An unnerving glimpse into the very near future.
1. Carroll stays. As does Schneider.
Pete Carroll is unquestionably the most successful head coach in franchise history, and deservedly beloved by fans, not the least reasons being his gum-chomping energy and indefatigable optimism; if not also the obvious allure of the Lombardi in 2014. But facing a necessary rebuild today, after a failed refresh begun in 2018, all the optimism in Puget Sound won’t see Carroll successfully lay a new foundation and flip the script in a season or two. Whether his philosophy has grown outdated, his game management is insufficient, the limitations of his coordinators are too stifling, or his stark failure to build a roster to fit his preferred "win with four" pass rush or ground-it-out offensive approach, there are too many signs the end has come for good Coach Pete. The abysmal team record on the ‘21 campaign being the proof in whatever pudding we’ve all been sampling the past few seasons.
Similar to Carroll, John Schneider holds claim as the most successful General Manager in Seahawks’ history, even if said accolades are mostly based on distant drafts like 2010 (Thomas, Chancellor, Tate, Okung), 2011 (Sherman, Wright, Carpenter), and 2012 (Wagner, Wilson, Irvin); in addition to the occasional "wow" trade for a Duane Brown, Quadre Diggs, or half a season of Jadeveon Clowney.
Also, the Lombardi helps.
But not unlike Carroll, Schneider’s heyday resides in the rearview mirror; and too often it appears his foot is on the gas in the opposite direction. For every gem like a DK Metcalf, Schneider’s drafts have too often produced an LJ Collier, Malik McDowell, Christine Michael, Rashaad Penny, or a bevy of less-heralded busts, disappointments, and also-rans. Free agent successes of yesteryear like Michael Bennett or Chris Clemons have been replaced by the accumulated tarnish of smudgy-fingered vets like Philip Dorset, Eddie Lacey, Benson Mayowa and Kerry Hyder. And despite trades for the likes of Brown and Diggs, that collection is drug down by acquisitions such as Percy Harvin, Sheldon Richardson, and nine-tenths of Jimmy Graham; not to mention (but we will) the current albatross of both the draft capital spent and exorbitant new contract for Jamal Adams. …who cost a franchise-quartback’s haul of picks. …all to be paid solid pass rusher money. …oh, and the dude’s a strong safety. …who isn’t particularly adept at coverage. …and only produced inflated sack numbers in 2020 due to unprecedented blitz rates.
So… a poor trade.
And yet in spite of all of it, under the somewhat murky leadership of an ownership group led by Jody Allen, Carroll and Schneider are retained for 2022. They did both sign new contracts last offseason. And with the likelihood of a team sale on the horizon any changes to upper management (read: Pete and John) was always unlikely. "I think we’re just a couple moves from true contention," Carroll opines to start the offseason.
2. Wilson gets traded.
Aaron Rodgers leads Green Bay to Super Bowl LVI, and is given an extension to retire as a Packer. The newly minted Washington Footballers shoot the moon in trading for the legal baggage brought in alongside Deshawn Watson. Without a chance at Rodgers, Teddy Bridgewater stays in Denver, Tua in Miami, and Houston and Carolina blow their first round picks on one of the quarterbacks in what is being reported as a particularly weak draft at the position. Meanwhile, Russell Wilson revises his destination wishlist from last offseason to include New Orleans and requests a trade, and Coach Sean Payton pulls the trigger for a couple future late first-rounders and a pot of jambalaya. Consequently Wilson’s career is rejuvenated, including a deep run in the ‘22 playoffs. Paired with Alvin Kamara, a good offensive line, a solid defense, and Payton’s play-calling prowess, Wilson trademarks his new catchphrase, "Who Dat Russ?" It looks good on a t-shirt.
3. Seahawks trade for Jimmy Garoppolo.
With a dearth of viable QB prospects in free agency or the draft, Carroll works up sufficient optimism for a season or three of riding the rollercoaster of erratic play, frequent stops on the IR, and the diminishing returns of "Brittle-Bones" Jimmy G; paired with a hefty side serving of backup Geno Smith. Because nothing would rub salt in the fresh wounds of Wilson’s departure than trading draft stock to a division rival for a journeyman’s execution at the game’s most important position. "Jimmy’s got a lot of gas left in the tank," reads Carroll from his coaching cliche handbook.
4. Coordinators Ken Norton Jr. and Shane Waldron are retained.
A 2021 defense dead last in yards allowed at 399 per game. A consistent inability to defend screen passes and set the edge. A pass rush led by Darrell Taylor with five sacks, Rasheem Green with three, and no one else with even a pair of QB takedowns to their name. Five interceptions on the year, tied for the second worst total league-wide.
Pair that with a 2021 offense that is dead last in time of possession at 24 minutes, nine seconds per contest; dead last in third down conversions at 3.5 per tilt; and dead last in third down opportunities at 10.9 a game. Twenty-fifth in total rushing yards; twenty-ninth in total passing yards; twenty-ninth in total yards per game at 295.7.
"We’re on the verge of something big with Shane," quips Carroll. "Oh, and Ken? He’s great. Just really focused and ready to dig in and repeat the results of the past few seasons. Also, I legally can’t fire him ever since he bested me in that eel eating contest in the back of his Escalade that night in Belltown in 2019. ….oh, wait, did I say that last part out loud?"
5. Without its (top 5) first round selection in the 2022 draft, the Hawks overdraft at strange positions.
Another linebacker with their second rounder. Another safety to sit behind Adams in round three. A wide receiver who fails to pan out in the fourth. A defensive tackle pundits thought would go undrafted in round five. And a pair of kickers to close things out, neither of whom ends up making final cut downs. "These guys are going to bring in a lot of competition," gushes Carroll.
6. Seattle trades its 2023 first rounder at the deadline.
Lacking a pass rush for what seems to be the fortieth season in a row, at the ‘22 trade deadline Seattle sends its first first-round pick in three seasons to Detroit for Trey Flowers (no, not that Trey Flowers, the former Patriot) and a cassette of Motown classics. Flowers, whose sack numbers have fallen off a cliff the past two injury-riddled seasons (two in 2020, 1.5 in 2021), fails to sniff out a quarterback hit or hurry through his first four games in King County before landing on IR nursing a serious case of inevitable-injury-itis. "We were just going to trade back anyway," mumbles Schneider.
6. Seattle gives Jamal Adams a raise.
For no discernible reason the Seahawks restructure strong safety Jamal Adams’ record-setting contract to include an additional three million more per season. They also send the Jets a freebie 2024 sixth round pick for the fun of it. Just to make the trade for Adams somehow worse.
More of the same. Poor game management. A thin, undisciplined and ill-coached roster. A nonexistent pass rush. A revolving door at corner. An inability to run the ball. Wasted talent like Lockett and Metcalf. The cellar of the NFC West.
"I think we’re just about to turn the corner," exudes Carroll.