The Seattle Seahawks have been a playoff regular for the last six seasons and were the experts pick to win their division again. Russell Wilson is arguably the best quarterback in the NFC South, and their defense is always in the top ten. And the odds are if you have a good defense and a good quarterback, then you're going to win more than half of your games each year. That is exactly what the Seahawks did, going 9-7 overall and 4-2 in their division. They were the top team to not make the playoffs from the NFC.
It's hard to look at a 9-7 team and think they had a bad year. But this is a team that won the Super Bowl in 2013 and then went back and lost it in 2014. They made it to the divisional rounds in 2012, 2015, and 2016. Being on a golf course at this time of year is just not right for this team. Part of the problem was that the injury bug attacked them like a swarm of locus. Some of their top players like cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Kam Chancellor, edge rusher Cliff Avril, left tackle George Fant, running back Chris Carson, and defensive tackle Malik McDowell all spent at least the last seven weeks on injured reserve. Sherman and Chancellor are the heart of the teams secondary.
On the offensive side of the ball, the line was horrible. Wilson was the top rusher by more than 300 yards, and while that wouldn't be too shocking for Cam Newton, Wilson isn't the same build and can't handle that many hits. They have failed to find a replacement for Marshawn Lynch, leaving the majority of the weight on Wilson's shoulders. When you look at all of this — the fact that not only did they go 9-7, but they were still in contention up until this past Sunday — it is almost a miracle.
That is the even bigger question. Coach Pete Carroll came out and denied rumors that he was going to retire. But he may not be able to avoid the other 'R' word: rebuild. The Seahawks go into the off season looking to have only $12.8 million in cap space, a big chunk of which would go to drafted rookies. The majority of their key players are over thirty now and nearing the end of their contracts. Sherman is going to be 30, is coming off a torn Achilles, and is due $11 million for next year. I'd put the odds of him coming back without a restructure or extension at zero, and would you extend someone with that serious of an injury? You have multiple guys on both offense and defense who are coming into the end of their contracts and making way more than the deteriorating play is worth. There will need to be a lot of tough love and tough decisions made quickly, and the odds are the 2018 Seahawks will be very different from the ones packing up their lockers this week.
The Seahawks got lucky; they were good when their opponents were on the downswing. The Arizona Cardinals were competition for most of the last five years, but both the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers had quarterback issues that put them out of any real chance to take the division. That has changed. Jared Goff has really stepped up in year two and Jimmy Garoppolo has brought hope back to the Bay Area. The Seahawks can't just patch holes and hope for the best. They need to get younger on defense, strengthen up their offensive line, and find a bell cow running back that will take the pressure off of Wilson. And they have to do it on the cheap.
Pete Carroll might want to rethink that whole retirement thing.