RENTON They aren’t the NFL’s chic birds anymore.
The Seahawks have lost two of three games in a month they used to own. Three of their biggest stars are out for the season because of major injuries: Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril. They have no running game. At 7-4 they currently have no hold on a playoff spot.
Most believe they have no chance Sunday night when they will kick off against the league’s trendy new darlings, the soaring Philadelphia Eagles (10-1). Seattle is the largest home underdog its been since 2011. That was back when the franchise was still in the middle of its Pete Carroll-John Schneider housecleaning to greatness.
The league consensus seems to be the Seahawks, after five consecutive playoff appearances and two Super Bowls in the previous four seasons, are done. And certainly so this weekend; as of Wednesday afternoon Las Vegas oddsmakers had the Seahawks a six-point underdog at CenturyLink Field to a Philadelphia team that has crushed its last seven foes by an average of 21.3 points per game.
K.J. Wright has a message for all that.
“Don’t sleep on us, man,” the Pro Bowl linebacker said.
“This team,” he said Wednesday from his locker in Seahawks’ headquarters, “is really good. We are still talented. We can beat the best of the best.
“You know, we ARE the best of the best. And so, just because we have injuries doesn’t mean that things will change. We are going to be OK.
“Don’t sleep on us.”
I asked Wright, who with All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner having a monster season are the strength of Seattle’s defense right now, if he feels people are indeed sleeping on the Seahawks after years of them contending for Super Bowls.
“I do. I do,” he said. “You already know why: Our record, for one; we are not (currently) in the playoffs (positioning), for two; we lost some guys...
“It’s human nature. I’m not mad when people do that. I understand. I get it. However, in this building, we’ve just got to know who we are, stay true to what we do--and believe in ourselves.
“It’s all good.”
Professional athletes, in general, and these veteran Seahawks over the years, in particular, would drive to Spokane and back in a day to seek chips to put on their shoulders for motivation. Doesn’t matter whether those are perceived or real slights, these guys seek them and are fueled by them.
The football nation is bringing one right to them this week.
Wright said he believes the Seahawks’ best this season is still ahead of them.
They are in the middle of a late-season stretch they have owned since 2012, the beginning of their ongoing streak of five consecutive playoff appearances. Seattle is 34-11 in November and December since 2012, the NFL’s best record to end regular seasons in that span.
“I do think it has a lot to do with how you prepare your guys to finish, and getting them ready to do it, and with a real discipline and a mentality,” Carroll said. “And then good fortune is another part of it. Good quarterbacking is another part of it.”
Fortune has eluded the Seahawks this fall. They played their last home game two weeks ago, the 34-31 loss to Atlanta while missing six starters on defense and another on their offensive line. That defeat is why the Falcons are edging Seattle out of the final playoff spot as of right now.
Seattle’s good quarterbacking play has become exquisite, though. Wilson has gained 86 percent of Seattle’s yards, 3,029 passing and a team-best 401 rushing. That’s the most percentage of yards by one player for any team in the league. His 411 pass attempts are the NFL’s most. His yards passing and completions (256) are third. His touchdown throws (23) are third. His total yards (3,430), passer rating in the fourth quarter (134.9) and completions of 20-plus yards (63) are first.
“I don’t know how you could carry it much more,” Carroll said of Wilson and his offense.
These Seahawks are undeniably battered. They have no running game other than Wilson scrambling around making yards out of would-be sacks. They are just 1-2 this November. Sunday night they will try to avoid losing a third consecutive home game for the first time since December 2008. That was Mike Holmgren’s final year as coach, a 4-12 dud.
And the super test against the Eagles is the first of three consecutive games against division leaders. Next week Seattle plays at the AFC South co-leader in Jacksonville, then hosts the NFC West-leading Rams on Dec. 10.
Wright said how the Eagles have looked recently is how he remembers the Seahawks playing and feeling when they were 10-1 in November 2013--on their way to winning their first Super Bowl that season.
“Yeah,” Wright said. “I was watching a play--you saw the play versus the Bears where the guy (running back Jay Ajayi) was running, he fumbled and the guy (Eagles teammate Nelson Agholor) recovered in the end zone (last weekend)? Just certain stuff, the ball bouncing their way. Getting those lucky plays, but at the same time playing really good.
“So it looks like it (the Seahawks in 2013),” Wright said. “But that doesn’t matter. We just have to make sure we come out here, play good football and get the win.
“We just have that confidence. We know that in December, that’s just when you really take off. And we’ve done a great job at it. So we are going to continue. I believe we are.”
Sunday’s mammoth test against the flying Eagles is on Dec. 3.