The Seahawks were so efficient this weekend they took back the No. 2 seed in the NFC by not even playing.
They have only a pair of tomato cans (Arizona and San Francisco, a combined 6-21-1) to knock over in order to keep that coveted position. But there remain any number of pressing topics left for them to consider in this strangely unsettled divisional championship season.
▪ What about Gus?
Gus Bradley’s record of 14-48 in just short of four seasons as coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars got him fired. It wasn’t exactly a no-win situation there, but surely a rare-win roster he was dealing with.
Now that he’s unemployed, it’s timely to recall that Bradley was instrumental in establishing the foundation of the Seahawks’ defense as coordinator from 2009 through 2012.
He was so ably replaced by Dan Quinn that Quinn got his own head-coaching job with Atlanta.
For almost two full seasons, Quinn’s replacement, Kris Richard, has kept the Seahawks at or very near the NFL lead in points-against standings (currently No. 2 behind New England).
Injuries to Earl Thomas and Michael Bennett, particularly, have taken their toll this season. But some fair questions about consistency and efficiency have risen at times about the defense.
The team is currently ranked 22nd in takeaways (16), and communication has seemed spotty at times.
Fact is, this defense had to carry the Seahawks much of the season as the offense struggled, and it often played absurd numbers of snaps to keep the team in games.
The statistics themselves are still impressive. So how well Richard has done is best judged by those who see how he is in the meeting rooms and on the practice field, and in his relationships with the players.
A team bylaw, though, is to always improve and always compete. If they believe they can get better at defensive coordinator, they should seriously consider taking a look at Bradley again.
▪ A key component to the successful relationship coach Pete Carroll has with his players is his commitment to celebrating their personal expression and individuality.
When All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman unleashed his second sideline shouting fit of the season Thursday in the game against the Rams, Carroll initially said he had no problems with it at all — a stance he relented on during a later radio appearance.
Sherman’s first rant came in the Atlanta game and was directed at Richard — his coordinator, after some on-field communication. This time, he aimed it at offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Carroll after getting upset about a pass call on the 1-yard line.
Carroll said he had a private meeting with Sherman in the aftermath, so he obviously believes the matter needed more attention.
So, should Carroll take a stronger stance on sideline outbursts?
He needs to be true to who he is as a coach. But reoccurring sideline displays interfere with the management of the game, and that can affect the outcome.
At that point Thursday, receiver Doug Baldwin was yelling about something on one side, and Sherman was yelling about something else on the other side. Carroll had to feel as if he was trapped in the middle of the Stanford Debate Team.
The optics aren’t good for the public, but the real problem is everybody staying focused on doing their own jobs. And Carroll’s job now is to keep them fully on-task on their primary jobs.
▪ Does Sherman’s distemper reflect a schism between the Seahawks’ offense and defense that could, ultimately, unravel the sense of unity that has been so crucial to their success over the past five seasons?
It certainly could. Several times this season, defenders have mentioned offensive turnovers, low scoring and the inability of the offense to sustain drives.
That definitely could be festering as they near the postseason and still have only a few times played up to the potential they all seem to know is there.
Here’s how the Seahawks have dealt with this kind of thing in the past, and a technique they need to revisit:
At several key moments in previous seasons, a small handful of team leaders have pulled everybody together for players-only meetings. They toss around terms like “family” and “brothers” and “togetherness.” They remember their earlier selves and how valuable their relationships were to becoming champions.
They tend to emerge from those meetings saying they’ve been reminded that they are playing for each other, offense, defense, special teams, and everybody is in it together.
Another one of those meetings might be all they really need.