SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Seahawks ‘ride that emotion,’ but how far will it take them?

Dec 23, 2016, 8:25 AM | Updated: 11:20 am
Richard Sherman has been critical of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevel on multiple occasions of l...
Richard Sherman has been critical of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevel on multiple occasions of late. (AP)
(AP)

“We just play so hot,” coach Pete Carroll said, “that the emotion part of it also has to be dealt with.”

This was back in October. Back when Richard Sherman had erupted on Seattle’s sideline for the first time this year, and the Seahawks coach was trying to explain how his cornerback’s passion and his energy wasn’t something to be tempered or tamed, but rather harnessed and channeled.

“It’s an emotional team,” Carroll said. “Emotional guys. And we ride that emotion.”

The question now isn’t just how far Seattle can ride those emotions, but which direction those emotions will take them. Because as the Seahawks prepare to play Arizona in the final home game of the regular season, it’s tough to know just what to make of this Seattle team.

From one angle, it’s possible to see a team that’s caving in – and not just because Sherman went out Tuesday and surprised his coach by reiterating his criticisms of an offensive play call from last week’s game. All-Pro safety Earl Thomas – who’s out for the year with a broken leg – said again this week that retirement was a possibility, and we haven’t even gotten to the offense that has failed to score a touchdown in three different games this season and didn’t look all that hot in the first half against the Rams last week.

Look at Seattle from another angle, though, and you can see a team poised for one of its late-season pushes.

After all, emotions have been the fuel for this Golden Age of Seahawks football. That was evident way back in December 2012 when the Seahawks returned from Miami having suffered a come-from-ahead defeat and knowing that its two starting cornerbacks – Sherman and Brandon Browner – faced possible four-game suspensions after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

All Seattle did was win its final five regular-season games by a combined score of 193-60 and come within 30 seconds of playing for the conference championship that season.

Double coverage: How the Cardinals have fallen since last playing Seahawks

This is a team that won the franchise’s first Super Bowl within days of two wide receivers having a physical altercation, and over the past two years, it is when things seem most dire that Seattle summons a season-saving run like eight wins over the final 10 games last year or the six-game winning streak to close out the 2014 regular season.

And now Seattle stands at 9-4-1. The Seahawks have already won the division and are two wins away from having the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs and the week off that comes with it.

But this season has been perhaps the most unpredictable in Carroll’s seven years with the team, from the three games in which Seattle’s offense has sputtered to a single-digit scoring total, to the two times that Sherman has had outbursts on the sidelines. Throw in a batch of injuries, and in some respects it’s remarkable that Seattle has won as many games as it has.

The question isn’t whether the Seahawks can squash those emotions or temper them enough to beat the Cardinals on Saturday. It’s about harnessing them both for the team in general and Sherman specifically.

“He’s got a great edge,” defensive coordinator Kris Richard said. “It’s always kind of when you’re teetering on that edge, you have to make sure we stay on that right end.”

Those emotions explain the heights Sherman has reached in his career and the peaks Seattle has summited as a team.

Now, the question is not just how far those emotions will take Seattle in this season that still has so much potential, but which direction it will carry the Seahawks.

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