The Seahawks divisional round playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons was a very fitting end to a very up and down season. The loss highlighted all the problems that that team had during the 2016 regular season. To those watching, the way the game played out was all too familiar. The offensive line failed to protect Russell Wilson or provide consistent run blocking for Thomas Rawls. The playing calling gave up on the run really early and made the team one dimensional. The defense failed to get consistent pressure on Matt Ryan and allow a quick passing attack to rack up big yards. The defense also failed to stop the Falcons from converting on important third downs, regardless of the yards to go.
The result was not too shocking to me, but I was still disappointed. In my head I knew the Seahawks were going to lose to the Falcons. They were just too flawed of a team to win the Super Bowl, let alone beat good team like the Falcons on the road. But in my heart I hoped that the Seahawks might surprise us. Maybe the pressure of the playoffs would get to Matty Ice, or a freak turnover would change a low scoring game. Alas it was not to be and the 2016 season came to an inglorious end in the Georgia Dome.
The Seahawks showed signs of brilliance during the regular season. They went to New England and beat the Patriots on Sunday Night Football. They dominated the Carolina Panthers 40-7 at home in CenturyLink Field. Doug Baldwin showed he is a legitimate number one receiver totaling 94 receptions and 1128 yards.
However there were also several lows. The Rams beat the Seahawks 9-3. The Green Bay Packers shellacked the Seahawks 38-10. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense to 3 points and those were only because of a short field gifted by a turnover. Maybe worst of all, by ranking 25th in the league in rushing yards, the Seahawks lost their identity as a run first power football team.
The Seahawks players, coaches and executives have a lot of improvements to make over the 2017 offseason. First and foremost they need to drastically improve the offensive line. They need to find more depth in the secondary. They need to cut Jermaine Kearse. Finally they need to figure out, either through play calling or personnel, how to stop other teams on third down. Without these changes the Seahawks 2017 season looks to be much like the 2016. A bumpy ride filled with highs and lows, but ultimately ending in an early exit from the playoffs.
All is not bleak and despairing in Seattle. There is lots to be encouraged by heading into 2017. The Seahawks front office has been one of the best in the league at making changes and improving their team year in and year out. Head Coach Pete Carroll and General Manager John Schneider are one of the best teams in the league. They have consistently been able to add quality players through free agency and the draft, with the only glaring weakness being the offensive line.
On the players side things are also looking good for next year. The team's defense is still anchored by players in the primes of their careers such as Earl Thomas (currently age 27), Kam Chancellor (age 28), Richard Sherman (age 28), and Bobby Wagner (age 26). The teams quarterback, Russell Wilson, despite an injury hampered 2016 regular season, is one of the best in the league. With Doug Baldwin has his primary target, Wilson has a star to throw passes to. The these players give the team a great starting point coming into 2017.
The 2016 season culminated in a fitting loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome. The Seahawks showed all of their most aggravating weaknesses as the game played out as expected. The defense was unable to handle the dominate offense of the Falcons and the Seahawks offense could not get past their own ineptitude to keep the score close. Despite being a frustrating season that ended on a low note things look good for the Seahawks heading into 2017. They will still be the team to beat in the NFC West because of their super talented core of players and their smart front office.