There was a little extra juice when the Seahawks returned to the practice field on Tuesday, even for a walkthrough session that doesn't come close to full-speed action.
Coming off of their bye week, the Seahawks were back in action and are looking to build on a 6-4 start to the season that has them in a first-place tie in the NFC West, and the energy levels were high after a well-deserved break.
"Going back to work feels good to us, these guys are fired up to be back," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "They feel good, they feel strong, and in the walkthrough, they were bouncing all over the place. The schedule that we have this week will allow us to be fresh all of the way to Sunday." The schedule Carroll is referring to is one that has the Seahawks starting their practice week a day earlier—players are usually off on Tuesday—in order to take Thursday off for Thanksgiving before returning for a normal Friday practice.
"They're anxious to get back at it and really test it," Carroll continued. "This is like starting the second half. It feels like that, a natural break at the bye, and we are going to try and maximize that by coming out and playing a really good game this week."
For players, the break was mostly just a chance to get away from football for a few days and reset before the closing stretch of the season.
"We have just been up here since August, and it's just a fresh start, and a new scenery for a lot of people including the rookies and myself," said receiver DK Metcalf. "It's just a quick reset to have a little fun, a little time off away from football, so we can come back here refocused, and ready to finish off these seven games… We just have to continue to do what we have been doing, and capture the idea, and the focus, and the goal of what we want the end of the season to look like, and that's winning the seven games, but we have to do it one game at a time."
This week is all about preparing for the Las Vegas Raiders, but the bye week allowed Seahawks coaches some time for self-scouting and to look at things from a bigger-picture perspective. A tough loss in Munich notwithstanding, the Seahawks have a lot to like about what they saw when they evaluated the season so far, and in particular what the team has done since turning things around on defense starting in Week 6. After a 2-3 start in which the Seahawks ranked near the bottom of most defensive statistical categories, the Seahawks won four in a row, all by double digits, with the offense, defense and special teams all making significant contributions towards those wins. Obviously the Seahawks would have preferred to head into the bye on a five-game winning streak, but even after the loss to Tampa Bay, they feel pretty good about where they are heading into the closing stretch of the season, but they also know that recent success won't mean much if they don't recapture that level of play coming out of the bye.
"We've made a big turn," Carroll said. "When you take four games plus the fifth game in the last five weeks, we really turned our football team in a positive direction. That doesn't mean anything because we have to go out and do it again this week, but we can see it on offense, and we can see it on defense. It was frustrating to not get a win last week and to be in position to finish with a huge game out there would have been wonderful to acquire that opportunity, but we didn't do it. Other than that, we are getting better, we have a lot of room to improve, and we can see it. It's a very fresh mentality, we are excited about getting back feeling good and all of that, and we are trying to take advantage of where we have come to in this last month or so."
Carroll hopes the bye week is particularly beneficial for a rookie class that has made such significant contributions through the first 10 games. Tackles Abraham Lucas and Charles Cross, as well as cornerback Tariq Woolen, have been every-down players all season, while other rookies like Kenneth Walker III, Coby Bryant and Boye Mafe have made significant contributions on offense and defense while starting. Add to that the special teams roles held by Joey Blount and Dareke Young, and that's eight rookies contributing this year. And when you factor in the preseason—games in which rookies all played significant snaps—these rookies are already 13 games into the season, matching a full college workload with seven games still to play.
"I do think it is," Carroll said when asked if the bye was important for the rookies in particular. "Hopefully, we can make it into that, we've talked that way with them. Just stepping away from it can give you a chance to see things differently, a little more clearly. I'm hoping that is what takes place right now, but for them, I think it is really a convenient opportunity for them just physically too. I keep thinking of the tackles because I think they have played every snap. We will try to take advantage of this, and we have no excuses. This should work for us."
Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith helps pass out turkeys at the Jerk Shack on November 21, 2022 to help families get ready for Thanksgiving.