The most obvious needs for the Seattle Seahawks in August were a left tackle and a premium defensive tackle. Beyond most traditional NFL reasoning, the Seahawks managed to add premium players at both of those positions despite being months past free agency and the draft; they sent a second round pick and Jermaine Kearse to the New York Jets for Sheldon Richardson on the first of September, then sent a 2019 second round pick and a 2018 third round pick to the Houston Texans for Duane Brown and a 2018 fifth rounder.
The Seahawks took themselves out of day two of the draft next year and gave up an additional second round pick for 2019, but added a defensive tackle who was once considered a Defensive Player of the Year candidate and a left tackle who may be their best option at that position since Walter Jones. The results of those trades, in a vacuum of their 42-7 loss to the LA Rams on Sunday, are horrid for Seattle.
Russell Wilson was pressured on 61% of his dropbacks, getting sacked seven times, while Todd Gurley rushed for 152 yards and three touchdowns on Richardson and the defense. Head coach Pete Carroll expressed disappointment in those areas on Monday by saying that the deals for Richardson and Brown have not yet worked in their favor.
Carroll pretty frank on trades for Duane Brown and Sheldon Richardson, says "it hasn't so far'' worked out the way the team hoped.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) December 18, 2017
The biggest problem on the offensive line was left guard Luke Joeckel, who allowed two sacks, two hits, and three hurries. Prior to Sunday, Brown had clearly upgraded the offensive line, as the Seahawks were a top-10 pass protection team in the league with him as the starter at left tackle. Obviously, that is no longer the case when you account for the Rams game, which counts.
The run defense was also in the elite status prior to Sunday, allowing just 3.1 yards per carry (an NFL-best) over their previous nine games. I have, however, heard arguments that Richardson has not played that well against the run personally and we know with certainty that he’s not doing much individually against the pass — Richardson has one sack, one batted pass, one interception (his bright spot moment), and he had just 13 QB pressures going into Week 15. Conversely, Aaron Donald had 47 pressures going into Sunday, and then added 47 more.
The loss to LA still counts, and Richardson’s ability to stop the run and to create pressure on the quarterback, deserves being called into question; especially since the Seahawks failed so hard against a division rival that seems to be on the way up towards contending for the NFC every year in the near future. You have to stop Aaron Donald in the NFC West, and you have to pressure Jared Goff, contain Todd Gurley.
They did that in their first meeting but not on Sunday. Are the trades working out?
Obviously if the Seahawks fail to make the playoffs, it’ll be a failure to capitalize on a season in which John Schneider clearly pushed a significant amount of his stack into. This is not “all in” because Brown is under contract beyond 2017 and Seattle has plenty of resources to compete in 2018. Given some prior issues with trades (Charlie Whitehurst, Percy Harvin, and to some extent, Jimmy Graham), we’ll also be discussing whether or not Schneider making other such trades in the future will be a good thing or bad thing. The Seahawks get headlines with these deals, but have they ever gotten wins because of them?
Harvin didn’t help. Graham came over in 2015 and hasn’t helped them get past the divisional round of the playoffs. Sheldon and Brown don’t seem to be helping them improve from their 2016 results. I mean, all of these players are technically “helping” but their contributions aren’t making up for significant deficiencies in gameplan and execution. Not yet, at least.
The season isn’t over, even if it feels like it is. KJ Wright is likely to return this week, Bobby Wagner has another week to heal, Chris Carson and Nazair Jones may resume practicing, and the Seahawks need to focus on beating the Cowboys, not on any moves they made in the past. These are the players they have and they aren’t bad players.
Even if the results haven’t been ideal, there’s still time to get the results they want — and to adjust how they approach trade opportunities in the future.