MIAMI -- Seahawks fans have been navigating through somewhat of an existential crisis since Seattle lost to the Packers in the Divisional Round. The 49ers being in the Super Bowl doesn't help those anxieties. Was 2019 a success? Is Pete Carroll the right man to lead this team in the future?
The first is a legitimate question depending on which lens you look through. That discourse eventually evolved into many people seriously pondering the thought – if not coming to the conclusion all together – that the Seahawks might be better off without Carroll.
NBC Sports’ Chris Simms joined the Talkin’ Seahawks Podcast from Super Bowl radio row in Miami on Monday to share his thoughts on the Seahawks season. He viewed 2019 as an absolute success and even suggested that Seattle overachieved a bit.
“I don’t think Seattle was one of the two or three best teams in football, but I think they flirted with that because their quarterback covered some of the holes on the rest of the team to be up there in that conversation,” Simms said.
Of note, Simms called Wilson the second-best quarterback in football behind Patrick Mahomes (he also said Deshaun Watson is in the conversation).
I provided a counterpoint, saying there’s an argument to be made that there’s no excuse for being deficient talent-wise compared to other teams when you have in-his-prime Wilson. Simms retorted, joking that Seahawks fans are spoiled given the franchise’s level of success over the last decade.
And he’s got a point. It’s remarkable that Seattle never had to truly go through a rebuild despite losing so much talent in recent years: Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Kam Chancellor, Doug Baldwin and others.
“You changed over your team and still found ways to be relevant and competitive,” Simms said. “They’re going to find those right guys. They will. I don’t have any doubt with that.”
But, again, how much of that stability is due to Wilson’s greatness? Does Seattle’s franchise quarterback deserve more credit than Carroll or John Schneider? The discourse is undoubtedly nuanced.
Simms recognized that, as should every Seahawks fan. It’s possible to acknowledge that Schneider and Carroll need to improve without coming to the conclusion that sweeping changes are necessary. Schneider needs to hit on a few draft picks, particularly at No. 27, as well as pay the right free agents that will eat up Seattle’s cap space.
For Carroll, there has to be an understanding of the urgency that comes with taking advantage of Wilson’s best years. No quarterback takes better care of their body than Wilson, but his prime is still finite.
“They need a little bit more of a drop back passing offense inventory,” Simms said. “At times I do think they rely on ‘let’s play through the run’ too much, especially toward the end of the year.”
Simms noted Seattle’s injuries on the offensive line and at running back and questioned why the game plan didn’t shift to put more on Wilson’s shoulders.
“Just put the ball in Russell’s hand, and let’s go,” Simms said.
The outlook is still bright in Seattle as the Seahawks have tons of cap space to fill holes on the roster. Simms said the Seahawks are “a piece or two away” from potentially returning to the Super Bowl. The edge rush (Simms was in favor of re-signing Jadeveon Clowney) and the secondary were his biggest areas of need for Seattle.
“There aren’t two more people in the world that I have more faith in than Schneider and Carroll.,” Simms said. “They understand how to build a football team.”
This conversation isn’t going anywhere. It will continue until free agency begins and will intensify should Clowney walk with Seattle failing to land any other big fish. The NFL offseason is a marathon, and this one is key for the Seahawks – both for public sentiment and in the reality that the status quo won’t suffice in Seattle.