Seahawks-Washington Football Team game has echo of 2010 NFC West title race

But the Seahawks celebrated that night like they had won the Super Bowl. They sprinted off the sideline before the game ended, raising t...



But the Seahawks celebrated that night like they had won the Super Bowl. They sprinted off the sideline before the game ended, raising their helmets and dancing on the turf even as the officials tried to push them off the field. Carroll called the evening a “championship night.”

Of course, that 7-9 division title turned out to be the start of something big, even if it wasn’t clear at the time. The next week Seattle beat the Super Bowl champion Saints and over the following year Carroll and General Manager John Schneider would add several of unknown players who would become core of a constant winner with a Super Bowl title and nine straight winning seasons.

It “got us rolling in some regards,” Carroll said this week on a conference call with Washington media members. “We picked up and started winning a lot of games after that.”

If it looks closely enough, the Washington Football Team that plays Seattle at FedEx Field on Sunday probably can see many similarities between its situation and that of the 2010 Seahawks. Once again, an older, experienced coach is trying to build a culture of winning on a team in desperate need of a restart, pulling that team toward an improbable division title with a losing record.

The Washington team Ron Rivera inherited has more established players than that Seahawks team but, like Carroll, Rivera has sought unknowns, working with vice president of personnel Kyle Smith to bring in players who have something to prove and will fight for roster spots. All part of what Rivera calls building “a sustainable winning culture.”

In many ways, Rivera wants exactly what Carroll has built in Seattle, an organization that is constantly in the postseason, winning at least 10 games in seven of the past eight seasons and a victory away from doing that again this year. Though it’s easier to win year after year when you have a quarterback like Russell Wilson, Carroll has done so while changing almost the whole team around him.

The reason for this, Carroll has said repeatedly, is the basic principle of his organization: competition. The word dominates the Seahawks’ atmosphere. It’s shouted constantly and parroted by players. “Compete,” they say. Always compete. Competition is what allowed Carroll to pick Wilson, an unheralded third-round draft pick in 2012, to start over Matt Flynn — a big free agent signing — and Tarvaris Jackson.

“That was the whole thing; it was about competing and putting guys in position to do it.” Carroll said. “And if you remember, we probably had, I don’t know, 250 guys come through here in the first year … just trying to find our way and stay in touch. And everything was competing The other part of it was we wanted to treat people really well and help them. We had a real clear thought of helping them be the best they could be. Those two thoughts really, together, kind of gave us the guidance that we needed, and on we went.”

Though Rivera talks a lot about competition and clearly wants to create a sense that no job is fully secure, he is not the same as Carroll. Both men have a good sense for understanding their players and maintaining optimism through perilous times. But Rivera’s approach is more subdued. He doesn’t talk about new-age philosophy or seek counsel from California performance psychologists. He does not have his players do yoga. He’s an old football man, having played his entire career for Mike Ditka, who also happens to treat his players like people.

And yet when it comes to building a perpetual winner, Carroll and Rivera seem to have similar ideas.

“Having a real clear idea of what your approach is and your philosophy so that you can put it into play and help facilitate the carrying out of the mission of the objectives and all,” Carroll said when asked what he considers essential to creating a winning philosophy in an organization. “You got to be really clear. If you don’t know, then you’re kind of stumbling and mixing and matching.

“I think that’s what allows you to hang together — just like what Ron just did, where they struggled early and they held it together because he knew where he was going, and he was really clear about it, and he has a real sense for what he’s all about it and that’s why he can hold through it and come out the other side and be a division leader.”

Beating Seattle on Sunday will be tough for this Washington team, despite its four-game winning streak. The Seahawks’ offense is stronger than those Washington’s defense has dominated. But it’s also a game Washington doesn’t need to win. Even at 6-8 with Carolina and Philadelphia left on the schedule, Washington has room to limp to the same kind of improbable division title Carroll’s Seahawks earned that Sunday night in 2010.

The one that launched a decade of winning that hasn’t stopped yet.

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Newsrust: Seahawks-Washington Football Team game has echo of 2010 NFC West title race
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