The Seahawks aren't happy with their 2-3 start to the 2015 season. They are, however, confident they can turn things around, because they have done it before.
A year ago, the Seahawks were struggling to recapture their Super Bowl form and got off to a 3-3 start, bringing up numerous "what's wrong with the Seahawks?" questions that only grew louder after a loss at Kansas City dropped them to 6-4, three games behind Arizona in the NFC West. Not only did the Seahawks turn things around last year, they did so in dramatic fashion, winning six straight to close out the regular season, outscoring opponents 134-39 during that closing stretch, which allowed them to not just win the division but also earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
So following a stunning Week 5 loss in Cincinnati in which the Seahawks blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead, players were understandably disappointed in the result, but they were also able to keep from panicking, because experience tells them that their season doesn't have to be defined by a poor start.
"You can't dwell on it," defensive end Cliff Avril said. "It's such a long season. What is that, our fifth game? So there there's a lot of football to be played. We've just got to get our mojo back and play our kind of football.
"Experience helps in situations like this, knowing that you can change a season around. There's a lot of football to be played, and we definitely have the guys to do it. We've just got to keep getting better."
Linebacker Bobby Wagner agrees there are similarities between this season and last, which is why when the Seahawks face Carolina—coincidentally, the same team Seattle played last season following their third loss—the focus Sunday will be on what the Seahawks still can accomplish this year, not on the games they let get away in Weeks 1 through 5.
"Everybody in here has been in this position before in their life, kind of back-against-the-wall, people doubting, and we've always came out," Wagner said. "I'm confident in us, I believe in us. I know we're 2-3, but we'll be fine."
For Earl Thomas, the reason to remain confident is even simpler.
"I'm always confident in our ability," he said. "We're going to get it fixed. We're going to keep fighting and see what happens.
"I know who we are… Ain't nothing changed."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll likes to point out, correctly so, that winning games in the NFL is awfully tough, and that even in the best of times, such as the 2013 season, the Seahawks had a few losses and plenty of close wins that could have gone either way. And while he sees similarities to the beginning of this season and last year's 3-3 start, he actually feels better about where his team is at right now than he did around this time in 2014.
"I think we're more on the topic of what it takes for us to play like we want to play," Carroll said. "After six games last year, I thought we were floundering. Guys were trying to do the right thing, but we weren't really connected in the way you need to be to really feed off one another energetically. That had to take a whole new step forward. We're connected differently at this time, but we still have to improve our play. I'm hoping that that marker stays with us so we can get moving. This is the week to get moving as opposed to the next week—we run out of time for making a real turnaround here early. I'd like to see us do that."
Confidence aside, the Seahawks know they can't undo the fact that they have lost three games in which they held a fourth quarter lead, which is why Carroll said he returned to work Monday to find a "pretty quiet" locker room.
"Everybody's pretty disappointed for obvious reasons, and the whole room feels it," Carroll said. "Everybody's sharing in it. The conversation already went to Wednesday—let's get back, let's get going, and let's take the things that we have improved at and make sure we own those so that we carry them forward. In particular, what's going on up front on offense. That was a big move for us and we need to see that. It affects all of our play. So we're looking forward to getting going again."
What the Seahawks promise they won't do, however disappointed they might be, is fracture. The team's togetherness is why you heard defensive players take the blame for Seattle losing its big lead, even though the offense also struggled in the fourth quarter, and it's why you heard the captain of the offense, quarterback Russell Wilson, say the defensive struggles were the fault of an offense that forced the defense to spend too much time on the field.
"It's a together thing," Wilson said. "We have to lean on each other and continue to believe. There's no doubt in our locker room that we believe in one another.
"In terms of team morale, we're disappointed. Obviously we're disappointed, we hate losing. We feel like it's on all of us, and we need to lean on each other. We're going to do whatever it takes to just try to go 1-0 next week and let the season add up and just see how far we can take it."
If Seattle's recent history is any indicator, the Seahawks can still take it plenty far, even after a third loss in five games. There's work to be done, to be sure, but the Seahawks still believe all of their goals are still in front of them.
"Look, we're not anywhere like we're dead and gone," Carroll said. "We don't feel like that at all. We've just got to get some things fixed up, and I think we can. These guys are forthright and they're strong individuals, they'll hang together and they'll work to get it done."