Another week, another ugly Seahawks game on which to ruminate.

With their 13-10 loss to the Saints on Monday night, the Seahawks, at 2-5, fell even further out of the NFC playoff picture — and opened the door further to some uncomfortable big-picture discussions.

To break down some of the many questions about this team, here is our weekly Four Downs Q&A with beat writers Bob Condotta and Adam Jude:

1. Let’s be real: The season has been a disaster so far. Is there hope of a turnaround? Any real reason to think this team can make the playoffs?

Condotta: Sure, there’s a chance. There are 10 games remaining and Russell Wilson possibly playing the final nine of them if he can make it back after the bye for the trip to Green Bay on Nov. 14. Seattle at this point is basically playing for the sixth or seventh wild card spot. The good news is there are only six teams in the NFC with winning records. The bad news is Seattle already has lost the tiebreaker to two other teams that would currently be fighting for the final two wild-card spots — the 4-2 Saints and 3-3 Vikings. And the worse news is Seattle has to go 7-3 the rest of the way to get to just 9-8, which would seem the minimum to get a wild card spot. That means sweeping the six teams remaining on the schedule with losing records and beating one of the Rams, Cardinals (whom Seattle plays twice) and Packers. A razor thin margin for error, basically, just to stay in the playoff picture.

Jude: Russ to the rescue? There’s no guarantee Wilson will even be back for the Green Bay game — that seems like the most optimistic timeline. Shoot, at this point there’s no guarantee the Seahawks can even handle Jacksonville, the one team on the entire schedule that looked like a surefire win. And even if he does return against the Packers, I have a hard time envisioning this team suddenly becoming a legitimate playoff contender. Beyond the QB position, there are still so many issues to sort out.

Saints 13, Seahawks 10


2. Pete Carroll believes this defense has turned a corner. Do you believe it?

Jude: I’m not convinced. There are signs of progress, to be sure. The cornerback play has improved, and the coaches seem to have a little bit better feel for how to employ Jamal Adams — who remains the most important piece in the middle of the field. But this defense should be expected to play well against the likes of Pittsburgh and New Orleans, two below-average offenses. Beyond that, there still isn’t one thing this defense can hang its hat on and say, “We are elite at this.” (They certainly aren’t elite at stopping a screen pass, yikes.) And let’s put it this way: Are you at all convinced that by next month this defense will be able to consistently slow down Green Bay’s offense? Or Arizona’s offense? Didn’t think so.

Condotta: To a point. The interior run defense is solid, and in general the Seahawks seem to be making fewer assignment errors than earlier in the year (the TD pass to Alvin Kamara appearing an obvious exception). But the pass rush is still a significant issue — the Seahawks had just four quarterback hits last night and Jameis Winston often seemed to have all kinds of time. And the Seahawks also continue to not make too many game-changing plays on defense — Seattle’s 13 sacks are 26th in the NFL and Seattle’s two interceptions are tied for 28th. Bend but don’t break works to a point. At some point, Seattle also has to break the offense.


3. What did you make of Pete Carroll saying he wouldn’t have been Seattle’s coach this long without Russell Wilson?

Condotta: Eye-opening, to be sure. And for anyone who has ever doubted that Carroll has greatly valued Wilson’s contribution to the team, there you go. It’s often said that the NFL is a players league, compared to college, where success is more often a function of programs and long-established coaches. And it’s surely not lost on Carroll that of the six years he was an NFL head coach before Wilson arrived (including one with the Jets and three with the Patriots) he had just two winning seasons (both with Drew Bledsoe in New England). And now without Wilson for the first time in his career, the Seahawks are staring at a stiff climb to get back to .500, let alone a winning record. Coaching matters greatly in the NFL. But a great quarterback matters more.

Jude: Carroll was stating the obvious: The Seahawks win that game if Wilson is playing. That isn’t a knock on Geno Smith. He’s a career backup for a reason. Wilson is a superstar QB for a reason — because you know he would have delivered, as he’s done so often and so consistently throughout his career, late in the fourth quarter, with the game and the season on the line. That’s who he is, and we’re seeing for the first time in a decade just how valuable Wilson really is to this team. I think we can all see why Wilson has asked that the offense cater to him more — and why it should be catered to him more. Without Russell Wilson, what are the Seahawks?

4. Why was it so difficult to get DK Metcalf involved Monday night?

Jude: It’s inexplicable. It’s silly. It’s outrageous. DK Metcalf is the best and most talented player on Seattle’s offense right now. The Saints, similarly, are a limited team offensively right now too (playing without star receiver Michael Thomas). So what did the Saints do? They got the ball to their best and most talented player, Alvin Kamara, and they got it to him a lot — on 46% of their plays. Kamara had 20 carries and 11 targets (with 10 catches). Metcalf? He was involved in just 9% of Seattle’s offensive plays — five targets on 55 snaps. He had the tremendous 84-yard touchdown early in the first quarter, and after that Smith went three full quarters before throwing another pass in Metcalf’s direction. It’s just so obvious, isn’t it? Get DK the ball, in any way you can.

Condotta: Cornerback Marshon Lattimore and safety Marcus Williams — two of the best in the NFL at their positions — are probably the two main reasons. The Saints moved Lattimore around to defend Metcalf as much as they could and also sent Williams his way quite a bit as an extra defender. Metcalf had just three targets until the final series, all when defended by Lattimore. Smith, though, also may be more reluctant to throw into some of the tight windows that Wilson often does, partly out of concern out of throwing interceptions with Carroll having made it clear that ball security was a huge priority Monday night. With the Seahawks in the game throughout, Smith and the offense seemed unusually risk averse, and that surely held down some of the targets to not only Metcalf but also Tyler Lockett, who had just two catches on three targets.