The Seahawks reached the end of the toughest stretch in their schedule this weekend, and on Monday coach Pete Carroll dusted off a 15-point loss and took a look at where his team stands.
Call it a “State of the Seahawks” address, a summary of a team whose offense is suddenly capable, a defense that has become porous and a coach who could see the bright side through Monday’s snowy conditions.
“(We) have a chance to benefit from this game,” Carroll said. “And take care of these last six games and do something with it, see if we can finish strong.”
The Seahawks have made it through a gauntlet of sorts. They survived, going 3-3 over a six-game span that included four road games. It wasn’t always pretty. They lost three games by two touchdowns or more, but they’re still standing at 5-5, alone in first place in the NFC West with plenty of room for improvement.
There were casualties, the team losing defensive end Red Bryant for the season and defensive tackle Colin Cole, who still is a couple weeks away from returning from an ankle injury.
There are question marks this week, too. Wide receiver Mike Williams suffered an injury to the bottom of his foot, something Carroll described as unusual and while he said that it might not be as serious as Seattle first feared, that means it might be, too. Cornerback Marcus Trufant suffered a concussion, and guard Chester Pitts suffered an ankle injury that might force Seattle to change its offensive line again.
Yet Carroll was almost upbeat coming back from New Orleans, a game in which his team wound up on the wrong end of a 34-19 shootout, but encouraged by an offense that is no longer firing blanks.
Seattle suddenly is a capable passing team, almost potent in fact.
“Without question, I’m more optimistic about our ability to move the football,” Carroll said. “To win on third down on offense and feel really the ability to function, the ability to move the football from wherever we’re starting. There’s no doubt.”
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is coming off his most passing yards in a game (366) in six years, and he has been able to limit interceptions as Carroll demands while moving the ball.
Seattle’s biggest difficulties are now on the other side of the ball, where injuries to Bryant and Cole have sapped some of the strength of a defense so stout against the run for the first five games or so.
“I’m really concerned about what’s going on up front on defense,” Carroll said. “We’re fighting here. We’re fighting it out right now.”
The Seahawks weren’t gashed by the Saints’ rushing offense. Chris Ivory wasn’t running through gaping holes. He was running over tacklers en route to 99 yards rushing.
“It was really about making the plays when you had your hands on guys,” Carroll said, “getting guys on the ground. And the big guys needed to make a couple of more tackles than they did and help out, and maintain the line of scrimmage so we could make our plays. We’re a little bit different now. We can feel that.
“So we have to fight to get back.”
Seattle has played only two home games in the past eight weeks, the result of a schedule that will now have Seattle at home the next two weeks against Kansas City and Carolina.