The free safety hasn't disappointed, but now that the Seahawks are 0-2 and seem a longshot at best to make the playoffs, it appears this team's best option in the offseason was to embrace a rebuild to its full extent.
It’s easy to write this now, with two losses piled up and an offense shut down, but the Seahawks should have traded Earl Thomas.
Not because the free safety has disappointed, but because, after Monday night’s 24-17 loss to the Bears, it appears this team’s best option in the offseason was to embrace a rebuild to its full extent.
As ESPN play-by-play broadcaster Joe Tessitore pointed out Monday, of the 92 NFL teams to start the season 0-2 since 2007, only 10 made the playoffs. Do you really see this year’s Seahawks being part of that 11 percent?
Had I asked that of the Seahawks in 2015, the answer would have been an emphatic yes. That was a superstar-stacked team just waiting for the Advil to kick in from its Super Bowl hangover. It started 0-2, finished with a 10-6 record and won its first-round playoff game. No surprise whatsoever.
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Had I asked of that last year’s Saints, the response would have been just as strong. That team opened the season with a road loss to the 13-3 Vikings and a home loss to the AFC champion Patriots. But behind Drew Brees’ 4,334 passing yards, New Orleans finished the season at 11-5 and won its first-round playoff game. No surprise whatsoever.
But these Seahawks aren’t like those squads. They’re short a Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Jimmy Graham. They already have experienced injury issues with fellow Pro Bowlers Doug Baldwin, K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner. They have watched Russell Wilson get sacked a league-leading 12 times and throw three interceptions.
These depleted Hawks are essentially like Steven Bradbury, the Australian speedskater from the 2002 Olympics — short on talent but hopeful the teams in front of them trip themselves up. But instead, they are the ones who have stumbled, and it’s hard to envision a Chariots of Fire-esque comeback.
Sure, you could argue that between Denver’s Von Miller and Chicago’s Khalil Mack, the pass-block-challenged Seahawks have faced the two best pass rushers they’ll see all year (although the Rams’ Aaron Donald may contend otherwise). And you could say Baldwin’s return will boost the offense, Wagner’s and Wright’s return will boost the defense, and that the first home game still awaits. And you could highlight how, two weeks after coach Pete Carroll expressed concerns about the secondary, the back end has come up with five interceptions in two games.
But you could also highlight how the back end has five interceptions — and the Seahawks are still 0-2.
A lot of people have griped that the Seahawks have relied too much on Wilson’s arm. Despite all the preseason talk of trying to get back to the run game, 64 of the Seahawks’ first 87 play calls this season were passes — and most of those came when Seattle was within one score.
Could a shift in offensive philosophy spark this team? Maybe. Then again, when leading tailbacks Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny have just six combined NFL games between them, the ground game isn’t a likely panacea.
I’m not ready to put the season six feet under yet. This might be a rip job, but it’s not an R.I.P. job. The Seahawks still have quality pieces and eight home games on their schedule.
But when ESPN analyst Booger McFarland said the Seahawks were rebuilding whether or not they want to admit it, he wasn’t lying. And I can’t help but think that trading Thomas this offseason would have expedited that rebuild by maximizing Seattle’s assets.
I suppose they still could trade him. They don’t have the same leverage they did a few weeks ago, but it’s still a possibility. Or maybe the Seahawks think they can still turn this thing around. It’s a long season, after all.
But based on these first two games — my guess is it’s going to be extra long.