It wasn't a flawless first 10 games to the season for the Seahawks. They struggled on defense early on before finding their way on that side of the ball; they committed some costly miscues on special teams; and most recently, they dropped a game to Tampa Bay after getting off to a slow start in Munich and falling short in their comeback bid.
But despite those flaws—many of which they have cleaned up considerably—there is a lot to feel good about for the Seahawks as they head into their bye week.
First and foremost, the Seahawks are 6-4, putting them in first place in the NFC West with a half game lead over 5-4 San Francisco, which will try to move into a tie for the lead next week while Seattle is on its bye. And more than just the record, it's also how the Seahawks have been winning of late, prior to Sunday's loss in Munich, that has them feeling good heading into the bye.
The offense, which has been strong all season behind the play of Geno Smith and his weapons, as well as an explosive running game, has been consistently strong all season with only a couple of exceptions, and the defense, which was statistically one of the worst in the NFL through five weeks, was outstanding during a recent four-game winning streak in which the Seahawks won all four games by double digit margins. And with special teams cleaning up the miscues while doing just about everything at a high level, the Seahawks have been playing the type of complementary football that Pete Carroll loves with all three phases contributing to wins.
But most of all, the Seahawks can feel good about their situation heading into the bye because even as a first-place team, they feel like they're still growing.
"I did make the comment in the locker room, and even as we were getting off the plane that, 'OK, we positioned ourselves here and we all know that we are here, but we are not nearly as good as we can be. Let's re-commit as we come back to really go for it because we have enough firepower, we have enough health, and we're growing as a team coming together that can really take advantage of our first-half positioning,'" Carroll said. "We will see where we end up with the 49ers after this week, but everything is ahead of us, and we are in control of everything.' That's all that we could ever ask for. Whether you are 8-0, 9-0, 10-0, or you are on top the division, winning the division is a huge goal for us and it is the only goal that we deal with, to try to own the West. We'll go about that by coming back with a really firm commitment and everybody feeling good and being excited about it. This is a good mentality that we have right now, even though we had to give up a game right there. We come out of it OK."
So positive is the mood around this team that, even after 10 games in as many weeks—13 if you include the preseason—and even after a trip to Germany and back, there was a feeling shared by Carroll and his players that they almost wished they had a game this week. That being said, there is obviously some value to a bye week coming off the long trip.
"We are ready to go," Carroll said. "I wasn't the only one. There was a bunch of players who wish we could go right back at it too with the same thought of taking care of business and getting on track. We shared that thought. I wasn't a lone ranger there. So, these guys are in a great place, but if we don't take advantage of this, we are going to need to come back healthier, stronger, and fresher legs, and try to take care of the next game against the Raiders."
The timing of the bye was determined by Seattle's trip to Germany, and while in some years a team might need its bye to get players back from injuries, the Seahawks are mostly healthy right now. But even if health isn't the main issue right now, the Seahawks will look to maximize this time off before returning to action with five of their final seven games at Lumen Field.
"It's coming at the time it comes, so we are going to frame it as it's the right time," Carroll said. "We are going to try to maximize this turnaround because when you take a step back, perspectives can grow and we can see things a little more clearly. The players will understand stuff, and for the young players, I think with Coby Bryant, we may be able to see him make a jump here in this little break that we have just because when you get away from it, you can see a little more clearly. That's one part of it. We go into this bye fairly healthy, so that means that we can come out of it even better. That could be a big boost to us as other teams continue to struggle to stay healthy. Hopefully, we can make that come to life, and it helps us in all ways. We are going to get clearer, come back fresh, and be ready to go."