No Russell Wilson, bad defense and 2-4 start — Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll faces toughest challenge

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7:00 AM ET

  • Brady HendersonESPN

RENTON, Wash. — Matt Hasselbeck remembers seeing it in all places, listening to it just about everywhere: 7 and nine.

It was the finish of the 2010 common period, mentor Pete Carroll’s very first with the Seattle Seahawks and Hasselbeck’s previous as Seahawks quarterback. They had just crushed the St. Louis Rams in 7 days 17 to declare the NFC West title and develop into the 1st team in the Tremendous Bowl era to acquire its division with a sub.-500 document.

To the dismay of a lot of NFL observers, that intended a very first-round assembly with the New Orleans Saints, who had gained a wild-card bid at 11-5 right after winning the Super Bowl the prior period. Conversing heads groaned that a 7-9 crew failed to are entitled to to gain its division, let by yourself host a playoff recreation.

What is actually much more: the Saints had beaten the Seahawks by two touchdowns in New Orleans two months before.

“So we understood how excellent they were being,” Hasselbeck, now an analyst at ESPN, recalled this 7 days. “They were really superior, and we knew we have been 7-9.”

Right until Carroll obtained them to think they were not.

2 Connected

“7 and nine was in all places and Pete’s slogan was, ‘We are not 7-9. We are zero and zero. And guess what everybody else is? Zero and zero,'” reported Hasselbeck, who will be inducted into the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor when they host New Orleans on Monday evening (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN) as 4.5-level underdogs.

“Whether or not we were being naïve to believe that it or not, we assumed we were being zero and zero. We were not 7-9. We ended up zero and zero, just like anyone else. We considered it. We were being in. He experienced us so focused on it. Perhaps we had been suckers, but we beloved it. We had been in on it.”

Eleven several years immediately after his crew pulled off one particular of the greatest playoff upsets in NFL heritage, Carroll has another unbelievable undertaking in front of him. The Seahawks are 2-4, 4½ games powering the division-leading Arizona Cardinals and 3½ powering the second-spot Los Angeles Rams. They have a suspect defense and a backup quarterback in Geno Smith for at minimum two more video games, even though Russell Wilson recovers from finger medical procedures.

Carroll has confronted his share of tough coaching worries in Seattle: rebuilding on-the-fly in 2010, preventing the pitfalls that can observe a Super Bowl get, managing the fallout of their devastating Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots, shifting on from the Legion of Increase in 2017 and 2018 and turning about a traditionally terrible protection in 2020.

What tends to make this impediment different from most of individuals: Carroll would not have Wilson.

“It’s a problem,” he claimed. “I have acquired to guide the cost, and I’m heading to kick ass on that.”

‘It’s a very related feeling’

Pete Carroll is a grasp of motivation and he’ll want every single ounce of his motivational abilities to navigate the Seahawks by way of their existing tough patch when holding their playoff hopes alive. Charles LeClaire/Usa Now Athletics

Carroll’s unwavering optimism, even in the confront of dire predicaments, is rooted in frequent assurances he utilised to get from his mom. Rita Carroll’s oft-repeated line to her kids was that “one thing fantastic is about to occur.”

Linebacker Bobby Wagner thinks something fantastic is about to materialize.

Seattle’s defensive captain is one particular of 3 players — Wilson and huge receiver Tyler Lockett are the other individuals — still left over from the 2015 Seahawks’ workforce that started 2-4. It concluded 10-6, earned a wild-card bid and sophisticated to the divisional spherical soon after Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh skipped a chip-shot industry goal in sub-zero Minneapolis.

“I bear in mind all people on the outside stating our period was about and declaring that we had no likelihood of remaining fantastic,” Wagner recalled of that 2-4 begin. “And I don’t forget us just locking in and focusing. It truly is a extremely related sensation. I truly feel like when you view the video games and enjoy some of the issues that we’ve accomplished, I experience like we’re really near and I come to feel like it truly is not like we’re not receiving superior.

“I’m very self-confident in the fellas that we have. I’m confident that we’re just a pair performs away, just a few slight tweaks away from getting a crew that I know we can be. So we have just obtained to lock in. There is certainly no much more place really for error for us to … determine these points out.”

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That 2015 team experienced the Legion of Increase primary the league’s major-rated scoring defense. And it had Wilson, the quarterback who’s led much more match-profitable drives in the fourth quarter or time beyond regulation than any individual given that 2012, the male who has masked so lots of of his team’s flaws in its submit-Tremendous Bowl several years, the main cause why you can hardly ever count the Seahawks out.

This group has a defense that showed enhancement previous 7 days in an time beyond regulation decline to the Pittsburgh Steelers but has largely underperformed whilst letting the most yards in the NFL as a result of six games. It has a very good backup in Smith, who stuffed the position of game supervisor effectively whilst rallying Seattle from a 14- deficit right before shedding a fumble in OT.

It truly is Smith’s occupation for at the very least two a lot more games, when Wilson will be eligible to come off hurt reserve. Carroll has presented no timetable on his quarterback’s return, expressing if it can be physically attainable for Wilson to participate in in 7 days 10 at Green Bay next Seattle’s bye, he will.

“I unquestionably experience like we realize what’s at stake,” Wagner explained. “It truly is significant for fellas like myself, Russell to make certain the youthful guys understand that we have been in this situation prior to. Just mainly because we started off 2-4, it does not signify that has outlined our year. The period is very very long. I’m confident that just after these two games, the bye week, we are going to be sitting in a really good posture.”

‘How do we resolve this?’

Carroll, who turned 70 very last thirty day period, is under deal by means of 2025 after signing an extension very last time. Hasselbeck thinks that’s an vital distinction from the dynamic that having difficulties groups frequently facial area.

“Ordinarily in a predicament exactly where you might be on the quotation-unquote scorching seat or you might be owning one particular of all those horrible many years, individuals are all worried about their very own employment and it really is extra about covering your have butt for your own occupation than it is about obtaining it mounted for true,” he explained. “I assume the good point if you happen to be rooting for Seattle is there is certainly task safety in a major way there. There’s no concern about … that type of thing. So the concentrate will be on how do we fix this? Very similar to last calendar year when anyone was getting rid of their minds on speak radio.”

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Hasselbeck was referencing their defensive turnaround, when they went from placing data for futility early to enabling the fewest factors in the NFL over the last 7 weeks.

“Pete did not seriously flinch,” Hasselbeck mentioned. “He just received it fastened mainly.”

Now, the concerns are on both of those sides of the ball. The NFC West is stacked. Wilson is sidelined. And the stakes are raised provided the uncertainty about Wilson’s upcoming in Seattle outside of 2021.

Carroll and the Seahawks want a little something fantastic to occur in a hurry.

He pointed to how his gamers rallied in Pittsburgh as evidence of how they are going to deal with this sort of an unfamiliar problem.

“There’s no selection,” he reported right after the Steelers’ reduction. “The good thing is, we appear back on Monday evening. We get an additional day. But there are no alternatives. We’ve bought to appear back again and freaking fight. Which is how we do it.”