BY Art Thiel 06:03PM 10/30/2019

Thiel: In the NFL, when it goes, it goes fast

Seahawks go from nearly the easiest schedule to, in the second half, NFC’s hardest. Things change fast in NFL. Ask Tedric Thompson, who has a shoulder problem (?).

Backup C Joey Hunt no longer has to stand around. / Art Thiel, Sportspress Northwest

One of the most remarkable things about the NFL is how swiftly things that seem solid turn to pudding.

Look at the 1-7 Atlanta Falcons, who blew a 28-3 lead and lost a Super Bowl to New England two years ago, and now the franchise’s bones are bleaching in the Georgia sun. Consider the undefeated San Francisco 49ers this year, coming from the latest (4-12) in a string of reliably wretched seasons to instantly become the early-1990s Dallas Cowboys.

Even within a game, things go from gold to goo. Six plays into the doings in Atlanta Sunday, C Justin Britt, as bedrock a figure as the Seahawks have, starting 86 of 87 games since 2014, gets bent the wrong way, tears his ACL and is done for the season. Maybe even his Seattle career, since his contract is running out.

So backup Joey Hunt, a fourth-year guy with three spot starts, ambles into the huddle knowing abruptly that this likely is his gig for the rest of the season.

“You don’t really expect something to happen early,” he said. “Usually, you think towards the end of the game.”

As all eyes meet Hunt’s, QB Russell Wilson senses the unease and says, “Y’all know Joey’s got this, right?”

Right. The Seahawks score on four of their first five possessions and, with a 24-0 lead, have their best offensive first half of the season.

Then comes the whipsaw. The offense soils the sheets and musters one field goal in the second half. Seattle manages to hang on for a 27-20 win, but how did everything turn to pudding?

Then there’s Wednesday at Seahawks headquarters. Coach Pete Carroll informed the media that FS Tedric Thompson, the starter for six of the season’s eight games, who played Sunday and “did fine,” according to Carroll Monday, was put on the injured reserve list and will have shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.

Despite never having appeared on the weekly health-update list, Thompson is suddenly done for the regular season, since IR is an eight-game minimum stay. Did he get hurt falling down the depth chart?

“He’s had a shoulder that’s been bothering him for some time,” Carroll said with an expression as stoic as he could make it. “We’re going to get him fixed up.”

Asked whether the lingering injury was something Carroll felt he didn’t have to include on the league-mandated report, he said, “He’s just been . . . last year or something like that. He had something that he was concerned about. This week, it just went. We have to fix him up.”

Carroll didn’t mention that he might need a roster spot for the return from the injured list of TE Ed Dickson, who is likely to play Sunday against Tampa Bay at the Clink (1:05 p.m., FOX). Nor did he mention that rookie Marquise Blair, a second-round draft pick, started at free safety in Atlanta and led the team in tackles and made the game’s key play, forcing a fumble at the goal line.

Nor did he mention that Seahawks’ pass defense is one of the NFL’s worst, nor that newcomer FS Quandre Diggs may be ready to play and Bucs QB Jameis Winston is tied with Baker Mayfield for most interceptions with 12.

But somewhere in this mix is an explanation for why Thompson went from fine to pudding in two days without playing.

It also speaks to the urgency Carroll feels about the season’s second half, which Seattle enters 6-2 thanks in no small part to good fortune and the weakness of the schedule. That changes harshly.

The combined record of the remaining opponents is 38-21-1, if the unbeaten 49ers are counted twice (Nov. 11 and Dec. 29). According to here, it’s the toughest remaining slate in the NFC.

Carroll knows well how vulnerable the Seahawks are, which inspires manipulations of the roster that couldn’t be improved at the trade deadline Tuesday.

“We’re not a finished product,” he said. “We’re still working at stuff, and we’re trying to find our way in some areas and make sure that we’re really moving forward.”

Since the midpoint is always the favored time to look ahead after knowing a few things, here’s one guy’s guess how Carroll’s efforts at moving foward will play out, including the current records of Seattle opponents:

  • Tampa Bay (2-5)            W
  • at San Francisco (7-0)   L
  • at Philadelphia (4-4)     L
  • Minnesota (6-2)             W
  • at LA Rams (5-3)            L
  • at Carolina  (4-3)            L
  • Arizona (3-4-1)               W
  • San Francisco (7-0)       W

That makes for a 4-4 second half and a 10-6 finish, which most years is good for a playoff berth. One potential break for Seattle is the possibility that if the 49ers stay hot, they may clinch the NFC West division title ahead of the second Seahawks game, which could mean they will hold back some starters ahead of the playoffs.

I’d say this a solid forecast. So around Christmas, count on figgy pudding.



  • Kevin Lynch

    Excellent essay, Art! I agree with your projections with this exception. I have the Hawks at 10-6, better than I thought pre-season. But I have them winning in Carolina, desperation mode, to follow a 4 game losing streak. I think Minnesota will beat them in Seattle. 10-6 is good. Rams may be 11-5, if their defense can step up. 49er’s will likely be 12-4 or better. Upshot: Hawks need two critical wins – Vikes and Rams. Then wild card is theirs. Maybe.

    • Chris Alexander

      So you’re saying the Hawks are going to lose in San Fran, at Philly (coming off a bye week), at home against the Vikings (who were turning on each other just a couple of weeks ago), and against the Rams? At worst, I think they go 2-2 through those 4 games. Completely agree that they’ll beat Carolina; just not that they’ll be “in desperation mode” and sporting a 7-6 record when they do.

