It was quiet in the Seahawks locker room Monday as players cleaned out their lockers prior to the final team meeting of the season.
A day earlier, the Seahawks pulled off a dramatic comeback win over the Cardinals, but that victory wasn't enough to get them into the postseason, so as is the case at the end of the season, players were in the locker room to pack up their belongings and exchange goodbyes and well-wishes with their teammates.
But while there was definitely disappointment that the season ended without a trip to the playoffs especially since the Seahawks were in control of their playoff destiny prior to a Week 17 loss to Pittsburgh, players also head into their offseason optimistic about what is still to come.
"I feel nothing but positive, because I know we'll put in the work to get better," said safety Julian Love, who made the Pro Bowl in his first season with the Seahawks. "That's what has to happen. Obviously guys will get rest and all that stuff, but from a top-down approach, we just all have to take that step forward to get better, and I know we can. I know we're capable of doing it. That's the most frustrating part about not making the playoffs; we have some guys in this locker room, and then we just left some stuff out there. I'm excited, I know we can do it, and we're going to take those steps."
Asked about the Seahawks being close to getting over the hump and being a contender, Love added, "It's close. In the NFL, how many close games did we have this year, and they can swing either way. If we had the shot, we could make some noise, but we didn't do those little things in the key moments to get that. It's a fragile league, and we're close. We're closer than people think. I know we that we can get over that hump."
Bobby Wagner expressed his disappointment for missing out on a trip to the postseason, but also sees the Seahawks as a team close to contention.
"I feel like we were really close," Wagner said. "Some of the games that we lost, a lot of it was due to ourselves. I think we shot ourselves in the foot a lot, especially with penalties. If everybody really attacks this offseason and comes back faster and smarter, I think it can be positive."
Earlier in the day, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll expressed similar feelings about the team during his weekly appearance on Seattle Sports 710AM.
"We made too many young-team mistakes all the way across the board," he said. "We're on the move. It's a team that's growing, it's a team that's got potential and future and all of that… I think this team is really going move. It's got a good nucleus and a good element about the makeup."
And despite a 9-8 record for the second straight season, Carroll sees his team as improved heading into this offseason compared to a year ago.
"Yes, I do, it's so clear," he said. "We've improved, we've got some guys in situations that have help us, and we should grow and we should come together in even a more powerful way. This team's got future, this team's got real future, and not everybody can say that. There's nothing to keep us from saying that. So it's an exciting outlook for the future, and we'll see what happens."
But to get that done, Carroll knows it's on both players and coaches to make the improvements needed heading into the 2024 season.
"I need to do a better job, I need to help my coaches more and we need to do a better job of coaching," Carroll said. "There's a lot of room for improvement."
Check out the best sights from the sidelines and the locker room following the Seahawks' 21-20 comeback win over the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Easy to Celebrate photos are presented by Bud Light.