BY Steve Rudman 06:30AM 11/17/2015

Seahawks: Playoffs possible, but a loooong shot

QB Russell Wilson’s ratings in the fourth quarter and in the red zone have eroded significantly since his rookie year, leaving the Seahawks a playoff longshot.

Russell Wilson has been an enigma all season. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Had the Seahawks defeated Arizona Sunday, and they had ample chances before losing 39-32 at the Clink, they would have pulled within a game of the Cardinals in the NFC West. Instead, they have fallen three behind with seven to play, making a third consecutive division championship a practical impossibility – even with a favorable schedule (four of the final seven at home) the rest of the way.

For quarterback Russell Wilson, whose good play/bad play schtick is as enigmatic as it is irksome, the key to the next seven weeks is all about attitude.

“The biggest thing is that you have to keep your head up because it’s not like we don’t give ourselves a chance,” Wilson told reporters after Seattle’s fifth fourth-quarter gag in nine games. “We didn’t give ourselves a chance in the first half, but in the second half, by the way we fought it shows our resilience, it shows our never-say-die mentality, and we have to lean on each other, especially right now.

“We have to go back to work and study, and love the game, love each other for what we’re trying to do. It’s not going to be easy. If it were easy, anybody would do it. This is why it’s worth fighting for. You have to go out there and continue to stay the course.”

Commendable words. But it is difficult to see a playoff berth from here even if one is out there.

Since Pete Carroll assumed command of the Seahawks in 2010, six teams with five or more losses after nine games almost inexplicably reached the postseason. The 2012 Washington Redskins, led by rookie Robert Griffin III, had six losses in their first nine and still made the playoffs, only to get snuffed in the wild card round by Wilson and the Seahawks, who lost a week later in Atlanta when they flopped defensively on the Falcons’ final drive.

The six clubs — 60 teams have made the playoffs since 2010 — with five or more losses in their first nine games that reached the postseason:

Year Team After 9 Finish Playoffs
2012 Washington 3-6-0 10-6-0 Lost wild card game to Seattle 24-14
2014 Carolina 3-5-1 7-8-1 Lost divisional round to Seattle 31-17
2011 Denver 4-5-0 8-8-0 Lost divisional game to N. England 45-10
2012 Cincinnati 4-5-0 10-6-0 Lost wild card game to Houston 19-13
2013 San Diego 4-5-0 9-7-0 Lost divisional game to Denver 24-17
2013 Philadelphia 4-5-0 10-6-0 Lost wild card to New Orleans 26-24

Given that none of six advanced beyond the divisional round of the playoffs more than suggests that the Seahawks’ Super Bowl window of opportunity has probably slammed shut.

When the autopsy on this year’s Seahawks is performed, Wilson will be near the head the list of reasons why a team with such a talented roster so spectacularly under-performed. This year Wilson has demonstrated, too infrequently, a remarkable knack for moving Seattle’s offense down the field in a blink.

Wilson directed two such drives Sunday, 80 yards in 2:10 that Will Takuafu ended with a one-yard TD run, and 69 yards in 1:37 that Wilson finished with a 32-yard TD fling to Doug Baldwin.

But Wilson has also orchestrated dozens of drives that have resulted in squat, particularly in the fourth quarter, most particularly when the Seahawks have taken the lead. That’s when Wilson has been at his worst, and when a great quarterback should be at his best.

Four years ago, as a rookie, Wilson had a 102.5 passer rating in the fourth quarter and a 107.5 rating in the red zone, where he threw 18 touchdown passes without an interception. Pine for those days. This year, Wilson has tossed only three red zone TDs with one pick.

Notice how Wilson’s passer ratings in the fourth quarter and in the red zone have eroded since his rookie year:

Year 4th Qtr. Skinny
2012 102.5 60.95 completion percentage, seven touchdowns, one interception
2013 94.3 61.64 completion percentage, seven touchdowns, five interceptions
2014 96.1 59.41 completion percentage, seven touchdowns, two interceptions
2015 85.0 66.20 completion percentage, one touchdown, one interception
Year Red Zone Skinny
2012 107.5 Threw 18 (of 26 total) touchdowns with no interceptions
2013 92.2 Threw 18 (of 26 total) touchdowns with one interception
2014 90.8 Threw 13 (of 20 total) touchdowns with one interception
2015 75.0 Threw three (of 10 total) touchdowns with one interception

Oddly, Wilson is completing a higher percentage of his passes this season – 65.8 percent – than in any other year. But he has seven interceptions, matching the total in the entire 2014 season. Worse, he’s thrown dumb interceptions, such as the deep ball to Baldwin in the third quarter Sunday that Tyrann Mathieu easily picked off and returned 24 yards.

