Why will the Seahawks defeat Carolina to even their record at 3-3 and use that to springboard to a strong finish and another playoff appearance?
Because it’s exactly the kind of thing they do. Or at least have done enough lately that it seems reasonably predictable.
This is the annual script: Allow the drama to build, wait until it becomes dire, and then push it to the edge before finding a way.
You’ve seen how this Legion of Procrastinators works. And now they stand 2-3 with a pair of lowly wins and three quizzical losses.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
It’s tempting to write them off as a team that’s been to the top, and had its hunger quelled by attainment — the sort of thing that can dull the edge just enough to make a difference. A loss to Carolina and that certainly will be an angle worth considering.
But it’s all still there for the Seahawks, with a roster as talented as any of the Super Bowl predecessors.
The prime reason for expecting a quick revival is because this team is very close to being very good. The Seahawks are a 1-yard run, a couple of first downs and a defensive stop or two from being the undefeated defending Super Bowl champs.
The only loss this season that wasn’t in overtime was on the road at undefeated Green Bay. And they held a lead in that one, too, in the fourth quarter.
It might be frustrating, but in some ways comforting to fans, that the Hawks have played nowhere close to their potential, except for long stretch on Sunday against Cincinnati.
The number of veterans on the team seems to invalidate this theory, but I think this is a team that’s evolving, and still adapting to new circumstances.
Quarterback Russell Wilson seems in a transition phase, dealing with the problem of balancing instinct versus design. The Seahawks will be best when he finds a way to be functionally improvisational but operating within the offensive structure enough so the delicate timing on pass plays can be maintained.
New tight end Jimmy Graham is a tool they haven’t learned to utilize. He was fundamentally a large wide receiver who’s being asked to play like a traditional tight end. The routes and role are new, but at times the connection between Wilson and Graham seems teasingly close. That should be an easy fix.
Another reality should strike the Seahawks at this point. They simply don’t have the same margin for mistakes as they used to. Two penalties against the offensive line in overtime killed their drives at Cincinnati.
A silly penalty on Michael Bennett on an interception return by Earl Thomas near halftime cost them 50 yards of field position. They ended up with a field goal, but without the penalty, they’d been in position to tack on a touchdown instead.
That’s a possible four points in a game so close it went into overtime. Bennett’s punitive block on Bengal quarterback Andy Dalton may have felt good, but not worth the cost to a team in need of wins.
Another unconsidered aspect of adapting and changing is physical healing. Four defensive All-Pros are coming off seasons with injuries, including three secondary players who were playing hurt in the Super Bowl.
At times on Sunday, both Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor missed tackles they normally make. Linebacker Bobby Wagner played part of the game with a freshly injured pectoral muscle.
Even after the injuries are healed, it takes some time for the mind to allow a player to get back to being as aggressive as he had been before the injury. Maybe that’s part of the defensive inconsistency.
It may be hard to remember, but coach Pete Carroll’s record with the Seahawks through the first 2 ½ seasons was 18-22. That’s below the Dennis Erickson Line and flirting with termination territory.
But Carroll got the Hawks to finish 7-1 in the second half of the 2012 season, and since then, they’ve gone 34-11, with a 20-4 record after the midpoint of seasons.
The schedule is going to help. They are two games behind Arizona in the division standings, but play the Cards twice, the first time at home after a bye to start a three-game stretch at CenturyLink.
After the Cowboys game in Dallas on Nov. 1, the Hawks don’t have a road game until Dec. 6 at Minnesota.
And other than Arizona, the best team remaining is Pittsburgh (3-2), and the Steelers have to come to Seattle.
Look, if the Seahawks fall to Carolina to stand at 2-4, a whole lot of things change, and unraveling is a possibility.
But given recent history, a strong reversal of fortune seems more likely than a continued slide.