There weren’t a lot of words said in a quiet, devastated Seahawks locker room following Monday night’s 17-15 loss at Washington, a defeat that felt like the end for any realistic hopes of making much of the 2021 season.
But one who did speak was quarterback Russell Wilson, who according to coach Pete Carroll didn’t shy away from owning up to his role in the team’s descent to a 3-8 record.
Carroll said Wilson was “accountable” and that more than any words, it was the emotion Wilson displayed he felt resonated.
“The sincerity and the care he brought to it was heartfelt,” Carroll said Tuesday morning during his radio show on ESPN 710 Seattle.
Wilson showed much of that same disappointment when he met the media afterward, with a voice that at times seemed a little halting and eyes that were a little glassy.
“It’s challenging right now,” Wilson said. “But at the same time I know what we are capable of, and what we’re capable of has to show up.”
The problem is, no one seems to know how to make that happen.
What Carroll intimated after the game and during his radio show is that for now, there will not be any major changes in search of solutions.
Carroll was asked after the game how long he would ride with Wilson if he continues to struggle. Some could read into it that he didn’t seem dismissive of the question. But Carroll also gave Wilson a strong vote of confidence, answering “He needs to make his plays when he gets his chances, and I can’t imagine that he won’t. I can’t imagine that he won’t get it done.”
And Tuesday, when asked about the offensive plan of coordinator Shane Waldron for the WFT game Carroll said, “We were open. We got open on plays. … The scheme, the plays, the guys were where they needed to get. We just need to come through and convert.”
But the 2021 Seahawks are showing it’s not quite that easy.
As Carroll said Tuesday of Monday night’s offensive showing “it’s a little bit more of the same.”
Seattle had possession for just 18:20, continuing a streak of having lost the TOP battle in all 11 games this season. Seattle has an average TOP of 24:09. And according to Field Yates of ESPN, only one team in the last 45 years has finished the season with under 25 minutes of average TOP — the 1999 Cleveland Browns, who were an expansion team in a restart of the franchise after it had moved to Baltimore three years earlier.
Seattle was also out-first-downed 27-10, had five straight three-and-outs at one point and had their worst rushing performance of the season with 34 yards on 12 carries.
The Seahawks rushed for 105 yards or more in three of their first four games when Chris Carson was healthy. They have rushed for more than 100 just once since and been held to 90 or fewer in their last five. Carson has been ruled out for the year due to a neck injury requiring surgery.
On Tuesday, Carroll made clear he is still a believer in the need for a strong running game to set up everything else, noting that WFT rushed for 151 yards on 43 carries Monday night, getting as many first downs via the run (10) as Seattle got for the entire game.
Alex Collins, who has taken over as the starter for Carson, had just 14 yards on seven carries and lost a fumble on a reception in the second quarter. He finished with just 18 snaps. DeeJay Dallas got much of the work as the game wore, in part due to Seattle going with its two-minute drive at the end, but had just 4 yards on three carries.
“The running game is the heart of all of that for many reasons,” Carroll said. “… I don’t want to make a big excuse that Chris isn’t here. But Chris has always been that guy for us.”
Still, it’s Wilson around whom the Seattle offense has always flowed, and the reason he is getting $35 million a season.
And while his final numbers looked OK — 20-31 for 247, two touchdowns and a 110.6 passer rating — and he again led a trademark final drive from seemingly out of nowhere to give the Seahawks an unlikely shot to pull out the win, it was his third straight game since returning from finger surgery where there were more missed throws than usual.
Wilson is 54-106 in his three games since returning, 51% completion percentage — he was no lower than 68% in any of his five games before the injury.
Wilson notably overthrew tight end Gerald Everett on the first third-down of the game, setting a tone as Seattle hit on just 4-12 overall, and just 2-10 until the final drive.
And on the final two-point play, DK Metcalf appeared to break free in the back of the end zone only for Wilson to instead fire to Freddie Swain, who appeared momentarily open earlier in the route, only for WFT’s Kendall Fuller to pick it off.
Metcalf finished with just one catch for 13 yards, that coming on the final drive, on just four targets (none until the late third quarter) among the many mystifying aspects of Monday’s game.
Wilson later mentioned several other plays intended for Metcalf, including on the dumpoff that Collins fumbled.
“Then we called some other stuff for him and they doubled him,” Wilson said. “We called two plays and they doubled him on those. That was the third quarter. Had some other things. He’s one of the best football players in the world. You gotta get him the football, gotta find ways to do it, gotta move him around some more maybe. We’re gonna study it and see what we can do.”
But mostly, Seattle has to somehow get Wilson right.
Both Wilson and Carroll again insisted his finger is not the issue. Carroll noted the dart Wilson threw to Everett for a TD in the first quarter as proof, questioning how he could have thrown that if his finger is not OK.
“He’s doing everything he can do and everybody should understand that,” Carroll said. “That’s really clear. We are seeing the work ethic during the week that he has and he is doing everything possible to be there for us.
“… There are plays that are getting away on us, three-four plays in that game that really are normal plays for him to make. The hard part is during the week we are seeing him throw the ball great and all that and in the games for one reason or another we are just not as clean as we need to be.”
Which has, unfortunately, made the season a mess, with Seattle now needing to win its remaining six games just to avoid its first losing season since 2011, the year before Wilson arrived.
“I’m not one of those guys to be down and out and not believe and to give up and give in,” Wilson vowed afterward. “I’m gonna keep working my butt off every day. This team is too.”