Following a communication breakdown on the fateful play in Sunday's loss to the Carolina Panthers, members of the Seahawks secondary sat at their lockers long after the game had ended and many of their teammates had showered and gone home. It was a chance to figure out what went wrong on that touchdown pass and in another fourth quarter that saw an opponent overcome a large fourth-quarter deficit.
To Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, that was just one illustration that his team is in the right state of mind even after a 2-4 start that none of them could have seen coming.
"I mean, think of all that we've been through, and how long these guys have been through these challenges and all," Carroll said. "They care so much and they're so connected that they're trying to put their heads together too, because they want to help also. They want to do right, and they want to get better. They're strong about it. They admit when they make their mistakes, they admit when they could have helped somebody out, and that is just an illustration of their willingness to keep competing and to keep battling to get it right. That's why I come out of here telling you that I'm totally convinced that these guys are going to go for it, they're going to stay with it, and they're going to battle. That's all they know. I think that's an illustration."
Carroll and his players are disappointed with where the team is after six games, but they're also still confident that they will come together and improve, not fall apart.
"It's a challenge for us," Carroll said. "But it's a challenge we're worthy of taking on. I'm looking forward to turning the corner here and getting this thing going and showing we can be in midseason form the way we want to be here and do some really cool things with this opportunity we're faced with. That's how we're going to go about it."
Added safety Earl Thomas: "This is great, really. It's a part of the story. We're going to outlast this. This is why we're in this position in the first place. This is why we're the best. These situations, they're not going to break us."
In addition to his belief that the Seahawks can turn things around, here are five things that stood out from Pete Carroll's Monday press conference:
1. Carroll is leaning on the wisdom of John Wooden this week.
Pete Carroll has never been in a situation quite like this, he says, where a team so talented can't find its winning ways. So when it comes to getting things turned around, Carroll said he is calling on "Everything I've got. You call on everything you've ever known, said, done, seen, to make the right choices and decisions to fit it to the people and their needs and their makeup as well."
One resource Carroll can turn to is the wisdom of former UCLA basketball coaching legend John Wooden, who had a big influence on Carroll's coaching philosophies. The Seahawks have plenty of talent, but they also have players who have grown up and changed since Carroll first acquired them; they have players who are on new contracts, or who are hoping to earn them. While it might be great if none of those things mattered, Carroll acknowledges that those outside factors can present challenges if he isn't able to handle them.
"Coach Wooden told me one time that every year the players change," Carroll said. "You don't change your philosophy, you don't change your approach, because the players adapt as they go through their years, and things fit together. So you always stay with what you believe in."
Yet as much as Carroll reveres Wooden, he adds to that, "But in that, time's change, guys grow up, they mature, they get paid, they're heading into contract years. There's a lot of factors that enter guys' makeup, and we have to be adaptable and fix and help and communicate and counsel all the way through all of that. It's one of the really exciting challenges in coaching. I'm always on that topic of trying to understand how our guys are developing, where they're going, what's important to them, what's changed and what has stayed the same, so that we can communicate really well and help them move where they've got to go."
2. Third down issues are hurting the offense.
After going 4 for 14 on third down Sunday, the Seahawks are now converting on 36.9 percent of third-down chances this season, which ranks 20th in the league. That stat helps explain a lot of other issues affecting the offense this season.
"Our third-down play is not good enough right now," Carroll said. "We're not able to get that next turn around, that next opportunity. We're missing out on a lot of really cool stuff that we have. We didn't run the football as much as we wanted to because we needed to convert more. We only had 14 first downs. That's not enough. That comes from third-down work."
Carroll went back to third-down when asked about red-zone struggles: "Really, we're not converting. I see it as third down conversions. We missed on a couple shots down there and it just accentuates the importance of third down. When you're down there, you get your next set of downs, you get your either-or down situations on first and second down to make the plays and call the passes that you want. I really sense that it's the lack of the third-down conversions down there that's part of it. We have to improve there."
