Seattle Seahawks' Offseason Efforts Muddied by the NFL Lockout Storm

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Seattle Seahawks' Offseason Efforts Muddied by the NFL Lockout Storm
Sean Gardner/Getty Images
Carroll and the Seahawks are preparing for multiple scenarios regarding the start of the 2011 season, but the lockout is a buzz-kill.

In an offseason littered with uncertainty, the Seahawks front office has continued to push towards the future; focused on continuing to breed an innovative, competitive culture surrounding the organization and the society of Seahawks fans, the 12th man.  

Pete Carroll and Co. stated their offseason goal, loud and clear, in a thank you letter to the 12th man dated January 21st, signed by Pete Carroll. A few excerpts:

“There were many proud achievements to take away from the 2010 season. Winning the NFC West in our first season together was awesome, but it is just the start of a plan to own the division for years to come. We reached that goal by competing like crazy each and every day in all that we do—on and off of the field.”; “…one thing remained consistent (in prior reference to the teams midseason struggles) all season long and that was you, the 12th Man…”; “As John Schneider and I strive together to build this team, we will work tirelessly to continue and give you reason to believe in this team.”

With the lockout, the team has had very little opportunity, minus the draft, to actually keep building the team. However, the coaching staff was more involved in the pre-draft process given the labor situation; “we’ve had more opportunity to really dig in draft-wise and do special projects and go back and evaluate and re-evaluate.” The Seahawks believe this is an advantage.

The personnel moves to this point are not the topic of discussion, nor are the variety of opinions towards the team’s failure to re-sign Matt Hasselbeck prior to the lockout or the approach to the draft. What is important to note is that the team has remained tireless in their competition to field the best team in 2011.  

A plan in place to weather the lockout

During an interview with Pete Carroll on 950 KJR on May 3rd, he had this to say in regards to what transpired when the lockout was lifted for one day—the second day of the NFL draft—and what could happen if the lockout was lifted again:

“Well, let me give you an example—when it was lifted for a few hours the other day, we had about a 10-minute meeting with the staff, and it was like 'OK, everybody get ready to just crank it up, burn those phones up, get everything sent out, get the word out that we want the players to come by the area.’ I mean, we cranked it up. Within about a half hour, we were a machine pumping out stuff to everybody because we knew it could close at any time. So we did a great job…the teaching, the mental side, all of the stuff that we can get going, we would jump into it and we would be ready to have a mini-camp next weekend. So if we had that opportunity, then we’re ready to go.”

In my opinion, Carroll and his staff have done nothing but remain firm on their promise to deliver the best product possible on the field next season, and his comments only re-enforce the organization’s will to adapt to the situation and to be ready to adopt one of their many plans to put in place. They are ready for a variety of scenarios regarding how, and when, the season may start.

Strength coach Chris Carlisle, a USC transplant from Carroll’s former staff, has a program awaiting the players when they return to work. A physical regimen focused on functional movement, longevity, and winning championships. 

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He’s hoping the players will adopt his mentality but also offered, “You’ve got to remember, I’ve seen this all before. I’ve seen this movie. It’s a great ending. And we’re right at the beginning.”

It’s appropriate to note here that the Seahawks are one of six organizations that promised not to cut pay to coaching staff, this stated as of May 24th, even if the lockout persists into the scheduled season,  The Giants, Steelers, Colts, Eagles and Cowboys the other five teams that pledged the same; the Patriots have not made a decision and the Packers have a contingency plan in place.

Interestingly enough, the Steelers and Giants were on a five-team list in an ESPN Football Outsiders article I analyzed in this piece, highlighting the Seahawks’ ability to weather a lockout; the Packers and Patriots were other two teams on the Football Outsiders list.

The three other teams highlighted above that aren’t on the ESPN FBO list are strongly driven to win championships. The Seahawks are proving to be among the group of organizations most driven to push through, and possibly even gain an edge, during the hardships of the lockout.

