BY Art Thiel 06:16PM 10/19/2014

Thiel: Put Seahawks’ loss on Carroll, Schneider

The Harvin debacle rests with the coach and GM, and its residue compromised the Seahawks’ first half and cost the game Sunday. Feel free to own up, gents.

Jermaine Kearse missed a two-point conversion pass that may have been destined for Robert Turbin (22) that would have tied the game in St. Louis Sunday. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

For all the wildness on the field at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis Sunday, looming over the preposterousness with the Rams was who wasn’t there.

You know who. Bobby Wagner. Zach Miller. Max Unger. Luke Willson. Byron Maxwell. Cassius Marsh. In the pre-game warm-up, starting FB Derrick Coleman broke his foot.

Percy Harvin? Nah.

He would have done little to help the outcome for the Seahawks. But his absence? Yes, that hurt the Seahawks. The national football tumult surrounding the trade of the Seahawks’ most explosive player Friday was a massive distraction.

The players and coaches who deny it will be lying. Just as the they hid the fact that Harvin had become a pain in the ass when it was happening.

At least WR Doug Baldwin came through in the post-game as he did during the game, which the Seahawks lost 28-26 but regained a measure of equilibrium with three blistering touchdown drives in the second that nearly pulled out the game.

“There’s obviously a lot of things that went on this week that affected the team in numerous ways,” Baldwin told reporters. “As a competitor, you don’t want to admit those things. But as a human, it is human nature. It took us a little while to get on track. I’m just proud we responded the way we did and fought until the very end.”

Well said, Angry-but-Honest Doug.

Players were as shocked at the trade as most outsiders. Players had varying degrees of knowledge about Harvin’s petulance and belligerence, and varying degrees of enthusiasm and dismay about the deal.

But the ensuing disruption after the firing of a high-profile teammate was undeniable, magnified by texts, emails and calls from nearly everyone they knew, and reporters they don’t know, seeking an explanation.

They also had to spend time figuring out whether to be honest or to hide what they knew. For anyone entrusted with secrets in a very public business, that’s exhausting.

Whether they admit it, they played a first half Sunday that reflected the lack of concentration due to disruption. Embarrassed, the Seahawks recovered splendidly. They still lost, outwitted by the wily Rams coach, Jeff Fisher, with two special-teams whoppers destined for a permanent place in NFL lore.

But the burden for this defeat that drops them to 3-3 and makes a repeat run to the Super Bowl less likely rests largely with management, not players. General manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll engineered a high-risk maneuver in March 2013 to acquire a known troublemaker for huge franchise treasure.

Most people, including me, applauded the move, figuring that the club’s track record with personnel earned them slack in the controversial decision. Carroll managed to get seasons, and even careers, out of guys on the margins. Why not the ultra-talented Harvin, the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year in 2009?

As it turned out, they couldn’t manage him. Without knowing all the specific problems, the mere fact that they felt the need to unload him at midseason for a sixth-round pick (not a fourth-rounder, as was reported earlier) speaks to the desperation. After his insubordinate act of refusing to return late into the Dallas game, Carroll knew he had to dump Harvin, even if it meant suspending, then waiving, him before the Rams game.

They mismanaged the asset. They could not find the buttons to push with Harvin to make him an acceptable teammate, and a net asset on the field. Then Friday when news broke of the trade, they left players to sort the mess publicly and privately.

Asked post-game about Harvin, Carroll predictably talked around any substantive explainer.

“It was a move we made for our team,” he said. “We’re trying to get better, trying to get things right. We have a lot of depth at receiver. But I don’t know if you can replace a player that special. Anything that happened, we keep to ourselves, and we’ll continue to do that.”

Asked if there was a last straw, Carroll said, “It’s part of the process . . . we’re constantly re-evaluating. We’ve made a lot of bold moves over time. But it’s not about making decisions. It’s about making decisions right.

“I’m done with it now.”

Well, not quite. Making a decision right includes taking responsibility for it, not the generic kind of acceptance where a boss says, “Since I’m the boss, it happened on my watch, so I guess it’s my fault. If I have to.”

Look, I don’t expect Carroll to trash Harvin with a point-by-point denunciation. But I think it’s reasonable to expect a brief description of a cascading series of events that led to the trade.

