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Seattle Seahawks

Commentary: Here’s a reason the Seahawks have one playoff win since the 2016 season

General manager John Schneider of the Seattle Seahawks speaks to the media during the NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on February 27, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Getty Images)
By Matt Calkins Seattle Times

SEATTLE – The famous Al Davis-inspired Raiders slogan used to go, “Just win, baby.”

But in Seattle over the past seven years, it’s been more like, “Just one, baby.”

The Seahawks, after all, have won just one playoff game since the 2016 season, a borderline shocking result when you think about how stacked this squad was over the five previous years.

You might not be able to tell based on what you see in the hallways of the VMAC, but the Seahawks were the most dominant team in the NFC during that span. From 2012-16 the team won three division titles, reached two Super Bowls, won a Lombardi Trophy and was victorious in at least one playoff game each year.

There is a lot one could point to when explaining the success: A franchise-changing acquisition in the form of Marshawn Lynch, a coach at the peak of his powers in the form of Pete Carroll and a peerless home-field advantage provided by the 12s.

But mainly it was the drafting. You had Russell Okung, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in 2010; K.J. Wright and Richard Sherman in 2011; and Bruce Irvin, Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson in 2012. That was when a near dynasty was formed.

And if you want to know how the past seven seasons have ended with such little satisfaction, drafting will provide most of your answers. Most is the key word here, because there have been other issues.

Injuries to Sherman (2017), Thomas (2018) and Wilson (2021) affected those seasons (they missed the playoffs in ’17 and ’21). There have been some regrettable trades and extensions as well – most notably involving recently cut safety Jamal Adams, who cost the Seahawks two first-round draft picks and tens of millions of dollars for which they got little ROI.

And though parting ways with Wilson in ’22 seemed like it could sink the Seahawks in the short term, it didn’t have a terribly adverse effect given that Geno Smith more or less outperformed him each of the past two seasons.

No, what’s prevented the Seahawks from surging back into the top tier of the NFL is the draft. A quick look back.

No player from the Seahawks’ 2013 and 2014 drafts reached the Pro Bowl, and just one (Justin Britt) managed to log more than three years as an NFL starter. The 2015 draft produced soon-to-be 10-year veteran Tyler Lockett and three-time Pro Bowler Frank Clark (none with the Seahawks), but the next three drafts yielded just two total Pro Bowl appearances – one from cornerback Shaquill Griffin and the other from punter Michael Dickson.

Remember, this is the Pro Bowl – where 122 players earned nods last season. Hardly exclusive. And besides DK Metcalf, Riq Woolen and Devon Witherspoon, the Seahawks haven’t produced any other players who earned that honor from the past four drafts.

Honors are one thing, though. Stability is another. Development, too.

The Seahawks’ offensive line has yet to reach anywhere near the heights it did when the team would repeatedly sit at the top of the league in rushing yards. And in two years – in part due to injuries – the left tackle/right tackle combo of Charles Cross and Abe Lucas haven’t advanced as much as some might have thought it would when the duo become the first pair of rookie tackles since 1970 to start a team’s first 12 games.

Doesn’t mean there haven’t been some hits. Last year’s fifth overall pick, Witherspoon, has the potential to be a first-team All-Pro cornerback. And fellow first-rounder Jaxon Smith-Njigba compiled a respectable 628 receiving yards in his first season.

But Woolen? He dropped off in his sophomore season. Linebacker Jordyn Brooks, Seattle’s first-round pick in 2020? His fifth-year contract option was declined, and he was allowed to become a free agent. Even the ever-popular Metcalf has struggled to reproduce a season like the one he had in 2020 (1,303 receiving yards), failing to amass more than 1,114 yards since.

The 12s likely aren’t anticipating this draft the way were last year, when the Seahawks had four picks in the first two rounds. They probably aren’t anticipating it like they were in 2022, when they had the ninth overall pick and two more selections in the second.

This year they have the 16th overall pick, then don’t draft again till 81. Even so, in general manager John Schneider’s first year as supreme decision-maker, he’ll have to shine.

Not too many people have picked the Seahawks to make a deep run in a while. That’s primarily due to the way they’ve picked.