At their best, the Seahawks have been a blend of competitive fire and frantic motion, so it’s fitting to co-opt a theory of thermodynamics to describe their current status.
As we speak, they’re dealing with the forces of entropy.
Basically, it proclaims that systems that aren’t renewed suffer from an inevitable decline into disorder. Things fall apart, unravel.
Naturally, teams break down over time. Age rises, motivation wanes, the wheels need more lubrication.
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Last season for the Seahawks seemed doomed by a collision of ego-driven distraction and the disappointment of unachieved expectations.
As long as there was the strong lure of reaching the top once again, the Hawks were fine.
The win over New England in November proved the Seahawks still had it when they wanted to crank up the magic factory.
The deeper look at the team’s current mindset was brought to the headlines by the now-tiresome discussion of the once-thought-unspeakable prospect of trading cornerback Richard Sherman.
Sherman was a tinderbox for the second half of the season. He admirably holds himself to the highest of standards, but it’s not his job to police teammates and staffers to the same degree.
His frustration led him to it, along with the realization that championship windows soon will be on a greased chute toward the closed position.
Likely, the talks of a trade and the mutual openness to the idea are a part of the normal course of business. But being so willing to talk about it publicly is a different approach.
A symbol of the inevitable fraying? More a recognition that the system is going to have to be renewed — at least at some positions — before it comes undone.
Of course they’re getting older. Every key core veteran player has had a significant injury.
NFL fact: When life-long fiscal security intersects with an awareness of career mortality, absolute 100 percent production arrives only on a must-have basis.
Not for everybody, but it’s common enough to take a team out of contention.
The 2017 Seahawks can fend it off by avoiding a few key causes of 2016 problems.
I would argue that they have two keystone players with such game-changing talents and will that they can forestall the disorder. Quarterback Russell Wilson was at some fractional portion of his maximum because of injuries, and free safety Earl Thomas was lost with a broken leg.
The necessary sense of renewal the 2016 Hawks might have felt would have come from back Thomas Rawls. Had he bounced back from his broken leg to reach rookie productivity, the team would have been able to look ahead rather than back wistfully at the days with Marshawn Lynch.
Even as late as the divisional playoff game at Atlanta, the Hawks showed the belief they could beat the Falcons and make it to another championship game.
It was interesting that GM John Schneider would mention one specific play from that game on a recent radio interview.
He talked about how the holding call on backup linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis played a role in the loss.
Did it ever. When early in the second quarter Devin Hester returned a punt 80 yards to the Falcons’ 7, it looked certain a likely score would put them ahead 17-7.
But the penalty, by one of those young players who was supposed to be ripening into a big playmaker, brought them back deep in their own territory. Wilson was sacked for a safety two plays later, and the Falcons scored on their next three possessions.
Inside the mind of the Seahawks: Go up 17-7, they’re rolling. When that didn’t happen, well, the damper came down on the competitive fire.
Afterward, defensive end Michael Bennett, who had fought hard to get back from a knee injury during the season, blew up at innocuous questions from a television reporter.
Surely, he was inflamed by the frustrations of not advancing, of having put his body on the line with a championship effort that didn’t return dividends. It was an unvarnished display of what a good number of his teammates probably felt.
If they held on for that win, Bennett might have been a jovial jokester. The team would have pulled more tightly together with the goal closer in sight.
Sometimes it’s only a play here or there that can pull at the loose thread.
Entropy is like that.