The Seahawks Have an Identity Crisis

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

As the Seahawks fall to 3-8 after their brutal loss to Washington Football Team last Monday, we are left with so many questions. Why did the season go this way? Is it all just bad luck and injuries? Is Russell Wilson not as good as we once thought? The questions swirl as we watch loss after loss and it is hard to even watch.

I can watch a bad team; I can look at the positives and look at what to build on. This season, however, I can’t do that. I watch frustrated with a pit in my stomach that this is worse than we may think. The reason this season hurts so bad is not that they lose so much. It is that they lose with talented players and the Seahawks don’t know what to do.

Seahawks Identity

In the Pete Carroll & John Schneider era, they came together with a specific franchise road map. They wanted to be like the bruisers of the AFC North in the 2000s, that being the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. Two teams that slug it out with amazing defense and dominated the opponents on the ground. Shortening the game and out physical your opponent is the mantra of these teams.

When it came in the 2010s the Seahawks took that identity and made it arguably more famous than the teams they modeled themselves after. In 2012 the next four years the team finished third (2012), fourth (2013), first (2014), and third (2015) in total rushing. The defense in total yards allowed during this span finished fourth (2012), first (2013 and 2014), and second (2015). Seattle, in their dominant four-year stretch, controlled the ball and limited the opponent’s chances to make plays.

Physical Style

The players on defense were amazing, so of course, you’d have good numbers. But the style they played was to press and harass wide receivers. So much so that from 2012-2017, they were top ten in penalties. Three of those six years they were number one (2013, 2014, 2017). They treated flags as a means to an end. Impose your style on the game and force refs and opponents to adapt to a whole new style of playing. Frustrate and tire the wide receivers and refs. And hit big to take away their fight later in the game.

On the flip side, the offense played the same way. The big offensive line, big physical running back and scrappy angry receivers. Angry Doug Baldwin at the time was just the offensive Richard Sherman. The team was balanced with a core ideology on both sides of the ball. It was simple, be physical. Brandon Browner suplexed wide receivers after being beat. They got every bit of their penalty and made them count to send a message.

In the 2014 season, the Seahawks were so physical that their opponents suffered post Seahawk hangovers. In the last nine weeks after the Seahawks played their opponent the opponent would lose the following week. Their opponents went 0-9 after their matchups versus the Seahawks in the latter half of the season. A lot of that is thanks to the effort needed to even face the Seahawks. Even if they won the battle against Seattle, they would be reeling the following week.

Losing the Identity

A lot can be said about personnel and how having great players makes any system easy to run. But the core aspect of the players should align with the team’s ideology is. In 2017, after ranking 24th in rushing in 2016, the Seahawks made moves based on getting back to being a top rush team. In free agency Seattle signed Eddie Lacy (RB) and Luke Joeckel (G) for $13.5M combined. The players were awful, but the thinking was sound. Invest in the offensive line to help keep the offense stable and get a productive young veteran in the good unproven running back room consisting of Mike Davis, C.J. Prosise, Thomas Rawls, rookie Chris Carson, and J.D. McKissic.

Seattle’s front office had a good thought process of getting a ton of names for the running back position. After moving on from the workhorse of Marshawn Lynch, you have to rely on a committee and the Seahawks had a ton of capital in their offensive line in their super bowl years. Top ten pick at LT, a highly paid center, and another first-rounder pick at guard. They paid and spent capital here and needed to refresh the roster.

The problem is the refresh happens, but the pieces didn’t fit in the end. Making the personnel not congruent with the ideology. Missing on Rashaad Penny and having no depth behind a frequently injured Carson but landing a megastar at wide receiver in D.K Metcalf leads to a top WR duo in the league. The last offensive lineman heavily invested by Seattle in the draft was 2016 first-rounder Germain Ifedi and second-rounder Ethan Pocic. Third-rounder Damien Lewis in 2020 is the last starter drafted on the line. Seattle spent a lot of their draft capital on the defensive line and defensive backs and failed to acquire starters.

Watching a Team with No Impact

Now after personal refresh failed to live up to expectations, the team is left with underdeveloped core positions. For a run-first team, they should have a game plan that is trying to establish any sort of control. Seattle’s opponents this season dominate time of possession controlling the ball for 59.73% of the game. Being 24th in rushing this season and dead last in third-down conversions at 32.5%, the team has no impact on their opponents. They score on the quick boom or bust plays and stay off the field on offense.

The team doesn’t have any impact against the other team. They hold on defensively and hope to finesse a quick drive on broken coverage offensively. Last Monday against the WFT, Seattle only had ten RB rushes for 18 yds. So, is Seattle a passing team? Their passing percentage this year is 59%. (Side note is the same percentage as the 2020 season. Leading to the firing of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer for not running enough.)  Their young elite WR Metcalf had only four targets. RB Alex Collins had the same catches and yards (One REC for 13YDS) as one of their elite playmakers.

The team hasn’t adapted to utilize the elite players and they don’t stick to their core ideology. The Seahawk’s offense is just purposeless. There is no plan, no ideology, no idea what to do.

Changes Must Happen

Over the season I have written about the failure of the franchise. Off the field, personnel moves that had talent hemorrhage over the years. Now we have a coaching staff that has no purpose. The point of Shane Waldron was utilizing a Rams-style offense. Pre-snap motions to get the defense spread out. Misdirection plays with the receivers and tight ends. Fly sweeps for creative runs. Play action for Russ to hit playmakers to give them open space. We haven’t seen one iota of these concepts since week one.

Injuries to Chris Carson, Dee Eskridge, or even Russell Wilson should not change the overall core ideals of the offense. The defense has been average at best for years, now the offense is regressing and is worst than the defense. This team lost their way. And it doesn’t matter who is put out on the field at this point, identity-wise, they have no purpose.