Between my Seahawks and my UW Huskies, this was an incredibly disappointing football weekend for me. Two games, lost by a combined total of 5 points, riddled with missed opportunities and bad breaks. Both games left me questioning what the future holds for these teams and whether or not they're on the right track.
The Seahawks lost on the road to a really good Kansas City team that seemed to be custom-built to beat them. Alex Smith played his patented brand of mistake-free (and typically excitement-free) football as they hammered us with a mulch-faceted run game that Seattle wishes they had.
While there were plenty of disappointments from the Seahawks offense-- they really didn't have that terrible of a game. Ultimately, they had opportunities to put the game away, but three times they went for it on 4th down and failed late in the game.
The Seahawks offense never turned the ball over, Russell Wilson threw a pair of touchdowns and they rushed for over 200 yards on a notoriously stingy run defense. That's usually more than enough to secure a victory when your team is predicated on it's ferocious defense.
But it wasn't. And as close as this game looked by the box score-- it felt like the Seahawks never really had a chance.
The Seahawks defense had no answers for the rushing attack of Jamal Charles, Knile Davis and De'Anthony Thomas. They managed to take away the ball twice on fumbles, but it wasn't enough to offset how poorly they played upfront.
This team, as expected, sorely misses Brandon Mebane. They still miss Red Bryant and Chris Clemons, for that matter. The front line depth, on both sides of the ball, that carried this team to a Super Bowl just last year is simply not there anymore.
I haven't been very critical of Pete Carroll and John Schneider because of the success they established so quickly, but this year has given me reason to be critical. They have gotten too carried away with running this team like a college football program. The 'next man up' philosophy is a great premise, but it absolutely has its limits.
It's hard not to think about what this team's record might be today if they held on to just a few of the players that departed last season. The offensive line is clearly struggling without Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini. The defensive line would love to have Clinton McDonald and/or Red Bryant right now. Chris Maragos would've been tremendously helpful in the games we were without Kam Chancellor. Hell, even Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond would be nice to have as we prepare to take on the NFL's best team in the 9-1 Cardinals.
Something is missing. Maybe it's a lot of things. The Seahawks aren't out of it, but it's definitely getting dangerously close to panic mode. The Seahawks are currently tied with the 49ers for 2nd place in the NFC West-- three games behind the Cardinals. If the season ended today (I hate that phrase, but still) Seattle would miss the playoffs altogether.
Every game for the rest of the season is going to be a challenge. This is where the Seahawks need to figure out how to get the best out of what they have and find a way to make it work. The big question going into this season was how they were going to keep the nucleus of players from the Championship team in tact down the stretch-- but now that question needs to be who deserves to be in that nucleus of players.
The Marshawn Lynch rumors will only get louder with each loss and heartbreakers like yesterday's game will only intensify the emotions behind those rumors. NFL.com's Michael Silver interviewed Lynch after the loss to the Chiefs and his piece only fanned the flames of the situation.
Anyone can see the problems that have arisen from the departures on the front lines and how that has created a domino effect of problems for the other position groups. The lack of offensive line depth has created problems in both the pass and rush attacks just as the lack of defensive line depth has exposed weaknesses in the linebacking group and in the secondary.
With that in mind-- could you imagine the difficulties that would come from not having Lynch in the stable for next season? It would put incredible pressure on Wilson to carry the team as a passer, which we have neither the receivers, tight ends or linemen depth to accommodate. Furthermore, it would likely force the team to rely on its defense just like they did in the Super Bowl season-- which we're proving we cannot do today, much less next season.
If you're not going to, at the very least, let Marshawn play out the last year of his contract next season, you're going to have to spend a draft pick on a running back. If not to start, then at best they'll have to fill the spot on the running back chart vacated by Lynch. You'd also have to spend a high pick on a playmaking wide receiver, because without the threat of a violent rushing attack, you'll be leaning on Wilson to make big plays down field. As much as I love Baldwin and Kearse, we'd be asking them to step outside of their current roles that they are excelling at.
You'd have to then expect to invest in at least two offensive line draft choices. I can't imagine Carpenter will be brought back after an inconsistent career riddled with injury. Plus, you've gotta rebuild the depth. Factor in Zach Miller's situation with injuries and a high salary and you have to assume he's not long for this team. I'd argue that you need to draft a blocking tight end to compensate for not having Lynch. That's 5 mandatory picks before you even begin to address the defense!
I hate to be focusing on next year when its clearly far too early to give up on this year, but apparently the Seahawks have been looking to the future ever since they hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. Whatever the end game for this season might be, the Seahawks better look long and hard at what happened this season before they make any drastic moves in/for the future.