Making Sense Of The Struggling Seattle Seahawks


Ever since Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over the reigns, it’s seemed the Seattle Seahawks were destined for greatness. The defense came around first, showing signs of an elite future early on in the regime. As that unit evolved into the force it is today, the offense found itself centered among an unheralded franchise quarterback and a running back as explosive as the league had seen in years. Last year it all culminated in one of the most dominant Super Bowl victories of all time, and it appeared the Hawks had it all figured out.

Except not, apparently. Through six weeks the Seahawks have three wins and two losses. They’re sitting in third place in their own division and are currently on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. What’s more is that their early-season schedule was thought to be much easier than the latter portion. And what’s perhaps most worrisome of all is that their best game so far was easily their first.

Rather unexpectedly, the Seattle Seahawks are struggling. The team that looked like a shoo-in for back-to-back Super Bowl appearances – if not wins – has scuffled out the gate and now has raised some serious questions about their claim as the top football team in the world. But why? And how?

Questions have popped up on both sides of the ball. Russell Wilson is as rangey and dynamic of a quarterback as the league’s seen since Michael Vick, and was the subject of dead-serious MVP talk as recently as Sunday morning. But following a clunker against the Dallas Cowboys it appears there are holes in need of patching. Such as, what happened to the long pass? Wilson’s rate of pass attempts twenty yards or greater is way, way down this season. But that may have something to do with his targets.

Percy Harvin, who’s at least off to a healthy start, has been targeted for long tosses exactly zero times this year. We know his body’s in good shape, and he’s appeared to have no problems moving around the field, so why isn’t his speed being used as more of a weapon? He knows how to go wide and get open. Wilson’s got the arm to support Harvin’s legs, of course. So where are the big plays? Where’s the explosiveness?

That was the biggest trait of last year’s Seahawks – explosiveness, but in a precise kind of way. Those Hawks would run all over you, then sail a pass over your head right when you’d become resigned to not expecting it. The offense was as precise and calculated as the defense was stifling. But this year the game plans seem to be inconsistent, if not downright random. These Hawks seem out of touch with their strengths.

Like the running game. Marshawn Lynch has been his usual self, when he’s being used. He was a notable non-factor in the team’s two losses, as they chose to give the football less ground time than would seem to be their style. You’ve got one of the most powerful running backs in the league. Why not let him run?

Richard Sherman is still amazing, but it would have been crazy to expect him to repeat his 2013. As expected, he’s showing signs of mortality this year. The pass defense hasn’t been up to snuff, which is a big reason why the Hawks have a zero point differential through five games. They’ve been allowing lots of yards in the air, and yards in the air mean long drives, and long drives mean more touchdowns. Which means, you know, more losses.

It’s likely the Seahawks aren’t going to keep struggling this way all year long. The elite talents are still elite, and the game plans will change based on what’s happened so far. But that doesn’t make it any less jarring and strange to see such a seemingly-impeccable squad doing a little floundering. Besides, people called the early-season schedule “easy” before it became apparent that the Chargers and Cowboys were going to be really, really good. Make no mistake, these weren’t losses to pushover teams.

the road to the Super Bowl is never a smooth one. Even last year’s team, who was the obvious class of the NFL from day one, had to overcome it’s share of hurdles on the way to greatness. This year brings with it new challenges, not to mention an apparent powerhouse-in-the-making down in Phoenix. Has it been a rough go for the Seahawks so far? Absolutely. Does this mean a repeat championship is out of reach? Absolutely not.