O’Neil: Seahawks, set up for a blazing finish, epitomize Pete Carroll’s career
This Seahawks team might best epitomize the past 20 years of Pete Carroll’s coaching career because it looks too good to be true.
In fact, it sounds that way, too, which makes it tough for even the slightest amount of cynicism not to go searching for flaws.
Here’s this coach who describes himself as fatally optimistic spelling out a philosophy that makes success sound not necessarily easy but achievable, and in a league where coaches are prone to describe winning consistently as if it is some Sisyphean task, it is tempting to look for reasons why everything might not be as great as it looks for this team.
The Seahawks are 10-3 heading into Sunday’s game at Carolina, emerging from the toughest stretch of their schedule with only the slightest hint of a limp. After this final road game against an opponent that has fired its coach and won just five games, the Seahawks play back-to-back home games and know that if they win out they will not only win the division but have a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Some still feel compelled to add a qualifier to that clear run of success, though, probably because they have scored only 20 more points than they’ve allowed this season and watched two opponents miss what would have been game-winning field-goal attempts.
A rational, reasonable person could look at this team and think the bottom may be about to fall out. In fact, I personally spent more than an hour on Tuesday night poring over the history of recent playoff teams to find out if an unimpressive point differential such as the one Seattle possesses is an omen for an early playoff exit.
Nope. It does not. The Cowboys and the Eagles had the lowest point differentials of any NFC playoff teams last season. Each won in the wild-card round. The Titans had a negative point differential when they made the playoffs in 2017 and they still beat the Chiefs. Ditto for the Texans the year before against Oakland.
So I’m going to be more like Carroll heading into the home stretch of this season. I’m going to stop gritting my teeth over this team’s shortcomings and picking at the flaws and I’m going to look at the fact that this is the league’s third-best rushing offense going into Carolina, whose Panthers have allowed a league-high 5.26 yards per carry this season.
And this is the end of the widow’s turn in Seattle’s schedule where the Seahawks played four of five games on the road, the Panthers being the only opponent in that stretch to have a losing record at the time they faced the Seahawks.
At some point, the results speak for themselves. It’s true of the success that Carroll has piled up in the 10 seasons her in Seattle and the nine before that at USC. It’s also true of this season where Seattle is positioned for a blazing finish to what has already been a very strong season.
The preponderance of wins contrasted by a smattering of losses says something about both Carroll’s program and this particular season.
Prediction: Seahawks 27, Panthers 16.
More Seahawks coverage
• O’Neil’s Playoff Watch: Seahawks don’t need to streak into postseason
• Russell Wilson shares interesting look into on-field mentality
• Heaps: WR Josh Gordon needs snaps over role players
• O’Neil: What happened to Seahawks’ big plays in the passing game?
• Playoff Scenarios: Seahawks need help to clinch berth in Week 15
• The 3 Questions: How can Hawks bounce back vs Carolina?
• Huard: Seahawks’ offense getting on track more critical than defense