I don’t want to say I saw it coming, but I kind of saw it coming. Six weeks in and the Seattle Seahawks sit at the bottom of the NFC West at 2-4. Ahead of them are the undefeated 6-0 Arizona Cardinals, the 5-1 Los Angeles Rams and the 2-3 San Francisco 49ers. What happened? The Seahawks came into 2021 with a streak of nine consecutive winning seasons, all under coach Pete Carroll. With their great coach and elite skill players on offense, how could it have gone so wrong?
It might be best to go through their games. After a truly convincing Week 1 stomping of the Indianapolis Colts, the Seahawks lost an overtime game against the Tennessee Titans at home (who were fresh off a humiliating loss versus the Cardinals). The game was going fantastically for Seattle, up 24-9 at the half and cruising towards another victory before disaster struck. The Titans put up 21 points in the second half, all from rushes by Derrick Henry. The offense couldn’t hang onto the ball, with the last five Seahawk drives lasting four or fewer plays. The Titans wore the defense down and took command of the game.
Off to Minnesota! The Vikings were fresh off two nail-biter losses. The game was competitive at halftime, with a 21-17 Viking lead. Lo and behold, the Seahawks came out and could not hold onto the ball in the second half. Five plays, punt. Five plays, punt. Five plays, turnover on downs. Four plays, end of the game. The combined time of possession for the Seahawks in the second half was 7:20. For comparison, the four second-half drives by the Vikings lasted 16, 11, 12, and six plays with a time of possession of 22:40. The Vikings won 30-17.
The Seahawks seemingly found their footing when they soundly beat the 49ers in Week 4 28-21, but that was a fleeting feeling. The Rams came to town and they were hot, boasting an MVP-level performance from their new quarterback Matthew Stafford. Through the first eight drives in the first three quarters, the Seahawks held the ball for under 18 minutes, out of 45 total. Russell Wilson couldn’t get anything done before he suffered a finger injury when he was sacked. Geno Smith came in and the Seahawks were a different team. They immediately scored a touchdown and a field goal in their next two drives over 21 plays (Wilson’s eight drives accumulated 37 plays), although they could not overcome the deficit, falling 17-26.
There was hope for the most recent game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh wasn’t looking great and Smith showed flashes of brilliance in the previous week. The Seahawks didn’t score in the first half against one of the best defenses in the league, and the Seattle defense gave up 14 points. The Seahawks bit back for two consecutive touchdowns and a field goal in their first three second-half drives, but they inevitably fell 23-20.
It’s hard to pinpoint a reason for their failure, especially for a team with such high expectations. Is their defense not good enough to keep up with the league? Jamal Adams was one of the best safeties in the league but has been a non-factor this year. It doesn’t help that they have an incredibly weak cornerback group. Why isn’t the offense, with such weapons as D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, able to put up 40 points? On paper, this team should be able to succeed, and they have shown in the past that they can, but they aren’t. Maybe not being able to pinpoint the problem is why there’s this feeling of hopelessness whenever I think of the Seahawks. Their injury list hurts to look at. Chris Carson has a neck injury, Metcalf has a foot injury, Wilson has a finger injury, Bobby Wagner has a knee injury.
However, the hope isn’t gone. Outside of their divisional matchups, the Seattle schedule looks relatively harmless. Their non-divisional opponents (Saints, Jaguars, Packers, Football Team, Texans, Bears and Lions) have a combined 15 wins and 26 losses. They have to be able to scrounge out wins against lesser teams to have a shot while keeping the divisional matchups competitive. But is that even too much to expect from them anymore? This team won 12 games last year, 11 the year before. Only once in the Russell Wilson era have the Seahawks won less than 10 games, when they went 9-7 in 2017. But people will watch, myself included, because we know this team can pull the wins out. I’m not willing to say they will anymore, but I know they can.