For the fifth straight season, the Seattle Seahawks were not only in the postseason but had already won a playoff game. Last week, Pete Carroll’s ground attack, led by Thomas Rawls, ran through the Detroit Lions via a 26-6 win. On Saturday night at the Georgia Dome, the ‘Hawks clashed with the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. Carroll’s club took an early 7-0 lead. But when it was all said and done, Matt Ryan and his teammates proved to be too much for the NFC West champions. The Seahawks fell, 36-20, and are headed home without an NFL title for the third straight year.

Since making those back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in 2013 and ’14, Seattle has yet to get back to the conference championship game round. Last year, a furious comeback came up short at Carolina, 31-24. This year, the once-proud Seahawks’ defense allowed 422 total yards to the NFC South champion Falcons. Now a much bigger series of questions needs to be answered. Is it time for this team to make some wholesale changes?

What happened in 2016?

We are used to seeing the Seattle Seahawks ground teams into submission with a physical running game and that punishing defensive unit. We rarely saw the former during the year while the latter was missing a key component down the stretch and in the postseason.

Injuries were certainly a factor as running back Thomas Rawls had problems staying on the field and standout free safety Earl Thomas missed the stretch run. A Seattle team that opened the year winning seven of its first 10 contests split its final six regular-season outings and went on to go 1-1 in the postseason.

Doom at the Georgia Dome

It was almost hard to believe that the Seattle Seahawks owned an early 7-0 lead in the 16-point loss at Atlanta. Carroll’s team used 14 plays and totalled 89 yards following the opening kickoff. But the club managed only 220 total yards for the remainder of the contest. It was another rough outing for a Seattle defense that did sack Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan three times.

But the talented signal-caller riddled the ‘Hawks for 338 yards and three scores without throwing an interception. So is this a team in need of some big-time changes? A reversal of philosophy regarding the offensive line would be a good start. And the middle of the defensive front could use some help. All told, this could be a much different Seahawks’ club in 2017.