And third down is also a major culprit when it comes to a lack of fourth-quarter scoring: "Really, I think it's our ability to convert. We have to get the job done to keep the drives going. If you look back, our numbers have not been good late on third downs. That's the biggest challenge for us is just to keep the ball in our hands, to keep moving it and reap the benefits of what that means. That's play calling opportunities that you get, keeping the other team off the field, all those good things that happen. We're hoping that we're going to execute better. We're looking for execution in the fourth quarter in all phases right now."
3. Earl Thomas wasn't timid Sunday.
Following last week's loss in Cincinnati, Thomas was critical of his own performance, saying he played "timid" and didn't feel like he was prepared. That clearly was not the case against Carolina when Thomas had an interception and four passes defensed, including one pass breakup on what at the time looked to be a crucial fourth-down stop. Teams don't often test Thomas in the middle of the field anymore, but he was more than up to the challenge when Panthers Cam Newton threw a few passes in the middle of the field.
"He was just on it," Carroll said. "He saw more opportunities down the field, because Cam throws the ball down the field more, and he didn't throw the ball outside down the field, but he threw the ball down the middle and gave Earl some chances, had a great play on fourth down. It was a great read, the help over there with Richard (Sherman). I just think he's on his game. He's not getting the ball thrown his way much, and when they do he usually makes something happen good for us."
4. The Seahawks are "pretty hopeful" Bobby Wagner will play Thursday.
The Seahawks were without All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner Sunday, but the hope is that his pectoral strain will only lead to a one-game absence.
"I'm pretty hopeful for that, yeah, we'll see if that works out," Carroll said. "He's got to get though the days; there's not going to be a lot of heavy-duty work, but the trainers are thinking he's got a chance to play for us."
Frank Clark, who missed Sunday's game with a hamstring injury "has a chance to come back" as well. The Seahawks should also have cornerback Tye Smith back this week after he missed the past two games with a hip injury. Cornerback Marcus Burley, meanwhile, will be out again this week while recovering from surgery on his broken thumb, but could be back the following week.
One new injury that came out of the game was an ankle injury for Patrick Lewis, who was making his first start of the season at center in place of Drew Nowak. Carroll liked some of what he saw from Lewis, but Lewis may not make it back in a shortened week.
"Patrick got banged up in the game a little bit, we'll see how he does," Carroll said. "In a short week I'm not sure if he's going to make it back or not, so we'll see. He did a solid job. I thought our pass protection scheme-wise, assignment-wise, technically was better, so we saw a little bit of improvement there. Patrick did a solid job for us."
Carroll also mentioned that right tackle Garry Gilliam has an ankle injury and receiver Tyler Lockett has a hip injury, though he gave no indication of the seriousness of either injury.
This is the first week that players on the physically unable to perform list can be added to the 53-man roster, but Carroll said a decision has not yet been made on receiver Paul Richardson. Richardson is ready to resume practicing from a physical standpoint, Carroll said, but with such a short week, the Seahawks may wait to add him to the roster. Carroll said last week that cornerback Jeremy Lane is farther behind Richardson in his recovery and is not yet ready to return to practice.
5. Derrick Coleman should be back on the roster soon.
While the roster move has not yet been made, Carroll said fullback Derrick Coleman will be back with the team soon after being placed on the reserve/suspended list last week.
"We will lift the suspension on Derrick Coleman," Carroll said. "I think we'll find out what the timing is of that, but as soon as we can. We really don't have a lot of information, we don't have any information for you about what's going on, the issues. We've not received stuff, other than to know the basics and the fundamentals of it. We will do that and then we'll move from there."
Asked if Coleman can play this week, Carroll noted that the fullback has not yet met with team doctors since last week's car accident that led to his arrest.
"He has to clear the doctors' reports and all that stuff before we know," Carroll said. "We don't know that yet. He has not been able to see our doctors because he's been on suspension. He has seen other doctors."
Carroll said the team has spoken with Coleman and reviewed tapes of his meetings with police and said, "We feel like we're doing the right thing, right now."