The rehashing of the Seahawks’ 2021 season will soon be in the rearview mirror.
The meeting between team chair Jody Allen, coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider came and went this past week without news of any significant, immediate change.
There undoubtedly will be some moves behind the scenes and possibly some shifts in philosophy, the latter of which the Seahawks likely would try to keep quiet for competitive reasons.
Carroll, though, ended the season thinking the Seahawks were finally back on the right track after a 4-2 finish that followed a 3-8 start that had essentially eliminated all playoff hopes. The strong finish put a sunnier ending on a gloomy 7-10 record.
That final stretch included four games of 30 points or more, as quarterback Russell Wilson appeared to finally shake off his finger injury, and wins over two division teams that made the playoffs — the 49ers and Cardinals.
“What happened in the last few weeks is remarkably important for us,” Carroll said Monday. “These guys responded to a situation that you could have looked at a million different ways than the way we looked at it. But we went after it to maximize this finish to help us be better, to demonstrate that pride we take of being part of this organization, this team, this locker room, regardless of what anybody else would say, think or expect.
“I think that was as obvious as you can make it. … It’s really rewarding for us, it’s reinforcing, and it’s going to help us as we go forward.’’
But that doesn’t mean all is well. Seattle had offensive inconsistency issues this season that can’t be attributed solely to Wilson’s injury.
And the defense had a statistically bizarre season, ranking 28th in yards allowed but 11th in points allowed, stretching the limits of “bend but don’t break” in a way that might be hard to replicate each year.
So what should be on Seattle’s to-do list this season? Here are, well, 12 thoughts:
1. Add to the pass rush
Carlos Dunlap showed late that he can still be a factor, finishing with a team-high 8.5 sacks, and Darrell Taylor and Rasheem Green had promising seasons (6.5 each). But Seattle needs to, first, figure out if it can keep Green, and then it simply has to add more, something Carroll admitted, saying: “We need to improve our pass rush. That is an area that we need to get better in. You saw how dynamic it is when you get going like we did yesterday (Seattle had five sacks in its 38-30 win over Arizona). But we didn’t have that consistency, and that is the important part of it.” As Carroll noted, the lack of a consistent pass rush was one reason Seattle forced just 18 turnovers, fewer than the total for all but eight teams.
2. Decide on Bobby Wagner
There has been much speculation that he won’t return due to a $20.3 million salary-cap hit and no guaranteed money left on the final year of his contract. Would Seattle really feel comfortable going with Cody Barton and Jordyn Brooks as its inside linebackers? That answer might come sooner rather than later, as the Seahawks would likely want that cap room by the time the new league year — and the free-agent signing period — begins March 16.
3. Keep Quandre Diggs, or find his equivalent
Diggs was a key factor in a stat that Carroll likely views as important as any — Seattle finished fifth in the NFL in allowing only 576 deep passing yards, or those that came on completions of 20 yards or longer. Eliminating big plays is at the core of Carroll’s defensive philosophy, and the safety was one main reason Seattle succeeded at that in 2021. If Diggs doesn’t re-sign, Seattle would have a big task in finding someone who can fill that role just as well.
4. Re-sign Rashaad Penny
After the way Penny finished the season — 749 yards and a 6.3 yard per carry average that is the best in team history for a running back — this now seems like an absolute priority and something Seattle might try to do before the free agent-signing period begins. Carroll said starter Chris Carson should be ready to go for training camp after recovering from neck surgery. Pairing Penny with Carson could give Seattle its best 1-2 punch at running back in the Carroll era.
5. Re-sign Duane Brown
True, Brown will be 37 next season and is coming off a campaign in which he allowed eight sacks — as many as his previous four years combined. But only one came in the final eight games. And Seattle has no heir apparent at left tackle, assuming it isn’t ready to turn it over to Stone Forsythe, a sixth-round draft pick in 2021 who played just 14 snaps this season, or Jamarco Jones, who is a free agent.
6. Add a receiving threat
Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf combined for 158 of Seattle’s 324 completions this season (48.77%), more than in 2020 (183 of 388, 47.16%) despite hopes the new offense would spread the ball around more. To be fair, Seattle hoped rookie Dee Eskridge would play a much larger role than injuries allowed. But it feels like adding proven veteran wideout would make sense.
7. Make a call on Ethan Pocic
Seattle’s run-game resurgence late in the season coincided with Pocic regaining the center job from Kyle Fuller. But Pocic is an unrestricted free agent, and it feels like time for the Seahawks to either commit to Pocic or invest heavily in another center through the draft (many Seattle fans lament the team not taking Creed Humphrey last year) or free agency.
8. Add competition at nickel
Ugo Amadi took over the nickel cornerback spot full time at midseason after Marquise Blair suffered a knee injury and was ranked 119th out of 120 corners by Pro Football Focus. Maybe Seattle will give the Blair/Amadi tandem another shot. But adding someone else to compete there might make sense.
9. Redefine the defense
As noted earlier, the Seahawks really, really, really leaned into the “bend” part of their defensive philosophy this season, letting teams hold the ball for the third-longest time of possession of any team this season (an average of 3:10 per drive). Though Seattle kept points down, that philosophy kept the offense off the field for long stretches. The question is whether the Seahawks need to adjust that a little next season and be more aggressive. A more-settled secondary from Day 1 would help.
10, 11. Keep D.J. Reed and Will Dissly
Reed and Dissly are also unrestricted free agents. Reed’s move to right corner helped solidify the secondary, and after the messy way the season began at cornerback you’d think Seattle would want continuity. Dissly and fellow tight end Gerald Everett are free agents. But the view here is that Dissly, with his importance in blocking for the run game, might be more important.
12. Hire Adrian Peterson as an assistant
OK, so this is more fanciful than reality, as Peterson says he wants to keep playing. But Peterson was given a lot of credit for the influence he had on Penny after signing with Seattle in November. Maybe that, if nothing else, means at least giving Peterson a training-camp invite and see where it leads.
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