As Pete Carroll acknowledged on Sunday, these are unfamiliar and difficult times for the Seahawks, who fell to 3-7 with a Week 11 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
A day later, as the team held its usual Monday meeting, Carroll made sure players had a chance to have their voices heard, particularly veteran leaders like Bobby Wagner, Russell Wilson and Duane Brown, and the message was one of both accountability and togetherness, and also one of urgency.
"It was interesting to hear, when guys get a chance to speak up a little bit, and some of the leaders had an opportunity make sure that everybody's on the same page, just to reinforce that this is a team and we're playing together and we're going to go through this—the challenges that we're facing—together and that we need to do it in really good fashion and we need to be on it," Carroll said. "And we don't have a moment to waste, and we've got to maximize every opportunity to be at our best, and on and on and on. It was really impressive.
"So, where we are is we've got a challenge that we're facing that we've got to turn. We want to turn this thing as fast as we can. All resources obviously are being tapped into, there will be always some subtle adjustments that we do to try to make some changes and get better. Really, everybody was really accountable and did a nice job owning it and being responsible for the change too. How positive can it be? I don't know after this, but the guys are really turning to doing things right and getting better this week."
The challenge at hand this week is not just preparing for the Washington Football Team by studying film and coming up with a game plan, but also to make sure everyone is in the right place mentally to move forward rather than focus on what happened last weekend, or over the first 10 games for that matter. While this particular challenge is new for the Seahawks, who haven't been 3-7 since 2009, the idea of focusing on the task at hand and tuning out the rest is nothing new; that has been the message Carroll has preached whether his team is on a winning streak or coming off of a loss.
"We've always lost games and have had difficult times, how we bounced back is really what I go to," Carroll said. "In that, I always try to emphasize is it isn't about what just happened, it's about what's coming up next, so you get your focus in connection with the opportunity. That's really what it has been. It doesn't matter how much the losses come to you, you still have to respond in the same fashion to get back on course with what you are capable of doing. It's the distractions of the thoughts, it's the distractions of the messaging, it's the distractions of the concerns that players have, whether they feel like they are worthy of fixing it or the guy next to him is. It's those concerns that detracts from our focus. When you aren't focused you make errors and make mistakes. This game always comes down to who makes the fewest mistakes in the crucial times. I'm trying to work really hard with our guys to understand that we command our focus, we're the ones who do this, we're the ones that decide what we are going to let in and not let in, so that we can be available to play like we are capable of when the opportunities arise. That's the biggest challenge of all challenges, whether it is the good stuff or the bad stuff. Like I have always told you guys, there is an equal aspect of that. We have to get rid of the thoughts that mess us up and keep us from being there right there, right now when we need to be ready for the opportunities."
Players and Carroll expressed optimism Sunday that a turnaround can still happen for this team, and to facilitate that happening, Carroll realizes the status quo might not be the solution. Obviously a midseason overhaul to everything the team does isn't realistic, but the Seahawks will consider whatever changes can help right the ship.
"When things aren't working out right, you have to be open to do whatever you got to do," he said. "We have to do whatever we got to do, and that's competing to me. So I'm not trying to stick to the script; I'm trying to do what's right. So the subtle changes that we make—we're not going to make wholesale changes at this time—but the subtle changes that we make to try and enhance our chances of doing better, that's what's at hand, and I'm wide open to whatever."