There are almost certainly going to be major changes made to the Seattle Seahawks organization in the 2018 offseason, as the team failed to make the playoffs and finished a disappointing 9-7, including a mediocre 4-4 record at CenturyLink Field.
Seattle would’ve missed the playoffs anyway because of the Atlanta Falcons’ win over the Carolina Panthers, but the icing on the turd cake was dropping the season finale 26-24 to an Arizona Cardinals team without its starting quarterback, elite running back, and several of its usual starters on the offensive line. The game was a microcosm of Seattle’s season. They routinely struggled against mediocre-to-bad opposition, let alone actual contenders, and this was no different.
While the defense started slowly and were one of the reasons the Seahawks were in an early double-digit hole, they largely shut down Arizona’s offense in the 2nd half (as they were supposed to!), holding them to just two field goals. Even still, half of Arizona’s 20 1st half points were directly the result of short fields handed to them by the offense and special teams, the two biggest liabilities all season.
It’s hard to imagine the Seahawks seriously keeping Darrell Bevell as offensive coordinator for another season. I was a staunch “Fire Bevell!” guy in the early days, laid off on him from the second-half of 2015 through the early stages of 2017, but now I’m back on the ship. The offense was largely bad again on Sunday, failing to eclipse 300 total yards for the third straight game. Seattle has been such a ruinously bad 1st half team that for the entire month of December, the offense scored a grand total of 17 points... not including Tyler Lockett’s kick return touchdown. They failed to score a 1st half offensive touchdown in half of their games.
Bevell can’t ride the 2015 surge forever. Need I remind you they were 15th in offensive DVOA at the bye week, including 21st in passing, so the rosy picture painted because of Russell Wilson’s historic, torrid stretch of football is also an incomplete one. This offense has been thoroughly mediocre for a majority of the past three seasons, and as I watch slow start after slow start after slow start after slow start, I can’t take it anymore. That it took three years to figure out how to use Jimmy Graham in the red zone is damning of his scheme’s inflexibility. He has little feel for personnel matchups, and the ill-fated Super Bowl slant in Glendale should’ve been an indicator of that. Steve Kerr wouldn’t draw up a game-winning three-point attempt for Shaun Livingston, would he? Exactly.
Offensive line coach and “run game coordinator” Tom Cable’s days are also surely finished. Russell Wilson was pressured on 15 of his 35 dropbacks, and was literally tackled on a handoff to Mike Davis. The run game was so inept that not a single running back gained more than 240 yards all season. Seattle ball carriers combined for literally no yards on 20 attempts inside the opponent’s 10, far and away worst in the league. Cable’s benefit of the doubt was crushed the moment the running game collapsed, and he should be fired for it. The pass protection has been an issue for years, even when they had the most expensive line in the NFL back in 2013, but if the run blocking has fallen apart, then what’s his purpose on the staff?
Last but not least, I was one of Brian Schneider’s biggest fans. That time has long gone. Schneider has been Seattle’s special teams coordinator since 2010, and the team experienced instant improvement from being an average group to one of the league’s best. They were 2nd in DVOA in 2010, dipped to 16th in 2011, then rose to 3rd in 2012, stayed elite at 5th in 2013, and it’s mostly been negative since the Super Bowl-winning season. They fell to 19th in 2014, returned to 3rd in 2015 (largely thanks to Tyler Lockett’s outstanding rookie season), stooped to 15th in 2016, and are currently 22nd. Seattle’s punting DVOA has declined for four straight years, and Jon Ryan’s numerous shanks, combined with the substandard punt return coverage, tell the story. Blair Walsh was a mess, missing almost 30% of his field goal attempts, including the game-winner vs. Arizona. Even when the Seahawks had a great special teams play courtesy of Tyler Lockett’s touchdown, it was almost immediately nullified by a big return by Arizona’s D.J. Foster. Special teams was a strength of Seattle’s, now it’s a crippling liability.
Seattle is long overdue for major changes to its coaching staff. The defense has largely experienced it through other teams hiring Seattle assistants away. It’s time for accountability to be made for the failures of this offense and the decline of the special teams, and it starts with Messrs Cable, Bevell, and Schneider.