No way around it: The Seattle Seahawks, the defending Super Bowl champions, are a mediocre team at the moment.
And that may be giving them a little benefit of the doubt after a 28-26 loss Sunday to the previously 1-4 St. Louis Rams dropped the Hawks to 3-3.
Those Seahawks who spoke in the locker room afterward focused on their 20 second-half points as a signal that they have things turned in the right direction.
Maybe; we’ll need to see further evidence next week at Carolina.
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Fact is, for the second consecutive week, they were out-played and out-coached.
Maybe they were emotionally hung over from the Percy Harvin trade drama, and only snapped out of it after their halftime break.
But the problems seem far deeper than the sudden discarding of a disgruntled prima donna receiver.
They still did not block well (Russell Wilson getting sacked three times and hit seven times, while backs were caught five times behind the line of scrimmage).
They still did not tackle well (getting gashed up the middle a number of times by backup running back Tre Mason).
And they certainly were hoodwinked once again by the St. Louis special teams, which scored on a misdirection punt return, made a crucial late first down on a fake punt, and set up a short-field scoring drive with a 75-yard kickoff return.
Coach Jeff Fisher and the Rams pull off that kind of stuff almost every time the Seahawks play them. And yet it continues to work.
In the locker room afterward, receiver Doug Baldwin, who had an exceptional game with seven catches for 123 yards, confirmed he’d had a physical altercation with Harvin in the preseason.
It had been a draining week, he said, and it was only human nature for the team to be distracted by it.
The Harvin soap opera, though, was less damaging than the actual physical absences of some injured Seahawks at key positions.
Without starting tight end Zach Miller, they have more trouble protecting Wilson and setting the edge on perimeter runs.
With middle linebacker Bobby Wagner out, the Seahawks linebackers looked slow and ineffective, frequently failing to scrape and fill the gaps — or to wrap up the back even when they did.
Center Max Unger was out, too, and his backup, Stephen Schilling, had troubles against the Rams like the rest of the line.
How much trouble? The Seahawks can thank Wilson that the sack total was as low as three. He was on the run all day, making plays that were, at times, ridiculously creative and athletic.
He finished with 106 rushing yards on seven carries, and 313 passing yards, with a 110.1 passer rating, to become the first player in NFL history to pass for more than 300 yards and rush for more than 100 yards in a game.
Wilson said none of that mattered as much as the team’s “resilience” in the second half: “We gave ourselves a chance there all the way to the end.”
Yes, they had a chance, and didn’t close the deal.
Coach Pete Carroll said he was encouraged that the team did “all the things that you have to do to get back in a football game. … We rallied in every way.”
Well, not in every way. And not soon enough.
We don’t usually see owner Paul Allen on the field during warmups at road games, but he walked with Carroll to the locker room before the game. Perhaps he was asking why they spent $18 million of his money for a dysfunctional receiver.
If so, he’s got the right to question that … and a few other topics that have become pressing issues as well.
This team has been so good and competitive for so long that it was easy to believe them, after the previous two losses, when they said that problems would get fixed, that nothing was drastically wrong.
Maybe getting rid of Harvin will give them more time to focus on the game rather than locker room fights or sideline skulking.
But right now, the brilliance of some individuals is not enough to make this a team that is anything better than ordinary.