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Seahawks’ loss may signal end of era for team, Pete Carroll, too

UPDATED: Sun., Dec. 17, 2017, 6:29 p.m.

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, left, talks with Seahawks strong safety Delano Hill (42) as Frank Clark, right, and D.J. Alexander, second from left, look on, after Hill was ejected from an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams following a scuffle on the field in the second half Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, left, talks with Seahawks strong safety Delano Hill (42) as Frank Clark, right, and D.J. Alexander, second from left, look on, after Hill was ejected from an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams following a scuffle on the field in the second half Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

Get out the shovel. It’s time to bury the 2017 Seattle Seahawks.

And maybe the Pete Carroll-era Seahawks as well.

The Rams administered the last rites Sunday afternoon at CenturyLink Field, but this has been a death weeks in the making.

The 42-7 Los Angeles win means the guard has changed in the NFC West for this season. But considering the Seahawks’ aged roster and lack of cap maneuverability, it may only be the first notes of the dirge.

Remember the 2010 season? Pete Carroll’s first year in Seattle? Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback? That’s how far back you have to go to have a game in which the Seahawks were this bad. That would be a 41-0 deficit against the New York Giants in a game the Hawks lost 41-7.

Since then there have been six playoff appearances, two Super Bowls and one title. But it may all be coming to a close.

Part of the reason Seattle was so successful for so long was finding Wilson in the third round of the 2012 draft. He was good, he was exciting and he was, most importantly, inexpensive for a long time.

The money most teams spent on a quarterback of his caliber – as well as other spots manned by young, inexpensive Pro Bowlers – went elsewhere for Seattle. Into depth on the defensive line. Into depth in the secondary. Into the pocket of one of the best running backs in the game.

But Wilson had to be paid eventually. So did Richard Sherman, Bobby Wagner, Earl Thomas and others. The depth has faded just as age as reared up, meaning as the older stars miss games, there isn’t much to replace them with.

Corners have been cut. It’s what happens in the NFL. And those trims cost Seattle a game or two earlier this season.

This one wasn’t one of those. This was a 60-minute burial. The 10-4 Rams are young and healthy. The 8-6 Seahawks are neither. The difference was apparent from the first series.

What happens next?

The year plays out. The Seahawks still must go to Dallas next week to play a Cowboys team that is on the fringe of the playoff picture as well, but gets Ezekiel Elliot back. The season finale is back at home – with Sunday’s loss, Seattle is just 4-3 in CenturyLink this year – against just-as-beat-up Arizona.

There is still a zombie-like chance for the postseason (and the NFC West title, actually), depending on next week and the play of the final two weeks of the Falcons, Lions and maybe even the Packers. But so what? Is there any chance of a deep run? If you think so, you didn’t watch the last couple of weeks. It’s time to start looking ahead to 2018.

Plans must be made. Decisions too. And the first has to be about Carroll.

He will turn 67 early next season. He seems younger than that number, sure, but age catches up with everyone – just look at the Hawks’ roster.

Decisions will have to be made there as well. Some will be made by the players, like Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril, defensive mainstays who have missed most of the season with career-threatening injuries.

Sherman, the best cover corner of his era, will be coming off an Achilles injury, meaning he may not be what he was a couple years ago. Neither are Michael Bennett or Jimmy Graham, two candidates for roster paring.

The offensive line still needs shoring up, the running back situation is frustrating and the defensive line lacks depth.

This team may need to be rebuilt. Is Carroll the right guy for a process that may not result in near-term success?

Wagner struggles

Bobby Wagner gave it a go. But it was obvious the Seahawks’ middle linebacker wasn’t fully healed from his pulled hamstring. He wasn’t the same Bobby Wagner Hawks fans have come to know.

And he wasn’t a force in the middle of the field.

It was evident from the beginning, when Wagner seemed a step slow on many running plays. The explosion you usually see from the middle linebacker was lacking, like a jet without its afterburners.

But it was really illustrated on Todd Gurley’s embarrassing 57-yard nail-in-the coffin run to end the first half.

Gurley burst through a hole on the Rams’ left side on a third-and-20. It would have been a decent gain but not a huge one against a decently healthy Seattle defense. There was one problem.

This wasn’t a decently healthy defense. And Wagner was part of that. He tried to cut off Gurley. He knew where he had to be. He just couldn’t get there.

Wagner looked like a guy whose leg was a hindrance, not the boosters they usually are.

Gurley flew by, all Wagner could do was flail and the Rams had a 34-0 halftime lead.

It was the final play of the day for Wagner, who took the second half off.

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