After another tough loss, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll admitted these are frustrating times for him and his football team.
"Yes, absolutely," Carroll said when asked if it was the most frustrated he has been in his 12 season in Seattle. "It's not even close. Not even close."
Carroll was frustrated after another Seahawks loss, this one a 23-13 defeat at the hands of the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals, another game in which the offense struggled to sustain drives or score points.
"I don't know why it became a mystery to us score points," Carroll said. "That's never been the issue. We've always been able to move the ball and score… It's not a different story. It's been the same story this whole season, and we've got to see if we can turn this thing."
Carroll's frustration was most obvious when, about eight minutes into his postgame press conference, he abruptly walked off, an unprecedented move for a coach who has always been patient with the media in his career. Carroll eventually though better of it, returning to take more questions after a couple of players had met with the media, and making fun of himself for his abrupt exit before apologizing to the media.
And to be fair, these are completely unprecedented times for Carroll and the Seahawks. Seattle's 3-7 marks the team's worst 10-game start since 2009, the year before Carroll and John Schneider took over the franchise. Carroll has never started the season with a 3-7 record at any of his head coaching stops, not in his one season with the Jets, nor his three years in New England. Carroll never lost more than six games in nine seasons at USC, and since going 7-9 in each of his first two years in Seattle, he has never had worse than a 9-7 record over the past decade. So yeah, this is uncharted territory for Carroll and a team full of players used to winning seasons and playoff berths.
Carroll said the closest feeling to Seattle's current struggles that he could recall was when his 1994 Jets team lost five in a row to close out what would wind up being his only season in New York.
"I go all the way back to the Jets, my one season with the Jets—this is the last time I was in a situation like this as a head coach," he said. "… It's just new territory, and I'm competing every way I can think of, but I'm just unfamiliar with it, and so if I leave early or if I make a mistake, I'm not on my best game right here. I mean, it's been 20 years since I remember anything past that, and I'm not making any excuse, and I don't want to get good at this. That's the other thing. I don't want to get good at this."
To Carroll's credit, he stayed at the podium for more than 10 additional minutes fielding questions, including explaining why he felt the need to come back into the room after his initial early exit.
"Because we've had a relationship," he said. "I have a relationship with the media that I think I respect the heck out of everything you guys do, and I know you've got stories to write. If I short-changed you on the stories, you have a job too, and I felt that way my whole life in coaching, and I did it out of respect to you guys. I know you've got a job to do, and I don't want to make it hard on you. I'm available because it makes sense to me why I should be here right now."
The talk coming out of the game will rightly focus on what has gone wrong, particularly for an offense that at times has shown so much promise, but that also went 20 offensive possessions without a touchdown prior to DeeJay Dallas' 1-yard score in the fourth quarter, but for all the team's struggles that have led to a 3-7 record, Carroll and his players remain steadfast in their belief that this team can and will play much better than it has and turn thing around.
"I have so many reasons (to believe the Seahawks can turn things around)," Carroll said. "It's the guys that we're coaching. It's the way we operate. It's the attitude they've had on a regular basis. It's the coaches' work ethic to keep pushing and attacking the issues, everything about it. Because I don't feel any different. I feel like we're going to win next week, and we're going to go play a great game on the East Coast and come on back here and get ready for the next one, and I don't have any other thought in my mind. I'm just disappointed I have to keep coming back in here and talk about the same stuff, and don't feel I have good answers for you because our answers so far have not turned it, and so that's why I said, it starts with me. I've got to get this done. I've got to help my guys get it done."
Carroll isn't alone in his belief that the Seahawks have what it takes to get better. The question now is whether that turnaround can come soon enough, and if it will be enough, to get the Seahawks back into the playoff picture.
"I'm upset, but I'm still hopeful, because we've got too many guys," said linebacker Jordyn Brooks, who had a team-high 15 tackles, including one for a loss. "We've got future Hall of Famers, All-Pros, Pro Bowlers all across this roster. It's just a matter of time before we put it together and go out and get a win and get going."
Said Russell Wilson, "There's still belief in us without a doubt and what we can do. It's going to be a challenge. It's going to be hard. It's going to be tough. It's going to be possible, too. That's what we realize. It's still possible. For us I think you have to have the right mindset and the right belief. There is no other thought, no other choice."
Wilson acknowledged that it has been "disappointing" that Seattle's offense has been dealing with some of the same issues throughout the season, most notably the inability to convert on third down and sustained drives, resulting in lopsided time of possession nearly every week. But again, he sees the Seahawks getting things back on track.
"It's disappointing, but I also know that every guy in that locker room has the right intentions and hope and dreams and beliefs that we can fix and we will fix it," he said. "I know the past game or two, whatever, it doesn't feel like it, or even the past several weeks, to be honest with you, but I also know what we're capable of. I know that I see it every day in practice. I see what we do, and so we have to translate that, and I think that we have to figure out how to -- the biggest thing is how do we eliminate these big moments?"
Wilson acknowledged that a 3-7 with seven games to play, the Seahawks are "up against it a little bit," but he still likes their chances to make something out of this season.
"Seven games sounds good to me," he said. "I look forward to the next seven, and when we do figure it out, which will hopefully be this week when we do figure it out, everybody better watch out, and that's got to be our mentality. There's no other mentality or thought, no other options, no other hoping and wishing. There's no going back and saying wish we did this differently… At the end of the day we have to answer, and I like answering. I like the tough times too. I like the good times. I also like the tough times. I don't shy away from it. I don't think anyone in this locker room does either. We've got to be better. That's the truth. The truth is, too, we are better than what we've been playing, and the truth is that we also believe that we can be better as a collective group, and the other truth is we've got seven games to go, and we'll see what happens."
Or as safety Jamal Adams put it, "We will get out of this storm, sooner than later… This is a great group of guys that's fighting for one purpose, each and every week, every day, a lot of sacrifice. We're going to turn it around. Do I know when? No, I'm not that guy, but we will turn it around. It's just about taking those steps, each and every day. We can't control the outside noise, and who believes in us, but I like us. I believe in us. We believe in each other, and that's really what matters at the moment."
The issue now for the Seahawks is whether or not the turnaround can be dramatic and abrupt enough to make them a playoff team. Going unbeaten from here out would leave the Seahawks at 10-7, which presumably would give them a good shot at a Wild Card, but it's also going to take something pretty remarkable for a team that went 3-7 in its first 10 games to rattle off seven straight wins.
"It's now or never," said receiver Tyler Lockett, who had four catches for 115 yards. "We're in a place where we've got to win every game to even have a chance. If anybody can do it, I think it's us. I've been here for a long time, I've seen some crazy things play out, so anything can happen. So it's really just about what story do we want to tell as the team going into this year?"
Command Sergeant Major Alfie Alvarado-Ramos raised the 12 Flag before Week 11 vs. the Arizona Cardinals as part of Salute to Service on November 21, 2021 at Lumen Field. Alvarado-Ramos is the Director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs, and a recipient of an Army Legion of Merit Medal and Military Order of Medical Merit.