Almost a year ago, the Seahawks were in the exact position they are in now — struggling to find themselves as they prepared to face the Carolina Panthers.
The Seahawks have many of the same problems they had last year at this time: Their defense has had trouble against tight ends as Greg Olsen comes to town; their interception total is uncommonly low; Bobby Wagner is hurt; Marshawn Lynch is a story; the offense is in transition; and Derrick Coleman won’t play again.
In 2014, the Seahawks were 3-3 after two straight losses and trying to find a winning groove (the Panthers were 3-3-1 and in the same boat). This year, the Seahawks are 2-3 after an epic meltdown in Cincinnati and trying to figure out how to finish games (the Panthers are 4-0 and coming off a bye).
Earl Thomas said coaches actually showed the defense past film this week so they could see what they looked like when they were finishing off teams.
Of course, they might have to finish without their starting linebacker.
The Seattle defense has been beat up, with Wagner a game-time decision the same week fellow start middle linebacker Luke Kuechly returns after missing three games. Last year, Wagner did not play in Carolina.
Wagner’s absence could affect the Seahawks’ ability to cover Olsen. Seattle was burned by tight ends early last season, giving up seven touchdowns in the first six contests. The Hawks have had problems this year, too, giving up four TDs to tight ends — including two to Tyler Eifert last week.
The Seahawks also have been poor at getting interceptions again. Last year at this time, they had two picks. This year they have a league-low one (by Earl Thomas in Cincinnati last week).
The Hawks have many similar issues on offense, too.
Last year, they had just traded Percy Harvin, whose presence had ruined their offense. This time they are trying to incorporate Jimmy Graham, a process that is taking longer than many would like.
Meanwhile, they have issues at running back again. Last year, stories about Lynch’s unhappiness had started to bubble right around this time. This year, there is more drama around Lynch, whose injury absence has created a minor controversy because Thomas Rawls has played well.
On top of that, Coleman once again will miss this game. Last year it was because he was placed on IR with a broken foot. This year it is because he was arrested following a car accident.
Last year the Seahawks pulled off a typically ugly win in Carolina and then lost only one more game the rest of the season.
Based on how everything else aligns for this game, it looks like the Seahawks are right on schedule.