Several odd occurrences, not just on the field, have many scratching their heads about how the Seahawks have gone about their regular season so far. They can do without any more drama and have plenty to work on as Dallas comes to town.
What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on here?
The Seahawks’ 0-2 start is jarring enough, though hardly a total shocker in the context of playing both games on the road with a roster depleted by injuries (on top of the big-name departures in the offseason).
But it’s the ancillary weirdness that has been more surreal, and frankly troubling, than the predictable struggles of a team in transition.
It started last week with a pair of head-scratching roster moves. First, to augment a linebacker corps rocked by injuries to Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, the Seahawks turned to a guy who may well be in the Big House next year – and I don’t mean Michigan Stadium.
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Mychal Kendricks, signed by Seattle last Thursday, has already pled guilty to insider trading, a felony, and faces sentencing in January with the likelihood of 30 to 37 months of jail time. He also faces a league suspension, though Pete Carroll said Wednesday Kendricks will play Sunday in the home opener against Dallas.
It’s an extreme example both of Carroll’s belief in second chances and the Seahawks’ ethos of leaving no stone unturned in their search for viable players. But perhaps some stones shouldn’t be turned over, even in the undisguised pursuit of victories.
Two days later, the Seahawks released starting defensive tackle Tom Johnson – someone whose acquisition in March had been lauded by Carroll, whom he later praised as “a fantastic influence” on their young players – to make clear a roster spot for safety Shalom Luani.
It was a calculated gamble – and a major miscalculation. The Seahawks had hoped to slip Johnson right back on the roster. But instead his old team, the Minnesota Vikings, swooped in and signed the veteran, whom the Seahawks nevertheless still owe the remainder of his full salary, $950,000, plus the $900,000 signing bonus they gave him.
Oh, yeah – Luani never got on the field on Monday in the Seahawks’ 24-17 loss to the Bears. So the Seahawks basically lost Johnson for the security of having a backup on the bench in case one of their defensive backs got hurt. Carroll said Wednesday he thought the Seahawks had a better chance of retaining Johnson than slipping a younger player through waivers; but it still seems mind-boggling they would risk a starter in this way when other options existed.
More odd happenings occurred on Monday at Soldier Field. For the second week in a row, the Seahawks veered quickly away from their avowed commitment to establishing the run. Their renewed emphasis on the run had been the prevailing tenet of the Seahawks’ offseason, revealed in roster decisions, coaching changes and public statements; yet at the first signs of early trouble, there they were flinging the ball downfield, just as had been the case in Denver.
Moreover, lead back Chris Carson was hiding in plain sight for much of the Bears game, inexplicably grounded after a flurry of early carries. When the Seahawks did go back to the run, it was rookie Rashaad Penny, beaten out as the lead back by Carson, who got the call.
Carroll then added more confusion when he said after the game that he felt Carson was “gassed” by his workload, including special teams. But Carson had carried the ball just six times (all in the first half) and had only two appearances on special teams.
To his credit, Carroll took the blame for both the lack of commitment to the running game and the confusion over Carson’s sparse use. He told ESPN 710 on Tuesday, “I make mistakes, you know. I misread a couple things that happened.”
On the first issue, Carroll said on Wednesday that it was his impatience to score, conveyed to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, that led Seattle away from the run.
“I’m over that,” he vowed.
And as for Carson, Carroll said flatly, “I screwed up” in thinking the running back was more winded than he really was.
“That’s all that is,” Carroll added. “There’s nothing other than that. There’s no changes in approach, no changes on the depth chart, any of that. We should be really clear about that.”
Carroll declared his belief that the Seahawks are on the verge of an offensive breakthrough, particularly as they finally get to play at home.
“I don’t see anything but us getting really good at what we’re doing,’’ Carroll said. “I think it’s coming. I feel it, I can see it on the practice field, I can see it in the guys we’re calling on to do things.”
It’s as close to a must-win game as you can have in September. The playoff math for 0-2 teams is bad; at 0-3, it’s nearly hopeless.
With quarterback Russell Wilson struggling to find his rhythm after being sacked 12 times in two games, the Seahawks really need a drama-free week. They have enough other things to worry about.