Has the time come to concede that 2015 has the trappings of a lost season for the Seattle Seahawks?
In the aftermath of their 39-32 defeat Sunday night to Arizona, I suspect it has.
It’s time to acknowledge some combination of fallout from Super Bowl 49, and Kam Chancellor’s contract holdout, and the departure of two top defensive assistants, and the reality the Hawks bring out the best in every opponent they face has conspired against them.
It was great fun, winning back-to-back conference titles, but reigns of dominance are cyclical in sports, and the remainder of 2015 now looks more about retooling for the future than returning to the Super Bowl.
Sunday lined up as an ideal way to begin the second half of the season: A prime-time home game against an Arizona Cardinals team on an unabashed mission to supplant the Seahawks as NFC West champs. Furthermore, the Hawks figured to be refreshed after their bye week.
Even the weather lightened up, cool and crisp substituting for the Bible-chapter deluge.
And then, on the fourth play of Seattle’s first possession, tight end Luke Willson got called for grabbing a face mask, pushing the Seahawks back 15 yards and presaging a trend of mistakes — many mental, others physical — that found head coach Pete Carroll describing the performance with one word.
“Miserable,” he said. “We had too many first-and-20 situations to do anything we wanted to accomplish.”
On their second possession, left guard Justin Britt was called for called for holding — a 10-yard penalty — and then quarterback Russell Wilson took a delay of game.
This early display of lethargy and rust prompted running back Marshawn Lynch to gather his teammates on the sideline for a lecture. How’d that turn out?
On the first play of the Seahawks’ next possession, Willson was penalized for holding. On the second play, Wilson collided with left tackle Russell Okung and fumbled the ball into the end zone for a safety.
The discombobulated offense would get worse before it got better. With four minutes remaining in the first half, the Hawks trailed 19-0 and deserved to face a deficit twice as daunting.
Arizona had outgained them, 185 yards to 8. It’s conceivable for an overmatched high school team facing a superior opponent from a larger enrollment classification to be outgained 185-8 before halftime.
But in the NFL?
Changing gears into a hurry-up offensive mode enabled the Seahawks to score a touchdown with 1:52 left in the second quarter, thanks in large part to Wilson’s 40-yard pass completion to second-year wide receiver Paul Richardson.
The Richardson reception underscored the karma working against the 2015 Seahawks. Richardson has suffered a series of injuries since the speedster was drafted out of Colorado in 2014,and needed half a season to work his way back into the receiver rotation.
But a moment after making the catch, Richardson limped off the field with what was reported as a hamstring pull.
Carroll is a master at accentuating the positive, of course, and he pointed out how the Seahawks kept battling on a night they were destined to beat themselves.
I’m not buying there’s anything positive about losing, at home, to the first-place team in your division. The only takeaway from Sunday is that the time has come to identify 2015 as a lost cause.