Seattle Seahawks' locker room drama completely overblown

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In the middle of the visitors' locker room Sunday, shortly after a 13-9 win allowed the Seahawks to escape the possibility of another dramatic week, head coach Pete Carroll casually strolled through a roomful of players changing for a flight back to Seattle.

He and his quarterback, Russell Wilson, met near the middle. A quick, casual chat turned into a shared laugh before Carroll threw his arm around Wilson's neck and rubbed his head, like something in a scene from "Good Will Hunting" between Robin Williams and Matt Damon.

It wasn't a big deal, nor should it be overstated as one. It was just a simple and sincere moment -- one that nonetheless offered a small glimpse into a world that has suddenly become widely discussed in the NFL community.

What, exactly, is the dynamic within the locker room of a Super Bowl squad that, less than nine months ago, was seen as a young and talented group bound for perennial success? And how has it suddenly become en vogue to criticize the same personalities that were so recently celebrated?

The scene between Russell and Carroll, for instance, likely would have elicited one of two reactions had it been witnessed by those who have followed this story closely:

1) Wilson is a likable player with a strong bond to his coach less than a year removed from a storybook season.
2) Wilson is a teacher's pet who has gotten too close to management.

Perhaps the following statement merely illustrates which side of the fence I fall on, but the debate surrounding the Seahawks' locker room might indeed be the most overblown and oversimplified conversation to overtake a news cycle in quite some time.

Does it matter -- even to the slightest degree -- whether Wilson is too close to management? Is it even worth defending against the criticism by noting that any human in whom a company is about to invest upwards of $100 million over five years should probably be close to those paying him?

But those business decisions are beside the point. The debate here instead pertains to the chemistry of a team and its impact on ultimate success.

So maybe we should keep this in mind when discussing how the Seahawks' current chemistry could impede their potential: Leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII, we spent weeks drooling over the bond inside their locker room, while behind the scenes, two of the team's stars got into a fight one day before they stomped the Denver Broncos.

That fight didn't impact the result -- so why are we suddenly so caught up in the consequences of questionable chemistry? Perhaps it's because "chemistry" is far more complex than simply expecting 53 players to all get along.

For instance, having a defensive backfield that coexists as a unit (see: Legion of Boom) can pay great dividends, given the importance of on-field dialogue between those players. Having a running back (Marshawn Lynch) and a quarterback (Wilson) be on the same wavelength, however, isn't nearly as vital to a game's outcome.

Last year, in the wake of the Miami Dolphins' harassment scandal, someone asked former 'Fins running back Ricky Williams what Richie Incognito was like as a teammate. His response? "A guy you always knew would go to war for and with you."

Nobody is more important to a running back's success than the guys blocking for him -- which is what made Incognito such a valuable asset in a league that wouldn't have stood for his behavior for so many years had it not been for his loyalty to those who mattered to overall success.

And guess what? If you are going to match up your quarterback with somebody in your organization, you'd be hard-pressed to find a general manager who wouldn't choose the team's head coach or offensive coordinator.

According to team sources, it wasn't as much of a problem for the Seahawks when Percy Harvin's hostility created tension among the wide receivers as it was when it started to create tension between him and Wilson. A quarterback's relationship with a wide receiver, for example, matters more if it is troubled than if it is strong.

And so, if the Seahawks have erred in any regard during the span of doubt about their future that has marked a strange start to the season, it is this: They attempted to placate Harvin by changing the game plan to highlight his ability, moving away from the offensive philosophy that had led to their 2013 success.

Otherwise, it's probably time for us to let the Seahawks' season play out before determining that they truly are in trouble. If anything, we should be focused on wondering why Seattle's defense has struggled early to record sacks and turnovers -- a couple things they actually began to accumulate against the Carolina Panthers.

On Sunday, I asked Wilson why he believes this team remains a championship squad.

"We still have the same championship players we had last year -- we still have that same championship mindset," Wilson said. "We're (4-3) and all those games we lost by a smidge. I believe in everybody in this room and I hope they believe in me, too. We're just trying to win football games."

While Wilson might be underestimating the impact of the departures of Chris Clemons, Red Bryant and Golden Tate, to name a few, he does make a reasonable point: This is still largely the team that won last season's Super Bowl, the same team that had to battle through issues behind the scenes, the same team that found a way to dominate the Broncos and capture an elusive Lombardi Trophy.

It is, no doubt, time for Seattle to dig deep. In a division where the Cardinals are surging and the 49ers are always threatening, the Seahawks don't have much more room for error. But they do have what it takes to turn things around and chase, at the very least, one of two NFC wild-card spots.

You could argue such a task will require them to come together as a team.

Maybe we should also appreciate that doing so is not as clear-cut as it seems.

Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @jeffdarlington.

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