The Seattle Seahawks are 2-2, and that’s all well and fine. They beat the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, getting an important road win within the division, arguably the three most important games that most teams will play. But the Seahawks’ wins this season will be all for nothing if they continue to play like a unit whose best compliment on Sunday was that they weren’t the worst offense in the stadium, playing a Cardinals team that had scored just 20 points through three weeks.
Except that on Sunday, they were worse than the “worst” offense in the NFL.
Seattle went 0-for-10 on third downs, just the fifth time in franchise history that the Seahawks failed to convert a third down. Of course, this was the first time that they had also won one of those games. The previous times were in 1995, 1998, 2000, and 2009, which of course was an iteration of the team that quickly got Jim Mora fired. That game was a 27-3 loss to Arizona and we knew Seattle was a dead team walking.
That team averaged 17.5 points per game and finished 5-11. This team is averaging a hair more than 20 points per game but seem to be trending in the wrong direction. That direction was significantly diverted when Pete Carroll did something that fans were begging to see happen for years — firing offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell — but the corresponding move drew nearly as much ire as the decision to keep Bevell and Tom Cable for as long as he did.
Carroll took a swing at change, and I applaud that as being the right move, I think, but he whiffed. He whiffed badly. I wrote about Brian Schottenheimer in January after he was hired, and even defended him as an experienced coordinator with a lifetime of learning about offenses under his famous father, but the time to defend him is over. The decisions are questionable. The results are horrible. Russell Wilson looks like the absolute worst version of himself. An offseason proclamation to commit to the run was ignored over the first two games and then forced over the last two.
Even with the Seahawks gaining 171 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries in Arizona, how do the “pro-run” troops rally around the notion that rushing matters when you can average five yards per carry and yet score only 17 points with zero conversions on third down?
I don’t care if Seattle runs it 50 times. I don’t care if Seattle passes it 50 times. What I think we can all agree on is that no matter how they get there, we want to see the Seahawks have an efficient offense that is able to maintain drives, convert first downs, move the ball, keep their defense fresh, and above all else, score points. They might have scored 26 if Sebastian Janikowski had made his first two field goals, but what would have been even better: make Janikowski attempt extra points instead.
That’s not happening nearly often enough. With Earl Thomas out for the foreseeable future, it’s going to potentially eat away at a team that could start to lag a bit on defense while fielding a bottom-three offense. Regardless of how talented Wilson is as a quarterback, or Doug Baldwin is as a receiver, or Bobby Wagner is as a middle linebacker, that’s not likely going to be a .500 team.
They made dramatic changes in January. Maybe it’s time to start considering more big changes in October.
I don’t think Carroll can or should take playcalling duties away from Schottenheimer for himself (is he capable of that? I don’t know. Would he be good at that? I don’t think so.) but playcalling should either be taken away from him or he should be forced to do things very differently. Seattle got better in 2012 after stealing some ideas from what Washington was doing with Robert Griffin III, so midseason adjustments are not only possible, they happen literally every year to some teams out there and they can have huge influences on their seasons.
Unfortunately, I highly doubt that would happen.
My guess is that as I’m writing this, Carroll and Schottenheimer are praising the run game that got five yards per carry and two touchdowns while ignoring the 5.7 yards per pass attempt, the lack of conversions on third down, the eight penalties, and the fact that they just barely beat a team that I think will finish somewhere between 0-16 and 3-13. The Seahawks are a terrible offense, a good defense that just lost one of its two best players, and a shaky kicking team. That barely got them a win on Sunday and it’ll probably send them towards a 6-10 record if they don’t change something immediately.
And all of us, including Carroll, know what that change should be.