Pete Carroll has gone so far as to call this offseason a “rebirth” for his Seattle Seahawks.
Carroll’s strengths have always included the effective and enthusiastic shaping of mindsets for his team. The coach understands how thought can lead to deed, and if he says the team feels reborn enough the players will accept themselves as such.
But this seems fully rooted in logic, and the players seem to have returned to work with a renewed sense of purpose.
“The attitude of this team is really obvious; they like working and they’re enjoying it,” Carroll said after an OTA practice last week.
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Part of the renaissance is physical. The carnage of the past lengthy seasons left many still limping when the annual training camp arrived. That’s not nearly the problem this year.
“You feel the energy they bring, and their sense of well-being is obvious, and it’s added to the overall feel and spirit of these camps we’re having so far,” Carroll said of the healthier Hawks.
Ask quarterback Russell Wilson. “The energy out there is unbelievable. It feels like we’re in midseason,” Wilson said.
That’s good, because it’s recently taken until midseason before the Seahawks have really come into form.
The two previous seasons involved either winning or losing a Super Bowl, and experiencing that stunning polarity of emotions. Both experiences were powerful and impactful, and both lingered into the fall.
This time, it felt that the Seahawks’ 2016 season — and the healing from a vast disappointment — started at halftime of the playoff loss at Carolina on Jan. 17.
Trailing 31-0 at halftime, the 2015 season ended in a sound whipping at the hands of a superior team.
But 2016 started after intermission, as the Seahawks scored 24 points in the second half to fall by a less-embarrassing 31-24 count. The rally against the cruise-control Panthers was hollow in reality, but significant psychologically.
And it is a triumph that Carroll and the Seahawks aren’t now looking back to the successive Super Bowl seasons, but to 2012, the season that ended in a playoff rally that also resulted in a loss — at Atlanta.
It was a time when the youthful Seahawks were on the rise, still discovering how far their talents might take them.
“I think the best year you could probably compare it to is the Atlanta year, after we lost that tough game,” Wilson said of this recent offseason.
Except the 2016 Seahawks have some obvious advantages over their younger selves.
“I think it’s even more in a positive direction because we have so much experience, so many guys have been through the fire and have been through amazing wins and very, very tough losses,” Wilson said.
So many of the players who rallied from the 20-point deficit in the 30-28 loss to the Falcons are now grown men with families and the wisdom borne of experience.
“There’s more men on the team, in the sense of the maturation we have,” Wilson said. “I think that maturation, that confidence, that conscious competence, I call it, in just making the plays, knowing we can trust one another, knowing the timing is going to be right, knowing when the game is on the line we can find a way.”
It’s something, Wilson said, that allowed the team to fight back against Carolina despite trailing 31-0 at halftime.
Maybe the comeback was mostly symbolic, but it cleared their heads.
Behind them now are offseasons disrupted by dramas involving Percy Harvin’s temperament, Marshawn Lynch’s health and contentment, Kam Chancellor’s contract holdout — and any number of injuries.
Key injured players Jimmy Graham and Thomas Rawls look to be healing and on track to return this fall. And even though Michael Bennett is missing the voluntary phase of the offseason, Carroll said Bennett’s still sending him videos of his workouts.
So much seems positive now. On the rise again.
As Carroll recently said on his radio show: “We know it’s right there for us, everybody feels it. That’s what is really fueling the energy around the building and why we’re so enthused.”
Calling it a rebirth might be stretching it, considering the level of veteran talent that remains, but it certainly seems fair to see the 2016 Seahawks as a hungry and re-energized version of themselves.