That can be followed by a simple statement like, “There were things that we asked Percy to do that didn’t get done, for whatever reason. Because that hurt the team, we had to change things, regardless of cost or optics.

“One of the costs was a trade Friday that was emotionally disruptive to the team on the eve of the game. We all saw the effects of that in the first half Sunday. John and I take full responsibility for that. The players should take full responsibility for getting their focus back and getting us to the threshold of a victory under bad circumstances.”

That’s it. No apology needed for acquiring Harvin, nor firing him. His hire was an expensive gamble that didn’t work. And the Seahawks remain the defending Super Bowl champions.

He can even lighten the mood by saying, “Good thing this happened now instead of last year, or we might not have made it through to the Super Bowl.”

That may not sound very funny, but consider that the Seahawks have returned themselves to their favored position: Denigrated underdogs. They’re officially dysfunctional, broken, doubted, and the latest in a long line of post-championship failures in the NFL. The whole Carroll culture is based on gathering the dismissed and empowering them to do the impossible.

I’m betting Carroll will finally will be honest. Because on the Seahawks weekly calendar, it’s “Tell the Truth Monday.” And the Twelves are part of this, true?

 


YourThoughts

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Very Peculiar week to go through for sure. I went in to pay my cell bill and a clerk asks me Are you a Seahawk fan? I was told the news~ stunned wasnt the word and i received the I feel for you man, me too~look. Its difficult to liken it to a divorce but when my ex told me she would prefer somebody else it was a tough sell to get me to speak in brutally honest terms about it for some time. I cant even imagine the surprise look on Petes face when Harvin did in fact say i would prefer another team, trade me(as was reported). Re: Get me out of this family pronto or you will see me really start to act up. The Dallas game was obviously a taste of the start of new level messy behavior.
    I agree with you Art that doing the right thing supersedes all even though frank talk often isnt as vanilla as that and a difficult task at best.

  • Jeff

    Well, it was going to be emotionally disruptive whenever they decided to pull the trigger on this, be it Sunday in St Louis or the next week in Carolina. But yeah, bringing Harvin in, knowing his baggage and having an inside source like Bevell, the move was a huge mistake. The first half offensively was actually much better than the 2013 effort in St Louis, and arguably better than against Dallas the prior weekend. For the game as a whole, the Harvin-less offense played their best game. If special teams were not a trainwreck and the defense could have created a turnover or two, Wilson is NFC Offensive Player of the Week with that historic stat line.

    • mtd9904

      Over Rodgers? I don’t think so.

      • Effzee

        Wrong. First player in NFL history with 300 passing and 100 rushing in one game is better than 255 yards and a 154 QB rating. Its actually not even a debatable point, to be honest.

  • dharmabruce

    It’s kind of difficult to blame Carroll for Percy hitting two of his wide receivers in the face causing one a black eye and another a cut face. Football teams are tough but that is extreme behavior that you couldn’t expect. And anti-competing by taking himself out of the game when the Hawks needed him most against the Cowboys was a Percy move, not a Carroll move. Let’s not forget who the real monster is in this soap opera.

    Carroll and Schneider took the bold move of calling a Jet sweep to get Percy out to the far edge of the country to the guiding light of NFL drama. Not many leaders would have had the intelligence and fortitude to cut bait this soon. I applaud their guts.

    The receivers were much improved. Now if someone will speak up on “tell the truth” Monday and say Tom Cable, another over-rated face puncher, is a fraud we can drop another jerk “holding” the team back. I’ve never seen so much patience with a me-di-ocre unit and their coach.

  • Diamond Mask

    Trying not to freak out. Glad the 49ers went down in flames :)

  • Matt712

    While the ‘distraction of the week’ cannot be denied, I don’t agree that it cost the Seahawks the game – much less should it be an excuse. If anything, it appears as the story emerges that number 11 had been a big distraction since his arrival. The hangover may have lingered for an additional half of football, but the offense, behind Russell Wilson seemed to regain its lost confidence in heroic fashion. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Wilson so emphatic as he was after his 52 yard scramble. Lack of offense was not the culprit.

