Can the Seahawks Seize the Opportunity of Three In a Row at Home?

Heading into the St. Louis game I said I'd be thankful for getting back to back wins, and I am. A 17 point win after a slow start, on the road, is something to be happy about.  

But here I'm going to go against the grain of holiday spirit and be selfish, or from another perspective, join the fun and get wishful and hopeful. Sure, I really wanted to win in St. Louis, but not because we'd simply get back to back wins and celebrate being 4-6; it's because I wanted to experience what would come next, riding a two-game win streak into a three-game home stand - games two and three of this stretch in primetime. 

Pete Carroll summed it up during his weekly Monday morning interview; "It's great to come home right now. To get those two wins...we are going to come in raring to go again. This is important; we're looking at this second half, we are 2-0 in the second half. We're going to try and finish this thing off right and do something special with this season. Everybody in our room knows that; our guys are very determined, very tight about making something happen here, and this week is Washington."

Seattle came out of the bye without their starting quarterback for the first game plus and lost three in a row. They were peeved about being 2-6 at the midway point. Seattle had a false alarm and there was a bit of uproar after a tough losing streak.  Then, the Seahawks won at home against the always tough Ravens and beat the division rival Rams on the road. Now at 4-6, with a semblance of momentum and their backs against the wall playoffs-wise; they have a chance to play at home, an advantage that can really matter, and get above .500 

If they get to 6-7 maybe they have a shot at the playoffs, but coming out the other side of this home stand at 7-6 and on a five game winning streak would be pretty legit. They'd be rollin'. If you're wondering what I'm trippin' on; it's the fact that I'll be in my seat for those next four home games and intend to do nothing other than play my 1/67,000+ part in helping the ‘Hawks win those four games. Heck, we caused the Beastquake.

Looking at this from most angles - the 49ers are 9-1, Seattle just lost two starters on the offensive line and their quarterback is still hurt, not to mention the Seahawks are still only 4-6 and among the youngest teams in the league - Seattle is a long shot to make the playoffs. It's unlikely many are expecting this streak to really happen. 

Even if the Seahawks are on a path to record purgatory; in the bigger picture, what I like most about this situation is that we're learning something. If this somehow turns into a barnburner of a season for the Seahawks and they have a chance, there's no denying most of this roster will be better prepared to compete and potentially win in the future. On the other hand, if they fall flat and lose a lot more this season, they will feel something they won't want to feel again. 

Presently, this is one of those weird situations where if Seattle wasn't playing three in a row at home, we'd potentially see them as winners of two in a row, still trying to find their feet and entering a neutral or tough stretch - maybe that's how many still view them. Seattle would be a team maybe not really worth talking about. But, this team is looking to do something big, the hope and hype being fueled by the circumstances.

Over the past year or so before coming to write here, I related some of old-school intellectual Emile Durkheim's ideas on the Totem to the happenings of the Seahawks. The following is an excerpt of how I initially introduced the concept:

 "He explained the Totem as a symbol of expression. "It is a flag. It is the sign by which each clan distinguishes itself from others, a visible mark of personality and embodiment." The people who represent their given Totem are a physical embodiment of the practices and beliefs of their group. This idea can extend to a religious group, territory, country or team. Thus, a group of "Totemic principles" drives the clan that is represented through the symbol; the Totemic principles represent both a physical force and a moral power.

In theory, every NFL team has a Totem and abides by its principles; "In theory" can only go so far. The theory of the Totem needs to be implemented; just because it exists doesn't mean it works. There needs to be a leader that inspires the effort to abide by the principles - the Seahawks struggled in the two years before Pete Carroll.

The Totemic principles can only go as far as the effort, energy and leadership of the administration.  A coach needs to get his players to play with energy, effort and conformity that help the team more than the individual.

Durkheim: "An individual or collective object is said to inspire respect when the conscious representation of it is endowed with such power that it automatically stimulates or inhibits behavior, regardless of any relative consideration of its practical or harmful effects. When we obey someone because of the moral authority we recognize in him...a psychic energy immanent in the idea makes individuals bend their will and incline to compliance." 

To continue the idea, "Since society can exist only in the minds of the individual and through their actions, it must penetrate and become organized inside us; it becomes an integral part of our being, and in doing so elevates us and enlarges that being.""

Relating this excerpt to the present; if the Seahawks want to be known as a tough, championship type program, they must adhere to their plan and not waver. The Seahawks are prideful about playing at home. They believe playing at home can elevate their play. But it's an advantage that needs to be created, rather than assuming it will exist. 

