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Seattle Seahawks
Sports >  Seattle Seahawks

John Blanchette: No more banners for the Seahawks this season, but there are plenty of warning signs ahead

UPDATED: Sat., Jan. 9, 2021

By John Blanchette For The Spokesman-Review

They passed more COVID-19 tests than any other NFL team, unofficially anyway. So maybe the Seattle Seahawks can hang that banner.

They can put it up at Lumen Field right next to the one proclaiming 2020 NFC West Champs, the one that they were so proud of just two weeks ago – and apparently celebrated too much for some people’s tastes.

But no more flags this year.

Questions, plenty. Soul-searching for some. Confusion for others. Doubts, disappointment, discontent. Sorrows drowned.

Just no more flags.

Which drew a rather scathing assessment from Seahawks safety Jalen Adams.

“To me, it’s a failure,” he said of Seattle’s 2020 season, which ended with an ugly pratfall, Saturday’s 30-20 loss at the hands of their division rivals, the Los Angeles Rams.

“It’s not about individual goals or anything else. It’s about getting to the Super Bowl and winning it. One positive you can take from it is hanging a banner – we did win the division – but at the end of the day, we knew what our mission was and we fell short.”

Tackled short, more precisely.

The NFL’s best defense put Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense in a vise most of the afternoon, and produced a spectacular game-turning play – cornerback Darious Williams busting through Freddie Swain to jump a wide-receiver screen to DK Metcalf and taking it 42 yards for a touchdown.

As good as the Rams were on that side of the ball, the Seahawks seemed intent on making them better. Blocking so ineffectual that a four-man rush was more than enough. Fifty-five yards of offensive penalties submarining opportunities. Wilson sailing throws – outplayed by a quarterback with a broken thumb. Third-down ineptitude. Belly flops with organization and clock.

These offensive issues and others – notably the inability to stretch the field as they had the first six weeks – bubbled to the surface over the season’s second half, even as coach Pete Carroll proclaimed weekly that he wasn’t worried. In fact, he nearly broke out the neener-neeners when his guys hung 40 points on the hapless Jets. Hiccups were chalked up to facing better defenses.

Saturday, Seattle got the best. And Carroll and his team had nothing special for them – even in the way of spirit.

“Two weeks ago, you saw them smoking cigars and getting all excited about beating us and winning the division,” Rams quarterback Jared Goff said, “and we’re able to come up here and beat them in their own place.”

Not until Saturday did Carroll allow that – despite setting a franchise record for points – not all was well with the approach.

“I wish we would have adapted better,” he said.

Wilson admitted to tempo problems and “how to continue to put our foot on the gas.” But it can’t be ignored that head chef had trouble boiling water these past two months, the MVP talk of September and October becoming a sad joke. Still elite, he’s no longer unassailable and turns 33 next season – not ancient by NFL quarterback standards, but slowing and unable to just will the Seahawks along with his elusive magic.

There are other concerns the Seahawks will have a longer offseason to mull. The offensive line, not the calamity of the Tom Cable years, allowed 47 sacks – some of those Wilson’s fault – and Carroll called it “an issue over the years.” Running back Chris Carson will be a free agent who will incur some outlay, as none of his understudies has produced consistently – or stayed healthy to do so. And too often, Carroll and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer seem out of sync.

The defense? Well, there are issues there, too. But it got better. The offense got worse.

All this is noted in the context of the Seahawks winning 12 games and their division – undeniable achievements, but ones that only ramped up the postseason expectations. And it’s not as if they got to 12-4 by winning games the odds said they shouldn’t have.

No, their ignominy probably doesn’t equal a number of other swoons in playoff openers – the 15-1 Packers of 2011, the 14-2 Colts of 2005 and the 14-2 Patriots of 2010 to name a few.

Now the Seahawks have won just one playoff game in four years, dogged by many of the same old faults. This end, Carroll acknowledge, comes with a heavier weight.

“As you run through the playoffs and see everybody still playing, it makes you sick to your stomach,” he said. “Seriously. It feels like almost like life ends, in a sense, for the season, and it’s very difficult to deal with. This is not the day to talk about all the stuff we accomplished.

“Today you feel like crap … these years are hard to come by.”

From here, it looks like they’ll become harder still.

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