Can Carroll Bring the Seahawks Back Together?

SEATTLE - OCTOBER 30: Quarterback Tavaris Jackson #7 of the Seattle Seahawks throws a pass against the Cincinnati Bengals on October 30, 2011 at Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

The Seahawks went into the season with the goal of "owning the division." They are currently 2-5 after losing 34-12 at home to Cincinnati, now well behind the 6-1 49ers. Seattle is frustrated and they should be. This may be a young coaching staff and roster, but heading into the season they didn't envision being at this juncture. Especially with Pete Carroll as head coach.

To make matters more charged; many Seahawks fans are frustrated and have a right to be. Regardless of one's expectations heading into the season, seeing this team at 2-5 and discombobulated simply sucks.

I was frustrated about the loss in Cleveland and I'm frustrated about this loss. As Carroll put it, "we gave them everything they needed in that game." Seattle shot themselves in the foot in all phases; too many penalties and that special teams meltdown bug bit again, not to mention an odd occurrence with Andy Dalton and the tuck rule or a hotly debated coaching decision by Carroll. Post game, Carroll said the team has lots of improvement they have to locate; there are X and O's from this loss that I think deserve attention. But frankly, that simply isn't on my mind right now.

What I am thinking about is what happens next.  To get to this point; the Seahawks put up 22 in the second half against the Giants, on the road, "hot" at 2-3 and heading into the bye. Carroll got optimistic with his team and spoke of losing no more, only to see the Seahawks put up 15 points in their next two games combined. It's become painfully clear the message may have been misunderstood, misrepresented, or simply mistimed.

The fact that Carroll said the team is getting in their own way for the second week in a row makes me think, even more so than I did after last week, Carroll's message after the New York win did not go across as intended. He admitted after this loss that the team simply has not progressed enough to complement his sometimes impatient, usually aggressive style.

In absolutely no way am I saying wipe out the aggression because I liked going for it on 4th and 2 - though I didn't like the call, running behind an apparently nicked-up-in the-first-half Robert Gallery (I also really liked Danny's piece on Monday morning, so if you haven't read it, do here). But the whole getting "hormonal" and jamming it down their throat explanation...he said his coaches are supposed to help remind him in those types of situations about his past aggression and mishaps--Week 3 last season. I wish he would remember on his own. 

Carroll is nowhere near blind to the frustration surrounding this team. He said the Cleveland loss was one of those that can affect you in a bad way going forward, and the team had a "mechanism" for getting over a loss; Carroll noted he could see frustration and "pressing" against the Bengals. Given Red Bryant's headbutt late in Week 7 and Brandon Browner's body slam of a Bengals' receiver early in Week 8, I certainly won't argue that frustration is festering within this team.

Carroll said about the performance and, to an extent, the state of the team after the game; "It isn't a good place to be, but it's a good place to leave behind."  Last week I hoped the team could channel their frustration from the Cleveland loss into a strong week; instead it festered. On Monday, Carroll spoke of finding a way to channel the frustration correctly going forward. It sounds like they are on the right path, but as Carroll also noted let's take this one day at a time - I want to see it on Wednesday. 

Carroll admitted he has to help more and "not give us difficult situations by getting like I get sometimes." Carroll is all about maximizing abilities, not hindering them by mismanaging and putting his players in bad situations. Thus, hearing Carroll take responsibility for putting Charlie Whitehurst into a situation he wasn't comfortable in - referring to the usage of the no huddle - makes me believe Carroll is aware of his mistakes.

Heading into the season, the ability of the coaching staff to prepare and lead this young team was something I focused on; as Carroll believes leadership comes from the top down, could this coaching staff bring and keep this young locker room together, especially with all of the changes? Could they prevent a mid-season meltdown like we saw in 2010?

Unfortunately, here we are. That point in the season where "teams are going to turn," it's just a matter of in which direction. Carroll doesn't think his team is in a downward spiral, but I imagine some pundits have a differing opinion. I think this is a young team that is not playing to their potential and the season could go either way from here, especially depending on health at key positions. 

Seattle is preparing to play at Dallas, against a Cowboys team that got whopped on national TV. Dallas is going into this one with a "we've got to get better" attitude, too. 

Losing when you've given a strong, clean effort is one thing; not to take anything away from our mostly solid defense and other parts of this team, but Seattle isn't losing that way. They're losing because of mistakes and mishaps, by both the coaches and players. Carroll says of the week ahead; the coaching staff must observe which players are on the same page, and which are not. That should extend to the coaches, too. 

If leadership comes from the top down, it's on Carroll to get this team back to trusting their philosophy. He admitted on Monday he's not used to fighting out of situations like this, being 2-5--other than as part of the 2-5 team at USC in 2001-but he won't back off his vision for what this team can become.

Can Carroll get this young team believing that they must take responsibility for their own role before being successful as a unit; that each individuals' smaller mistakes can become more powerful than one individuals' strongest effort and the effort of the team? He can start by showing that philosophy holds true at the top, and it's time for the team to take responsibility and get back to simply buying in.

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