BY JULIAN ROGERS
3 reasons why they are and 1 reason why they aren’t
Meh. Middling. Also-runs. Is that what we’re seeing from the current Seattle Seahawks as they prepare for their week 13 Sunday Night Football contest at home against the Philadelphia Eagles — 2017’s league darlings? If there ever were a contrast between a team on the rise and a formerly great team on the decline, this Sunday night’s game is the showcase.
Reason #1: Playoffs? We’re talking playoffs?
Let’s start there. As the Eagles attempt to hold on to the NFC’s No. 1 seed, the Seahawks are currently on the outside looking in in the NFC Playoffs standings. ESPN estimates the Seahawks’ chances of making the postseason at 47.4 percent.
True, they’re tied with the also 7–4 Atlanta Falcons, but they lose the head-to-head tiebreaker. The blue birds’ best path to the postseason is probably to overtake the NFC’s No. 2 darling team, the 8–3 Los Angeles Rams, whom they did manage to defeat earlier in the year. The also 8–3 Carolina Panthers are the other NFC team a single game ahead of the Seahawks, but they will not play each other in the remainder of the regular season. The Seahawks will get a shot at sweeping the Rams on Dec. 17, should their playoff goose not already be cooked.
This makes the Eagles game loom ever larger. There no longer is any wiggle room for the Seahawks if they are to be considered a playoff-caliber team. Oh, and winning out? As of now, the Seahawks are favored in only three of their remaining five games. Merely meeting those expectations probably won’t get a playoff invitation.
Reason #2: The Legion of Whom
Well. That escalated quickly. The formerly fearsome foursome known as the Legion of Boom suddenly is the unit of yesteryear.
Previously felled by you-can’t-pay-everyone contract-itis, (safety Kam Chancellor’s 2015 holdout, that rotating #2 cornerback spot of the past several seasons), now the Seahawks’ former foremost position of strength has seen the likely last of stalwarts Chancellor (neck, out for the season) and cornerback Richard Sherman (Achilles’ heel, out for the season). Not only are they out for the rest of the year, they’re almost certainly out of Seattle entirely in the coming years, due to increased injury, age & cost factors.
To make matters worse, Earl Thomas may not be long for the unit, as well. Thomas’ devastating, season-ending (there’s that phrase again) broken leg of last year nearly caused him to call it a career. He’s bounced back nicely this season, but the remnants of the LOB are now resting too heavily on his repaired legs. Leg injuries knocked him out of weeks 9 and 10. He has one year remaining on his 2014 blockbuster deal ($8.5M) after this season, and will be hard-pressed to resign as an increasingly oft-injured, aging player.
For now, it’s Thomas and the best duct tape Seahawks defensive backs coach Andre Curtis can find. He found some, apparently in former LOBer Byron Maxwell and almost-former LOBer Jeremy Lane.
The Legion of Boom is now the Legion of retreads, don’t want ‘ems, and who-dat young guys. Plus Earl.
Reason #3: The Seahawks offense, Russell Wilson, excepted
We don’t need to hammer on the Seahawks’ offensive line any further. They’d almost certainly break. Equally inept at pass protection and run-blocking, the Seahawks’ revolving door of injured linemen has become less of an excuse for the just general, ongoing ineffectiveness of the five guys that get the offense started.
OK, I guess I could pile on a bit more.
The Seahawks’ tried and true formula of running the ball like in the Beast Mode era never got off the ground this season. Plug in anyone: A supposedly revitalized and healthy Thomas Rawls (a healthy scratch two weeks ago; one play from scrimmage against the San Francisco 49ers), a supposedly revitalized and healthy Eddie Lacy, a promising rookie upstart in Chris Carson (injured reserve) and a (yes, we’re getting repetitive again) supposedly revitalized and healthy C.J. Prosise (injured reserve, again) … it’s just gone like that.
The Seahawks did make Mike Davis a real roster player and quickly received dividends. He’s now injured, of course.
The Seahawks’ seventh-ranked passing game outpaces the Seahawks’ rushing game by a wide margin (20th). When you consider that the blue birds’ top rusher is quarterback Russell Wilson with 401 yards on 65 attempts, you can hardly be surprised when I tell you that the team has no rushing touchdowns by a regular running back yet this year. Hybrid runner/receiver J.D. McKissic has one rushing TD and Wilson has the other three.
“Mediocre” might be kind. However …
Reason why the Seahawks are not mediocre
Russell Wilson has proven to be a once-in-a-generation talent. Not only has he been required to be the sometimes only playmaker, he’s accounted for more yards from scrimmage than anyone else in the league.
From ESPN: “Pete Carroll says of how much the Seahawks’ offense has relied on Russell Wilson this season, ‘I don’t know how you could carry it much more numbers-wise.’ Wilson has accounted for almost 86 percent of Seattle’s scrimmage yards. Per the NFL, that would be the highest percentage for any player in the Super Bowl era.”
Wilson’s 3,029 passing yards outpace Sunday’s opponent, wunderkind Carson Wentz (2,657), but he trails Wentz in touchdown passes to date: 23 to 28. Wilson’s best buddies on offense are his receiving corps, which has seen Jimmy Graham come on of late (49 receptions, 447 yards, 8 TDs), and a solid 58 receptions, 698 yards and 4 TDs from No. 1 receiver Doug Baldwin. Speedster Paul Richardson has finally shown promise with a stellar 16.7 yards per catch average and 5 TDs. Tyler Lockett has not been much of a factor from scrimmage.
Is it enough help for Russell Wilson? The biggest test of the year comes this Sunday night. It’s make-or-break time for the middling Seahawks.