Growing pains

Posted Nov 8, 2011

The Seahawks have reached the midway point of their second season under Pete Carroll at 2-6, and the problems leading to their slow starts and unfulfilled finishes have their coach frustrated.

If you’re looking for a reason to why the slow-starting Seahawks have reached the halfway point of their second season under coach Pete Carroll with a 2-6 record, look no farther than the slow starts to each of those first eight games.

The Seahawks have scored a league-low 36 points in the first half, 16 fewer than the runner-up St. Louis Rams. They didn’t score at all in the first halves of three games, including the first two. They failed to score a first-half touchdown six times, and didn’t score a touchdown in the first half until their fourth game of the season.

They have fallen behind in the first half 16-0, 17-0, 10-6, 24-7, 3-0 and 17-3. They have been tied in their other two games.


The Seahawks have reached the halfway point of their season, so here are some awards from the first half:

Best player: Chris Clemons
Best offensive player: Russell Okung
Best special teams player: Jon Ryan
Best rookies: Doug Baldwin and K.J. Wright
Best free agent addition: Alan Branch
Comeback player: Red Bryant

For more awards and more on the award winners, click here.

The redeeming aspect has been the no-huddle approach that allowed the offense to score seven points in the second half to pull out a three-point win over the Arizona Cardinals; 21 points in the second half of a two-point loss to the Atlanta Falcons; 13 points in the second half of an upset victory over the New York Giants; and nine points in the Week 8 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

But those early holes have left the Seahawks in quite a hole as they prepare for the second half of their season, which begins with Sunday’s game against the 6-2 Baltimore Ravens at CenturyLink Field.

“We’ve been struggling through the first half,” Carroll said on Monday. “We’ve been working to find continuity and a level of execution that will give us more wins, and it hasn’t happened like we would have liked.”

Even the defense, which has been the strength of the team, has had its consistency issues. Just look at the performances on third downs.

When the Seahawks have been good at getting off the field on the pivotal down, they’re been suffocating – 1-of-12 against the 49ers and Giants and 3-of-14 against the Cardinals. But in their other games, they’ve helped breathe new life in opponents’ possessions – 9-of-15 against the Falcons; 8-of-15 against the Steelers; 12-of-24 against the Browns; and 6-of-14 against the Bengals and Cowboys.

This discrepancy, coupled with the slow starts by the offense and way too many penalties for way too many wrong-way yards, is preventing the Seahawks from being able to finish games the way Carroll would like.

“It’s killing me,” he said. “Intellectually, I know we’re in position, that we’ve played well enough to have a shot at it, but I’m really discouraged that we haven’t played well down the stretch. That’s something I’ve taken great pride in for years – that guys play like they’re capable of all the way through the finish and you outlast other teams. That has not been significant in our play right now.

“When that happens, then we’re going to be pretty tough.”

Carroll does have two things on his side in that quest.

First, there’s the youth on this team. The growing pains should diminish as the four rookies who are starting and the seven other players who are first-year starters for this team grow into their roles – individually and collectively.

Second, there’s the schedule. After playing five of their first eight games on the road, the Seahawks will play four of the next five at home – with only road game in the stretch against the 1-7 Rams in St. Louis.

There is time to make a move and “have some fun with this season,” as Carroll puts it. But before they can finish better, they have to find a way to start faster.

“The things that can hold back a young team are holding us back,” he said. “Making mistakes with our penalty situations has caused us problems, particularly the last three weeks it seems.

“We have to clean that up, we have to get rid of the turnovers and we have to get the penalties where it’s a manageable number; where it’s not disrupting drives and setting us back. They’ve been factors in games.”

He’ll get no argument from his players.

“It’s small little setbacks,” wide receiver Sidney Rice said. “Nobody else is doing it to us but ourselves. If we get out of the way of ourselves – and just go out there, relax, play football like we’ve been doing our whole lives and do things right – we’ll be a tough team to beat.”

Carroll is counting on it, and counting the day.

“We need to gain some momentum. We need to feel that the improvements that we’ve made now turn into victories,” he said. “This team is a young team that’s going to be successful and very, very good. I just wish we could get rid of the stuff that keeps us from demonstrating that. That’s what we’re working to find here.”