BY Art Thiel 06:57PM 10/03/2018

Thiel: Seahawks, 10 months after Hurricane Ram

The Rams delivered in December the worst loss of Pete Carroll’s Seahawks tenure, and they’re back here Sunday at 4-0. The defense is desperately stacking sandbags.

Todd Gurley had three touchdowns and 152 yards rushing against the Seahawks in December. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Ten months after Hurricane Ram blew through football Seattle, there’s still plywood on the windows, car parts on the side of the road and clothing hanging from trees. But despite the evidence, no Seahawk wants to talk about the damage to their NFC West world.

Asked if the 42-7 beatdown Dec. 17 was a major reason behind the many coaching and player-personnel changes in the off-season, coach Pete Carroll said simply, “No.”

Asked what problems the Rams’ dynamic playbook causes — they were the No. 1 offense last season and remain so this season — defensive coordinator Ken Norton said, “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing.”

Asked what he took from the home-field embarrassment, LB Bobby Wagner said, “We lost in 2017, and this is 2018.”

As you can tell, they’re irked. Anytime nothing is said, something is up.

But whether that something amounts to anything Sunday (1:25 p.m., FOX) is dubious.

At 7.5 points, the 2-2 Seahawks are the biggest underdogs at the Clink that Las Vegas has offered since the immortal Beast Quake playoff game against New Orleans in 2010. The undefeated Rams have won their four games by a combined score of 140-67.

The largest margin of defeat in Carroll’s time in Seattle was a resounding exclamation point that divisional regime change was afoot.

The Rams rushed for 244 yards (152 by RB Todd Gurley), sacked QB Russell Wilson seven times, led 34-0 at the half and nearly got back all at once the humiliations endured when the Seahawks were the Western imperialists.

After a 4-12 season a year earlier, the Rams finished 11-5 — their first winning season since 2003, when they last won the division — then loaded up in the off-season with expensive hires and acquisitions. The 9-7 Seahawks missed the playoffs for the first time in six years and have been lunging at boulders and tree roots to slow their roll down the hill.

After the December game, FS Earl Thomas described the shock of role reversal for a team that rarely had lost by more than a touchdown.

“That blowout loss was different; it don’t happen like that,” he said. “I don’t got my fellas out there with me. Everything is different.”

That was a reference to the injury absences of CB Richard Sherman, SS Kam Chancellor and DT Cliff Avril, plus LB K.J. Wright sat out that game with a concussion. Additionally, Wagner played with a strained hamstring and was clearly diminished.

The injury led to memorable public tiff with Thomas, who said post-game, “To be totally honest, I think you have to give your hats off to Wags and a couple guys that played, but my personal opinion, I don’t think they should have played. The backups would have (done) just as good. The injuries, they definitely hurt today.”

Wagner responded indignantly via Twitter, writing, “E keep my name out yo mouth. Stop being jealous of other people success. I still hope you keep balling bro.”

Wagner was pulled from the game with five minutes left in the third quarter and down 40-0. He subsequently said he should have handled better his Thomas remarks, and claimed to have talked it out with him. Thomas denied such a thing occurred. But the argument is moot now.

After breaking his left tibia Sunday at Arizona, Thomas is as gone as Sherman, Chancellor, Avril and Wright, the latter still recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.

The Seahawks will attempt to fill in (not replace) Thomas with Tedric Thompson, a second-year pro who will make his first career start against Rams QB Jared Goff, who this week was named All-Pro for the NFL season’s first quarter by Pro Football Focus.

If that isn’t a sufficiently tender spot for Goff, Wright’s fill-in will be Austin Calitro, a rookie who has been on four NFL practice squads before being thrown in to the starting job for Seattle’s season opener in Denver.

While he did reasonably well, the Seahawks were scared enough that they went out and hired off the street sixth-year veteran Mychal Kendricks.  He was an upgrade with an asterisk: He was a convicted felon after admitting to insider trading in 2015 with a Wall Street broker.

Not only were the optics of the hire embarrassing, the plan fell through this week when Kendricks was suspended indefinitely by the NFL.  Carroll knew punishment was coming, but he still was confused, as well as a little irked.

“How do you define indefinitely?” Carroll said Wednesday. “I don’t know. We pressed that. What does that mean? It means indefinitely. We don’t have a sense for what’s going to happen right now . . . We thought it was going to be two, three weeks or something like that.”

To help reduce the bewilderment, the Seahawks also signed Maurice Alexander to back up at linebacker and safety. At least he has four years of NFL experience and 23 starts, all with the Rams.

But cumulatively, the newcomers are a steep drop from their predecessors, seeming to leave the Seahawks nearly as vulnerable as they were a year ago against the same offensive machine.

Naturally, Wagner disagreed.

“I think the discipline will be a lot different than the game last year,” he said. “The discipline needed to be better to win the game. We weren’t as on point as we needed to be. Something we had to learn from. It won’t happen again.”

The good news for Seahawks fans is Wagner is healthy, and a master of discipline. The bad news is that he’s the only defensive starter left from the team that appeared in consecutive Super Bowls, and the new guys are largely, well, fill-ins.

