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Originally published November 22, 2011 at 8:01 PM | Page modified November 22, 2011 at 10:28 PM

Are we there yet? A progress report on Pete Carroll's Seahawks

Pete Carroll's first two years with the Seahawks are similar to Mike Holmgren's first two years in Seattle — but the main difference is the youth of the current Seahawks.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Sunday

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Are we there yet?

Two Seahawks victories have people sounding like a second-grader in the back seat, asking the driver if the destination is around the corner.

So how about it, coach Pete Carroll? Your Seahawks have won two in a row for the first time this season and have the next three games at home, all against losing teams. Where do things stand in the great renovation of Seattle's pro-football enterprise?

"We're coming around," he said. "We've got to do something with this week. Two weeks doesn't mean much to me, but it is two weeks better than we were."

It should be noted Carroll did go eight seasons at USC without his team losing back-to-back games, so perhaps the Seahawks' two consecutive victories isn't anything he's ready to memorialize in a scrapbook. It is progress, however. It wasn't all that long ago the Seahawks were being listed among the worst teams in the league, and now they'll play Washington on Sunday at CenturyLink Field, a chance for Seattle to win three in a row for the first time since 2007.

At this point, with six games left in the season, it's worth pausing to look at just where Seattle stands in its rebuilding process, and there is a point of comparison in that regard. Eleven years ago, the Seahawks were in their second year under coach Mike Holmgren and an overhauled front office.

The numbers are pretty comparable after 26 games. Seattle was 12-14 under Holmgren, and is 11-15 under Carroll. Both had a division title. Carroll has a playoff victory.

But you have to go beyond the facts to really see the differences because Holmgren took over a team that had a veteran defense and had finished at .500 each of the two seasons before he took over. Holmgren's Seahawks also had lived with the salary-cap ramifications of the previous regime. The Seahawks had taken out the credit card so to speak toward the end of coach Dennis Erickson's run, spending on players to help win now at the expense of future salary-cap space.

Carroll had the benefit of walking into the league in a year when there was no salary cap, giving general manager John Schneider carte blanche to adjust contracts without down-the-road implications.

The Seahawks paid T.J. Houshmandzadeh more than $6 million not to play for them. Safety Deon Grant, tackle Sean Locklear and linebacker Leroy Hill had multiyear contracts restructured, something that would have cost Seattle salary-cap space in a normal season.

As a result, the Seahawks have gotten much younger much quicker under Carroll than they did under Holmgren.

In the 10th game of Seattle's second season under Holmgren, six of Seattle's 22 starters were older than 30 — Chris Gray, Ricky Watters, Michael Sinclair, George Koonce, Cortez Kennedy and Chad Brown. That total goes up to seven if you include punter Jeff Feagles, who was 34.

On Sunday in St. Louis, only two of Seattle's starters were over 30: guard Robert Gallery and defensive end Chris Clemons, who was named the NFC defensive player of the week after he had three sacks and forced two fumbles.

Back in August, Carroll said he felt the Seahawks were a year ahead of schedule when it came to turning over the roster.

"We thought it would take three years to really get a young football team in here," Carroll said, "through a couple of drafts — three drafts maybe — and all the offseason work. But it has gone faster than that. We've hit it better than we thought."

The Seahawks are younger, and the past two games they've shown signs they're getting better.

Are they there yet? Not necessarily, but they're getting closer.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @dannyoneil

Carroll vs. Holmgren
A breakdown after 26 games under Pete Carroll compared to the first 26 games under Mike Holmgren:
Carroll Holmgren
Record 11-15 12-14
Avg. yards gained 298.1 285.1
Avg. yards allowed 354.8 356.8
Avg. age of starters* 26 years, 253 days 28 years, 145 days
Avg. age of roster* 26 years, 350 days 26 years, 77 days
*Average age was calculated based on the Seahawks roster as it stood in the 10th game of the second season of their respective tenures.

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