I watched a Dodger game when I went back a home a few years ago and had the pleasure of listening to Vin Scully, who was just as melodic and captivating in his late 80s as he was three decades earlier.
I have a collection of columns from former LA Times sports columnist Jim Murray, whose prose was just as glistening in his late 70s as it was in his early 40s.
Age is just a number, as they like to say. It doesn’t have to serve as any kind of limitation. But let’s be real for a second: At 70, Pete Carroll is the oldest coach in the NFL. Can he really endure a rebuild?
Carroll and Seahawks general manager John Schneider will never actually use the word “rebuild,” of course. After dealing quarterback Russell Wilson to the Broncos last month, the pair was adamant that they are still in “win now” mode.
But the truth is this: Carroll and Schneider don’t have a standout quarterback, which is necessary for success in the NFL in 2022. They cut eight-time Pro Bowler Bobby Wagner, who has since signed with the Rams.
There isn’t a unit — be it the backfield, offensive line, defensive line or secondary — that ranks at the top of the league. How is this not a rebuild?
Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto was very upfront before the 2019 season when he said his club was going to take a “step back.” The message may have perturbed some fans who were thinking “we’ve been stepping back for the past 17 years!” but it did temper expectations and likely extended his career.
There is no such messaging on the Seahawks front, and likely won’t be before next season kicks off in September. But what exactly should fans expect?
Are they going to get a season out of Jamal Adams — for whom the Seahawks gave up two first-round draft picks — that justifies a contract that made him the highest-paid safety in the league? Yes, the former Jet set an NFL record for sacks by a defensive back in 2020 (9.5), but in addition to suffering various injuries he has ranked as a middling safety by analytics site Pro Football Focus over the past two seasons.
Are they going to get a full recovery from fellow safety Quandre Diggs, who dislocated his ankle and broke his right fibula in the final quarter of the season last year? Diggs signed a three-year, $40 million contract, so the team is clearly high on him. But anyone who saw that foot in Week 18 knows the seriousness of that injury.
Are they going to get the Rashaad Penny that dominated the league for the last five weeks of the season? Up until late November, it looked as if the running back was a bust of a first-round draft pick. Then, from Week 14 to Week 18, he rattled off four games in which he tallied at least 135 yards — including 170 and 190 in Weeks 17 and 18, respectively. It’s unclear whether fellow running back Chris Carson will play another down again because of a neck injury. The Seahawks need the Penny we saw at the end of the season.
And then, of course, there is receiver DK Metcalf. Metcalf has not signed an extension with the Seahawks. Not saying he won’t, but after Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams inked deals at or around $30 million per year, it turned the pass-catching market upside down. Metcalf was hindered by a foot injury last season that likely caused a dip in his production. Do the Seahawks pay him at his position’s soaring rate? Would the fan base tolerate anything other than the return of Seattle’s most dynamic player?
These are all questions that are likely weighing on the minds of 12s throughout Seattle and beyond. They are questions likely weighing on the mind of Carroll as well. Carroll and Schneider have a distinct relationship in that they’ve been working in the same franchise together for more than a decade. The pair transformed the Seahawks from a perpetual also-ran to the toast of the city.
Few doubt their acumen or downplay their accomplishments. But this is a new challenge.
The day Wilson was dealt marked one of the most significant moments in Seattle sports history. It changed the NFL landscape and may have rendered the Seahawks irrelevant for the next several seasons.
Carroll is a master of optimism. But right now, he’s going to have to dig deep to find it.