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The Big Question revisited: The Seahawks have underperformed, what happens next?

John Schneider and Pete Carroll Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

A couple of months before the start of the regular season, I asked Twitter followers and the Field Gulls community what the potential ramifications could be if the Seattle Seahawks underachieved (e.g miss the playoffs, or lose in the wild card). Well it’s safe to say that missing the playoffs is going to happen barring something that no team in NFL history has ever done — the only 3-7 team to qualify for the playoffs was last year’s NFC East champ Washington Football Team, but otherwise none has made the wild card.

But note the caveat I wrote:

And when I mean “underperform” I am working on the assumption that there won’t be an avalanche of injuries as was the case for last year’s 49ers team.

I personally don’t think this is a season filled with an extraordinarily high injury count, but they’ve had their fair share. Russell Wilson missed three games, Chris Carson, Marquise Blair, and Tre Brown are both done for the season, Dee Eskridge has barely played due to a concussion, and special teams ace Ben Burr-Kirven was lost in preseason.

However, they’ve had a reasonably healthy offensive line, their top two receivers have played in every game, ditto their starting linebackers and starting safeties. They’ve seldom had to go deep into the rotation on the defensive line. It could be a whole lot worse. This is not a team that has been stripped to bare bones at any point in the year.

Now we get to the next part, which is the future of the trio of Pete Carroll, John Schneider, and Russell Wilson. There’s a good chance they’re back in 2022 despite everything we’ve written and shouted about, but the way this season has unraveled raises some doubts. I stated that the process in which Seattle underachieved could determine the futures of all three, and it looks like this is not an either/or situation:

If Russell Wilson struggles in a new offense and/or shows considerable regression as a passer to the point of being a liability, then the unthinkable may be a little more thinkable given his contract and age. It sounds overly dramatic and still highly unlikely but it’s not completely impossible. If Wilson is his usual excellent self but the team around him isn’t good enough, poor coaching decisions cost the team games, etc., then the microscope will be under Schneider and (more heavily) Carroll.

Well everything has converged. The team around Wilson isn’t good enough, the poor coaching decisions by Carroll have loomed large again, and Wilson himself has barely looked like a serviceable quarterback over the past two games since returning from injury. Wilson was definitely much better pre-injury but the 3rd down issues have been prevalent throughout the season, and the inconsistencies within those September and October games played a part in Seattle’s underwhelming start up until his absence.

At the moment the Seahawks are in the bottom-half of the league in EPA/play on offense, defense, and special teams. The offense is 30th in the NFL on 3rd down, 25th in points per drive, and 32nd in punts per drive. On defense they have looked improved from a dreadful September but are otherwise 26th in takeaways, 29th in tackles for loss, and 32nd in sack rate. If this pace keeps up the Seahawks will have one of the lowest interception rates in NFL history — they currently sit at just below 1 percent. Seattle is doing hardly anything at an exceptional level and for all of the talk about failing to execute properly, that’s the kind of shit that bad teams tend to do.

It’s hard to look at this roster relative to their NFC West counterparts and see them as on par with or superior to the Cards, Rams, or 49ers. You could make a case that if you wiped out the injuries and gave everyone full strength, the Seahawks don’t have the division’s best player at any specific position on either offense or defense with the exception of Jamal Adams at strong safety. Maybe you could get Quandre Diggs at free safety but Budda Baker is better to me, and I think Quandre is awesome. Russell Wilson is historically by far the best QB in the NFC West but that doesn’t mean he’s the best now nor has he played like it this season. The relative lack of high-end established talent is a total failure on the part of Pete Carroll and John Schneider.

I understand the argument that keeping Pete/John/Russ together in 2022 is justified on the basis of all previous success earning them a mulligan. I don’t agree. The mulligan was the 2017 season in which the core of the Seahawks defense went away and the offensive line and running game was a complete mess. They retooled successfully but it looks as if they are going to remain with just a single playoff victory over the past five seasons... a narrow win against a bad Eagles team that played a semi-retired Josh McCown for more than half the game. This does not look like a team on an upward trajectory.

Personally I think it’s time to break this group up before things really get worse. But it’s a hell of a lot easier to replace a franchise head coach than a franchise quarterback, so at the very least I’d like to see Wilson remain a Seahawk but with a different HC. What can’t happen is Schneider and Carroll stay but Wilson is gone, because they have not made enough quality moves in recent seasons to trust that they’ll strike gold again at quarterback.

There’s no poll for this one. It is completely open-ended and with the assumption that the Seahawks will miss the playoffs and probably miss badly. Go to your crystal ball and figure out what happens next, keeping in mind that Wilson’s contract is up in 2023, Carroll’s in 2025, and Schneider’s at the 2027 NFL Draft.