As good as Pete Carroll’s Seahawks have been at home in September (15-0 after the ugly win over Cincinnati last week), they have been inversely successful on the road.
They are 3-13 on the road in the first month, 1-11 in the first two weeks and 1-8 in the first road game each season under Carroll.
If the Seahawks are going to end a five-year losing streak in road openers and win for the first time since their championship season, they are going to need to do well early in the 10 a.m. PT start in Pittsburgh.
The departures of Kam Chancellor and Doug Baldwin were expected, but it was nonetheless jarring Thursday to see the line: “The Seahawks parted ways with a pair of franchise icons, terminating the contracts of Doug Baldwin and Kam Chancellor.”
John Schneider said: “These are two of the most iconic players in franchise history, and both were instrumental in establishing our championship culture, great examples of competitiveness and leadership on the field and in the community. These legendary players will always be a part of our Seahawks family.”
The return of K.J. Wright means there will still be two members of Seattle’s famed Legion of Boom defense on the field in 2019. But make no mistake: That unit is now officially gone.
Wright’s re-signing was a pleasant surprise after Earl Thomas’ long, slow goodbye finally ended with him heading to Baltimore for $13.75 million a year.
With Thomas gone, Wright and Bobby Wagner are the only ones who remain from Pete Carroll’s vaunted defense that helped lead the Seahawks to two Super Bowls and put together one of the most spectacular half-decades in league annals.
But the end also is in sight for Wright, who sounds like he’s going to retire after this two-year contract. And there is no guarantee Wagner will be around beyond this year, the final of his deal.
While everyone else marvels over the fact that the Seahawks are over .500 this deep into the season, we’re more concerned about how Seattle’s historically bad run defense might prevent the team from advancing in the playoffs.
We have always projected the Hawks to be above .500 at this point (they actually have underachieved by a game in our eyes), and it speaks well of their developing offense that they have been able to stay in games against high-powered offenses such as the L.A. teams, Green Bay and Carolina — rallying to beat the latter two.
But Seattle’s defensive line has proven to be more of a liability than we thought it would be. No one expected the pass rush to be very good outside Frank Clark — and that largely has proven true (Clark has 10 sacks, Jarran Reed a mildly surprising 5.5 and the rest of the team 12.5). But the run defense has been a major disappointment.
The rally for the playoffs starts now for Seattle, and how apropos that the Seahawks are facing the Green Bay Packers as it begins.
These teams have been intertwined like few others over the past 20 years — both on the field and off. This will be their seventh meeting in seven years, and — like many of these games over the past two decades — there will be some reunions: Jimmy Graham will return to Seattle and Brett Hundley will watch his old Packers teammates from the sideline.
On top of that, this game will be the head-to-head measuring stick for whether Russell Wilson deserves to be paid more than NFL salary leader Aaron Rodgers.
And, bigger than those personnel ties, this game basically will eliminate one team from the playoffs.
K.J. Wright will make his season debut against Sea Lions Golden Tate, Luke Willson and DeShawn Shead, and he’s got big plans for the reunion game.
“I’m going to mess Luke up — no, I’m just (kidding),” Wright said. “I do hope I cover Luke. I want to tackle Golden as well. I talked to Shead earlier this week and I told him I’ve got to exchange jerseys with him. So it feels good seeing those guys.”
This game should look very familiar to the Seahawks — not only because of the Sea Lion reunion but because the Hawks are in almost the same position they were in exactly six years ago when they went to Detroit.
Are we entering the final four years of the Pete Carroll/Russell Wilson era? Or just the next four?
The recent death of Seahawks legend Chuck Knox brings to mind the future of Carroll, coming shortly after Wilson’s destiny was a hot topic in the wake of another record-setting QB deal.
Seattle’s coach and QB are signed for two more years, and the pessimist’s view says Carroll’s age and Wilson’s price could mean both are gone by 2022. But the Positive Petes out there would point out that Carroll is spry enough to coach 10 more years and Wilson has said he wants to play in Seattle for 20.
Either way, four looks like the magic number right now.
A few days ago, when talking about his goal to revive Seattle’s running game this year, Pete Carroll made a reference to another legendary Seahawk coach when he said, “It isn’t like three yards and a cloud of dust. It ain’t Ground Chuck.”
As it turned out, it was a timely reference to Chuck Knox, who died today at age 86. Knox was an old-school football man who used the running game to become the first coach to lead the Seahawks to the playoffs.
Knox immediately turned the Hawks into contenders when he arrived in 1983, took them to the playoffs four times in nine seasons and ranks second in wins (80) behind Mike Holmgren (86) and just ahead of Carroll (79). Knox, who also coached the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams, ranks 10th in wins (186) among coaches in NFL history.
“A bit of mismanagement. Drafting not as great as it was in the first couple years. Guys getting paid.” — Richard Sherman, on the mistakes that led to his release.
Once upon a time, John Schneider was as proactive as NFL general managers come. He was relentless in his pursuit of Marshawn Lynch in 2010. He bolstered an already stout defense with both Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett in 2013, when he also made the audacious trade for Percy Harvin. He retained Seattle’s top players with big deals from 2013 to 2015. He made another daring strike with the Max Unger/Jimmy Graham trade in 2015.
Not all of those bold moves worked out, but he was aggressive and unconventional — trying to keep Seattle ahead of the curve. Added to his historic 2010-12 drafts, those early moves for Lynch, Avril and Bennett helped put Seattle in two Super Bowls.
But, little has gone right for Schneider since 2013. His past five drafts have been underwhelming or worse, his big trades have not worked out and he has found himself playing from behind and trying to dig out of holes caused by injuries, coaching mistakes and his own errors.