SEATTLE — In Pete Carroll’s tenure as coach of the Seattle Seahawks, there have come a few tipping point moments.
There was the decision to name Russell Wilson the starting quarterback as a rookie in 2012, or saying goodbye to key pieces of a Super Bowl roster when the time came for a refresh several years after winning the title.
The 2021 season is shaping up as another of those pivotal seasons.
After an offseason of drama, including questions about Wilson’s future in Seattle, the Seahawks enter this season again with expectations of being a contender.
But after flaming out at home in the first round of last season’s NFC playoffs, the Seahawks are seven years removed from last advancing past the second round of the postseason and eight years removed from their only Super Bowl title.
And Carroll, who will turn 70 in mid-September but is as youthful as ever, may be starting to run short on possible chances of winning another title.
“We’re trying to chase that Lombardi. If anybody tells you anything different, they’re wrong,” Seattle tight end Gerald Everett said. “We’re coming to work, and trying to compete to our best capabilities, and bring our hard hats to work every day and see what comes out of it.”
The group assembled for Seattle may have the widest variable for potential outcomes since the first couple of seasons under Carroll. The talent among the starters on both sides of the ball is undeniable and should make Seattle contenders in the loaded NFC West.
But the depth beyond those starters appears perilously thin in some spots. One or two key injuries seem to have the chance to derail the Seahawks’ hopes.
It creates a tenuous precipice for Seattle to navigate for 17 games. And should the Seahawks fail, all the rumors from the past offseason about the future direction of the franchise and Wilson’s role in that will likely bubble to the surface again.
Shane Waldron arrived in Seattle with the endorsement of Sean McVay and the task of modernizing the Seahawks’ offense with Wilson in command. That’s not an easy considering the expectations of expanding on what the Seahawks offense has shown in the past.
Throughout training camp, the buzz words have been around tempo and balance. Seattle wants to get the ball out of Wilson’s hands and let its talented playmakers go to work. It wants Chris Carson and a stable of running backs to control the ground game, while allowing DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Everett be threats in the passing game beyond deep balls or short scrambling passes.
“I think we can be the number one offense in football, I don’t see why not. We’re up for it, we’re ready,” Wilson said.
Jamal Adams got paid and in doing so the Seahawks are now free to use their do-everything defensive weapon perhaps in ways they were unable to a season ago.
Adams is Seattle’s most adept pass rusher even at safety, as he showed last season setting an NFL record for sacks by a defensive back with 9½ in just 12 games. Having Carlos Dunlap for a full season and waves of depth pass rushers on the defensive line should allow Seattle the chance to use Adams in ways other than just a blitzer. He’s also healthier after suffering shoulder and finger injuries that required offseason surgery.
There are concerns at cornerback. But its safeties with Adams and free safety Quandre Diggs give Seattle one of the best duos in the league.
“The sky is the limit, man. We’re very versatile in a lot of ways, we have a lot of guys that can do a lot of things and it could get scary,” Adams said.
Duane Brown as a spectator for training camp isn’t a problem considering he’s entering his 14th season.
Brown as a spectator when the regular season begins is a big problem for Seattle.
Brown did not participate in training camp on the field, although he was at almost every practice. It was part of a contract dispute as Brown wants assurances beyond the end of this season and Seattle wants to wait on a possible new deal with the 36-year-old.
For now, Brown has made peace with the adjustments Seattle did make to his contract, even if it lacks the long-term certainty he was hoping to get.
“I had my expectations for what I wanted and they had in their minds what they thought they could get done,” Brown said Wednesday. “What we came to isn’t exactly what I wanted but it’s OK. It’s a business, came to a compromise. I’m happy about it, they’re happy about it. Now, I’m ready to get to work.”
Brown will be starting at left tackle Sunday when Seattle opens the season at Indianapolis.
Seattle will have fans back in the seats at home, but starts the season with four of its first six games on the road. The two at Lumen Field during that stretch aren’t easy with hosting Tennessee and NFC West rival the Los Angeles Rams.
Seattle does get a break with a bye that falls at midseason, but road games at Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Washington dot a schedule that’s already a challenge. Two of their final three are at home against Detroit and Chicago meaning a late final surge by the Seahawks may be possible.