Enhancing the home-field advantage

Recent comments by Seahawks President Peter Mcloughlin on 950 KJR re-enforced the Seahawks are focused on maintaining their competitive mindset, as both an organization and team, through times of standstill.

Though not a topic of the interview, the Seahawks recently installed 3,750 solar panels on top of the Qwest Event Center, the largest solar array in the state of Washington; Mcloughlin in the video highlighting the panel installation—located in the previous sentence—, “Paul Allen is leading this initiative…focused on doing the right thing for the community and environment.” 

The Seahawks, and the MLS’ Seattle Sounders FC, are the pioneers in the league regarding the use of solar energy to power the organization—certainly a Sound way to reach out to the energy conscious community in the Pacific Northwest. 

Regarding changes inside the stadium, Mcloughlin commented the Seahawks are exploring the idea of installing grass; “In a perfect world, both teams (including the Sounders FC) would like to have grass. There is a lot of benefit to it…However, in order to replace the turf with grass the building must be out of service for 8 months.” 

He added, “The risks with rain and weather and sunshine; we’ve seen fields around the league where they get muddy due heavy rains, making the footing challenging.” 

Though I have no confirmation, my ears could hear him smiling as he audibly hid his excitement towards the possibility of opponents not only having to deal with the fans, but also the field. 

Think of the effects the field can have at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field in the winter; Seahawks fans have to think no further back than the last game the team played, a loss in Chicago, to see the home-field effects of grass. 

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The University of Washington Huskies will play at Qwest in 2012 as they re-furbish their stadium, so an eight-month shutdown is not an easy task to negotiate and will likely delay any future changeover. 

Mcloughlin added “we’re not going to play our games anywhere but Qwest field at this point.” Valid point, as there is no reason to voluntarily give up the home field advantage already in place. 

No football doesn’t mean no focus on the future of the relationship with the 12th Man

The Seahawks are yet to have an NFL throwback jersey day, as the team changed divisions and uniforms in 2002. 

Mcloughlin offered during his interview though nothing would happen in 2011, the change from Reebok to Nike for NFL uniforms in 2012 will create the opportunity for a lot of creativity to be put into the idea for Seattle. The technology Nike uses in their manufacturing has brought new ideas to the fray.  

The talk of throwback jersey’s created a buzz for some Seahawks fans; the old Seahawks uniforms are largely associated with the Kingdome and the AFC West, a relationship that ended roughly a decade ago.

The old regime led by Mike Holmgren and Tim Ruskell did not pay homage to the old era of the franchise via throwback jerseys—they contractually may never have had the chance to explore the idea.  

The Seahawks’ planning of a future date to unveil the throwback uniforms is fun to talk about and created buzz, as it exhibits the organization’s commitment to enhancing the force behind the punch packed by the Seahawks and the 12th man. 

I believe this is the organization’s effort at furthering their dedication towards re-empowering the meaning of the Seahawks’ symbol, a subtle effort at creating future opportunities to share the success of the franchise with the fans.  

I want to turn your attention back to the Week 13 victory against Carolina, when the organization inducted soon to be Hall of Fame left tackle Walter Jones into the Seahawks Ring of Honor at halftime; one of the new regime’s recent statements in paying homage to the old Seahawks era and the transitional period. 

The Seahawks came out flat and were down 14-0 early, 14-3 at half; Seattle won the game 31-14. No one is sure what created the “mystical” comeback, as Carroll referred to the victory after the game; he did not credit a fierce halftime speech, or any one man’s accomplishments

After the game, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck alluded to the fact that some of the Seahawks’ successful second-half adjustments stemmed from a play run in honor of Jones; reserve tight end Cameron Morrah touched on the fact that “you don’t want to lose” when you honor a player of Jones’ caliber. 

As the comeback has already been coined mystical, it’s suitable to explore the mystique. After the draft, I explained the presence of the Totem emerging within the Seahawks organization—“the extent to which the relationship between the organization and 12th man breeds a collective will and passion to represent the Seattle Seahawks, and ultimately a stronger force aimed at success.”

