All season long, I’ve kept waiting for the Seahawks to fix things, to make that belated playoff surge, to finally show it was the struggles that were the aberration and not the brief flashes of complete play.

But that tendency to believe the Seahawks weren’t as bad as they looked was more muscle memory than anything. Or maybe just habit. They had earned the benefit of the doubt by virtue of a decade of consistent winning — many times pulling improbable runs to the postseason out of seasons that had looked dire at certain junctures. It was hard to believe it could end so abruptly.

Yet here we are. The Seahawks’ 20-10 loss to the Rams on Tuesday in Inglewood, California, dropped them to 5-9 and officially ended the pretense that the 2021 season could be rectified. Let’s face it — it’s been a pipe dream since quarterback Russell Wilson broke his finger and threw the Seahawks into a tailspin.

But it would be foolhardy to blame this season on injuries, even one as impactful as losing their franchise quarterback for the equivalent of roughly seven games — the one in which he got hurt, the three he sat out and the three he played at what clearly was less than full health. The Seahawks’ record in that stretch was 1-6, which is the main reason they are in this predicament.

But Wilson’s injury was hardly the sole source of the Seahawks’ downfall. They weren’t clicking before he got hurt, and the offense certainly didn’t shine Tuesday, when Wilson was coming off a strong game and even further removed from surgery. He had a subpar outing against the Rams, putting up a 55.3 quarterback rating and most glaringly underthrowing a wide-open DK Metcalf on what could (and should) have been a tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.

It would also be a mistake to say the Seahawks were merely unlucky, having lost two games in overtime and two others by three points or fewer. And as maddening as the officiating was Tuesday, costing the Seahawks dearly on two crucial plays, that wasn’t what did them in, either. Nor was it the positive COVID-19 tests that forced out several key players on both sides of the ball.


Carroll preaches “Tell The Truth Monday” as a vehicle after each game for airing the hard truths that must be identified in order to be fixed. The Seahawks as an organization need to have a “Tell The Truth 2021” once their season ends Jan. 9 and the best teams in the league are engaged in the playoffs. Without Seattle, for just the second time since 2011.

The painful message will be that virtually all aspects of the team were subpar this year. That shouldn’t be a shock, considering that the only NFC teams with a worse record are the Giants, Bears and Lions — not exactly the company you want to keep. But it would be a giant mistake to rack up this season as a fluke.

In fact, in hindsight you can see that the Seahawks have been inexorably trending in this direction. In 2019, their 11-5 record was built on the tenuous foundation of a 10-2 record in games decided by eight points or fewer, with six victories while trailing at halftime and an overall point differential of plus-seven.

Last year, when their defense for the first half of the season was on a pace to be historically bad, the Seahawks continued to eke out close wins. En route to a 12-4, division-winning record, they had eight victories by eight points or fewer. They won those games by a combined margin of 42 points — 5.25 points per win.

The Seahawks saw that as a vindication of coach Pete Carroll’s philosophy of winning through ball control and opportunistic defense, and Wilson’s magic at pulling out games. There’s certainly truth to both aspects. But many viewed it as an unsustainable formula without the elite defense of 2012-16 to back it up — and that has borne out in 2021.

In the wake of Tuesday’s loss, which moved the Seahawks’ playoff chances from extremely remote to infinitesimal, defensive end Carlos Dunlap was asked to reflect on the season.


“We’ve underperformed,” he said. “I’ve got very high expectations for me and my teammates. We all are holding ourselves accountable for our stake in how our season is going, and we know we have every bit of ability to have a completely different season. But it hasn’t shook up that way, and today was another tally in the column that we did not want it in.”

I saw a few tweets after the game that said the Seahawks need to “blow it up” and start over. That would be foolhardy. For starters, I think you cling to a quarterback as accomplished as Wilson, as tempting as it might be to use him as trade chip to jump-start the rebuilding process. Yes, Wilson has had a down year, for a variety of reasons. But at age 33, he’s fully capable of regaining his elite status — and attempting to find a replacement could mire the franchise in years of mediocrity. Check out the aforementioned Bears and Giants.

Carroll is signed through 2025, and GM John Schneider is under contract for two years beyond that. Those two need to take an unsparing look at what changes they need to make in both team-building philosophy and overall in-game strategy. And they need someone above them (presumably owner Jody Allen) to decide if they’re capable of making the necessary changes.

The last vestiges of hope for a miracle drive to the playoffs that would purge (or at least hide) this season’s deficiencies have expired. It’s time for “Tell The Truth 2021” to begin right now.