A free suggestion to Pete Carroll.
And I offer this only because the Seahawks coach already has shown an openness to creative player management with sleep studies, biorhythms, yoga, meditation, supplemental hydration, GPS tracking of players’ movements, positive reinforcement, etc.
Here’s my thought: At the start of the next regular season in September, every morning Carroll should have one of the staff cooks roast a turkey and pump the scent into the VMAC headquarters air ducts.
And, so lightly as to arrive subliminally, have some holiday music piped into every meeting room. Maybe blink-quick snippets of “It’s a Wonderful Life” might be spliced between plays of the game videos that they study.
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The goal is to replicate at the start of the season the feelings that the Seahawks seem to get near the end every season, in November and December, a span in which they have the best record in the NFL (30-6) since 2012.
Since that season, when Russell Wilson arrived as quarterback and the trajectory of the team angled steeply upward, the Seahawks have won a commendable 61 percent of their games in September and October, but have cranked that up to a lethal 83 percent in November and December.
They’ve suffered one November loss at home in that span, a point relevant as the 5-4 Philadelphia Eagles visit CenturyLink Field on Sunday — the last game on the schedule against a team currently with a record above .500.
The guess is that the winter surge is about more than just the influences of tryptophan and Bing Crosby.
▪ The Hawks seem patient with injured players, tending to allow them to return to full strength for the stretch run.
Kam Chancellor’s return from groin injuries last weekend at New England helped turn the Seahawks into a team that looked as strong as it had during earlier Super Bowl seasons.
Wilson is mostly healed and returning to his elusive self after modifying his approach while recovering from a series of early season injuries.
With last year’s leading rusher, Thomas Rawls, apparently nearing a return, the offense seems likely to continue its rebound from a season-low ranking of 26th in the NFL before the win over the Patriots.
▪ Carroll has said that his annual investment in rookie playing time early in the season pays dividends in the second half, when they become assets rather than liabilities.
Rawls and receiver/returner Tyler Lockett were prime examples last season. This year, the big emergence could be running back C.J. Prosise, who led the Seahawks in rushing and receiving in the upset of the Patriots.
▪ Almost on an annual basis, the Seahawks offense takes the tough lessons of the early season and evolves schematically to become more productive in the second half.
Last season, the offense ranked No. 19 in Week 9 and finished the season at No. 4 by focusing on Wilson’s passing connection to Doug Baldwin.
Five pass completions of more than 20 yards against the Patriots showed the growing inclination to reviving the vertical passing attack.
▪ Carroll and his staff cut way back on contact in practice and give veterans more rest days in the latter part of the season.
“It becomes more of a mental game at this point,” defensive end Cliff Avril said. “Not going out and beating yourself up as much helps you stay sharp mentally for the long haul. I think it gives you a little extra boost.”
Linebacker K.J. Wright said, “Oh, yeah, it’s time for that. It helps a whole lot. The coaches do a good job of taking care of us, and the veterans communicate that to them.”
▪ The games get more real for the players.
Carroll likes to label every game a “championship opportunity” to assure full engagement and energy from his players.
But no matter how much players parrot that concept, it’s hard to believe in cases like the Sept. 18 game against a Rams team that had lost the previous week, 28-0, to a lousy San Francisco club.
The Rams are historically problematic for the Seahawks, but to have coughed up a 9-3 loss that day was an inexcusable display. The Seahawks don’t tend to do those things when the games seem like actual championship opportunities.
“I feel like we’re right around the corner and sometimes you’re really close and you kind of just know it,” Wilson said.
Yes. That sense of closeness to the postseason has to inspire strong finishes.
It’s as if the Seahawks smell blood in the water.
Or is it the scent of turkey and dressing?