There’s a sure cure for what ails the Seahawks: Winning
It’s absolutely crucial for the Seahawks to turn down the volume on all the sudden pessimism surrounding them. They need to change the meme of “team in turmoil” before it takes on a life of its own.
Seattle Times columnist
For the Seahawks, noise has always been their ally. The din of Seattle fans is a weapon to drown out opponents with a merciless onslaught of relentless, disorienting racket.
Suddenly, however, “noise” is taking on a different and troubling connotation for the Seahawks. It’s the all-encompassing term being used to describe the equally relentless onslaught of negativity being thrust at them these days.
As in, “We just need to block out the noise.”
It’s a new phenomenon for a team that’s used to being held up as the model of success in the modern NFL. Only now, in a flash, they’re suddenly becoming a cautionary tale for the pitfalls of runaway success, with articles like “Are the Seattle Seahawks falling apart at the seams?” and “Are the Seattle Seahawks in serious trouble?” sprouting up on the Internet.
History and common sense tell us this: This sort of negative noise will only grow louder and more distracting unless the Seahawks find a way to silence it.
And that leads us to Sunday’s game in Charlotte against the Carolina Panthers. No, it’s not “must-win.” You can’t make that pronouncement seven games into a 16-game season (even though it’s getting late early, as either Yogi Berra or Tiki Barber once said).
But it’s absolutely crucial for the Seahawks to turn down the volume on all the sudden pessimism surrounding them. They need to change the meme of “team in turmoil” before it takes on a life of its own. And a lifetime covering sports has convinced me that there’s one surefire way to do that.
Just win, baby. Which rhymes with “must-win, baby” — which, to review, this game is not. But it’s a “it-sure-would-be-highly-beneficial-in-innumerable-ways-to-win” game.
Only the Seahawks know for sure how deep are the divides in their locker room – and they’re steadfastly denying any such chasms exist, despite increasing reports to the contrary in the wake of the Percy Harvin trade.
But it’s hard for them to deny that they have been, so far, a lesser version of their best selves.
The offense has moved in fits and starts, at times searching to re-discover their identity (as in the second half against St. Louis, when they scored on three long drives, leading to hope that in the post-Harvin world they had done just that).
The defense that once wreaked havoc has been shockingly vulnerable. Some of the numbers, such as rushing defense, are still stellar; but in the realm of creating turnovers and executing fourth-quarter shutdowns, which is where they were truly special last year, they are still wanting.
Earl Thomas is among those Seahawks who believe they are on the verge of breaking out, that interceptions and fumbles come in bunches and a spree of them is imminent.
“Pretty soon, everyone is going to be hitting on all cylinders, and then all the special stuff is happening: the balls coming out, Kam (Chancellor) is smacking people, and everybody is getting excited because everybody is really happy for each other,’ Thomas said. “That’s the kind of relationship that we have to build, to understand that this is my brother and I want to play for him.’’
That brotherhood is easier to foster in good times than bad. In the black-and-white world of the NFL, wins translate to “good times.” A victory would put the Seahawks back on a more feasible playoff path, with two winnable home games to follow. And it would, at least for now, push the mute volume on the cacophony.
But a defeat, extending Seattle’s losing streak to three and putting them below .500, would just increase the volume even more – maybe turn it up to a Spinal Tap-caliber 11.
“The only way to handle something like this is to keep focusing on the process, and keep encouraging guys,’’ Thomas said. “You can’t change who you are just because you are facing some stuff that’s not working out for you. You have to stay true to who you are. This is our foundation. We know what it takes to get to where we want to be.”
The Seahawks know, because they’ve gotten there before. And now they’re finding out first-hand why it’s so hard to get back. The obstacles are both external – teams gunning for you each week – and internal.
The Seahawks say the internal divide stuff is overblown, that they are as cohesive as they need to be. Doug Baldwin has acknowledged he indeed had a scuffle in preseason with Harvin, as reported; but such in-house dust-ups are not uncommon in team settings, and can be overcome.
The other stuff, well, they tend to fester in adversity. Yes, sometimes they can be the cause of the adversity, but I think it tends to work more the other direction. In the chicken-and-egg of team discord, underachieving performance tends to be the instigator of friction much more than the other way around. It’s also true that Super Bowl champions tend to be more susceptible to a wide array of challenges, for reasons that have been much discussed.
All this makes this game with Carolina of more significance than the seventh game of the year would normally be.
“We just have to get that mojo back,’’ Thomas said.
And turn down the noise.
About Larry Stone
Larry Stone gives his take on the local and national sports scene.