Tue, 19 Jan 2021

The Seahawks went the entire season without a COVID-19 case on the team, but know they need to remain diligent this offseason.  John Boyle

The Seahawks have a lot to be proud of when it comes to the 2020 season, even if it ended earlier than anyone was expecting. First and foremost, there was the 12-4 record and the NFC West title that came with it, there were also numerous individual accomplishments, from team records broken to Pro-Bowl and All-Pro honors earned.

"We had an excellent football season," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We lost this last game. We've struggled through a lot of challenges and we made it through it. Defensively we were struggling early and we fixed it. Offensively we were rolling early. We wound up not doing as well offensively, so we were frustrated by that. We're really frustrated by the whole year in that regard, that it wasn't a clean year all the way through, but I'm not letting this last game dictate the way we evaluate the season, because that's not what we should do. We did too many good things and learned a lot and have a tremendous future in this club right here. The guys that are here, the youth that's emerging, the leadership that's still here, really gives us a chance to have a really bright future. We have to deal with the issues of the game that happened here and all that, well I didn't do it yesterday, we're starting today, and we'll work our way through the evaluations and all the work we have to do. But we have grown a lot as a team and as a club moving forward, and I'm excited about the future."

But for all Carroll has to be proud of in terms of what his team did on the field, he believes the team's biggest accomplishment in 2020 just might be the way it handled not the challenges of football, but the way it handled a pandemic. The Seahawks finished the season without having a single COVID-19 case on the roster, had no practices or walk-throughs canceled, had no coaches miss games. A total of three players missed games on the reserve/COVID-19 list: Brandon Shell and Damarious Randall in Week 17 due to close-contact situations, and Jonathan Bullard last weekend due to what ended up being a false positive, Carroll said. Prior to Shell and Randall in Week 17, the only players placed on the COVID-19 list were receiver John Ursua had a false positive during training camp, and defensive tackle Bryan Mone, who had a close-contact situation while he was on injured reserve earlier this year.

"There's a lot that we dealt with, and that these guys are going to continue to deal with staying healthy," Carroll said. "We've been after it all year long, and that's a major concern right now, that everybody goes home, those who leave the area, that they take the lessons that they've learned and the discipline that they've acquired and share it with their families and the people that they're going to be around, and be really, really careful how things move forward. That has not lost it's emphasis during the course of this year. So the start of the message to them is we've got take what you've learned and how you've grown in your awareness and your conscience and maintain it. So that that's one."

Prior to his end-of-season press conference, Carroll said on 710 ESPN Seattle, "The biggest takeaway from this season, and I know that this isn't what maybe everybody would expect, is that we stayed healthy and kept our families healthy throughout the season. That was the No. 1 criteria going into this year-we didn't have any idea what the football season was going to deal us. So everything was about making sure that we took care of business. We were really disciplined and strict about it so we could keep our people safe from the harm that was out there. I know that's not what everybody wants to hear, but I really don't care about that, because that was more important than anything. We did an extraordinary job of doing that, everybody did. It took everybody in the whole program, every single person had to contribute to that, and every person that they live with or love and hang with or whatever had to contribute to that, and everybody did. Everybody got the message, and we did a marvelous job."

The key now, as Carroll and his players have noted, is keeping up the same level of diligence when not in the controlled environment that was created for them during the season.

"Now we've got to go back to our homes," receiver Tyler Lockett said. "You think about all the stuff we've been through this whole year with just having to get tested every day, having to try to stay away from as many people as we possibly can, being careful with who we fly up here and who we are around. And now we literally have to go back to being at home, back into the real world. It's hard being in a real world while we've been away from it for so long. And now we got to figure out where are we going to go, where are we going to stay, who are we going to see, who we're not go see? We don't get tested every day anymore, so it's basically back to what life was like before we came up here, and it's going to be hard to adjust, but it's just something that you've got to figure out."

Carroll acknowledge there can be some COVID fatigue, so to speak, when it comes to doing everything right to stay safe, but his hope is that players will power through when they return home.

"That's absolutely the fact that it's going to wear on them, but we can't go there," he said. "We ain't done, we didn't finish anything. We're right in the middle of that stuff. I really don't have much patience for giving into this thing, because it isn't over. It is hard, it is challenging, it is for everybody. But we also found that by facing it up and going forward and not backing off the challenge and not succumbing to nature that, 'Oh gosh it's so tough' and then weakening. We stayed strong. I worry right now as our guys leave that they won't have the support system around them to keep them strong, because we figured out how to deal with it here, and it's just plain diligence, every freakin' day, everything you're doing, and it doesn't change when you go home, doesn't change for our people in our community. That's the only way you can get this done. We can kick ass on this thing, but you have to-you need support, you need help, you need people to rally with, you need theme, you need attitude, you need approach, all that stuff to get it done. So yeah, I know that they're worn, but I can't hear that right now. This isn't a time to let up."

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