I know most of you are still grieving. Trust me, I get it.
After a Murphy’s law of a first half, the Seahawks’ season came to an end at the hands of the Carolina Panthers.
Perhaps the most excruciating part was that the Seahawks were able to make a game of it in the second half. They gave fans hope that they might somehow pull it out.
That has many fans asking the same soul-crushing question they were left asking at the end of Super Bowl 49: What if?
It’s the same question that seemed to hang over the entire season for the Seahawks.
What if they had given Marshawn Lynch the ball? What if he had been healthy this year? What if Kam Chancellor had shown up to mini-camp instead of holding out? What if the Seahawks had been able to close out games early in the season? What if Jimmy Graham hadn’t gone down in Week 12? What if the Seahawks had never traded for him at all and kept Max Unger?
These are the type of questions that keep us sports fans up at night.
Sunday’s game was ugly and exposed a lot of what was wrong with this Seahawks team.
But don’t lose hope, Seahawks fans. You still have a lot of great things to look forward to.
For starters, all of the young talent is coming back. The Seahawks have locked up all of its core players for the next several years. Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman and Chancellor are all 27. Earl Thomas is 26. Bobby Wagner is 25.
Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril combined for 19 sacks this year and are still considered one of the fiercest pass-rushing duos in the league.
Wilson continues to develop. After a slow start to the year, the light came on for the Seahawks offense as they entered the playoff push. Wilson became the first player to compile 4,000 passing yards, 500 rushing yards and throw for 30 touchdowns in a single season, showcasing his unique skillset. After losing Graham, he and Doug Baldwin evolved into a lethal combination, connecting for 11 TDs during a five week span towards the end of the season.
The Seahawks have an exciting new rivalry. The 49ers turned into a joke this last year and left many Seahawks fans missing the thrill of having a yearly rival to compete with. The Panthers seem to have answered the call. The Seahawks had won the four previous meetings since 2012 prior to this year. If both teams continue to play at the levels they did this year, we could have one of the next great rivalries on our hands.
One negative was Lynch getting hurt for most the year and only amassed 417 yards rushing with 3.8 yards per carry, his worst numbers as a pro.
Enter Thomas Rawls.
An undrafted rookie out of Central Michigan University, Rawls quickly became a fan favorite by giving a jolt to the Seahawks running game that had grown stagnant without Lynch. He produced over 800 yards with a 5.6 YPC average before his season was also cut short due to injury.
Lynch will probably be gone after this season, but Seahawks fans can take comfort in having Rawls.
Tyler Lockett was also an exciting find for the Seahawks. The team traded four draft picks to move up and grab the former Kansas State University standout in the third round of the NFL Draft, and he didn’t disappoint.
Selected as an All-Pro special team’s returner, Lockett amassed 1,231 yards on kick and punt returns. His explosive play on special teams eventual earned him more reps on offense and he became an exciting deep threat for Wilson, finishing with 51 catches for 664 yards and 6 TDs.
The addition of those two weapons and the eventual return of Graham should give the Seahawks offense hope.
However, there is work to be done.
The Seahawks offensive line is atrocious. Russell Okung was a Pro Bowler in 2012, but has not always played like it since and has been injury prone. He’s also a free agent. The Seahawks should bring him back if possible if only because they have nobody prepared to replace him. Guard J.R. Sweezy is an unrestricted free agent and starting center Patrick Lewis is a restricted free agent.
The interior of the Seahawks defensive line, Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rubin are also free agents. So is edge player Bruce Irvin and cornerback Jeremy Lane.
The Seahawks will be unable to bring all of them back. Okung and Lane are the two most important. Okung is tough to replace and Lane’s ability to play the nickelback position proved valuable for the Seahawks after he returned from injury.
The Seahawks will not have a lot of cap space with a lot of their money going to the core players that have signed huge contracts in the past two years.
They could potentially target some free agent linemen, guards Alex Boone or Ramon Foster could provide some improvement if they decide to leave their teams.
That means a lot of work will need to go into the Seahawks projected nine draft picks this year.
That said, the Seahawks have one of the best front offices in the NFL and will more than likely prove up to the task.
Until then, seven months until Seahawks football.