The Seattle Seahawks will finish the 2021 season in last place in the NFC West, their first last-place finish since 1996.
It's a new low for the Pete Carroll era, a span of time headlined by two Super Bowl appearances, one Super Bowl victory and perennial contention for the Lombardi Trophy. The 2021 season, however, was the year the wheels fell off, prompting many to wonder if maybe it's time to start a new era.
Fresh off a 25-24 loss to the Chicago Bears in which the Seahawks blew a 10-point lead, Carroll doesn't think a reset is necessary.
"Not for one reason at all do I think we have to restart this thing," Carroll said during an appearance on ESPN 710.
Seattle has sustained success because of a variety of factors, starting with finding its franchise quarterback (Russell Wilson) in the third round of the 2011 draft. The Seahawks have nailed a handful of late-round picks and undrafted free-agent signings, leading to a strong roster that was capable of clashing with the league's titans in the last decade.
But repeated swings and misses on first-round picks have set the franchise back, and after years of patching holes by acquiring coveted talents via trade, the dam finally burst in 2021. There was a talent discrepancy with which Seattle simply could not keep up, a reality Carroll didn't shy away from Monday.
"When you look around our division and you look at when the Cardinals were really rolling and they had all of their guys going, they had a lot of star players on their football team," Carroll explained. "Like, National Football League star guys. The Rams looked like they were pretty loaded up as well. You could see it. The Niners have a lot of firepower.
"I'm looking at our club, I like what we had. I liked every aspect of what we had. But as it turned out, the guys in our division -- it's why this is the best division in football, and it was noted for that going maybe into the middle of the season. The talent is there. We're up against it.
"We like what we got but you gotta admire what the other teams have and acknowledge the fact they got some great players over there, too. It's been really balanced out."
Gone are the days when Carroll's team had the strongest roster in the NFC West and was a lock for the playoffs. Instead, they're a team in need of offensive line help, consistent availability at running back and better play defensively.
The trade for Jamal Adams simply hasn't panned out for the Seahawks, who gave up two first-rounders to get the disgruntled safety. Adams has since been a pass-rushing safety who lacks the ability to force takeaways via interceptions, isn't great in coverage and can't stay on the field.
That was a lot of capital to give up for a safety who has weaknesses. Moves like these and failed Day 1 and 2 picks have left the Seahawks in a talent deficit that doesn't reflect well on both Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
Carroll doesn't believe the Seahawks need to reset because, well, the 70-year-old is not getting any younger. Humans naturally don't like change, either, and such change might include making one at general manager, if not head coach. Wilson might also have an uncertain future.
After a decade-plus together, Carroll understandably wouldn't be keen on parting ways with Schneider or Wilson, even after an offseason of internal drama kindled by Wilson's public comments. But the Seahawks have to improve when it comes to roster-building, or else they'll get familiar with the cellar, and Carroll won't last much longer.
His run of success has been tremendous, but it's over, at least for 2021. Perhaps Carroll and Schneider have a major turnaround up their sleeves. They might need one to remain employed beyond 2022.