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‘Retooled’ Seahawks gaining confidence with fourth win in past five games

Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson runs for some of his 105 yards on the day during first-half action of a 28-14 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday in Detroit. (Rey Del Rio / Associated Press)
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson runs for some of his 105 yards on the day during first-half action of a 28-14 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday in Detroit. (Rey Del Rio / Associated Press)
By Matt Calkins Seattle Times

DETROIT – Pete Carroll, John Schneider, anyone in the Seahawks front office – they refused to use the “R” word this offseason. Didn’t matter how many Pro Bowlers left or got hurt – they were never “rebuilding,” they were always “retooling.”

It seemed silly from afar. Why not just call it like it is when the amount of departed talent was so overwhelming?

But seven games into the season, I think I’m willing to admit it: Pete and John were right.

Nothing about the Seahawks says “rebuild” right now. Seven games into the season, it’s looking more and more like “rebuilt.”

Give them three more points against the undefeated Rams three weeks ago, and the Seahawks (4-3) would be in the midst of a five-game winning streak. In their 28-14 win over Detroit on Sunday, they were the most well-oiled machine in Motor City.

Don’t they know this wasn’t the narrative selected for them this season? Are they unaware that lousy was the expectation and mediocrity the ceiling?

Before the season started, Las Vegas decided the Seahawks had the 22nd best chance of winning the Super Bowl, just a touch better than the Browns. But in a matter of weeks, the dark horses have transformed into dark clouds on the horizon for whoever has to play them.

“At the beginning of season, we were just a young team trying to mesh together. Now we’re hitting our groove,” said Seahawks defensive end Quinton Jefferson. “You can just feel the energy, feel the vibe, feel the connection – it feels good.”

This isn’t a piece suggesting we’re gonna see champagne in the Seahawks’ locker room this season. But it’s suggesting that the Seahawks aren’t just playing above expectations – they are legitimately good.

Their plus-40 point differential is the sixth-best in the NFL. The secondary that lost Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas entered the game with the third best pass defense in the league. The team that had no 100-yard rushers in a game last year has had someone do it in each of its past four contests. And it’s all been behind an offensive line that came into Sunday with the fewest pressures allowed in football.

“If we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot, there’s not too many people that can stop us,” said Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 on Sunday after completing 14 of 17 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns. “It really reminds me of 2012, when nobody was really thinking anything and you had young guys who played great and veterans who played great. There’s nothing that we can’t do.”

Wilson also mentioned the three defeats the Seahawks have suffered – a three-point loss to Denver, a seven-point loss to Chicago, and a two-point loss to the Rams – and said their record could be a lot better. Receiver Tyler Lockett went so far as to say that they could be undefeated, perhaps forgetting the Seahawks’ final touchdown vs. the Bears came in virtual garbage time.

But that’s a minor detail. The fact remains that the lopsided scores of late are reminiscent of the glory-day Seahawks – mainly because Seattle is following the blueprint of those very teams.

The primary tenets of the Super Bowl Seahawks were: 1) focusing on the run, 2) playing shutdown defense, and 3) wining the turnover battle. And when this column posted, the Seahawks were sixth in the NFL in rushing (134.7 yards per game), fifth in scoring defense (18.7 points per game) and first in turnover ratio (plus 10).

They also have a quarterback who not only has the fifth-best passer rating in the league for anyone who’s thrown at least 150 passes, but is No. 1 in touchdown percentage. Oh, and six of their remaining nine games are at this rather boisterous venue known as CenturyLink Field.

In other words, you don’t have to be cautious with your optimism when it comes to the Seahawks right now. Fans fearing heartbreak can smash the bricks off the wall they’ve built around themselves.

Yes, the Chargers, Rams and Packers all loom over the next three weeks, but since its Week 2 loss, Seattle has been playing about as well as each of them.

A reporter asked Seahawks coach Pete Carroll Sunday how his team can keep its momentum going with the “gauntlet” that’s in front of them.

Carroll facetiously responded “Gosh, I don’t know. We’ll have to find a way somehow.”

The answer wasn’t mean-spirited, but it was telling. People assume that the next few foes have the Seahawks quaking in fear. The truth is, they might have them licking their lips.

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