American footballOpinion

The Seattle Seahawks need to make some tough decisions in 2022, but will they?

The Seattle Seahawks have not ended a regular season with a losing record since 2011, in which the team finished with a 7-9 record. Indeed, over the past nine seasons in the Pacific North West, the Seahawks worst regular season performance was with a 9-7 record in 2017, with the team making the play-offs in eight of those nine seasons.

But like anything in professional sports, the good times don’t last forever. The situation in Seattle has major similarities to Arsene Wenger’s final years as Arsenal manger, a once great coach, who brought the most success to their respective clubs that they have ever known, with their reigns ultimatley coming to a close in a shroud of unrest and toxicity.

And with the Seahawks currently sitting at 5-8 with just four weeks of the 2021 NFL regular season left at the time of writing, there is a very real possibility that Carroll will endure his first losing season as the head coach of the Seahawks in a decade. But for the Seahawks’ ownership, it may not be just Pete Carroll that is on the agenda at the end of season meeting, with a potential want-away franchise quarterback on their hands, 2022 may be the time for some tough decisions to be made, but will they?

Pete Carroll

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – DECEMBER 29: Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks runs off the field before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on December 29, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Pete Carroll has had an up and down coaching career to say the least. From spending over a decade and a half (1978-94) bouncing around co-ordinator and defensive coaching jobs in both college football and the NFL, to having spells as the head coach of the New York Jets and New England Patriots respectively, with varying degrees of success.

The making of Pete Carroll would be his nine year tenure at the University of Southern California (USC) between 2001-09, that would thrust him into the national spotlight. Winning six bowl games and a national championship, Carroll had earned another chance at a head coaching role in the NFL, and it was to be the Seattle Seahawks in 2010 that would call him to the rescue of their franchise in free-fall.

Carroll oversaw the formation of one of the greatest defensive units the game had ever seen in the Legion of Boom, as well as performing some offensive master-strokes in the acquisitions of legendary players such as Marshawn ‘Beastmode’ Lynch and Doug Baldwin. But more importantly, he did what every Seahawks head coach had failed to do before him, win a Super Bowl.

Seahawks Head Coach pictured holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Seattle Seahawks win Super Bowl 48 vs Denver Broncos on February 2, 2014 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford,
New Jersey (Image credit: Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

From the moment his team dished out one of the biggest beat-downs in Super Bowl history with a 43-8 victory over Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in 2013’s Super Bowl 48, Pete Carroll became a god of the gridiron in the Pacific North West. But equally, from the moment they blew their chance to win consecutive Super Bowl’s the following year with the infamous Malcolm Butler interception at the goal-line, mumblings of fractures between players and Carroll have always been touted.

But for the most part, the Seahawks continued to be a winning franchise, and under Carroll’s coaching, became perennial play-off and Super Bowl contenders. But 2021, and indeed in recent years, Pete Carroll’s reluctance to change from his ethos and coaching style have resulted in the Seahawks becoming a team that is stuck running schemes of the past.

And the NFL is a constantly evolving league, and to stay at the top and have extended periods of success, you have to evolve with it, otherwise you become like the Seahawks and get left behind. And it’s for that reason that I believe the team should make the tough, but ultimatley correct decision to relieve Pete Carroll of his duties at the end of the season.

But here’s the issue, Pete Carroll is under contract until the end of the 2025 season, and he has never displayed any indication that he has any intention of cutting his time short on his own volition. So will Seahawks owner Jody Allen – who has yet to make any big decisions since becoming de-facto owner after previous owner and brother Paul Allen passed in 2018 – finally stamp her authority on her franchise and part ways with a Seattle sporting icon?

Russell Wilson

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson preparing to lead his teammates onto the field
(Image credit: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

From one Seattle sporting deity to another, Russell Wilson is quite simply the best quarterback to ever suit up in the blue and green of the Seattle Seahawks, and is arguably the greatest player in franchise history. The Seahawks took a chance on an undersized quarterback from Wisconsin in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, and as the NFL media and outside voices quarrelled over the selection, and perhaps unknowingly to those who brought him to the Pacific North West, the Seahawks had struck gold.   

In every year since, Wilson has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and in only his first three seasons in the NFL, Wilson had already won a Super Bowl and lost another. Widely recognised as one of the best deep-ball throwers of all-time, an exemplary team-mate and leader with a unique mental attitude, Wilson has been everything an NFL franchise hopes and wishes their quarterback will be.

However, since he was drafted in 2012, no quarterback has been sacked more times than Wilson, eating the turf 420 times (source: statmuse). That is partially down to the way he plays the game, as he does have a tendency to hold onto the football for too long. However, the majority of the blame for this falls at the door of Seattle’s front office, who’s last significant investment in the offensive line was the selection of Germain Ifedi in round one of the 2016 draft. Ifedi never showed first-round ability, and was subsequently released at the end of his rookie contract.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) is sacked by Cardinals linebacker Haason Reddick during the first half of a game Sept. 30, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (Image credit: Ross D. Franklin/ AP Photo)

Seattle have undoubtedly failed to protect Wilson throughout the entirety of his career, and it is only through luck and sheer dedication from Wilson to sculpture his body to one that any god would be proud of that he has never endured a significant injury. But regardless, he’s never complained or kicked up a fuss, he’s never thrown team-mates under the bus when he absolutely could of, which again speaks to his unbelievable professionalism. That was until the 2021 off-season at least.

With what is now regarded as the infamous trade list, it was reported during late February of 2021 that Seattle’s poster boy was willing to waive his no-trade clause – which had been implemented as part of his prior contract extension – in order to be traded to any one of the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Las Vegas Raiders or the Chicago Bears. Of course, Wilson and the Seahawks denied the validity and existence of such a list, and no blockbuster trade materialised.

But having witnessed another year of poor offensive line play, outdated offensive play-calling, and ultimatley what looks increasingly likely to be his first season as an NFL quarterback with a losing regular season record, rumours are beginning to circulate once again.

So, will 2021 be the straw the broke the camel’s back for Wilson? Will it be a case of your legendary head coach or legendary quarterback for the Seahawks decision makers in 2022? Or will both Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson still be in Seattle when the time comes to play football again in 2022? To say the latter looks the least likely of those is a strange thought to any Seahawks and indeed NFL fan. Something looks like it will have to give in 2022, it’s now becoming a case of who will it be?