The Seahawks have completed half their schedule with a 2-6 record and stand in a next-to-last-place tie with Arizona in the historically weak NFC West. The Seahawks have not only played themselves out of a playoff berth (San Francisco is 7-1) about as fast as a team can possibly do it, but are en route to one of the lamer seasons in franchise history.
The Seahawks might not duplicate the 1992 team’s 2-14 record, the nadir of 35 years of NFL football in Seattle, but that’s only because they have two games with 1-7 St. Louis (Nov. 20, Dec. 12) and a rematch with the 2-6 Cardinals (Jan. 1). Based on the way the Seahawks have performed — or not performed — so far, those are the only winnable games remaining on Seattle’s schedule.
When head coach Pete Carroll, soon joined by GM John Schneider, replaced Jim Mora Jr. following the 2009 season, they set about on a personnel purge unprecedented in NFL annals. In 2010 alone, the Seahawks made 284 roster transactions. This year, by our count, Carroll and Schneider have made 218 more.
That’s 502 player moves (signings, cuts, trades, etc.) and counting, one of the great feats in wheel-spinning that now has the team traveling rapidly in reverse.
The Seahawks are worse now than when Carroll took over and launched his re-build of a franchise that already started to come apart under the stewardship of former GM Tim Ruskell (not one of Ruskell’s first-round draft picks, taken between 2005-09, remain on the team).
When Carroll took the Seahawks to training camp last July, he cited what he believed to be significant progress, saying, “We’re bigger, we’re stronger. What we tried to do from the outset is to make the depth chart on this roster more competitive from the bottom up — and it feels like that. We have more choices, we have more opportunities where guys can battle and compete for jobs that are going to make everybody feel pushed. That’s a great thing.”
Carroll apparently got the competition he sought, but the resulting product is about as ineffective as it can get.
Among the NFL’s 32 teams, the Seahawks rank 29th in total offense (296.1 yards per game), 29th in points scored (119, and just two touchdowns in the past three games) and first in the NFC with 70 penalties, including 10 more (for a season-high 88 yards) in a 23-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys Sunday. At the rate the Seahawks are going (or not going), these Seahawks will obliterate the franchise’s single-season record for total penalties (128), set in 1984.
At 8.75 per game (the 2007 Seahawks were penalized just 59 times in 16 games), the 2011 Seahawks are on pace for 140. On a per-game basis, these are/were the most-penalized Seahawks teams:
On Sunday, the penalties — eight players were flagged, distributed almost evenly — four against the offense, two against the defense and four on the special teams — and covered a multitude of infractions: holding (3 times), false starts (2), unsportsmanlike conduct (2), facemask (1), illegal block (1) and pass interference (1).
Monday, Carroll admitted a certain bewilderment to the flags and conceded they are “holding the Seahawks back.
“Making mistakes with the penalty situations has caused us problems, particularly in the last three weeks,” he said. “So we’ve got to clean that up and get rid of the turnovers and get these penalties worked in a manageable number where it’s not disrupting drives and setting us back.”
While Carroll acknowledged that penalties — and turnovers — were at the root of Seattle’s loss, quarterback play has been atrocious since a 36-25 win over the New York Giants in Week 5 that now almost defies belief, given that the Giants are leading the NFC East with a 6-2 record after beating Tom Brady and New England Sunday, 24-20.
After producing a more-than-respectable 86.6 passer rating against the Giants, Jackson (left in the third quarter with a pectoral injury) dropped to 69.1 against Cincinnati (34-12 loss in which he threw 40 passes), and to 40.4 against Dallas. Jackson threw three interceptions against the Cowboys after throwing six in his first six games.
I had three turnovers and thats just unacceptable, Jackson said. I just feel very sick with how I played.
The (pec) injury might have had something to do with it, but Jackson, the 66th of Seattle’s 218 transactions this year, has pretty much tanked.