The Seattle Seahawks have made the playoffs during every year of the Russell Wilson era. They’ve been to two Super Bowls, winning their first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history in 2013. They should’ve won a second championship, but decided to pass on that opportunity. Since then, Seattle hasn’t been able to make it back to the Super Bowl. They’ve been hampered by injuries, inconsistent play, and an offensive line that resembles a pee wee football team in talent. But they still have enough talent in key positions to compete for a championship. Although they have enough talent to make a championship run, there are potential obstacles in the way that could derail their season. Here are five obstacles that could keep the Seahawks from making the playoffs for the first time since the Tarvaris Jackson era.
Why the Seattle Seahawks Could Miss the Playoffs
1. Injury bug strikes
Every great team needs injury luck. Last year, the Seahawks struggled at times due to the health of their quarterback. Although Russell Wilson didn’t miss a game, he was hampered by injuries all season. He suffered his first injury in the season’s first game, and was never able to fully recover. He suffered three others during the season that would’ve likely sidelined most players. If the Seahawks lose him to an injury for a large portion of the season, they’ll be in trouble. Backup quarterback Trevone Boykin is athletic like Wilson, but he isn’t an accurate passer. The Seahawks also lost Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor last year. Both safeties are key to their success, but it still didn’t keep Seattle out of the playoffs. But injuries to multiple defenders and Russell Wilson could result in subpar season.
2. Offensive line doesn’t improve
The Seahawks offensive line is terrible. Pro Football Focus ranked them the worst offensive line in the NFL. Given that the NFL has an offensive line crisis, that’s really saying something. More than half the teams in the league have bad offensive lines, so having the worst is sadly impressive. The Seahawks coaching staff believes that their offensive line should be better than last year, but that may just be coach speak. Or it’s possible that they are better and are the worst in the league. That’s how terrible they were last year. If the Seahawks want to compete for a championship, they’ll need their offensive line to improve drastically. If they don’t improve at all, Russell Wilson might get injured again this season. This offensive line could be the catalyst for a poor 2017 season.
3. NFC West opponents improve
The rest of the NFC West struggled in 2016. The Los Angeles Rams were successful against their division opponents (as usual), but were unable to win many games outside of the division. The San Francisco 49ers were horrible all season with inconsistent play on both sides of the ball. The Arizona Cardinals were one of the biggest surprises in the NFL. The Cardinals were expected to compete for the NFC West crown, but struggled throughout the season. Quarterback Carson Palmer looked like a shell of himself, which is a major issue going forward. He’s not getting any younger. If Palmer is able to bounce back, the Cardinals could contend for the division crown. The Rams should improve now that quarterback Jared Goff has a year under his belt. The 49ers will probably still be terrible, but should be at least a little better than last year. If the other three teams in the NFC West improve and catch Seattle on a down year, the Seahawks could be on the outside looking in during playoff time.
4. Seahawks defensive starters don’t get a rest
The 2013 Super Bowl champion Seahawks had arguably the best defense in NFL history. They dominated the best statistical offense in NFL history by only allowing them to score eight points. This Seahawks defense looks similar on paper, but they are missing a key element from that championship team. Pete Carroll and John Schneider started their tenure in Seattle by dominating the draft. This allowed them to accumulate depth, which helped their defense dominate the NFL. This current Seahawks defense isn’t as deep, and this can be largely blamed on the recent drafts by Schneider and Carroll. The Seahawks drafted numerous defenders in this year’s draft, which could help their depth going forward. But it’s hard to depend on rookies to play major minutes, especially over Pro Bowlers like Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Michael Bennett, and Cliff Avril. This defense is loaded with starter talent, but they have to play a ton of snaps because of their lack of depth. This could catch up to them this season and cause the defense to struggle. If Seattle’s defense struggles this season, the offense won’t be able to carry them to the postseason.
5. Locker room rumors are real
The biggest narrative of the offseason for the Seahawks has been about their locker room turmoil. Although everyone on the Seahawks claims this is fake news, it’s hard to ignore the warning signs. This locker room is full of competitive alpha dogs, so this shouldn’t be too surprising. These players fight like brothers, but at the end of the day have each other’s backs like brothers. If the Seahawks get off to a fast start this season, there shouldn’t be any issues. The national media has blown this out of proportion. The local media understands how the Seahawks operate, which is different than every other NFL team. The only way that this could become an issue is if the Seahawks struggle to start the season, which has been extremely common during the Pete Carroll era. If the Seahawks stumble out of the gate, there could be a lot of finger pointing. This could potentially derail the season and keep the Seahawks out of the playoffs.