Will Schneider pay his top pass rusher this time? And who else?

Logo -- Free agencyJohn Schneider is living his own version of Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day.”

A year ago, he had to decide whether to pay his best pass rusher. He didn’t, so now here he is again, in the exact same situation.

As the Seahawks entered last season off a terrible playoff loss in Dallas, their biggest need was to fortify their pass rush. Schneider didn’t want to pay $20 million a year to Frank Clark, though, so the GM made a move that was unprecedented for him: getting great draft value for a star in his prime.

Now, a year and another playoff loss later, Schneider is in the exact same spot — with Jadeveon Clowney now in Clark’s seat and Seattle still needing a second pass rusher as well because Ziggy Ansah did not work out.

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Why the Hawks again started slowly in a road playoff game

logo-playoffsWhy did the Seahawks come up short in Green Bay?

Plenty of fans and media are focusing on the end of the game: Pete Carroll’s decision to punt on fourth-and-11 from the Seattle 36 with 2:41 left (we would have punted, too), Ken Norton letting rookie Ugo Amadi cover Davante Adams on a third-and-8 that turned into a 32-yard gain and the close Jimmy Graham play against Lano Hill (why was he in coverage anyway?) on third-and-9 that sealed it.

But let’s be clear: That game was lost in the first half, when Russell Wilson and company scored just three points. It was the fifth time in nine road playoff games that Carroll’s Seahawks had scored three points or less in the first half (the four others were scoreless first halves). In those nine games, the Hawks have averaged 4.7 points in the first half, never scoring more than 13. They have led just once, 10-3 in Philadelphia in this season’s wild-card round, and they are 3-6 in those games (all of the losses in the divisional round).

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Clowney & other offseason needs

logo-playoffsThe Seahawks had been on an uphill climb for over a month, as injuries whittled their roster, so it was no surprise they finally succumbed, losing 28-23 in Green Bay to extend their losing streaks to nine games in Green Bay and in the divisional round.

They certainly had their chance to win — especially if they had taken the first half more seriously. But, it probably was about as far as they could expect to get in a year in which they led the NFL in games lost to injury, at various points losing their starting tight end and center and their top three running backs while using six offensive line combinations and never really playing with a full deck on defense.

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Schneider has done his part this season

John Schneider (via Fresh Files)As the Seahawks return to John Schneider’s home state to face his first NFL team, it is a good time to give the general manager some credit for his recent work in Seattle.

In March 2018, we called out Schneider for a mostly poor five-year run that helped lead to a slow decline of the franchise — from Super Bowl champs, to Super Bowl losers, to playoff losers, to playoff watchers.

Schneider definitely had a rough 2013-16 — in the draft, trades and free agency — but he has been very aggressive the past three years while trying to make up for previous mistakes, to replace departed stars and to keep a competitive roster for Pete Carroll.

He did especially good work this year, helping the Hawks win 11 games despite the NFL’s highest injury rate. They would not have gotten this far if Schneider had not made three really good trades for veterans and found a few draft picks who were able to contribute as rookies.

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Hawks try to take the road less traveled

logo-playoffs“There’s a real confidence about us. We don’t care where we are playing.’’ — Pete Carroll, on his 8-1 road Seahawks.

A wild-card team has never hosted a conference championship game, but the Seahawks have a chance thanks to the Vikings’ upset of the Saints in New Orleans on wild-card weekend.

If Minnesota can win in San Francisco on Saturday, the Hawks will be playing for a home game next week. If the 49ers win, though, Seattle will then try to join the three teams that have won three straight road games on the way to winning the Super Bowl.

It all starts with exorcising a couple of curses in Green Bay.

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Roster is still less than two-thirds strength

logo-playoffsThe Humpty Dumpty Seahawks will find a way to put themselves together by Sunday, but you have to wonder how many more times they can do it before they finally have a great fall.

They were the most injured team in the league across the season, according to Man Games Lost. That includes losing their top tight end and center early in the season and their top three running backs in the final month, using six offensive line combinations, playing sick and injured at receiver in several games, never having a fully healthy defensive line and using a rotating cast at safety all season.

It all adds up to a team that has never come close to being 100 percent yet has won 12 games and is headed to Green Bay for a shot at the fourth NFC title game in franchise history. Give Pete Carroll some credit for yoking together this cracked egg of a club.

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Hawks, Pack resume one of NFL’s best rivalries

Seahawks at Packers helmetsIf you liked the drama of Seattle’s past two games, you will love it when the Seahawks and Packers resume a series that has been one of the NFL’s best non-division rivalries for two decades.

This will be their 16th meeting since 1999, the most for each franchise against a non-division foe. It’s their fourth playoff meeting — also making them each other’s most common postseason foe in those 21 seasons.

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Wilson, Metcalf lead Hawks to Green Bay

logo-playoffsThe Seahawks know how to win on the road in the wild-card round, as they proved again in Philadelphia. Now the question: Can they overcome their winless record in road divisional playoff games?

Russell Wilson beat the Eagles’ pressure, thanks in big part to rookie D.K. Metcalf’s record-setting game, and the Seattle defense sacked Philly’s passers seven times in a 17-9 win that was a duplicate of their Week 12 meeting in score, if not in other ways.

The Seahawks improved to 3-5 in road playoff games, all of the wins coming in the wild-card round. It was their first playoff win since the 2016 season, 26-6 vs. Detroit at home, and sent them to the divisional round for the seventh time in Pete Carroll’s 10 seasons. (Who wanted him fired again?)

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Roster review as playoffs begin

logo-playoffsThe Seahawks are in the playoffs for the eighth time in Pete Carroll’s 10 seasons, heading on the road for a wild-card game for the fourth time and aiming for their third win in such games.

They got here thanks to a top-10 offense and the league’s No. 3 team in turnover margin. But this club also has the worst defense by a Seattle squad since 2000 — Mike Holmgren’s second season (6-10 record).

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December was rough, but Hawks are contenders

Logo -- San FranciscoFor a half Sunday night, it looked like the Seahawks’ 11-win season might really be a mirage (as some had argued) and they might just be the lucky version of the 2017 Seahawks — you know, the team that crumbled in December amid defensive injuries and poor offensive play and failed to make the playoffs.

But — in their stymied comeback against the 49ers — erstwhile MVP candidate Russell Wilson, rookie Travis Homer and returning legend Marshawn Lynch gave us renewed hope that Seattle can indeed compete with the NFC’s best as these playoffs get under way.

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