What Went Wrong With The Seahawks' Season, And How To Fix It

Jan 20, 2017

The Seahawks are still making headlines despite being out of the NFL playoffs. Knkx sports commentator Art Thiel talked with 88.5’s Kirsten Kendrick about what went wrong this season and how to fix it.

First Fix: Defense

"The thing that really surprised me was how lousy the defense was," Thiel said of the way the Seahawks ended their season." And it was that way for the last several games, really, if you think about it.

"The Seahawks gave up 38 points to Green Bay. They gave up 34 points to Arizona. Those were both regular season games. And they gave up 36 in Atlanta [in the NFC Divisional playoff].

"The biggest reason for the defensive problems was the absence of [free safety] Earl Thomas, whose broken leg kept him out of the last six games. That's a big deal, but it's not everything.

"I really do think the Seahawks' number-one priority in the offseason is drafting the top cornerback available in the college draft. They need a good player opposite Richard Sherman.

"In coach Pete Carroll's priority list, defense is one, two and three. And to have that many problems, you've got to address that first before you even start talking about defense."

Sherman Needs To Find Happy Place

"Richard had a tough year," Thiel said. "There were a couple of sideline outbursts. The controversy that raged about Richard was about how much of his behavior became a distraction for the team.

"This week, Pete Carroll admitted it was a distraction. He said of Richard, 'He took us places where we didn't want to go.' And it wasn't just Richard because Michael Bennett had some outbursts too.

"To me, I think there's been a breach between Richard Sherman and Pete Carroll. They've had at least two one-on-one meetings. Carroll is still supportive of him but Richard has to come to some kind of place where he can maintain his independence but not lose his cool to the point where it becomes a nuisance to the team."

Hidden Injury Could Result In Loss Of Draft Pick

"No one knew that Richard Sherman had a sprained MCL in his knee," Thiel continued. "Pete disclosed that on Monday. Everyone said, 'Why didn't the public know, because NFL rules mandate that?' And he said 'Well, maybe I screwed that up.'

"That's prompted an NFL investigation and I'm almost certain there will be sanctions, which could include a fine, perhaps the loss of a draft pick, or both. "

That's a serious breach of NFL rules and the league wants to make an example of the Seahawks if, indeed, they did what Carroll admitted they did."

What's Next?

"There's one bit of good news for Seahawks fans," Thiel said. "All but one of the starting 22 are under contract for the next season. Only linebacker Mike Morgan is an unrestricted free agent.

"They're also well-positioned under the salary cap. In that case, that would give them a chance to go out and do what every Seahawk fan wants them to do: pursue the offensive line. Try to find somebody at one of the tackles that can anchor a position that was, by most accounts, the worse offensive line in the league — and certainly the least-invested.

"That's got to get attention. The Seahawks, obviously, know that. But they also want to try to grow these guys because it is the least-expensive way forward: to coach your guys up into success.

"They've had some success doing that but there's going to be a lot of skepticism unless the Seahawks really do start investing in the line in cash and talent. That's going to be in free agency starting in March."

You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and Crosscut.com.