By Danny O’Neil
Editor’s note: You can’t read an NFL coach’s mind (at least not a good coach), but you can read between the lines to get a hint on what he’s really thinking.
Danny O’Neil has been covering Pete Carroll since he became the Seahawks’ coach, and every Tuesday he puts on his special mind-meld cap (which may or may not have come courtesy of Lucky Charms) to try and tell you what Seattle’s coach really meant during his Monday press conference:
What Pete Carroll actually said: “What’s up?”
What Carroll meant: 29-3, huh. How you like me now?
Question: Do you have an update on offensive tackle Russell Okung?
What Carroll actually said: “That he has a toe injury. That they’re still taking in information to know what it’s all about. We don’t know all the details yet.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wasn’t all that forthcoming with information about left tackle Russell Okung’s toe injury. (AP)
What Carroll meant: I mean, seriously, when have I ever come in here less than 24 hours after a game concluded and given you a definitive injury assessment? Never? Well, today’s not going to be the first day I do that.
Question: So you don’t know what his status is going forward?
What Carroll actually said: “No. Waiting for more info.”
What Carroll meant: This is too easy.
Question: There’s a report that he has a torn ligament. Is that accurate?
What Carroll actually said: “I don’t know all the stuff. I know that there’s some stuff that happened there, and we’re waiting to figure it all out. I think it’s best to just hold there. If I told you something, I’d be making it up.”
What Carroll meant: All day. I can do this all day and use “stuff” in 50 more ways if you want. Hope you packed a lunch.
Question: Quarterback Russell Wilson has taken some shots the last couple of weeks, and he seems to bounce back. Is he made of rubber?
What Carroll actually said: “Well, he’s a really good athlete, and he seems to have a real good sense for kind of going with the hit. It’s not at all what we want, but we’re fortunate. He knows how to get out of trouble, but he’s just rolling the dice here. So we’re hoping we can keep him from getting banged on.”
What Carroll meant: No, he doesn’t have a glass jaw, but if it’s all the same, we’d prefer not to have menacing 250-pounders teeing off on the most important player on our offense. It’s hard enough to find one of these franchise quarterback that we don’t want to have this one break any time soon.
Question: Along those lines with the read-option, it has been a controversial rule whether quarterbacks are fair game or not. What are your thoughts on that and those hits?
What Carroll actually said: “I think the rule is pretty clear. If the officials deem that he’s still part of the running-game fake that they’re treated like a runner. That’s it. I think in that situation, it was close. The one that he got pounded on, it was close. The official was right on it. He saw it. He felt like it was all part of the extension of the running game. I wasn’t questioning that at all. I was questioning the hit. Hitting with the helmet and the placement of it. That’s all. We talked to the league office about it today and they’ll have some information for us later in the week. We’ll know more about it, but they are investigating and they want to get the language to be clear. They’re really trying hard to be right, and I think they’re doing a good job with it.”
What Carroll meant: If you’re looking for a coach to politic, complain and otherwise moan about the NFL rules, you came to the wrong place. Try somewhere else. Maybe even in our division. Maybe even the guy whose team we played last night, and whose linebacker, Ahmad Brooks, plowed our quarterback in exactly the same way that coach was theorizing could be a problem. But it’s not going to be me that’s griping for rule changes. The officials decide how they’re going to call it, and I coach my players according to those guidelines and not some sense I have about how the rule should be.
Question: After two games, do you have any concerns about the passing game?
What Carroll actually said: “Kind of concerned just overall on offense that we’re just not as sharp as we need to be. I think we addressed it today in terms of details and just doing things right. We’re just not as clean as we want to be, and there’s a lot of potential there that we know that is still ready to be shown, and I don’t think it’s just the passing game. I just think in general, we can be cleaner.”
What Carroll meant: We did not complete a pass in the first quarter against the 49ers. Not one. We scored a single touchdown in the season-opening game against the Panthers. And then there’s that little penalty problem that stalled red-zone possessions in Carolina and then neutered the final drive of the first half against the 49ers. Yeah, we’ve got some issues we need to work out, and that solution might include some players running laps as punishment for penalties.
Question: Cornerback Richard Sherman said he came to you and asked about following Anquan Boldin at times. That’s not something you’ve usually done – having your cornerbacks switch sides. What went into that decision?
What Carroll actually said: “Well, first off, Richard asks me every week about that, playing receiver or returning punts so I’m kind of used to him coming to me about those kinds of requests. I really looked forward to seeing Brandon Browner play against Boldin. And Sherm. And with Brandon not in there, I just wanted to get as many shots at it as we could because we have great respect for Anquan. He’s a fantastic football player and is bigger than most corners, and bigger than most receivers. He’s 230-something pounds, and so I wanted to see what would happen when we matched him up and hoping that would work out well. That was part of the game. It wasn’t the whole game. A lot of third-down stuff in that respect, but our guys did a really fine job against a great player.”
What Carroll meant: Sherman played a heck of a game, but we’re not going to turn over the playbook to him just yet.
Question: What were your thoughts on seeing some of the players you added this offseason in their first home game on this defense?
What Carroll said: “Thrilled, really. Thrilled to see Michael Bennett do such a nice job and be such a factor. It was great. Cliff (Avril) finally gets a chance to play and he’s got a factor in there early. He really had a chance for maybe three sacks in the game. I think it’s cool to see that happen. (O’Brien) Schofield has already been a factor so we’re very fortunate that those guys are here in the first place while we don’t have our other guys. But I think as we build it up and Clem (Chris Clemons) returns back to play and we get Bruce (Irvin) coming back out here, we have a chance to be pretty volatile as a rush group. I don’t know how we’re going to get them all on the field at the same time, but we’ll struggle with that thought and figure it out.”
What Carroll meant: Looked good, didn’t it? All those worries about the pass rush from Game 1 in Carolina don’t seem nearly so serious and just think that we haven’t played either the guy who has had more than 10 sacks for us in three successive seasons or the one who led all rookies in sacks last season.
Question: Back to Okung. In the spirit of being an injury detective, is it possible that he could be lost for the season?
What Carroll actually said: “We don’t know that yet. Don’t know. There are some options that we’ll deal with here and try to figure it out. There’s a little bit of a spectrum here that could come to us with options. We need to wait and see.”
What Carroll meant: Same song, second verse, no more concrete answers than the first time through.
Question: Well, is it possible he’ll play this week?
What Carroll actually said: “I don’t think that’s possible. We’ll see what happens. I don’t think he can make that.”
What Carroll meant: Fine. There you go. You finally wore that fact out of me for all the good it will do you.