    And I can’t imagine the Harvin drama having much to with a special teams unit – having played so well up to now – completely sh*#!ng the bed. Even without looking like keystone cops against the Rams’ trickery, they played poorly. But not even that (although it cost the Hawks this game) was the most disturbing thing.

    IMO, the most troubling thing going forward is that the defense failed once again to keep their opponent out of the endzone on scoring drives. This was one of the team’s biggest strengths last year and it is almost a complete reversal this year.

    The reason? Simple lack of depth: not enough quality on the D-line, and injuries cutting too far into the depth of the secondary. The talent gap at the corners is so blatant, that opposing offenses can’t help but continue to target the side of rookie/very young/mediocre talent over and over again. Quinn (et al) has been slow/reluctant to adjust. Only recently (the end of the Dallas game and a little more this game) have they begun to move Sherman around the field. Something has to happen. Those guys need help.

    Simon and Johnson are back but it will take time to speed up their games. And Lane will be back. But the bleeding will continue until they are 100% ready and the Seahawks figure out some sort of pass rush.

    It amazes me that the Hawks manage to still be in positions to win late in these games. Last year they were getting the Ws. This year, not so much.

    • Effzee

      Marcus Burley is gawd-awful.

  • jafabian

    As much of a disruption Harvin was to the team, he never made any of his issues public which should count for something. At the very least he understood the importance of keeping things “within the family.” I would have preferred suspending him for four games instead of outright trading him.

    • John M

      jafabian: It would have been wishful thinking. If the Vikes trading him didn’t impress, a suspension would have only made him worse . . .

  • ll9956

    I can appreciate that the Harvin trade was a source of disruption. But I have trouble that it’s valid to blame the loss on that. How about the seemingly incurable penalties? This time it was 10 penalties for 89 yards, including nullifying a TD by Lynch, which was arguably a game-changer. One of very few good things to come out of this game is that we play St. Louis again in the last game of the regular season. The Hawks won’t have a chip on their shoulders, it will be a 10-ton boulder.

    • Pixdawg13

      About that “arguably a game-changer” nullified Lynch TD–you did notice that the next play was a TD pass to Angry Doug, didn’t you?

      • Guest

        Yeah, but the refs didn’t know that was going to happen. They were just doing their job. Thankfully RWIII is so good that he can help us overcome bad/fixed refereeing most of the time.

    • eYeDEF

      The false starts are really starting to piss me off.

  • Jamo57

    Geez! What a weekend!

    After downing the anti-depressants Saturday night watching the Huskies, it was time to look for antacids today (or maybe the blood pressure medicine).

    It almost made me long for the buttermilk for calming my stomach that a good Ms game with Felix getting a no-decision after 8 shutout innings with three hits allowed.

    But then the Sounders went out and fought to that time honored soccer tradition of a draw, which calmed my stomach and my nerves and brought the blood pressure back into the normal range…….

    On a more serious note, one thing about last year’s Harvin deal that popped into mind today. That being, that the negotiations for Harvin came down to who between the Hawks and the Niners were going to pony up the most to get him. The Seahawks threw in one extra draft pick if I remember correctly and the trade was made.
    Given the difference between the Hawks and the Niners last year was an underthrown pass by about 4 inches in the southwest corner of the endzone, how might last year have turned out differently? (Understood that Harvin only played three games here but……..)

    With that razor thin difference between SF and SEA, and the fact our fair city hadn’t one a title in 35 years, I don’t care what the cost was for Harvin. We got the parade. Bottom line. (Besides, it’s Paul Allen’s money not mine.).

    • Effzee

      Yep. I think we would have dominated the SB anyways, but Harvin was the total Bronco-demoralizer. They simply had no answer for him, in that game. He was almost an unfair secret weapon. Paying some jerk a ton of dough and ending up with a SB Ring at the end of it seems like a good investment to me.

  • just passing thru

    And so another Seattle-based sports star has his name become a verb as Harvin Percy’d it.

    A lot of glaring issues from the past two weeks, especially losing the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, whether due to energy, injuries or penalties. The second half offense against the Rams was better, but Wilson was under pressure constantly.

