ARLINGTON, Texas - As the Seattle Seahawks have struggled this season, coach Jim Mora repeatedly assured us that his guys are competitors who love the challenge.
Did anybody see that on Sunday in a 38-17 loss to Dallas?
Did anybody see the Seahawks play with effort and intensity for 60 minutes? Thirty minutes, maybe, in stretches, but rarely all 11 guys at once.
Getting beaten is one thing. It’s not excusable but in some ways understandable given the injuries, etc., they’ve faced. And Dallas is a better team. But three touchdowns better?
I would debate Mora’s contention that the Seahawks are really out there competing. They may be playing hard. They may be giving good effort, as he suggests. But that’s not all there is to competing.
Very few players are stepping up to make plays. Very few are distinguishing themselves even in a loss.
When they get behind, they tend to fall further behind. And that’s a real indictment.
Some bad teams claw and fight and are just undermanned. The Seahawks are undermanned and seem almost resigned to it.
They were coming off a bye, with two weeks to prepare for the Dallas game. And although they were still in the game at halftime, trailing 21-10, how many plays were there when they showed any real fire, any great hits?
How many of those famed 50-50 plays – the kind that often decide the game – did they win? The ball was on the field a number of times but the Seahawks were never close enough to capitalize.
Losing can become a habit. At 2-5, the Seahawks seem to have grown accustomed to it.
Of course this team has confidence issues at this point. When your average loss this season is by two touchdowns, you come to believe you simply are not going to come back once you get behind.
That’s contagious, that’s dangerous, and it’s going to be a difficult problem to cure.
Fair mitigators: Pro Bowl players and team leaders Walter Jones and Lofa Tatupu are done for the season with injuries.
But it’s a bylaw of the competitive culture that “the next guy has to step up.” Who’s stepping up?
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had a good game despite taking a beating, with two touchdown passes and a 92.8 passer rating. But he missed some possible big plays, too.
Receiver Nate Burleson had a good game, until he lost a fumble late.
The previously invisible Deion Branch had a touchdown catch. And surely a handful of others made nice plays. Linebacker David Hawthorne, for instance.
But who was there to change the game?
Who made the play to ignite the team? Nobody.
And nobody has most of the season.
And it’s not something new. We saw it at San Francisco in the second game, at Indianapolis, against Arizona, and now at Dallas.
Mora certainly brought some fire into the interview room, preaching accountability, honest self-evaluation and professionalism.
But it doesn’t matter what he tells the media. And it doesn’t matter how much he preaches it to the team. What matters is that this message is not getting across.
Are they not listening to Mora and the staff?
Have they lost their ears and attention?
Is the staff broadcasting on a frequency the players aren’t receiving?
The Seahawks aren’t quite in Dallas’ league, granted. But this looked like rolling over in the second half. From late in the second quarter to early in the fourth, Dallas scored 24 unanswered points.
When asked, Mora said he didn’t question his team’s competitive fire.
“I think they’re desperate for a win right now,” said Mora, who contended that some of the problems on Sunday were uncharacteristic.
No, they seemed all-too characteristic.
And it’s that character that has to get turned around before this team can start sticking close to opponents.
Mora pulled out a saying that one of his old coaches sent him.
“Adversity turns weak people into victims and strong people into competitors,” he said. “And we’re going to find out who is strong and who is weak.”
It’s sounds like a good motivational point.
He’ll use it on his team.
If they’re still listening.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440