But at least the sleep of the youngsters is not disturbed by the memory of Hurricane Ram.

 

 


YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    When Earl made his statement about injured players playing hurt I agreed with him, especially after what happened to Sherman. It’s one thing to play with pain but another to risk your career or health. I’d rather see a 100% Barkevious Mingo than a 50% Bobby Wagner on the field. But Earl really should have kept those comments in the family so to speak. Nothing new for him.

    I’ve wondered if the Carroll-Schneider team looks at the Rams roster, then at the Hawks, then at the standings and ask themselves “what happened?” Was it 2 years ago their roles were reversed? I thought there might be a possibility with the Rams adding so many new, high profile players with short term but big salary contracts they might implode but it was the Hawks who took that role. The club has lost key scouts since the Super Bowl and it shows. If they lose on Sunday they’ll be in a deep hole for playoff positioning.

    • Chris Alexander

      The hole (after 5 games) wouldn’t be all that deep. Yes, they’d be in a deep hole in regards to their division (3 games back of the Rams after 5 games – ouch!) but, heading into the weekend, the Seahawks are actually tied for the 7th best record in the NFC and would barely miss out if the season ended today.

      The Buccaneers, Cowboys, Eagles, and Seahawks are all 2-2; the Packers would currently be the 6th seed at 2-1-1. Even if you assume the Rams win on Sunday, the Seahawks are, at worst, 1-1/2 games out with 11 games to play.

      I don’t think think the 1/4 mark of the season is the right time to throw in the towel. Right now I think the only things we can say about the NFC with any certainty are that the Rams are scary good, the Cardinals are really bad, Chicago is better with Mack than they would have been without him, and Drew Brees obviously owns a time machine and plans to still be playing after Brady retires.

      • art thiel

        There is much mediocrity in the West. Get an oil change and new tires for your tiebreaker-rules list. Lots of long miles on bad road ahead.

    • 1coolguy

      Remember, the Rams were doormats for years earning them high draft picks. They will ride this wave until the rookie contracts expire, then things will unravel, just like the Hawks
      The only team that has beaten the NFL parity system is the Patriots.

      • Husky73

        I’d add the Steelers.

      • art thiel

        Seahawks made five playoffs in a row. Not easy in a salary-capped league.

    • art thiel

      Earl wasn’t wrong about the production fall with wounded players, Wagner never should have tweeted about it.

      As far as role flips, that happens a lot in the NFL. Teams can go up or down fast. The Rams are vulnerable to injuries because they can’t afford decent depth.

  • Ron

    Is that a typo? Seahawks are 7.5 point underdogs, or 75 point underdogs?

    If it’s 7.5 then easy money to be made betting.

    • art thiel

      Well, don’t look at me. Get thee to a bookmaker and bet the house.

      • Ron

        Thanks to your advice I lost my home and will now be living in an old RV on the side of some Seattle street. Would knew that the Rams don’t have a defense. Highly entertaining game however.

  • Alan Harrison

    The Seahawks are the guy in the chair in the old Maxell cassette tape commercial. The Rams are Wagner blaring out of the speakers — that’s Richard, not Bobby. https://youtu.be/Zk71h2CQ_xM

    • art thiel

      Wow. Quite the pull. I can’t believe that ad was 1983.

      • Mícheál Mac Cionnaith

        The Maxell chair guy is also Peter Murphy, front-man for Bahaus.

  • Tim

    Aren’t we due for a Rams win at home after so many years? Not holding my breath but I think it might be closer than people think. Carroll is a great motivator.

    • art thiel

      I’m thinking talent might be more decisive than motivation.

  • 1coolguy

    34-0 at half says it all. I will watch the first half, but will take a walk outside for the second.

    • Ron

      What, and miss George Fant playing tight end?

      • art thiel

        Alvin Bailey played a lot of Seahawks TE and managed to avoid stardom.

        • Ron

          George played basketball, so he be telling Russell “Pass me the rock”.

    • art thiel

      What’s your stay-in score: 24-0? 21-7? 10-3?

  • WestCoastBias79

    Knocking a woman out in an elevator on camera will get you four games. Substance abuse will get you 2-4, as will roids. So basically, you either have to kill someone like Donte Stallworth, or dabble in insider trading to eclipse the four game mark, even if you plead guilty and give back the money. Too bad the NFL wasn’t doling out punishment for the great recession.

    • art thiel

      Someone is going to jail sometime for recession-related bank crimes. Right? Oh wait. They’ll all get pardons from a good friend.

  • Stephen Pitell

    Jeeeeez, get over it, Art, they may not be the same players who won us a SB, but they are all NFL players and those other guys are gone and they ain’t coming back. I support THIS team. They may not win, but neither did any previous team go undefeated.

    That other team lost plenty of games they shouldn’t have lost, and won some games they didn’t deserve. This team is young and plays with heart. I’m all in on this team, and that other team is gone and I’m not missing them.

    Frick ET, and his attitude off the field.

    • art thiel

      Good for you, Stephen. It’s my job to be honest. It’s your job to be a fan.