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Winless November Sends Russell Wilson, Seahawks Into 'Obligation' Mode

Sure, Seattle technically can still make the playoffs by winning out and getting help from other teams. But at this point, Wilson and his teammates find themselves playing for little more than their own pride in a disaster of a season that stands out as one of the worst in franchise history.

LANDOVER, MD - This season wasn't supposed to play out this way. Coming off an NFC West division title with a talented roster headlined by superstars such as Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, and Jamal Adams, the Seahawks expected to once again be in the hunt for a championship in 2021.

But after suffering yet another devastating 17-15 defeat to Washington on Monday Night Football, Seattle unfathomably sits on the brink of playoff elimination amid one of the worst seasons in franchise history. Falling to a 3-8 record for the first time since 1977, a once-promising season that began with Super Bowl aspirations has become a living nightmare for everyone within the organization.

Among those struggling to come to grips with the reality there won't be a run to the postseason for the Seahawks this year, coach Pete Carroll finds himself trying to steer a sinking ship through uncharted waters for a franchise accustomed to winning and playing meaningful football games into January.

"I’m not accepting it, and I’m not taking a sideways step," Carroll said following Monday's loss at FedEx Field. "I’m not stepping anywhere but forward. We’re going to keep driving to get the very next chance we get and go get a win and get going. And I don’t expect these guys, at any time, to do anything but that. Just want to keep stepping forward, keep moving, and battling our way through it. It’s been really frustrating obviously, but we’re just not going to accept it. We just want to keep going.”

It's been more than a decade since the Seahawks entered the final month of the season without anything to play for. Since Wilson arrived in 2012, they have won at least nine games each of the past nine seasons, making the playoffs every year except for 2017. Even in 2011, Carroll's second season at the helm, the team rattled off five wins in six games to stay in the wild card mix until mid-December before losing their final two games to finish 7-9.

But after dropping their sixth decision in seven contests, for the first time in his 12 seasons roaming the sideline and 10 seasons paired with Wilson, Carroll's club looks cooked. Per Five Thirty Eight, the loss in Washington lowered Seattle's playoff chances to less than one percent before the calendar flipped to December. If not for an extra game and extra wild card added by the league in the past two years, they would already be eliminated from contention.

That's the depressing reality for a Seahawks franchise that swung for the fences making several "win now" moves over the past few seasons, including trading two first-round picks to the Jets for safety Jamal Adams two years ago and to a much lesser extent acquiring guard Gabe Jackson from the Raiders in March. With a veteran laden roster full of playoff-tested, high-priced stars and led by a revered head coach, nobody could have envisioned things playing out as they have to this point.

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When asked to explain how a team with so much talent can fall so far below expectations, Adams couldn't put a finger on it. But he knows he and his teammates must stay together and keep chopping if they want to see results improve over the final six weeks on the schedule.

"I really can't [explain it]. Obviously it's not something we've seen coming and it's here, so we've got to figure it out," Adams commented. "You've got to continue to work, continue to grind, continue to understand your purpose and why you do this day in and day out. You can't just roll your helmet out there. This is the NFL. It starts with practice, it starts with your preparation outside the building... Sometimes the ball just hasn't gone our way and obviously it's frustrating."

While Adams unfortunately has experienced losing in the NFL before, it's a whole new world for Wilson, a perennial winner who has never lost eight of his first 11 games at any level in his football career. The same can be said for Wagner, who broke into the league as part of a historic 2012 draft class that built the foundation for Seattle's first Super Bowl champion and sustained success in the NFC West.

Though the chance to salvage the season has likely come and passed thanks to a three-game skid, Wilson remains confident the Seahawks will stay the course and find a way to finish on a strong note even if they aren't playing for a postseason berth.

"We've got to step up to the challenge and as crazy as it may seem and as tough as it is, it’s our obligation to do that," Wilson remarked. "It’s a gift to be able to play this game every day. I haven’t been in this situation before like this but what I do know is, I know there’s only one way to respond. That’s with your head up, your mind right, with great language, that’s with perspective that everything in life isn’t always easy and even in your careers and whatever it may be in sports, but I do know that we will be better. I do know that we will continue to work to be better every day and that’s what I’m grateful for, and grateful that I know what we’re about and guys in this locker room are about."

With a favorable upcoming schedule including games against the Texans, Bears, and Lions, there will be chances for the Seahawks to snag a few more victories and edge closer to the .500 mark. If a few bounces fall their way, they could pull an upset or two against the Cardinals or Rams.

But as Wilson noted with his usage if the word "obligated" in regard to Seattle's players continuing to battle until the end, they're playing for pride and that's all that is left for the team to do. With the season a lost cause, every player and coach will be under the microscope as the organization begins evaluating who will be back in 2022 heading towards what likely will be an offseason defined by seismic changes.