By Eric Ronnebeck
I’ve never felt the need to do a playoff edition of “Your Season Is Over” because I figure that if your team is one of the elite that make the playoffs, that’s a successful season. I’ve also never felt a reason to write off the Seahawks: they’re consistently in the playoffs and their roster is loaded to the point that a trip to the Super Bowl is pretty much expected. As a fan, I don’t want to reel back on that expectation but being honest, the last two seasons for the Seahawks have been trying.
The 2015 season was the year of critical mistakes. It started with the mistake Kam Chancellor made when he sat out the first 3 games of the season. The Hawks went 1-2 in those first 3 games and one of those losses was a 34-31 loss in Week 1 to the lowly St. Louis Rams. Weeks 5 and 6 saw the Hawks lose by a combined 7 points. Both of those losses had the Hawks leading late in the game only to give up game winning touchdowns to the opposing tight end on both teams. The Seahawks seemed to play “catch up” throughout the season, coming from behind to beat opposing teams, but that luck would run out in the second round of the playoffs when they lost to the Panthers after falling behind 31-0 at halftime. I don’t expect my team to ever go undefeated but critical mistakes kept the 2015 Hawks from defending the NFC crown from the comfort of Century Link Field and perhaps another trip to the Super Bowl. That was last year, so what happened this year?
Seattle Seahawks: (10-5-1)
The 2016 season was a way to start fresh, re-establish the punishing Seahawk run game, use Jimmy Graham to the full extent of his talent, and return this team to the Super Bowl. Instead, in Week 1, we were treated to Russell Wilson going down with a serious knee and ankle injury. Russ would play through the injuries but he wouldn’t play consistently well for many weeks. Add to that the inconsistent play in the rushing game, from either the player carrying the ball or offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell choosing to run the ball less, and you begin to see the theme to the 2016 Seattle Seahawks: Inconsistency. Seahawk fans don’t run the team and we don’t know everything (even when we think we do) but we watch all the games with analytical eyes and every Seahawk fan will tell you how awful the offensive line was this past season. There were times when they looked decent, either opening up holes for the running back or giving Russell Wilson more than one second to throw the ball, but most of the time the offensive line was bad. Even if Russ hadn’t been injured, the o-line must be improved and must play better in 2017 if the Seahawks hope to contend for the Super Bowl. Improvement can come from the draft, free agency, maturity, better coaching, or all of the above, just so long as it happens.
Looking at the defense you’ll see the same theme. Quarterback pressures, knock downs, and sacks weren’t missing in 2016 but they weren’t as consistent as they should have been. Maybe it came down to nagging injuries or maybe it came down to opposing offensive schemes but pressure on the quarterback creates turnovers for the Legion of Boom and the Seahawks did not create enough turnovers against opposing teams in 2016. Two more reasons that help illustrate that issue are: one of the best players in the NFL (and my future best friend) Earl Thomas went down with a season ending injury in Week 13 and Richard Sherman played with a pretty serious knee injury for over half the season. At the risk of sounding redundant at best, these are two massive blows to the Seahawks defense and a big part of the secondary not looking like the Legion of Boom we all know. What’s a complete review without Special Teams? Steven Haushka may have played his last year as a Seattle Seahawk. He is a free agent this offseason and NFL contract rules state that he is due a pay increase. After the season Steven Haushka had, I don’t want to give him a pay increase. The Seahawks are looking to trim payroll wherever they can and cutting Haushka could save them $3 million. We should know his fate on this team shortly after the Super Bowl.
This offseason is a pretty important one for the Seahawks. They will keep the core players we all love on this team but the deficiencies on the offensive line were enough to drive every fan into madness and that is not the only position group on this team that needs to see improvement. In fact, quarterback, receiver, punter, and linebacker are the only position groups I feel are well stocked, or stocked well enough. This is not a panic moment, no matter what the talking heads in sports media will tell you. With big injuries to important positions and a porous offensive line, this team still made it to the second round of the playoffs and it’s still pretty young. The Seattle Seahawks aren’t blowing anything up and they don’t need to. Fixing the offensive line alone should be enough to make it to the NFC Championship game. Ultimately, the Seattle Seahawks just need to be wise in what they do this offseason.