    Now we will see of what this year’s Seahawks are made…

  • Effzee

    One of the few Thiel columns I will disagree with. There are no Harvin buttons to push that would make him an acceptable teammate. I understand the call for the mea culpa from Carroll (yes, it would be nice to hear something like that), but I don’t have a major problem with the way any of this was handled. I was one of the few who cringed when they acquired Harvin in the first place. I was vocal about this on the forums. I didn’t know much about him, but my impressions were that he was fragile, mentally and physically. I had the feeling that it was going to be a nightmare scenario, where we give eleventy billion dollars to a prima donna wide receiver who refuses to play through pain. Apparently, he’s a prima donna wide receiver who refuses to play when he doesn’t want to also. We had already acquired an injury-prone Vikes receiver in Sidney Rice. I had no idea what we were doing bringing their other receiver who also couldn’t say on the field. I told anyone who would listen. It was obvious yesterday that they were trying to adjust to life without him in the first half, but in the second half things started to look good. We started to look like a real offense again, instead of some stupid gimmick offense that takes any decent defensive team in the NFL ten minutes to figure out. The wide receivers were running routes and stuff! It looked like they were trying to do things on purpose, instead of RWIII just running around trying to get 11 the ball at any cost. I cannot adequately describe how much I hated watching them try to force Harvin into this offense. It was hair-pullingly ugly. Anyone who can get in a fight with Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, and RWIII in less than one year is clearly not a person any healthy, successful organization wants anywhere near them. We were better off without him in every single game except the Super Bowl, and even then he was just a bonus that drove nails into the Broncos coffin. Good riddance.

    • Sonics79

      I think Art’s point was that by Pete and John not really coming out with a statement on Percy’s dismissal until after the game, he kind of left his players hanging in the wind, having to answer questions about it, when it wasn’t their decision.

      • Matt712

        Point taken, and it may have contributed to the loss (certainly didn’t help), but I wouldn’t pin the loss on that. Fisher ‘mind-freaked’ the Seahawks’ special teams like a street magician. That’s what did them in. The bigger, more ominous problems reside with the defense.

        • Sonics79

          Hahaha. It was the “David Blane punt return”. (Brilliant call too, dammit).
          Defense does have a habit of giving up long, “just what the other team needed”, TD drives in the 4th quarter of close games that is really infuriating. Been going on for at least 3 years.

    • John M

      Effzee: Many interesting opines about Harvingate including yours, but you pretty much left out the lack of a pass rush. They don’t have enough injuries to use that as an excuse, and if they can’t disrupt the quarterback a good percentage of the time it’s going to be a long season.
      This is the second game Fisher has stolen a game from us by calling a risky gimmick at just the right time. Gotta hand it to him . . .

      • Effzee

        The lack of a pass rush, and the DBs not creating turnovers, are definitely big problems so far. But even so, we’ve been in the position to win every game, late. If the D can keep us in these games while we wait for everyone to return from injury, we will be fine. I believe the offense can only get better, and it will change the dynamics of a lot of these games. I think there will be less wonky play-calling, resulting in fewer 2nd-and-long situations, and longer, more traditional scoring drives. Part of the problem in San Diego was the extreme heat, and part of the problem with the defense in that game was that our offense either went 3-and-out or scored in 3 minutes or less, in each case sending the defense right back onto the field. I am usually the doomsayer, and I am totally not panicking about the Seahawks yet at all.

  • http://kt-goldens.blogspot.com Ken Told

    Considering pro football post game analysis is a complicated, subjective task, your take is well thought out and the first 3 sentences describe the major reason the Hawks struggled. Didn’t need to go much further than that.

  • notaboomer

    meanwhile in sonics news, robert swift has been found in a meth lab in kirkland:

    http://www.kirklandreporter.com/news/279575982.html

    • eYeDEF

      DAMN!

  • sleever

    “…gathering the dismissed and empowering them to do the impossible.” This is the kind of post-loss comfort food that has nourished me since I was a boy. Thank you, Art.

  • RunningRoy

    You now have to wonder if part of Golden Tate’s decision to leave town, well aside from the coin, was the Percy factor. Not only would Tate’s production always be limited with Harvin around, but maybe the pain-in-the-ass factor got to him too.

    We laughed at Golden’s misguided priorities when he left for the money and a floundering team. Not only did he catch ten balls yesterday, his team is also in 1st place and in the playoff driver’s seat. He may be the one laughing now.