We know the Seahawks care about the relationship with the fans and Carroll is a person who is about creating special things in certain environments. This brings the fans into play, perhaps more so than if the organization wasn't focused on capitalizing on the full effect of being at home. In effect, playing at home brings the power of the Seahawks' "society" to the forefront.  

What it comes down to is how do the Seahawks perform in front of their fans - a group that also represents the Seahawks symbol - and the fans of the other 31 symbols in the league. What does "playing the Seahawks" mean to other teams and fans?

Right now, I'm hoping and wishing this team is preparing hard daily - like how Clemons and Browner did last week before having good games - to be tough to beat on game day, that they are eons more pumped as a player than I am as a fan to come home right now. Yeah it's just a game, but it's their job. For 16 games a year and maybe a few more, it's the players' job to direct their in-season life, and theoretically nearly year round, towards being prepared to win on Sundays. This idea doesn't pertain to just these three games; Carroll's program stresses practice and preparation. 

They hopefully believe if they stick together they can create something powerful, something similar to the potential effect of the "long-body" - the idea that having a nature of togetherness as a unit can enhance the overall power of the group -  and the no huddle offense, an idea explored during the bye. 

And though I don't want to get carried away with the following, I think it's worth noting. Carroll has publically said he thinks Jackson could be the quarterback of the future. Maybe he's just being optimistic, but I think it would be cool if the whole "who is the ‘Hawks QBOTF" debate gets temporarily pushed down the docket because Jackson and the team keep winning. Jackson is signed through next year, so on the surface it seems like maybe the Jackson experiment may not be a one year thing. Even if you personally want no part of Jackson in 2012, it'd be hard to deny the effect and promise shown by a late season win streak.

Back to the point; it's not as though Seattle's "turnaround" started with these two wins. Seattle was down eight with four minutes to go against Cincinnati in a game Pete Carroll thought his team had a chance to win, and the running game came alive in Dallas. They lost both games and were not happy. The intention of winning has been building, the goal of doing so not something that just popped up in the past few games. Tom Cable let his offensive line know heading into the Dallas game that turning the running game around could change the complexion of the season. They are one of the teams using the "we have another half of the season" motivational tool.

Seattle's next three opponents have a combined record of 9-21, the Eagles the "best" opponent at 4-6. The Redskins have lost six in a row picking up some negative juju along the way, and Seattle just beat the Rams, the third opponent of the home stand. This isn't a Cleveland, Cincinnatti, Dallas, Baltimore type-stretch; those teams are a combined 23-17 (without Cleveland it's 19-11).

For this team, this stretch will ultimately be a reference point, one that in hindsight could help speak to whether or not the core of the program is ready to compete on a championship level.

At the least, this team is beginning to learn how to win. Perhaps now we'll see how much progress they've made. Carroll said during his Monday presser he believes they are playing more physical as a team, the players are feeding off one another; does that translate to the fans and have any effect on the atmosphere? He thinks they have the formula - strong defense, commitment to the run game, attitude and will - down, at least enough that they can compete on a weekly basis from here on out, no matter the opponent.   

Carroll said two wins in a row doesn't mean much to him, because it's ultimately about championships. Five wins in a row isn't a championship, but my guess is he'd more than take it and be classic - Carroll jacked up for the final three games, two of which are on the road.  

Over the past few weeks, we've seen a 2-6 team become 4-6 and begin to play tougher, more disciplined. In theory, this is how the unlikely scenario of a 2-6 team making the playoffs begins. (I unsuccessfully searched for a stat of how many 2-6 teams have done that.) Now instead of being thankful for simply seeing this team win two in a row, we'll learn about this team when the attitude is win or most likely delay the inevitable of going home.

Call me selfish, stupid or even senile for not really caring about draft position at this point, instead hoping for the chance to narrowly miss the playoffs, or ideally better. I'm not focused on the prospect they could stink and sink, as the sentiments of "rebuilding" have been present with the story line of this season all along. Instead, I'm savoring the fact that the Seahawks have a chance to start something special when just two games ago, or even from the start depending on how you personally view the season, it looked like the season was gone. 

Hopefully this stretch will shed light to if this team is going to continue with the penalties, struggle to consistently play sound football and still hasn't endured all of the pain associated with youth and progress. Or is this team more mature than most give them credit for, ready to get over the butterflies of impending wins and capable of putting together a successful second half of the season?

 

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