The Seahawks are going to the playoffs. After their 21-7 Action Green-fueled demolition of the Minnesota Vikings, the rebuilding-ass Seahawks are going to the damn playoffs. I can’t believe it. Their recent 8-3 run that only includes losses to the two crazy good teams out of Los Angeles has been one of the most impressive runs of play/coaching of the Pete Carroll era, an era that includes a damn Super Bowl. This Seahawks team is going to the damn playoffs.
Okay, they haven’t clinched yet, but they now have a 99.6 percent chance according to FiveThirtyEight. They could theoretically lose out and make the playoffs. If they win any one game (and they have two left against very bad divisional opponents) they clinch. Let's break down how they got there:
• Man, what a defensive performance on Monday. Even though they were not the best performers on the defense (those were obviously Bobby Wagner and Frank Clark), I want to highlight cornerbacks Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers. These two guys drew the best wide receiver duo in the league in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. After last week’s performance that saw Dante Pettis rip them apart, this should have been a bloodbath.
Instead, Thielen was held silent for 40 minutes and Diggs got one big catch when Flowers had perfect coverage. They ended up with decent stat lines padded in garbage time, but for the most part, Griffin and Flowers exceeded my highest expectations for them. It was awesome to watch.
• Russell Wilson was not good on Monday. Was it because Doug Baldwin was out? Was it because the Vikings defense is really good? Was it because he just missed on some big plays? Was it because he’s short and he’s finally regressing? My answers: somewhat, yeah, yup, and nah.
Man that backwards interception, though… what a dumb play.
• Not a dumb play? Hitting former left tackle and current big dude George Fant on a pass play for nine yards. That play was dope as hell. George Fant was one of the team's leading receivers today with nine yards. Whatever, we won, fight me.
• Chris Carson is a fabulous runner. His ability to bowl dudes over and drag them for extra yards is awesome. Rashaad Penny is a fabulous runner. His ability to get the edge and burst downfield is awesome. Having both of these dudes? Awesome.
• Credit to some dude named Jordan Simmons for ably filling in at guard for D.J. Fluker twice this year. Both times the Seahawks managed to go for over 200 rushing yards. The Seahawks used to struggle to find one good lineman. Now most weeks they have somewhere between three and five dudes playing well. It’s good and fun.
• Bobby Wagner is insanely good. There will be a lot of debate about the meaning of leverage after he may have broken the rules to block a field goal late in the game. But let’s set that aside and talk about how hard he hits running backs on fourth downs. He hits them so hard! It’s crazy. They are moving one way and then all of a sudden, they are not moving at all. We are very lucky to have Bobby Wagner on our football team.
• I’m going to complain about a bad tweet here for a second. Why? I don’t know. Because I can. Former Huskies quarterback and current ESPN commentator Brock Huard dropped the following take after last night’s game:
Hey NFL, just so you know, @PeteCarroll & his crew know how to coach & develop. While the past defensive stars and Pro Bowlers thought it was all about them & wanted the $$ & credit, the secret sauce is Pete’s Program & Culture
— Brock Huard (@BrockESPN) December 11, 2018
Look, I get it. You want to praise the current defense. I just did that above, talking about Griffin and Flowers. And you want to do it in relation to expectations to highlight the quality of the coaching. I get it. I thought this year might suck for Seahawks fans. And mostly I thought it would suck because of the defense. Not to be a broken record but, again, they lost Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, and Cliff Avril before the season started, Earl Thomas and K.J. Wright have barely played, even Bobby Wagner missed a game. The young guys have stepped in, and they played out of their minds on Monday. And that is a testament to Pete Carroll’s excellence.
But that does not diminish what the previous generation did. And ascribing the end of the Legion of Boom to them wanting money or having big egos is asinine. Its end (for the most part) was not due to money or egos. Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett took less money to play in Seattle because they believed in the project. For all the talk of Bennett being distracted, he has spoken and written at length about how freeing it was to play for Carroll, and Carroll has talked about how great Mike was at length, including in a New Yorker piece that came out this week. Earl Thomas earned a big contract, didn’t get it, and played anyway. And yes, Richard Sherman was a jerk, and apparently could not stop making fun of Russell Wilson. That’s dumb and bad, but I hardly think it invalidates his contributions to the franchise.
The reasons the previous era of Seahawks football ended are time and age and the brutality of football. These guys had their bodies break down, in some cases suddenly, because they play a violent sport. The only player who didn’t was Bennett, and he did the most he could (again, he was wildly underpaid his entire time in Seattle) to stay with the Seahawks. For real, if your take somehow implicates Cliff Avril, who is known for playing hard and doing charity work, as some sort of egotistical money-grubbing asshole, you’ve lost your mind.
And beyond all that, these guys have short careers; they should be interested in getting as much money as they can while they play. Until we destroy capitalism, people should try to maximize their earnings if they are in dangerous professions. These were special players, and they are not interchangeable. As good as the kids are, Earl Thomas has not been replaced. Cliff Avril has not been replaced. Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman have only barely been replaced, and you cannot tell me this team would not be better with Michael Bennett rotating in as a hybrid pass rusher. Dude has eight sacks in eight weeks in Philly.
We can highlight this defense’s surprising excellence without taking shots at good guys who played football well for trying to get paid while their bodies worked and then stepping away when they didn’t anymore. Okay, rant over.
• So the Seahawks are all but in the ‘yoffs. It would be nice to see them go to San Francisco and clinch things against Richard Sherman next week. That would be nice. Hopefully they go and do that now. I would enjoy that very much.