 

Jones’ induction is an instance of the organization honoring the past and present success of the Seahawks’ symbol, a collective celebration with the 12th man. 

As previously explained, the Totem is the physical embodiment of a group and the group’s moral principles; Walter Jones is one of the main physical embodiments of the Seahawks’ transitional period from the old AFC West to the current NFC West, a distinct mark of the Seahawks’ personality of that period. 

Is there any way of proving that Jones’ honoring invoked the power of the totem and which carried the Seahawks to victory? No. 

But, it’s one more example that shows the importance of collective power of the 12th man and the Seahawks; a past embodiment of the Seahawks’ symbol playing an undefined role in the current success of the team; the previous examples I’ve highlighted being the “beastquake” run and playoff victory over the Saints, the week before that the Seahawks celebrating at the 50-yard line after winning the division versus the Rams.  

But no Punch will be packed by the 12th man without a new collective bargaining agreement

Despite the Seahawks’ best efforts at enhancing their product for 2011 and beyond, no one is sure when that product will be unveiled. Unless a new collective bargaining agreement is reached within the next few months, there is a chance a reduced or even empty product will be on the field in 2011.

 

The Seahawks’ culture is in the second year of being re-made into an ahead-of-the-curve operation, both on and off the field. There is a focus on the representation of the “Seahawks way;” they care about their image and a strong relationship with the 12th man.

A belief in strong, eccentric and efficient energy is a main part of their operation; no pun intended.

But the irony of their success is while the Seahawks are working to enhance their Totem, the current representation of the NFL logo, the league’s Totem, is declining.

In my initial introduction to the idea of the Totem, I explained every NFL team has a Totem. But now, I want to expand on this; the 32 NFL teams are conjoined under the Totem of the NFL.

We’ve explored the Totemic powers within the Seahawks organization, but what about the NFL?

Remember, Totemic forces only have a positive effect when there is a leadership structure that is willing to enhance the collective power of a group’s guidelines— if that structure is not in place, the Totemic forces can go the other way.

Currently, NFL commissioner Roger Goddell is aware that fans are becoming increasingly displeased with the lockout; interest ratings are suffering.

The fans are realizing that the structure behind the NFL is fragmented; the width of the chasm between the owners and players is driving the collective energy of most fans into the ground.

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Ironically, these are some of the same fans the Seahawks are working hard to keep attracted this offseason.

In preparation for this article, I polled a group of friends/Seahawks fans about their feelings towards a throwback jersey day. The prevalent response was yes, the topic may create buzz with some fans, but the actions of the organization are ultimately lost in the greater stink of the lockout.

I may lose my writing privileges if I write the six-word combination of every day words, only one profane, one respondent used to describe his feelings towards the NFL lockout and the owners-- the owners’ demand that the players give up money and further risk their health is unjustifiable, especially when many players are currently organizing unofficial OTA’s at the risk of injury and losing their season, even their career.

And In analyzing just beneath the surface of Seahawks receiver Mike Williams’ comments from earlier in the week, it’s possible the presumed leader for the Seahawks unofficial OTA’s is not even under contract with the teaman intriguing twist of fate would be for the guy Williams referred to being 2010 backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, and not Matt Hasselbeck. However, we know Hasselbeck has been trying to organize workouts for months.  

Regardless of whom ends up leading those activities, both the players and the coaches are working hard for the Seahawks; and did enough work on one day of NFL business to hopefully get the ball rolling for 2011.

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The organization is currently fulfilling their promise to compete on and off the field, even when the league is technically forced to stand still.

Unless the NFL can figure out the guts and guidelines for their Totem through gritty negotiation, the Seahawks’ hard work will remain somewhat unnoticed, lost among the muck of the NFL lockout. 

The Seahawks and the 12th man can only hope a new collective bargaining agreement is eventually reached, allowing for the organization to showcase their offseason effort. They are an organization concerned with doing their business first and worrying about everybody else as they must, continually setting up the opportunity for those Totemic forces to take care of the rest. 

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