One, the Seahawks are not going back to the playoffs this season. And two -- something perhaps more important for the long-term future of this team -- Seattle just might have found its identity.
"This is what we've been talking about since the day I got here and I'm thrilled," Pete Carroll said of Seattle's Thursday win over Philadelphia, his team's third victory in four games. "I'm thrilled to see the format coming together because we're just getting started with it too."
It wasn't just that the Seahawks beat the Eagles by 17 points that had Carroll so thrilled, it's how they did it. Carroll, who constantly preaches his "it's all about the ball" philosophy, watched his team take the ball from Philadelphia four times on Thursday night while not committing a single turnover.
A defensive-minded coach who doesn't believe a quarterback needs to be the entire show, Carroll was giddy to see his team run the ball well yet again. Going back to their loss in Dallas, the Seahawks re-committed themselves to the running game and since then have rushed for more than 100 yards as a team in five straight games. That's something Seattle hasn't done since the 2005 season, and along the way Marshawn Lynch has eclipsed the 100-yard threshold four times.
By running the ball, Seattle is not only gaining yards, but an attitude. A franchise that the rest of the league has often viewed as soft -- or if they're being politically correct, as a finesse team -- now has a nasty edge to it.
"That's how you run the football, that's how you start to change our identity," said fullback Michael Robinson, who spent four seasons in San Francisco before signing with Seattle last year. "I've been playing against the Seahawks for four or five years and the identity used to always be that they were soft, you know what I mean? We're trying to change that identity."
Progress may be tempered a bit on the offensive side of the ball over the final quarter of the season. With the loss of Russell Okung to a torn pectoral muscle, the Seahawks have now lost four offensive starters -- linemen James Carpenter, John Moffitt and Okung as well as receiver Sidney Rice -- in the past three weeks.
The Seahawks will try to maintain the progress they've shown in the running game, but with three of their starting five linemen now sidelined, a step back may be inevitable. But that won't mean significant progress hasn't been made as Seattle builds for next season and beyond.
"This is the team we've become, this is who we are," cornerback Roy Lewis said after Thursday's win. "We need to play like this every single week. Tonight was a good statement."
And please, don't lament the games they could have won -- at Cleveland, home against Cincinnati and Washington. This is what young teams do. They surprise you with impressive efforts, then they let you down a week later.
As good as the Seahawks have looked in the second half of this season, they're liable to lay another egg sometime over the next four weeks. But setbacks aside, this team is taking shape both in its personnel and its style of play.
In their first year and a half, Carroll and general manager John Schneider turned the roster over at a head-spinning rate. The player churn has since slowed considerably. That not only means they are starting to find the players they like, but that the growing pains should be far less significant moving forward.
Obviously, there's still work to be done in shaping this roster. Seattle needs to find its long-term quarterback, and key pieces like Lynch and defensive end Red Bryant are free agents after this season, but this is a lot closer to a finished product than it was two years ago.
"We really like this team and we like the guys that we're developing and we like the young guys coming up and want to keep it together," Carroll said. "We want to keep these guys and get them to come back and keep this thing in order as best we possibly can.
"I've been telling these guys that all year. These are the guys we've chosen to go with, and of course we'll add in the draft and we'll add in a few free agent opportunities, but the transitions are not going to be like they've been."
No, you won't see the Seahawks in a playoff game this season. But keep watching anyway, you just might see them find an identity.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog
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