Seahawks have been finding ways to win

Posted Nov 22, 2013

As impressive as the Seahawks’ 10-1 record is, what has impressed them about the unprecedented start? Steven Hauschka, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate and Richard Sherman offer their thoughts.

The 2013 Seahawks already have gone where no other team in franchise history has.

Not the 2005 Seahawks, who set club marks for consecutive wins (11) and regular-season record (13-3) en route to playing in the franchise’s first Super Bowl. Not the 1984 Seahawks, who had held the marks for consecutive wins (eight) and regular-season record (12-4) for 21 seasons.

Neither of those teams started 10-1, which is where this Seahawks team finds itself during its bye week.

As impressive as the first 11 weeks have been for the Seahawks, what has impressed them about being able to compile the best record in the NFL and take a 3½-game in the NFC West with five games to play?

We checked in with four of the leaders on this team before the players headed out for their bye week, and got four different answers.

Kicker Steven Hauschka, who leads the NFL in scoring with 104 points: “I don’t think anything has impressed me. This is an amazing team. Great leadership; coach (Pete) Carroll knows this team so well, and he gets a lot out of us in practice, and gets us to play hard. We only know one speed, and he does really a great job of bringing that out through the season.”

This team has been built from the foundation up since Carroll and general manager John Schneider arrived at Virginia Mason Athletic Center as almost a package deal in January 2010. The efforts of Schneider and his staff have delivered the types of players that Carroll needs to play his style of football – fast, aggressive, physical.

“That has a lot to do with it,” Hauschka said. “It’s a great group of guys and they let everyone be themselves. There’s not a lot of internal struggle here. Marshawn (Lynch) is allowed to be who he is. You’ve got an eclectic group of guys here, but we’ve all come together for one purpose.

“That’s what’s so powerful about it.”

Earl Thomas, the All-Pro and Pro Bowl free safety who leads the team in tackles and shares the lead in interceptions: “What’s impressed me is just the different situations we’ve been put in as a team, and just the different mindsets and the growth just from the Carolina game to now. I think the players have grown and elevated themselves tremendously.”

The Seahawks “escaped” from that season opener against the Panthers with a 12-7 victory, not realizing at the time that Carolina would become one of the better teams in the NFC. They have posted impressive wins over the San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings; while findings ways to win close games against the Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

They have learned that they’re going to get the best from every team they face, because they are among the best teams in the league. It’s that “on any given Sunday” cliché come to life.

“That goes to show you that you can’t listen to misdirected comments from the media,” Thomas said. “You shouldn’t even pay attention to that stuff. Especially when you have the mindset of accomplishing something great like we have. I think when you get caught up in that you get messed up.

“People don’t realize that different teams are not the same as the year prior. We’re not the same team as last year. You grow. Everybody expects us to dominate every time out, and that’s great. You want that pressure on yourself. Because we’ve kind of made a name for ourselves to be the best, so we’re going to get everybody’s best.”

Golden Tate, the leading receiver on the team and one of the leading punt returners in the league: “What’s impressed me is that we don’t see ourselves as 10-1. We see ourselves as every week we have something to prove. Every week we have a new challenge, and that’s to be the best team we can be every week.

“The picture is a lot bigger than winning each week. We’re trying to get as great as we can for the future. So I think the coaches are doing a great job of preparing us each week, trying to go 1-0 really.”

It’s a philosophy and attitude that second-year quarterback Russell Wilson mentions at every opportunity, echoing the mindset that has been preached by Carroll.

“We understand we have a bigger target on our back, because the more games you win the more people want to beat you,” Tate said. “But we just take the approach that everyday we’re trying to prove ourselves, and improve ourselves.

“We still have some people out there that don’t believe in us. But we believe in ourselves, and that’s really all that matters.”

Richard Sherman, the All-Pro cornerback who shares the team lead with four interceptions: “What impressed me is the ‘next man up’ attitude that everybody has accepted in this program.”

The seeing has been the believing in this one. The offense played for almost two months without Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung and right tackle Breno Giacomini. All-Pro center Max Unger has missed three games. Tight end Zach Miller was out for two games. Wide receiver Sidney Rice was lost for the season after eight games. On defense, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner missed two games; linebacker Bruce Irvin was suspended for the first four games; rush-ends Chris Clemons (two games) and Cliff Avril (one game) weren’t ready when the season started; and cornerback Brandon Browner is now out indefinitely.

That’s why everyone now knows who Michael Bowie is, and were reminded who James Carpenter, Lemuel Jeanpierre, Doug Baldwin and Luke Willson are. They were the “next men up” on offense who stepped up. It’s been the same thing on defense, where O’Brien Schofield, Malcolm Smith, Walter Thurmond and Byron Maxwell have stepped in, and the defense still ranks No. 2 in the league.

“Guys have gotten injured and the play hasn’t necessarily fallen off,” Sherman said. “We won games missing a lot of key players. I think that’s a testament to the mentality a lot of players have accepted. Guys have continued to step up for, a countless number of guys have stepped for us.

“That’s been a big key to our success. Now, if we need them to play again, it’s not, ‘Oh, can they play?’ It’s, ‘We know they can play, because they have.’ That’s what makes a great championship team – the depth, and being able to count on guys who weren’t necessarily starters to begin with. When a guy goes down, you’re not in total panic mode, because you have total faith and belief that they can get the job done.”