Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said that he and his staff focused on improving the team's third-down efficiency during the bye week. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest
Their bye week over, the Seahawks (6-4) practiced for the first time in more than a week Monday as they prepared for Sunday's matchup (10 a.m., PT) with the AFC East's Miami Dolphins at SunLife Stadium. All of the Seahawks took part in practice except OG James Carpenter, the former No. 1 pick (2011) who is recovering from a concussion.
"James has a couple tests he has to go through, and then we’ll find out if he’s cleared to go," said head coach Pete Carroll. “We’ll wait and find out. I hope he is able to go. He’s had a lot of time to break and we just want to make sure we get everything squared away."
The Seahawks, who won their last two, defeating Minnesota (30-20) and the New York Jets (28-7), will play the next two on the road. After meeting Miami, which has lost three in a row, Seattle plays in Chicago against the Bears, who were crushed 32-7 by San Francisco on Monday Night Football.
"It's fun to be back," Carroll said. "These guys really appreciated the break, they’re fired up about our prospects of being able to do something good here, and they came back with a lot of energy."
Carroll said that he is most pleased by the fact that, Carpenter aside, he will enter the final six games of the regular season with a healthy squad.
"It’s a tremendous difference with who you’re playing with when you finish the season," said Carroll. "The teams that have good health usually have the best chance of being consistent. We are young too, and all of the guys that have started with us gained all of that experience early in the season."
Carroll said that he and his staff used the bye week to perform an audit on what the Seahawks have done correctly and incorrectly and what they need to do in the final six games.Third-down efficiency was targeted.
“We took a very good look at it," said Carrol. "We looked at what we're doing, what they (opponents) were doing against us, and we came to the conclusion that we wanted to fix some things so we’ll see how it works out. I think both sides of the football can benefit from better execution and success on third downs.
"We’re not right on our numbers. As good we can be on defense at times, 40 percent (efficiency) is not good enough for us. We need to knock that thing down. We’re still in the low 30s on offense so we got to get that thing up.
"We’re a team that can get third and six a lot because we run the football consistently. We’re one of the better teams in the league in putting ourselves in those situations, so we need to close those out and get first downs on third and four, five, and six."
The Dolphins (4-6) have dropped three in a row to the Colts (23-20), Titans (37-7) and Bills (19-14). Seattle and Miami have three common opponents. Both lost to Arizona, the Seahawks lost to the Rams and the Dolphins beat the Rams, and the Seahawks defeated the Jets, who split with the Dolphins.
The Seahawks will have a tough time overtaking San Francisco in the NFC West, but they caught two breaks during the bye week with Arizona (4-6) losing to Atlanta and the Rams (3-6-1) losing to the Jets. The Seahawks have all three NFC West opponents remaining at home, Arizona Dec. 9, San Francisco Dec. 23 and St. Louis Dec. 30.