The reckoning arrived Monday at Seahawks headquarters, with a team that has lost four of its last five games staring at the grim-faced reality revealed in Sunday’s loss to Kansas City.
Coach Pete Carroll has studiously avoided the word “rebuilding” this season, but that’s exactly what he was doing when it came to his team’s confidence.
“We’ve got to recreate momentum for us by getting going this week,” he said.
Seattle is starting from scratch in that regard.
The 4-2 start? That’s a distant memory at this point. But at Monday’s team meeting, Carroll took his team back to the beginning of the fourth quarter Sunday, when the Seahawks trailed the Chiefs by just four points.
The goal was to show the Seahawks they weren’t all that far off — even after this game that got away from them.
Seattle gained just 71 yards on offense in the first half, looking very much like a team ranked No. 29 in the league in offensive yardage. The Seahawks allowed 270 yards rushing, the most against Seattle in 10 years, which is not a total surprise considering they are ranked No. 30 in total defense.
Short-handed is one description of this team. Fragile might be more accurate, though. The absence of receiver Mike Williams because of a foot injury rendered the offense immobile most of the first two quarters, while injuries to defensive linemen Red Bryant and Colin Cole have neutered what was a powerful run defense the first five games of the season.
Think about that: The Seahawks offense was hobbled without a wide receiver who spent the past two seasons out of the league, while the defense has been hampered by the season-ending knee injury to Bryant, a fourth-round pick in 2008 who in the offseason was moved from nose tackle to defensive end.
That is not to diminish the prowess or play of either Williams or Bryant. They have been two of Seattle’s most productive players — revelations, really. But the fact that their absences have had such a dramatic effect on the team is indicative of just how precarious Seattle’s success has been this season. The Seahawks have relied heavily upon unexpected surprises, whether from their roster or opponents self-destructing.
Cole may be another week or two away from getting back, and there’s no guarantee Williams will return this week, either. Carroll said the receiver remains day to day, with no firm indication that he will be ready to practice Wednesday.
But analysis is only one piece of Carroll’s challenge. He must also show a path to improvement, which was a central part of his message to the team Monday.
“We had a team meeting,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. “Pete laid it out and showed some film — showed some good stuff, too. It wasn’t just the bad. Basically (he said), ‘Hey guys, I need you to believe in how good you can be.’ ”
And things could be worse. Seattle is in the NFC West, the only division that doesn’t have a single team with a winning record. But at 5-6, Seattle is below .500 for the first time and hoping that Sunday’s defeat marks rock bottom, because that would mean a rebound is on the way.
That’s why Carroll took his team back to the beginning of Sunday’s fourth quarter. He wanted to show his team that for everything that happened — from the offensively inept first half, to the utter inability of the defense to get off the field — the Seahawks were behind just four points when the period began.
“There’s a lesson in that,” Hasselbeck said. “It doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past; all that matters is what you do in the present and in the future.
“So hopefully, we kind of put a stake in the ground and use this as, ‘Ok, let’s start now. Let’s finish strong, starting now, and improve from where we are right now.’ “