RENTON, Wash. -- For the first time since 2011, the Seattle Seahawks are having to watch the playoffs after being eliminated on the final Sunday of the regular season.
The reasons for Seattle's slide are numerous.
The Seahawks' running game was woefully ineffective all season. They managed just one rushing touchdown from a running back all season and quarterback Russell Wilson finished as the team's leading rusher. The 240 rushing yards by Mike Davis was the second-least by a leading running back in franchise history, behind only Sherman Smith's 202 yards in 1982.
Wilson led the league with 34 touchdown passes this season. However, it was a necessity, as Seattle couldn't run the ball near an opponent's end zone.
Running backs gained only 17 yards on 34 carries inside an opponent's 20-yard line with no touchdowns and just one first down converted.
While the group could manage to keep playing at a high level at times, further injuries to linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright and defensive end Michael Bennett took their toll even as those players continued to play.
Blair Walsh missing critical kicks and Seattle leading the league in penalties also proved problematic.
An offseason of uncertainty awaits for the Seahawks as several key pieces of their two Super Bowl teams may not return in 2018. Some changes could come to the coaching staff as well as the Seahawks look to correct their course.
WHAT WENT RIGHT: When healthy, Seattle's defense played at a level consistent with their dominance of recent seasons. Russell Wilson in the second half of games was lethal at times and carried Seattle's offensive scoring burden.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Injuries to key defenders, accuracy issues from kicker Blair Walsh and the complete lack of an effective rushing attack limited the team's season and took away any margin for error for Russell Wilson.
MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER: Defensive tackle Malik McDowell was badly injured in an ATV accident before the start of training camp and didn't play a snap all season.
MOST SURPRISING PLAYER: Chris Carson played in just four games this season, but the seventh-round pick was Seattle's most productive rusher all season after supplanting Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy and C.J. Prosise for the team's starting job.
ASSISTANT COACH ON THE RISE: Defensive coordinator Kris Richard managed to keep Seattle's defense playing at a reasonably high level despite the loss of three starters to season-ending injuries and an offense that rarely gave them large leads to work with.
--Wide receiver Doug Baldwin could have said much more regarding his thoughts on a season gone awry for the Seahawks.
Even though Baldwin couched his comments on Monday, he said plenty to express his frustration about the season and the issues the team had this year.
"When we go into a game or coming out of halftime, down 20-7, we have to take some responsibility for that," Baldwin said. "We can't put it all on the defense. We have to play better, simply put. We've been in those situations all year long. It's been the case for multiple years now, but we have always been able to lean on our defense to keep the opponent down, in terms of points.
"This year, like you said, we sustained a lot of injuries. Offenses got better. When you have that paired with not playing well offensively in the first half of games, we are always fighting against ourselves. We are always trying to dig ourselves out of a hole. Plus, we were terrible at penalties this year. That plays a big role as well."
Baldwin said he expects "several" changes this offseason, but he went out of his way to address criticism toward offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
"I can't say it," he said trying to be diplomatic. "My job is to protect the team right now and I'm doing a poor job of that right now. How can I say this? How can I say this? It's not play-calling. It's not play-calling. We go into a game knowing what the defense is going to give us, the situations that we're going to be in. We don't execute as a team. Offensively, that's what we've seen time and time again is that we do not execute the way that we should. And that's on us as players. You guys can blame Bev all you want to, but the truth of the matter is Bev is not the problem. Probably already said too much."
NOTES: RG Ethan Pocic sustained a knee injury in Sunday's season finale. He said the injury would not require surgery and he would be fine in the near future. ... LB Terence Garvin sustained a concussion in the final game of the season.