Among the if-then propositions from another close loss to a good team that slammed the postseason door Tuesday on the fingers of the last true believers, here’s the one at the top of the list:
If WR Tyler Lockett played, then the Seahawks would have beaten the Los Angeles Rams.
Not only would the Seahawks have won, Lockett would have helped heal whatever is ailing Russell Wilson. After two wins over Houston and San Francisco, which included 30 or more points in each, Wilson seemed to have climbed back close to normal. Then the Rams, per usual, shoved him back off the cliff, and his safety net was not there.
It’s true that “if-then” can be played indefinitely with every game, but the scoreboard never changes. In this case, however, Lockett’s absence due to covid completes a grand slam of maladies to the Seahawks’ top four skill-position players that has at least some bearing on why the offense has been so futile — at or near the bottom in most major NFL measurements.
That came into more focus Wednesday when coach Pete Carroll shed some light on WR DK Metcalf’s almost season-long foot ailment that hasn’t kept him out of any games, but has kept him out of most practices.
“He’s not able to practice on a normal regimen,” he said. “There’s no question, for any player, that it upsets your learning process. You just have to try to overcome it. I don’t know if you guys have realized it, but he has missed a lot of practice. He’s made some walk-throughs, and he gets a day (off) a week. That’s challenging to any player.”
Finishing up his third season, Metcalf has yet to develop the kind of connection that Lockett has with Wilson, who gushed about his eighth-year teammate.
“Tyler’s one of those guys where the connection is really remarkable,” Wilson said recently. “We work at it every day. He spends extra time watching film with me. We do extra work, we talk about it, we get up early in the mornings, and that’s really been showing up.”
In Lockett’s absence, Metcalf Tuesday was targeted a season-high 12 times, but thanks to double teams and an erratic day by Wilson, caught just six for 52 yards. After scoring eight touchdowns in his first eight games, he has none in the past six. His yards per reception is a career-low 13.0. His 805 receiving yards are 28th among receivers (Lockett is 11th at 1,023; the Rams’ Cooper Kupp leads at 1,625).
Metcalf’s animated outbursts, whether toward Wilson, coaches, rivals, teammates or himself, have become a national talker and a target for defenders who attempt to bait him into distraction.
Regardless of his tantrums, if he isn’t practicing, he isn’t getting better. At least he’s out there, which can’t be said for RB Chris Carson, whose season ended after four games and 232 rushing yards because of a neck injury that had to be surgically repaired. And you know, of course, about Wilson’s damaged finger, repaired by surgery, from which he came back too soon.
Or as Carroll put it in many more words: “I know that it took Russ time to get back, after the time off, and he wasn’t quite the same. He could still play, do well, and do a lot of things, but he just had to work his way through it. I think it has been a challenge in that regard, physically.”
Add in Lockett’s absence from what was the game of the season, and the difference-makers haven’t made much difference, due in part to lack of good health. If the episodes sound like an excuse to some, they are, in fact, reasons.
The Rams defense Tuesday was all over the weaknesses, holding the Seahawks to 214 yards of offense and 3 of 12 on third-down conversions.
“They zoned us mostly throughout the game, and we just couldn’t find those voids,” said TE Gerald Everett, who caught all four of his targets for a team-high 60 yards. “We were getting open, but just not sustaining drives.”
As if the seasonal damage wasn’t sufficient, the injury report Wednesday included Wilson, who has a sore ankle after it was underneath a falling Rams defender.
“It’s a short week; it could be a factor, but it’s not going to keep Russ from playing,” Carroll said. “I don’t think that’s the case at all. So he should be all right.”
Carroll didn’t say whether the ankle caused Wilson problems in-game. Whether it was health or Aaron Donald, Wilson, via Pro Football Focus, graded out at 33.6, worst of his career. That may have been Metcalf’s biggest problem.
“We don’t miss the fact that he’s worthwhile going to, and we are trying to get the ball to him,” Carroll said. “It’s really frustrating because it’s there, we can get it done, and basically, historically, we are really good at that.”
History, however, doesn’t suit up for the Seahawks. Hey, even some Seahawks don’t suit up for the Seahawks.