One of the first things I found myself thinking about when Seattle was playing Minnesota tit for tat while the first stringers were still in the lineup was that this was the Seattle Seahawks on the ROAD. On the ROAD! Seattle has had an absolute dismal road record going back to the 2005 season, the year they went to the Super Bowl. They were 5 - 3 that season which was the pinnacle of their road success in the 11 years since Holmgren took over in 1999 which is as far back as I checked. Since then they are 10 - 22 on the road and last season's 1 - 17 was the worst road record since the 1992 Seahawks went 1 - 17 on their way to their worst record ever at 2 - 14 under Tom "what the hell is going on" Flores.
The Seahawks have averaged just 3.18 road wins a season since the 1999 season when Mike Holmgren arrived. Holmgren was averaging around 3.3 wins per season on the road over the first 6 seasons when he finally burst through the .500 barrier and posted a 5 - 3 road record in 2005 which coupled with a perfect home stand gave the Seahawks their best record ever at 13 - 3 and their only trip to the Super Bowl. Since then they have gotten progressively worse by one game a year.
2005: 5-3, 2006: 4-4, 2007: 3-5, 2008: 2- 6, 2009: 1-7.
Going steadily down from 5 - 3 to 1 - 7 should be of concern to Pete Carroll if he's done a thorough job of researching the problems that existed in Seattle when he was hired. That would seem to be a major area of concern to a new coach coming into a broken club situation where the objective is to build it up to contend again as rapidly as possible. After Sunday's game, there was a titilating little bit of information that came from Matt Hasselbeck regarding the road curse Seattle has suffered for so long and what Pete Carroll's doing to fix it.
Clare Farnsworth has written an article that speaks to Seattle's road improvement. Said Hasselbeck:
“Pete has done a great job of really changing our mindset when we go on the road,” said Hasselbeck, well aware the team was 1-7 away from Qwest Field last season. “Understanding how to handle what we’re really up against when we’re on the road.
“If anything, I think we proved to ourselves things that have really been annoying issues on the road in the past are nothing we need to worry about because we kind of dealt with it and we know how to handle it.”
It looks like that problem has been part of the focus Pete Carroll has put on details and making sure everyone understands what's going on. He seems to have broken the problem down to as Hass put it "what we're really up against" and then given them an understanding of how to deal with it. He's changing their mindset according to Matt and if Saturday's game was any indication when Seattle was able to play another NFC powerhouse straight up for almost 3 quarters and being on top when the starters were pulled from both teams, it's working.
Yeah, pre-season doesn't mean much but the positive things to take from exhibition play are things like noticing Seattle really looked good on the road for once and hearing that it's a conscious part of the rebuild to cast aside excuses and perceived reasons they haven't been able to win on the road previously and confront what the real roadblock is while providing ways to defeat the problem is chicken soup to the soul of a football fan who has long suffered from his team's miserable road prowess over the last decade plus.
Let's see how they look at Oakland and if they look good there, we might be able to start believing that Pete can fix anything. If only the Seahawks could compete anywhere close to how hard they do at Qwest Field, they could perhaps improve their win total by two or three games a year which this year could be the difference between 6 - 10 and 9 - 7 and barely making the playoffs. In another year or two we could be looking at the difference between 10 - 6 and 13 - 3 and home field throughout like it did in 2005. It just makes so much sense for Pete Carroll to have recognized that winning on the road is more a mental fix than a physical one and we all hope he's the master of motivation we think he is. That's probably one of the single most important items Seattle can fix to improve their overall record and it's probably not something you fix by long hours on the field. Exciting news to me and all I can say is it's about time!
So, what do you guys think? What kind of impact could improving Seattle's road game have on the success of the Seahawks in the near future as it battles back into contention? Do you think it's possible Pete put his finger on what the problems were and could be on his way towards eliminating them or do you think Seattle's road woes run deeper than that and will take more time to eliminate if they can be eliminated at all?