According to NFL Red Zone analyst Scott Hanson, it has been said if an NFL team begins their season with a 0-2 record they have a 4.1 percent chance of qualifying for the postseason. Since the NFL expanded into a 12 team playoff format in 1990, only 23 teams of 204 to start 0-2, covering 11.2 percent, have overcame the odds of a winless start to avail to the postseason. The Seattle Seahawks have not started the season under .500 since Jim Mora’s lone 5-11 season in 2009, and for a team eager to expand on their previous Super Bowl aspirations, you would expect Head Coach Pete Carroll to enter the 2015 season with a substantial amount of determination and aggression. Thus far, the Seahawks have not resembled their “Legion of Boom” moniker, which was primarily coined when the squad rose to prominence defensively in the early 2010s.
Seattle’s blunders only continued into week one of the 2015 season as Seahawks’ defense surrendered over 276 yards to a newly-implemented St. Louis Rams offense, led by former Eagles quarterback Nick Foles in a 34-31 loss. Week two proved to be a similar scenario as the Seahawks revisited Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers who showed little to no clemency avenging their NFC Championship defeat in a lethal 17-27 loss. While many have suspected offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s system has been the biggest issue entering the season, (which was widely speculated to have greatly improved with the acquisition of three time Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham in a trade with the New Orleans Saints), the true drawback in the Seattle Seahawks’ early struggles is the glaring absence of strong safety, Kam Chancellor – a core member of the reputable “Legion of Boom.”
In April 2013, Chancellor agreed to a four-year extension worth up to $28 million with the Seahawks, placing him under contract through 2017. The strong safety was instrumental to the Seahawks postseason success in which the quartet consisting of Sherman, Thomas, Maxwell and Chancellor allowed the fewest passing yards and passing touchdowns in the league from 2013 to 2014. Recently after the massive re-signings of Bobby Wagner, Marshawn Lynch, and Russell Wilson, Chancellor felt the incumbent need to reevaluate his current contract with general manager John Schneider requesting a new deal. Schneider’s refusal to give into Chancellor’s demands has led to a contract holdout that has followed the strong safety into the regular season. Since their first meeting with the St. Louis Rams, the Seahawks have been unable to retain their gruesome identity as the “Legion of Boom.” Much of this can be attributed to Chancellor’s truancy especially considering his significance as a locker room presence. ESPN NFL analyst and former Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis easily identified with Chancellor’s stance, but furthermore questioned the implications to which the strong safety is willing to go in order to restructure his contract.
“I love Kam Chancellor,” Lewis exclaimed during an appearance on the “The Stephen A. Smith Show.” “Do I think he should be paid? Absolutely. I’m always for the players when it comes to that. But I am also for the players when it comes to the other side, too. I will never leave my brothers in battle. Never. Not over money.”
During the course of the program, Lewis made it abundantly clear that his relationship with Chancellor is a bond similar to that during his days in Baltimore with Ed Reed and one that requires a considerable measure of communication. Lewis even clarified Chancellor missing out on a game check of $267,647 was selfish and uncommendable.
“He deserves his money, give the man his money,” Lewis said. “I understand that. But at what price? At what price as a teammate? As a brother? …Every contract negotiation I’ve ever had in my life, there’s one thing I told my agents: Don’t ever put me in a position where I have to choose between that decision and me being on the field because I’m being on the field every play. I ain’t missing no plays. I ain’t missing no days. I ain’t missing no battles. I ain’t missing no wars. That’s why you play the game. Money is a byproduct of that.”
Contractual disputes are not friendly conversions by any stretch of the term especially for the front office of a franchise. Needless to say, Chancellor is strictly an enforcer in the run front, a marquee talent who cannot only suppress offensive incursion and perform in the mold of two linebackers in the box, but does so fittingly with the ample power and size to fill running lanes and the lateral movement and acceleration in order to seek the ball. These gritty attributes are widely-considered somewhat a lost art in today’s game, but when it comes down to the fundamentals of Chancellor, opponents are expected to brace for impact on Sunday afternoon when challenging the Seattle Seahawks. As we saw the first two weeks of the 2015 NFL Season, the position of strong safety isn’t exactly as simple as a “plug and play” option in Seattle. You simply can’t just throw another player in there and expect to see the exact results without Chancellor on the field.
While contractual negotiations are a crucial component to the persistent production and participation of NFL personnel, Chancellor abandoning his teammates in a staggering period of opposition is uncharacteristic and malevolent particularly that found in a leader young players can become emboldened by. As Lewis mentioned previously, every action comes with a cost in the NFL and Chancellor’s current jettison will surely drop him on the wrong side of history like many acclaimed figures in the sport such as Terrell Owens and Kelly Stouffer. As the old Lombardi mentality goes – “one player never comes before the team itself” and in many ways I would still hold a lit candle to sanction that statement especially in an instance as disheveled as this one, however, in regards to Chancellor’s predicament, the Seahawks need to effectively mediate the situation and sit down with the disgruntled safety as his void was deeply felt the past two weeks. Otherwise, expect the team’s quest for a third Super Bowl appearance to evaporate quickly, leaving all but the 12th Man to become a contributable factor.
Drew Mattiola is a fourth-year student majoring in communications. He can be reached at RM814408@wcupa.edu