With the end of the NFL regular season, the Seattle Seahawks’ 7-10 record placed them last in their division, securing the first losing record for them since quarterback Russell Wilson joined the team 10 years ago. As the NFL now enters its new expanded playoff format, the Seahawks will be forced to watch as all three of their division rivals advance without them. The Los Angeles Rams won the division at 12-5, the Arizona Cardinals earned the first of three wild card spots at 11-6 and the San Francisco 49ers’ 10-7 gave them the second wild-card spot. In a division accurately described earlier as the best division in football, the Seahawks proved to be the worst team among them, which few people could have likely predicted.
The 2021 Seattle Seahawks failed, a take that while pessimistic, accurately describes their season. They were expected to be easy division favorites at best while contending with the Cardinals for that spot at worst. Sure, they were without Wilson due to his first career missed starts for a few games, but that’s hardly an excuse. In the five weeks leading to his absence, the Seahawks started 2-3. They went 1-2 under backup quarterback Geno Smith, and upon Wilson’s return went 4-5 in the final nine games.
Outside of the six divisional matchups per year (in which the Seahawks went 3-3), their schedule wasn’t necessarily packed with top talent. Sure, they lost two games to the first seeds in either conference (the Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers), and another to the Pittsburgh Steelers which squeaked into the playoffs with a 9-7-1 record, but the remaining seven games were against teams who never hoped to contend. They did snag three wins over the Houston Texans, Detroit Lions, and Jacksonville Jaguars in the latter half of the season, but those are almost the three consensus’s worst teams in the league. The remaining games featured losses to the eventual 8-9 Minnesota Vikings, 9-8 New Orleans Saints, and 6-11 Chicago Bears. Their only quality win over a non-divisional team was the opening week win against the Indianapolis Colts, but the quality of them as a team will vary depending on who you ask.
The truly lackluster run by the Seahawks this year leaves them with a ton of questions heading into the 2022 NFL season. They are currently missing their first-round draft pick which was acquired by the New York Jets in the Jamal Adams trade, who missed the last five games due to injury and who just signed a $70 million contract before the season started. What’s more, that pick will land at 10th overall in the 2022 rookie draft due to Seattle’s poor record.
However, the true worries for the Seahawks as a team lay within the face of the franchise itself. Every offseason cycles through the same trade rumors that imply Russ wants to leave the team, and every year so far he’s returned. But suddenly, in the wake of disappointment, maybe they will carry some weight. There are a number of teams that might turn into potential contenders with the addition of a superstar quarterback. The Steelers are among several teams who don’t have a clear answer to their issues at the position.
That’s not to say the Seahawks have an answer if Wilson leaves, especially considering Geno Smith was just arrested for a DUI some days ago. But there is a critical issue with the offense that, thanks to multiple offensive coordinators, can seemingly be narrowed down to one of two prominent figures within the organization: Wilson and head coach Pete Carroll. Who should shoulder more blame can only be assumed right now, but each argument has its merits. Is Pete Carroll unable to adapt and put together multi-dimensional game plans and/or not giving his coordinators more control over the offense? Is Wilson unwilling to sacrifice his love for deep throws in order to generate a more consistent offensive attack?
It would be foolish to imply that these two are the only ones at fault, though. The defensive metrics would show them hanging in the upper half of the league, but that only averages a really good second half of the season with a rough first half. Star linebacker Bobby Wagner is also only getting older and the Seahawks will likely have to look for both an answer at the position and as a captain of the unit. Running back Chris Carson missed most of the season with a neck injury, leading to an abysmal rushing attack led by Alex Collins. The last few weeks saw a return to form for Rashaad Penny, however, hopefully providing a fix at least over the medium term.
The Seahawks and their fans have questions, with no easy answers. They’re too bad to seriously contend. They’re too good to tear it all down. They lack sufficient draft capital to make any serious changes. What might be most important is that they’re very quickly losing the trust of their fans. The Seahawks established a decade of perennial success that few teams get to relish in, and their future state relies upon how they are able to handle this first major adversity they face.