RENTON, Wash. – Seattle’s problems on offense were clear and unmistakable.
Tight end John Carlson was the only Seahawk to score a touchdown in the final four games. Seattle went three-and-out on its first possession in six of its last seven games. The Seahawks finished with the fewest points of any season since Rick Mirer was the quarterback.
The explanations for the offensive difficulties aren’t nearly so straightforward given the locker-room culture of a football team, where finger pointing is generally verboten and most criticism requires a secret decoder ring.
But enough has been said these past few weeks that to read between the lines it is clear that there are questions about the level of trust some players have in the offense under coordinator Greg Knapp and a question of how diligent some players have been following instructions.
Start with the game plan. Do the players trust the offense and the plays being called?
“I would hope so,” coach Jim Mora said on Dec. 30. “It takes time to build that, and success certainly helps. We’ve struggled to have consistency for a number of reasons.
“That’s an honest question.”
And here’s an honest attempt to read between the lines of what has been said about the issues this offense has had.
What T.J. Houshmandzadeh said on Dec. 30: “I’m not going to say what I feel about that situation because I don’t think it’s right.”
What he meant: If you don’t have something nice to say about the plays that are being called, you shouldn’t say anything at all if you’re a player.
What Matt Hasselbeck said on radio Sunday after the Seahawks’ season-ending loss: “I wish I had answers. I mean I’ve got thoughts, but everyone has got thoughts, but for us to succeed, we’ve all got the same thoughts. And to me that comes from taking your orders, and doing what the play is called to do. I think that’s one of our issues. We’ve got to ask ourselves as players, ‘Did we buy in 100 percent? Did we buy in and trust?’ That’s a question we’ve got to answer. If you don’t, you’ve got no chance to be successful. You’ve got no chance.”
What he meant: We don’t have to wonder about this. Hasselbeck helped explain it during a subsequent radio appearance.
“It doesn’t matter what you did on another team,” Hasselbeck said. “It doesn’t matter what I did on another team. It doesn’t matter, even, what you think is right. All that matters is what we’re doing on this team and how we’re doing it this year on this play. That’s how we’ve got to treat every play, every game, every situation, every practice, every meeting. We’ve all got to be together.”
What Nate Burleson said on Dec. 29: “Obviously, we’re frustrated. There’s things that we honestly can’t control that could help us win.”
What he meant: Seattle’s struggles are more than just a question of the talent level. It’s specifically how that talent is arrayed.
The Seahawks face an offseason of change, which won’t be confined to the front-office addition of a new president. Something has to be done to bridge the gap between the offensive game plan and the players being trusted to run it after the offense was slow at first and then got worse.
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