      • Kevin Lynch

        Minnesota is Top 5 in both offense and defense. Cousins beat the Hawks in Seattle when he played for a much weaker team (Washington). I do think Vikes have the edge in this one. Philly could go either way but Wentz is looking better. 49er’s may not run away from the Hawks but I think they will win with that attacking defense. Rams…that’s the one I feel most confident about with that team having had a huge win against the Hawks two years ago, again in Seattle. And this year in Seattle they outplayed them and the Seahawks were fortunate to escape with a win. It is hard to imagine a Carroll/Wilson team losing 4 straight but it happens to the best of them.

  • Husky73

    Hot picks this off season and pre season were the Cleveland Browns and the Los Angeles Chargers. They too went down quickly.

  • Tim

    Why am I seeing 7-1?

    • art thiel

      Sawed off the lock on the liquor cabinet?

      • Tim

        Okay, 6-2. All better now.

  • 1coolguy

    Looks like Lynch has assembled quite a squad. The downside I see here is it will be brutal to hear all about it from Sherm, should the Niners win, especially if they sweep -YIKES!
    10-6 is what people were betting on before the season, yet the arrangement of wins and loses has changed, especially considering the Niners and Rams.

  • Mark Thurston

    Art I had the Seahawks going 12-4 before the season started. . and yeah I’m generally the more optimistic type but my track record is pretty good all the same. . . .and well at worst maybe its 11-5 , I just can’t see the Seahawks losing at Carolina with a rookie quarterback or banged up Can Newton at best. I also think that Jimmy G is fools gold and will be exposed when they play the Hawks and/or any other team that plays the run well. . Mark it down. . you heard it here first! Go Hawks!

    • art thiel

      Seahawks defense is not exposing anyone this season except itself.

    • Tim


  • Matt712

    With no time to spare ahead of the 49ers matchup, Carroll has just completed a mid-season rebuild of his backfield. That’s where he’s always believed the strength of a defense begins. If the the recent promotion and acquisition prove themselves worthy, the Seahawks should now have a legitimate nickel package. And, if so, I think we’ll see a dramatic improvement in the overall defense – notably in stopping the run.

    Bobby and KJ will be able to be their traditional, more aggressive selves. Kendricks will be able to sub in and come off the edge more – you know, linebackers do linebacker stuff again. It may take a trap game this weekend to get the new pieces to gel, but if it comes together in time, we may see a hungry young team with the best QB playing for the division title in that last regular season game.

    We can call it The Puddin’ Bowl.

    • art thiel

      You have a big “if” in there regarding Diggs and Blair. Long-term it’s good, but inexperience/unfamiliarity will cost them in the next two months.

  • Chris Alexander

    At worst, I think Seattle goes 5-3 in the second half and finishes the season with at least 11 wins.

    I think it’s reasonable to assume that the Rams, Niners, and Seahawks will all go 1-1 against each other (and 2-0 against the Cardinals). But if Seattle can go down to San Francisco next week and bring home a W then all bets are off and the NFC West may very well come down to the Week 17 rematch.

    My predictions are:

    W vs. Tampa Bay (the last “easy” game)
    W at San Francisco (admittedly, less prediction, more “hope”)
    W at Philadelphia (coming off a bye and riding the W over the Niners)
    W vs. Minnesota (in a nail biter)
    L at Rams (because of the aforementioned likelihood of splitting the series)
    W at Carolina (because Russell almost NEVER loses back-to-back games)
    W vs. Arizona
    L vs. San Fran (to split the series)

    Seahawks finish 12-4 and …. the NFC West title gets decided by the 19th tiebreaker (whatever that is). This is based on my belief that SF is going to lose 1 of 2 against us AND lose 3 straight games between November 24th and December 8th when they face the gauntlet of the Packers, the Ravens, and the Saints with only the Packers game taking place in San Francisco).

    • art thiel

      Is that you, Pete Carroll, with the pseudonym Chris Alexander?

      This is not a 12-4 team.

      • Chris Alexander

        That made me chuckle :)

        Time will tell if they’re a 12-4 team. Seattle is, historically (under Pete Carroll), stronger in the second half of the season than they are in the first half. They went 6-2 in the first half and while, yes, they could have just as easily been 2-6, they only have to match that record in the back half of the season to end up at 12-4.

        On a side note, minus a couple of really BAD decisions by their rookie head coach (and had they made a single 3rd down stop in the last 5 minutes of the game), Arizona could have handed San Francisco their first loss last night …. which would have made our game against them that much more interesting. As is, the Cardinals showed that San Francisco is beatable with the right game plan (and better coaching).

        Oh, and apparently we may have a new (to us) Pro Bowl receiver available when we travel to San Francisco. (Not 100% sure how I feel about that on a personal level, but from a talent standpoint, adding another weapon to Russell Wilson’s arsenal isn’t a bad thing.)

      • Tim

        What was your preseason prediction last year Art?

  • jafabian

    You don’t make errors when you play in the secondary for the Seahawks. They should have waived Tedric to be fair to him.

    • art thiel

      I suspect they think he’s not hopeless. But I think they tried to include him as a trade throw-in Tuesday, which caused his shoulder problem Wednesday.