Despite the sweeping roster turnover and copious youth, Pete Carroll knows this Seahawks team had the talent to make a deep run had it made an extra play or two. To use a Peteism, that should get the 12s "fired up."
If you’re a Seahawks fan, the most encouraging thing about Pete Carroll’s past few interviews has been his frustration.
This isn’t a guy celebrating an unexpectedly successful season. This isn’t a coach radiating from an improbable playoff appearance.
Despite the sweeping roster turnover and copious youth, Carroll knows this team had the talent to make a deep run had it made an extra play or two. To use a Peteism, that should get the 12s “fired up.”
Most of needle-movers from this season should return, except with more experience under the Seahawks’ system. The team that beat top-seeded Kansas City two weeks ago will be equipped for more impressive victories in 2019.
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The Seahawks’ future requires sunglasses. That’s hard to dispute.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of work to do this offseason.
One question thrown Carroll’s way Monday was about where his team needs to improve. He didn’t answer, replying that he wasn’t “going to share that with you directly.”
Still, while there aren’t glaring weaknesses like there have been in the past few years (see: offensive line, running game) there are steps Seattle must take to contend with the best.
It’s interesting to note that, despite the Seahawks having their second-highest scoring season ever, they struggled against top-notch defenses. Granted, most teams struggle against top-notch defenses, but when you look at how Seattle fared against top-10 defensive teams such as the Chargers (17 points), Vikings (14 points on offense), Bears (17 points) and Cowboys (22 points but severely limited production on the ground), you notice a pattern.
They’re kind of like a batter who hits .350 against middle-of-the-rotation pitchers but .150 against aces. And in the playoffs, pretty much every team is an ace.
This is where getting another dynamic receiver would help Seattle immensely. Yes, Tyler Lockett had a career year and proved himself to be among the most explosive pass-catchers in the NFL. And though Doug Baldwin made some spectacular plays, he was hampered by injuries that become more frequent when you’re on the other side of 30.
As for David Moore and Jaron Brown? They combined for just nine receptions over their past five games and weren’t targeted at all Sunday. That makes it hard to win.
Defensively, the Seahawks defied expectations, but still had their shortcomings. Disruptive as Frank Clark (13 sacks) and Jarran Reed (10.5 sacks) were, Seattle didn’t get much pass rush from anywhere else. And while Bobby Wagner might have been the best middle linebacker in the NFL once again, it’s hard to think the aging and injury-prone K.J. Wright could return to Pro Bowl form even if Seattle brought him back.
As for the secondary? That’s one area it seems Carroll gets production from regardless of who’s back there. Still, quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers and Jared Goff had field days against the Seahawks, whose 240.1 passing yards allowed per game ranked 17th in the league. Did opponents really fear cornerbacks such as Shaquill Griffin or Justin Coleman? Didn’t feel that way.
As far as special teams go — Seattle might have the best punter in the league in Michael Dickson. The field-position benefits he provided throughout the year were integral to the Seahawks’ success. But it doesn’t seem likely that the 40-year-old Sebastian Janikowski will return, which would mean the Seahawks would employ their fourth placekicker in as many years.
You can count on, oh, 50 hands the number of seasons that have been made or spoiled by a single field-goal attempt. The Seahawks know that well.
It likely won’t, but the job Carroll did with Seattle this season should warrant some coach of the year consideration. The fact that he signed an extension through 2021 shows how valued he is.
But the key to the Seahawks’ success goes well beyond what Carroll does between September and February. What he and general manager John Schneider do between March and August is every bit as important.
So feel free to celebrate what the Seahawks achieved this season. It was one of the more pleasant sports surprises this town has seen in a while.
But also know that they can get better. In fact, if they want to compete for the ultimate prize, they have to.