Wilson’s offensive line isn’t any good. He’s been clobbered more than any quarterback in the league. Perhaps that’s why he doesn’t seem to have his head in the game consistently this year.

Drive stoppers

Pete Carroll Monday bemoaned Seattle’s first four drives against the Cardinals, each of which featured a major penalty, saying he could not recall a worse start. Well, there wasn’t one in his Seattle tenure. The first four drives:

  • Drive #1: Luke Wilson face mask, 15 yards, resulting in a 1st-and-25 (drive ended in a punt).
  • Drive #2: Justin Britt holding, 10 yards, resulting in a 1st-and-20 (punt).
  • Drive #3: Luke Willson holding, 10 yards, resulting in 1st-and-20 (punt).
  • Drive #4: Jimmy Graham holding, 10 yards, resulting in 1st-and-20 (punt).

That marked the first time in the Carroll era that the Seahawks had major penalties (10+yards) on their first four drives of a game. Before Sunday, they had never had more than two in the first four drives of a game.



  • notaboomer

    there’s always next year.

    /cubs fan

    • art thiel

      I like the Cubs chances next year better than the Seahawks.

  • Just Another Bullwhip

    Wilson is a caretaker-plus level quarterback, and also was probably, although more in the early going, a good leader for this bunch of characters, who then parlayed that into a salary and expectations WELL beyond what was appropriate. Now Seattle will, literally, pay the price for many years to come. And this team is not going to perform markedly better next year, or any further year under Carroll, than it has this year.

    • art thiel

      He’s much better than a caretaker. You clearly weren’t watching the past three seasons. And you have no idea what the future will bring, especially based on one errant judgment.

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  • MrPrimeMinister

    IF we can get in, no team will want to play us. We are still that dangerous. I can envision our first round opponent giddily thinking “who is visiting, who are we hosting? The seahawks. Oh crap.”

    • Eric K

      Yeah, it is easy to look at all the flaws, especially on offense, but the other way to look at it is the team with all those flaws was still good enough to have a 4th quarter lead in every game some multiple score leads.

      • art thiel

        When a team is 4-5, the glass is always half-full and half-empty.

    • art thiel

      Not really knowable until the evening of Jan. 3.

  • jafabian

    When DangeRuss last went to the Pro Bowl, he played with Drew Brees who pointed out a flaw in Wilson’s footwork that he noticed and should be aware of. When Wilson returned he went straight from SeaTac to the V-Mac and immediately began working on correcting the issue. I don’t see the 2015 version of Wilson doing that today. And I’m not about to pin all their offensive woes on the O-Line, especially when half the time they have no idea where Wilson is. Instead of running everywhere because he has trust issues with them maybe he should work on getting rid of the ball quicker.

    Wilson isn’t the only one who’s celebrity activities are questionable. A certain Beastmode skipped OTA’s to hang out with Rhianna at the NBA Finals and of course several players made their feelings about their salaries publicly known. But it starts at the QB position.

    • art thiel

      When these guys flout their celebrity they become obvious targets for a public trained to feast on foibles. Whether lounging on a Mexican beach at midseason is a good or bad thing remains to be proven. But when you have a 14 for 32 game afterward, you invite all kinds of hell.

  • Jeff Shope

    he got his money he can play on the beach now

  • Lightning Fowl

    A lot of those teams on that list also benefited from a weak division (Denver in ’11 and Carolina in ’14 come to mind) and were able to get an automatic berth. The Seahawks already trail by three games (although they have a game with Arizona but it’s also in Glendale).

    IMO they’re just an above average team. They’ve taken a lot of hits from free agency the last few years. That’s just the way it is in the NFL salary cap. To expect them to dominate is a bit naive. The only teams that do that are one’s with truly great QB’s and Wilson is a good one but not truly great.

  • MacPhisto92

    If the Seahawks had finished off the Patriots for back to back Championships, this nightmare of a season would be much easier to stomach…but the way they blew the SUper Bowl and now watching this team fall apart, it’s all too much. I’ll never get over the way the Super Bowl ended….never.

    • Skeezix

      I don’t think any of us ever will — it’s there for perpetuity…….

  • Rainier Valley

    Note to Mr. Wilson: Greed is not a family value.
    There’s got to be a few Sundays when he’s thought….”maybe I should have left a few crumbs on the table for an offensive line”….nah..probably hasn’t crossed his mind.

  • Gerald Turner

    We won a superbowl. As a 30 year Seahawks fan, that will last me the rest of my life. Browns and Lions fans know what I am taking about.