RENTON, WA — Despite being 3-6 past the halfway mark of the 2021 season, the Seahawks' playoff aspirations are not yet dead. They're only two games out of the NFC's final wild-card spot, currently held by the 5-5 Panthers, with eight left to play on the NFL's seventh-easiest remaining schedule by winning percentage (.460).
Per FiveThirtyEight.com, that puts Seattle at a 16 percent chance of making it to the postseason. With a win over an injury-depleted Cardinals team this Sunday, those odds increase to 28 percent. However, a loss drops them all the way down to six percent at a record of 3-7. As such, it's safe to say there's a sense of urgency growing in the Virginia Mason Athletic Center this week.
“Hell yeah," head coach Pete Carroll exclaimed on Wednesday. "What do you think? Do you think we are just rolling through this thing? Come on. There is a sense of urgency that is always here, I think. I’m always trying to create that and make sure that it is present. You can’t help but feel that we want to get this done, there’s no leeway in here, we have to go. That’s probably what defines urgency.”
With the Seahawks coming off their first shutout loss in a decade, optimism is hard to come by right now. Russell Wilson's quick return from finger surgery and subsequent struggles in Green Bay have sparked a debate about whether or not the star quarterback is ready to helm the offense. And a defensive turnaround that's now four weeks deep has been all for naught due to the offense's inability to put points on the board, leading to a 1-3 record in that stretch.
Players are finding it harder and harder to rein their emotions in, further spotlighting the team's discipline issues it's had all year. Receiver DK Metcalf was the latest to lash out, getting ejected for fighting Packers safety Henry Black and cornerback Eric Stokes well after Seattle's fate had been sealed on Sunday night. Following the game, Metcalf cited being "tired of losing" as the reason for his actions.
For a team that was built for the sole purpose of winning now, these frustrations are ultimately more than understandable. But in the midst of a weak NFC wild-card picture, Carroll is trying to implore his team to stay the course.
“We are back at work, we are back at it," Carroll said. "I think we are on the same page on what needs to be done. We are not backing off in any way or taking any sideway steps to where we are going.”
It's possible a record of 9-8 or 8-9 could sneak into that final playoff spot, but relying on making it in that fashion is a dangerous game to play. So from this point forward, every game is essentially of the must-win variety for the Seahawks. The margin for error is so minuscule, especially with losses against two of the teams they're chasing: the Vikings and Saints.
Seattle has never been faced with such an uphill climb in the Carroll-Wilson era. Call it urgency, desperation, what have you—the very real threat of early elimination can be felt throughout the team. These final eight games aren't just "championship opportunities;" they're a matter of life and death for an organization that's on the brink of one of its biggest failures, and the consequences of such a result could truly be franchise-altering.
The clock is ticking.