RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Once Pete Carroll was finished answering for the shortcomings of a disappointing playoff loss, the oldest coach in the NFL started articulating why he's so excited about what the future holds for the Seattle Seahawks.
After listening to his enthusiasm it's no wonder Carroll signed a contract extension to stick around Seattle a few more years to see if this group of Seahawks can develop into another championship team.
"That connection they have to what we are asking them to do, and the willingness to practice that on a regular basis, to bring their attitude and bring their energy all the time, that's rare. It's special," Carroll said on Monday.
"And that's what gives me the thought; I can go back a few years, I said the same thing four, five, six years ago, whatever it was now, you know? You can tell that the nucleus and the core of the team that you need to have a championship club is here."
Carroll's feeling about the direction of the Seahawks after an unexpected 10-6 regular season and opening-round playoff loss to Dallas mirrors that of many of his veterans who believe Seattle is on a similar track to its 2012 team that unexpectedly made the playoffs with a mix of young talent and important veterans, and a year later won a Super Bowl.
No one is going as far as to expect Seattle is going to be playing for a championship a year from now, but the Seahawks overhaul last offseason ended up being a quicker rebuild than most expected and has them in a place with fewer question marks headed into 2019.
Instead of continuing a rebuild, the Seahawks could be more supplementing with the belief they are a contender.
"We're pleased with the progress that we've made with the guys we have, so we know we're adding to. We don't feel like there's big voids and big holes, so we're going to add," Carroll said.
"To make this roster more competitive across the board is really the intent and make guys have to work harder to hold their spots and have to get better to do that. That's right at the heart of what we're all about, so we're really looking forward to that."
In the short term there was still disappointment about last Saturday's 24-22 loss to Dallas that ended Seattle's season.
Much of the frustration about Seattle's loss centered on the offense and a game plan that seemed conservative and slow to adjust.
Carroll tried to deflect criticism being thrown at offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, pointing out the success the offense had during the season both developing the top running offense in the NFL and having one of the best scoring teams in franchise history.
Seattle was held to just 73 yards rushing by the Cowboys and was 2 of 13 on third-down conversions.
"For somebody to look at this game and (say) somebody didn't do this or didn't do that, and try to hold that against them or whatever, is really unfair. Hold it against me, I'm the guy that's in charge of this thing," Carroll said.
"There's nowhere to look at an individual guy, it's a team thing. But I'm on top of it and I'm the one to be pointed at. We couldn't have been more committed to being an aggressive football team than we were this year."
Carroll did note that perhaps they were asking too much for starting offensive guards J.R. Sweezy and D.J. Fluker to play against a top defensive line after missing time with injuries. Fluker had not played in three of the final four regular-season games because of a hamstring injury, and Sweezy played against the Cowboys with a chipped bone in his foot.
"They hadn't been able to practice full speed for some time. (Fluker) had some plays a couple weeks ago, but no preparation for that and no preparation (last) week to speak of," Carroll said. "They were very limited in the prep. That's why I felt like it was a lot to ask of them but we went for it, and that's the way we decided to do it."
Eventually Carroll is hoping the playoff disappointment against Dallas is the same kind of catalyst as the playoff loss to Atlanta in January 2013. That Seahawks team felt they let a chance slip away and it became a driving motivation in their championship run a year later.
"It was a blast," Carroll said of the season. "I love that game (vs. Dallas). I know it was ugly and hard at times and all that, but I loved that we were in it fighting and clawing and scratching up and down the sidelines seeing guys find their belief and again rediscover that belief and why we should keep believing.
"Sure enough, Russell hits Tyler (Lockett) and here we go. We're coming back. It's an exciting part of it. This season was just kind of the tip of it with so much more. There's so much more out there."