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale. This is where the team’s real struggles began, especially with Russell Wilson.
With 6:44 remaining in the game, the Hawks held a 34-24 lead thanks to a 3-yard touchdown reception from Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett. The Cardinals got the ball back and marched down the field in 4:16, capping off their drive with an 8-yard touchdown reception from Christian Kirk with 2:28 left to play. The Cardinals got the ball back following a failed drive from Seattle and tied the game up with a 44-yard field goal from Zane Gonzalez as time expired.
Heading to overtime, Hawks fans were nervous. We had just watched a 10 point lead disappear in what seemed like a matter of seconds. The overtime period was full of missed opportunities for the Hawks and a late game-winning field goal from the Cardinals to secure the 37-34 win.
The most alarming stat of the game was that Wilson threw three interceptions, his worst since 2016 when he threw five against the Green Bay Packers.
Little did the Hawks know, this was the epitome of what was in store for the remainder of the season. The loss to the Cardinals was the first of the season for the Hawks, putting them at 5-1 overall and 0-1 in the NFC West.
In Week 8, the Hawks took on the injury-ridden San Francisco 49ers back at home in Seattle. This game seemed like a win initially, knowing that the Niners were short-handed due to various injuries and COVID-19 protocols, but the Seahawks remained focussed.
Seattle looked great through the third quarter, heading into the fourth with a 27-7 lead thanks to four passing touchdowns from Russell Wilson, two of which by way of wide receiver DK Metcalf.
Once the fourth quarter began, things started to become eerie. With 14:07 left in the game, the Hawks scored on a 48-yard field goal from Jason Myers, increasing the lead to 30-7. The Niners scored twice in a matter of minutes, making the score 30-20 with 4:16 left to play. Certainly, Hawks fans were sweating at this point, perhaps getting ready to watch another late-game lead disappear before our eyes.
This stress dissolved when rookie running back DeeJay Dallas found the end zone at the end of a 47-yard drive that took just 43 seconds, giving the Hawks a 37-20 lead with 3:33 remaining in the game. The Niners managed to throw together a garbage-time drive for another seven points on a 3-yard reception for Brandon Aiyuk. Luckily, the Hawks were able to hold on to the lead and defeat the Niners 37-27, increasing their overall record to 6-1 and 1-1 in the NFC West.
On the surface, the Hawks looked good. They had one of the best records in the league, and their offense was rather efficient. They still struggled on defense, but with the offense making up for these mistakes, the team was still able to find a way to win games.
Weeks 9 and 10 were a completely different story for Seattle. In Week 9, the Hawks traveled to New York to take on the Buffalo Bills. While the final score was 44-34, the game was not nearly as close as it seemed. The Hawks quickly found themselves down 17-0 in the second quarter and went into halftime trailing 24-10.
Coming out of the half, the Hawks played a great third quarter and found themselves trailing 27-20 heading into the fourth. After such a disappointing performance, they somehow remained in the game and kept things competitive, but then the Bills put the pedal to the metal and left Seattle standing on their heels.
The Hawks quickly went down 41-20 but managed to score a couple more times and finished the game losing 44-34.
In Week 10, the Hawks took on the Rams and lost 23-16. There’s not much to say about this game other than Seattle looked lost. Their only touchdown came on a 13-yard run in the first quarter from Alex Collins, and then the team could not get much else going on offense. Seattle also appeared to have no answer for the Rams run-game, with all three Rams touchdowns coming on the ground.
Through 10 weeks, the Seahawks were 6-3 overall and 1-2 in the NFC West, a quick decline from their 5-0 start.
The Hawks won their next two games against the Cardinals and the Philadelphia Eagles, moving to 8-3 overall and 2-2 in the NFC West. Things appeared to be back on track heading into the tail-end of the regular season, but then Seattle played one of the most frustrating games I have ever watched.
In Week 14, the New York Giants traveled to Seattle to take on the Hawks at home. The Giants had lost star running back Saquon Barkley early in the season due to a torn ACL and were without starting quarterback Daniel Jones, out with a hamstring injury.
Led by Colt McCoy and Alfred Morris, the Giants beat the Hawks 17-12. Seattle looked lost the entire game, under-prepared.
This was a massive wake up call for the team, mostly since the Giants were 4-7 at the time and somehow leading the rather underwhelming NFC East. With that, how the hell did the Seahawks lose?
Going into the game against the Giants, the Seahawks were 5-0 at home and were averaging 35 points a game. The Giants defense stepped up and intercepted Wilson twice, while also limiting DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett to 143 combined yards and no touchdowns. The Seahawks also had no passes completed for more than 30 yards. This is an alarming stat when Russell Wilson is notorious for his deep ball accuracy.
Losing to the Giants was a significant cause for concern, and the fact that it happened at home made matters even worse.
Looking to bounce back following the loss, Seattle hosted the winless New York Jets and torched them, winning the game 40-3. Despite the opponent, this seemed like a major confidence booster and the spark that the team needed to finish off the season and potentially clinch the NFC West.
