Seahawks Building Reputation as Playoff Duds

Seattle continues to make the postseason year-in and year-out. But even after winning 12 games for the first time since 2014, the team couldn't get the job done in the playoffs once again, creating major questions about how and if the team can return to former Super Bowl glory as constructed.
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Under coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks have been one of the NFL's most consistent franchises, making the playoffs nine times in 11 years, with double-digit wins in eight of those years. Throw in a Super Bowl title and back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, the Seahawks were the NFC's most successful team over the past decade.

However, the narrative is beginning to shift after a string of early exits from the postseason. Instead of being the bullies in the Legion of Boom era, the Seahawks are now beginning to build a reputation as regular season darlings and then postseason duds in January.

Since a dramatic comeback against the Green Bay Packers in the 2014 NFC Championship Game, the Seahawks are 3-6 in the playoffs, starting off with one of the most soul-crushing Super Bowl losses in NFL history at the hands of the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.

Since that fateful Super Bowl, Seattle also has suffered two one-and-done postseason trips, in 2018 against the Cowboys and last weekend at home against the Rams. The Seahawks are now a team that, no matter how talented, cannot get past the Divisional Round. They are 0-3 in that round since last making the Super Bowl, with their average margin of deficit at halftime of those games at 19.3 points. They have consistently needed a nearly miraculous comeback just to make the Divisional Round loss look respectable. 

The kicker is, up until the 2020 season, all their losses in the playoffs since that 2014 NFC title game have come while they were the underdogs, even if the margin was miniscule. This weekend, the Seahawks hit a new low altogether. They lost a playoff game at home for the first time since 2004 and it was in a game where they were favored by three points to a team that couldn't decide who their starting quarterback was.

The only word to describe such a loss is embarrassing. 

Yes, to win the division and make the playoffs year-in and year-out is an accomplishment to be commended. However, when is it fair to criticize a team for leaving expectations unmet? For Seattle, it's now. The time to celebrate playoff participation ribbons has passed. The Seahawks didn't trade away a big chunk of their future for Jamal Adams to not win the Super Bowl. That move alone said that this season was Super Bowl or bust and given the result on Saturday, it was a bust. 

With Carroll recently receiving a contract extension and quarterback Russell Wilson under contract through the 2023 season, the head of the snake isn't going anywhere anytime soon. So how does Seattle fix this? It might be time to have some uncomfortable conversations about how this team chokes in the playoffs - yes, that dreaded "c-h" word. How can anyone say otherwise after what happened in Super Bowl XLIX and since then?

This offseason is the most critical of any in the Carroll era. We all know Wilson will be playing quarterback in Seattle in 2021. What needs to change? Where do they go for answers? The Seahawks are in danger of being "in irons," to use a nautical term. That is when a ship is stalling out against a head wind and can't fix the sails. With large contracts on the books and a whopping four draft picks in this upcoming draft, including their highest pick at No. 56 towards end of the second round, things look bleak to build a better roster for the future.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider is a wizard when it comes to accumulating draft picks but this coming draft might be the highest hurdle of his tenure. There are certainly many more teams that are much more flexible than the Seahawks can be this year. 

They say the definition of insanity is “doing something over and over and expecting a different result.” It seems as though Seattle has been banging their heads against the same wall for six seasons now with little growth in the postseason. Now Carroll says he wants to run the ball more and emphasized that by jettisoning offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer earlier this week. The entire fan base on Twitter is rolling their eyes. In the NFL, it’s “adapt or die” and Seattle’s Super Bowl hopes with this regime are dying.