Seahawks safety Earl Thomas nearly intercepted the ball against Cardinals tight end Troy Niklas in the fourth quarter.
Seahawks safety Earl Thomas nearly intercepted the ball against Cardinals tight end Troy Niklas in the fourth quarter. Otto Greule Jr / Getty

The Seahawks lost on New Years Eve, ending their first playoff-free campaign since 2011 with a dispiriting 26-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The game had all the hallmarks of a 2017 Seahawks defeat: penalties, drops, missed kicks, bad punts, ludicrous attempts to run the ball, a resilient defensive effort, a second half surge from the offense, and finally a heartbreaking screw-up late to cost the team the game.

This whole season was a bummer. Not only was Donald Trump the president the whole damn time, but the team managed to show enough signs of greatness to keep me fully engaged, while also committing themselves to making mind-melting errors, rewarding my engagement with emptiness. And also Donald Trump was president the whole damn time. If I were to grade the season I'd give it a "Donald Trump was president the whole time, and this did nothing to distract me."

So what happens now? With the Seahawks facing a mini-rebuild there are bigger questions about what’s about to go down with this team than there have been since they drafted Russell Wilson. Let’s engage with said questions:

• I’m preemptively saying goodbye to tight ends Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson. They both blessed us with flashes of brilliance and enough drops to ruin our lives. Willson may have capped his Seahawks career with his ugliest drop yet on Sunday. While they might re-sign, I’m not counting on it; the team needs to save money and paying free agent cash to average tight ends is not a good way to do that. So fare thee well, brothers of dubstep. Maybe the drops keep coming wherever you end up next.

• The team’s assistant Offensive Coordinator Tom Cable cannot be back next year. Cable’s history of alleged violence towards both employees and the women in his life is long and well-documented. His performance on the job has been substandard. Either of these would be grounds to fire him. Together, they make the Seahawks’ continued employment of him a genuine disgrace.

 

• My hottest take? I think the offensive line has enough talent to get by so long as Cable is gone. Duane Brown should be retained. Ethan Pocic should get better. Justin Britt is still fine. Germain Ifedi can’t play any dumber, and if he does the team will have George Fant back to replace him with. That leaves only one guard spot to fill. There are many other units that need more TLC this offseason (like say, running back… sweet Jesus, this team needs a real running back).

• Outside of Cable, there are other questions about the coaching staff. There were well-sourced rumors before Sunday’s game that Pete Carroll would consider retiring after the season, which he disputed in emoji form.

I think Pete will be back next year? He should be? That would be good? I don’t know. I can’t know! I’m only one man who is not Pete Carroll.

• Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell could be fired after the Seahawks uneven offensive performance this season. The special teams coordinator Brian Schneider could be fired after the Seahawks uneven special teams performance this season. The defensive coordinator Kris Richard won’t be fired after the Seahawks resilient (if still uneven) defensive performance this season, but his pedigree from working under Pete Carroll has already made him a potential head coaching target for other teams.

Again though, the only change the Seahawks HAVE TO make is firing Cable. The rest? I still trust in Pete to make the call even if I’d clean house.

• Russell Wilson was never really an MVP candidate this year (Tom Brady and Carson Wentz were better while playing for better teams all year), BUT any whispers you may have about him declining, or being unable to fit in this system should be shouted down. Russell Wilson is good. He needs some better talent around him… but he also led the damn league in TD passes. So he’s fine. Get a running back and things will look okay.

• This is a sad one… it’s time to bid a fond farewell to punter Jon Ryan. He’s getting old, and he’s no longer as effective as he once was. This team’s special teams were bad this year, and there are cheaper options at the position that can bring just as much in terms of performance. Ryan is a Seahawks legend, the longest tenured member of the team, and should be remembered as such. But also this team is due for an influx of new kicking talent.

• This is a less sad one… it’s time to bid a less than fond farewell to kicker Blair Walsh who cost the Seahawks another win on Sunday. If Walsh were an above-average kicker the Seahawks would have gone 12-4 this year despite all of the injuries and inconsistency on the rest of the roster. It’s a testament to Walsh’s comprehensive terribleness that he managed to be the league’s least accurate kicker despite only attempting one kick of over 50 yards (he missed it). Walsh is not a Seahawks legend, and should be remembered as unfondly as possible.

• This team needs to re-sign Earl Thomas. I don’t know what it will take, and there are so many whispers suggesting that won’t happen, but good lord, just pay the man his money. He’s only 28. You have to pay him. He’s so good. Pay him.

• Michael Bennett seems to think he’ll be cut this offseason; I for one would be surprised if that happened. Even though his performance fell off slightly this year, he was still valuable, and the team would save very little from moving on from him this year. He should play one more year with the team, which good because Michael Bennett is good.

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• Bobby Wagner won’t be defensive player of the year, but man, let’s all just take a second and think about how good it is that this team has Bobby Wagner. Okay. Yeah. That’s the good stuff.

Thus ends this Seahawks season, earlier than any other in a long time. This is the most important offseason since Russell Wilson was drafted. We’ve entered a weird period of flux from a team that has been so delightful to root for over the past six years. Things could really go either way, and there’s a small part of me that wants it to go really badly. If the team does something insane, like respond to a Pete Carroll retirement by promoting Tom Cable I’ll finally be free from caring about a sport that ruins not only the bodies but the minds of the athletes who play it. That would maybe be nice.

On the other hand, the team could restock itself, and come back better than ever with Pete Carroll just as delightful as he’s always been. Russ will still be here, and the team will therefore be a playoff contender as they were this year. There’s so much uncertainty that I feel like one of the players, cleaning out my locker, trying to figure out in what capacity I’ll be back next year.