The Seahawks won all of their remaining games, clinching the NFC West Division Title with a 20-9 win over the Rams in Week 16 and finishing the season 12-4 overall and 4-2 in the NFC West.
After clinching the 3-seed in the NFC playoff bracket following a Week 17 win against the Niners and both the Packers and Saints defeating their opponents, it was time to move past the imperfections of the regular season and focus on the playoffs.
Even with a 12-4 record, it didn’t seem like the Seahawks were on pace with the other division leaders, particularly the Chiefs, Bills, Packers and Saints. The way they had been playing was anything but consistent, and it was even further from reliable.
There’s not much to say about the playoff loss to the Rams. All of the concerns throughout the season came together for probably the most frustrating game of the season. The team seemed unprepared to face Los Angeles even though they had already faced off twice this season.
The big question is, “What should Seattle do this offseason?”
It seems evident that the Seahawks front office needs to focus on finding some help for Russell Wilson on the offensive line. The Seahawks just fired offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer after three seasons with the organization, proving that head coach Pete Carroll has the team’s reins. We know that Schottenheimer made it clear that the offense revolved around Russell Wilson (the team scored 459 points this season, a record for the franchise), but Carroll wants to focus more on establishing the run moving forward.
The Seahawks will look for a new offensive coordinator this season, with many appealing options available. These names include former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, and even Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, to name a few.
This still doesn’t answer the most pressing questions for most Hawks fans. Why did Russell Wilson not look like himself during the second half of the season? Why is almost every game close? Why does the play calling seem generally conservative until late in the fourth quarter?
These are all issues that will need to be addressed in the offseason. Seattle just extended general manager John Schneider’s contract through the 2027 NFL Draft, meaning the team will be under the same management for quite some time barring extraneous circumstances.
Another issue that needs to be addressed is the conservative play calling on offense. Head coach Pete Carroll has stated that he wants to establish the run more heading into next season, but even with that, it seems like the team is not using their offensive weapons to their fullest potential.
Both wide receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett set franchise records this season. Metcalf recorded 1,303 yards, passing former Seahawks receiver and Hall of Famer Steve Largent. Lockett brought in 100 receptions on the season, passing Doug Baldwin’s 2016 record of 94 receptions.
When Wilson can find these receivers, everything seems to be running smooth, especially by way of the deep ball. Towards the tail end of the season, the automatic deep ball touchdowns seemed to be limited as well. This ties directly back to Russell Wilson feeling pressure from the defense almost as soon as the ball is snapped on most plays. It’s easy to blame this on the offensive line, but Russell Wilson just hasn’t looked the same recently.
Many have said that Wilson’s struggles on the field can be attributed to his endeavors off the field, but I don’t buy into this reasoning whatsoever. Wilson has spent plenty of time this season working on branding for his sports management company “West2East.” On top of this, Wilson has also welcomed a new child this year with his wife, Ciara.
While Wilson has a lot on his plate, none of this should be blamed for the offensive lack of production this season. Wilson has always been busy off the field and involved throughout the community, so this season was no different in that light.
It boils down to an apparent lack of confidence and tendency to make the big play rather than playing conservative football. This has led to many interceptions throughout the season, including three against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 7. These turnovers helped hand Arizona a 37-34 win over the Hawks in overtime despite a 10-point Seattle lead with 6:44 remaining in the fourth quarter.
This was the first case of a turnover-filled game this season, but it was not the last. There were various occasions where Wilson made extremely high risk throws that resulted in turnovers. Some that stand out more than others are his two picks to Darious Willaims, safety for the Los Angeles Rams, in Week 10.
It appeared that Wilson was trying to make the big plays and put the Seahawks back in a position to win in the shortest amount of time, but this was not always the best option. The Seahawks would be an entirely different team by limiting these turnovers, but still far from perfect.
When you look at other quarterbacks in the conversation for this season’s MVP award, notably Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, and Josh Allen, their decision making on low percentage throws seems to be much better than Wilson’s.
Russell Wilson finished the regular season with 13 interceptions. Rodgers finished with five, Mahomes with six, and Allen with 10. Wilson had six through only six games this season.
Shifting the focus away from the offense, the Hawks defense was nothing special throughout the first half of the season but seemed to begin to find their flow as the season came to a close. The defense finished the regular season ranked thirteenth overall and fifth in rush defense, but second to last in pass defense.
There has been conversation on social media about the Seahawks reaching out to former Legion of Boom member Richard Sherman, who is nearing the end of his three year deal with the San Francisco 49ers. This would be an excellent addition, especially in terms of Sherman acting as a mentor to younger corners on the team.
Recent additions Jamal Adams, Damien Lewis, and Jordyn Brooks have begun to find their place in the lineup with help from veterans KJ Wright and Bobby Wagner. The defensive production throughout the season is very promising but nowhere near perfect.
Overall, it is clear that the team needs to get to work this off season and correct the faults that ended their season earlier than we had hoped. We go into every offseason hopeful of change, but this year we have already seen multiple moves by the organization starting right when the season ended, so this leads me to think there are many more to come.