Seahawks’ to-do list: Embrace first place

Published on November 10, 2010 by     T.C.

It might require some serious mind scrubbing, but just for a moment put aside the Seahawks’ past two losses by an embarrassing combined score of 74-10.

Ignore for a moment the concussed quarterback, the limping linemen and the schedule looming ahead.

Instead, go back a few months, picture your response if someone had told you that the Seahawks would be 4-4 at the midpoint of this season and sharing the lead in the NFC West Division.

Most fans would have taken that in a heartbeat, right? That’s as many wins as they had in the entire 2008 season, and just one shy of the ’09 season total.

Few would have believed it possible at this point, especially if they had known the Hawks would have the 30th-rated offense, the 27th-ranked defense, and were last in the league in first downs.

But here they are.

“We’re fortunate,” coach Pete Carroll said Monday afternoon at the team’s headquarters. “(Considering) the hits we took the last couple weeks, we’re fortunate to be where we are right now. That’s really important to note and recognize; we have a chance to keep going here with our division, which is the goal of our program, to own this division. That’s there; I don’t lose sight of that.”

Carroll said he addressed that big-picture topic with the team Monday, breaking down the factors in the wins and the losses, hoping to build a road map to second-half success.

The most obvious, he said, were turnovers. When they maintain custody of the ball, they win. In four wins, they are plus-8 in turnovers; in the four losses, minus-8.

They probably weren’t going to beat the powerful Giants on Sunday anyway, but playing without the starting quarterback, left tackle and the three main run-stopping defensive linemen didn’t help matters.

“Obviously, we have a lot of stuff we have to get done,” Carroll said of the task at hand. “We have to get the line of scrimmage going on both sides of the ball. We got beat there the second week in a row and we have to do a better job. We know that if we’re going to have a second chance to get the second half rolling the way we want to, we’ve got to get better up front.”

Carroll said that the return of top draft pick Russell Okung to left tackle will be a giant step in that direction. He said Okung is very close to being recovered from an ankle sprain.

A couple positives in the most recent gloomy stretch of football for the Hawks: Nobody seems to be interested in cashing it in. In fact, guys such as Marshawn Lynch, Lofa Tatupu and Lawyer Milloy have made noticeably aggressive plays even when the games have been out of reach.

“Whether you can see it or not, we felt that our guys’ effort and willingness to fight the fight was there,” Carroll said.

That has not always been the case across the roster as the last couple seasons unraveled.

Tight end John Carlson said the team absorbed Carroll’s reminder that all the goals remain in reach, the first being to win the division.

“We can still do the things we want to do this season,” Carlson said. “I think that feeling permeates the locker room. We’re very disappointed in the last two weeks in the way things have gone, but the bottom line is we’re 4-4 right now … it doesn’t feel good; it’s not fun. It’s disappointing and it’s embarrassing. But we’re not going to give up. I think the attitude is positive.”

Carroll looked at the standings and told the team he saw “17 teams in striking distance.”

“It’s what you do with it now that counts,” he said. “That’s what we’re setting our sights on, and we’ll see how far we can go … starting with Arizona (on Sunday).”

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