RENTON — The Seahawks’ not-so-pleasant present — a 3-7 start that is their worst after 10 games since 2009 — has invariably turned the attention of fans and media to the big questions that could face the team in the offseason if things continue on their current course.
Could the franchise really decide to clean house and start over? Could this really be it for one or both of coach Pete Carroll or quarterback Russell Wilson, each the best at their jobs the Seahawks have had in their history?
But Wednesday, when he met the media as the team began a new workweek, Carroll made clear his vision isn’t extending past Monday night’s game against the Washington Football Team.
Asked at one point how he thinks a 3-7 start might affect how Wilson views his Seattle future, given his frustration of last offseason, Carroll said: “I’m really looking at how a 7-0 finish is going to affect all of us, more so.”
At this point, that may be what it would take to get to the playoffs. FiveThirtyEight.com currently gives the Seahawks a 4% chance to make it, which improves to 9% with a win and dips to 0.6% with a loss.
A 7-0 run is unlikely in even the best of times.
Seattle has won seven or more consecutive games in a season only three times — 11 in 2005, eight in 1984 and seven in 2013, Carroll’s fourth year when the Seahawks won the Super Bowl.
But Carroll didn’t earn his reputation for positivity by dwelling on the negative. So, while there are games still be played — and yes, a chance at the playoffs, remote as it may feel — Carroll and the Seahawks are plunging full steam ahead.
Still, unusual times call for unusual measures.
To try to make sure everyone’s focus is remaining on the task at hand, several veterans spoke during a team meeting Monday, including middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
“When you’re in a situation like this, people are gonna look at your leaders,” Wagner said Wednesday. “And so if your leaders don’t believe, then what’s the point in a team believing? So I think it was just important to express the confidence that we have, the belief that we have. We’ve had some crazy stuff happen over my years in the league, and so the only way that happens, it starts with your mind, starts with what you believe in.”
And Carroll knows it starts with him, which is why he remained unwavering in his belief that something can still be made of this season and refused to give even a sliver to read into anything he might say about potentially sensitive topics down the road.
Carroll signed a new five-year contract last year that runs through the 2025 season. But he also turned 70 in September, and this is the NFL, where no one’s future is ever secure for very long.
But Carroll said Wednesday his only thoughts are to “just buckle down and keep grinding and keep going. That’s what’s obvious because that’s what’s at hand right now. This time of year, in any season, I’m not thinking about down the road, the future, or any of that kind of stuff. That’s not what’s in my mind at all. It’s really just the next day that we have and the opportunity that we have in that game that weekend.”
Carroll also gave a vote of confidence for first-year offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, who replaced Brian Schottenheimer, who was fired in January even though the Seahawks scored a franchise-record 459 points last season. Seattle this year is averaging just 19.4, 24th in the NFL, on pace for 310 in a 16-game season, which would tie Carroll’s first year, 2010, for the fewest in his Seattle tenure.
But Carroll noted the injuries to Wilson and running back Chris Carson as mitigating factors and said he remains confident the Waldron-led offense will turn things around.
“I think it’s been a real challenge for him in the quarterback moving out and the tailbacks being available and all that as we had planned it,” Carroll said. “I think he’s doing a really good job. I love the work and approach and the style and what we’re trying to get done. I’m very hopeful that you’re going to see us take off in the last seven weeks here.”
If not, then the questions about Carroll and Wilson and their futures will increasingly dominate the storyline.
Carroll, though, was preaching only optimism and harmony Wednesday.
Asked how his relationship with Wilson has evolved this year through their most trying season together, Carroll called it “the best it’s ever been by far,” recalling the talks they had in the spring following the Wilson trade rumors.
“We’ve been closer because of all that happened in the offseason we went through and the time we spent together,” he said. “It’s as connected as it’s ever been. It’s a natural thing when you spend that much time and you’re working stuff together that you grow together. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for the relationship and helping him.”
Wilson’s injury and recovery, Carroll said, has only further strengthened their relationship.
“He just went through one of the most difficult things he’s ever faced in his career,” Carroll said. “To make it through that one step at a time every day and stay in touch. To see him handle it and all that and now he’s ready to go. I’m a little bit frustrated that we didn’t jump back in at a high level, but we’re cranked to turn. Looking forward to it.”
But for now, looking only to Monday and no further.