“This league drives you to 8-8.” — Seahawks general manager John Schneider.
John Schneider has said it more than once: The NFL is built for parity and staying on top is a tough task.
Well, at a stunning 2-4, the Seahawks have a long way to go just to get to .500, and their playoff chances, based on history, do not look good. Since 1990, just 14 of 168 teams to start 2-4 have reached the playoffs (per NFL Stats). That’s an 8.3% chance.
But, the Seahawks are a team that has been made for rallies, and Pete Carroll and the players are optimistic they will figure out how to close out opponents and get it going. Plus, the NFC West is still very much within reach.
“We’ve been through too much together,” Carroll said after the game. “We’ve got tremendous leadership, guys that really care — not just about the game of football but about one another. With all of the history that we’ve had, there isn’t anything over. It’s just been really hard. We have to see if our play can make it better.”
If they can win the next two games, Thursday in a division game at San Francisco and then at Dallas, they would be back at .500 and this season would then need to follow the 2012 template, when they started 4-4 and then won seven of the final eight to make the playoffs as a wild card.
After two straight Super Bowl appearances — the last ending disastrously — many people assumed the Seahawks would come out on fire and take the league by storm this year.
But, more and more, it is appearing as though 2013 was a magical anomaly. The Seahawks started 11-1 and finish 13-3, cruising to their first Super Bowl title.
Last year was much harder — requiring a rebound from a 3-3 start and a miracle comeback in the NFC title game against the Packers.
As Pete Carroll said after an ugly win over Oakland at midseason last year, “We had eight games (in 2013) that could have gone either way. Everybody forgets that. Three of them we lost, and five of them we won. We could have been 8-8 just like that (in 2013). People forget that. I’ve harped on that more than I should with our team so that they realize how tough it is.
“I know you all like it easier and smoother and cleaner and all that, but it’s a battle. So, suck it up.”
So far, the Seahawks have lost most of the battles this year, thanks to the fact that they have not been able to suck it up — and have just sucked — in the fourth quarter.
They have shown flashes though, especially in the last two games, that indicate they could be on the verge of another run.
Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Jimmy Graham played their best games vs. Carolina. Darrell Bevell seemed to figure out how to use Graham (go vertical) and also put Russell Wilson in good position for much of the game.
The negatives: Wilson, as usual, missed some reads on third downs, and his offensive line gave him very little help as the Seahawks failed to establish the run. And the defense gave up four 80-yard touchdown drives to a quarterback who should not have beaten them through the air like he did.
But the Seahawks have things to build on. Carroll certainly thinks so.
“Our expectations are that we should be winning all of these games,” he told 710 ESPN. “We should be 6-0 and we should be rolling right now.”
They could get rolling soon because the schedule gets easier the rest of the way. The four teams that have beaten them are a combined 19-3. But the final 10 games are against teams that are 20-25, with only three holding winning records at the moment.
Most important: The NFC West is still available to be won. Arizona is 4-2, and the Seahawks still face the Cardinals twice more.
Last year, the Hawks rallied from a three-game deficit by sweeping Arizona, winning the division for the second straight year and securing home field in the playoffs. Home field seems out of reach at this point, but the playoffs don’t.
As Carroll said today, “This season is not done at all.”