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Biggest takeaways from Pete Carroll’s season-ending press conference

Seahawks HC Pete Carroll said critics can't blame just one person for Seattle's Wild Card loss. (AP)

The Seahawks were eliminated from the 2018-19 playoffs with their loss to the Dallas Cowboys Saturday, but this season is far from a disappointment for head coach Pete Carroll.

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Carroll recapped the game, with an eye toward the future, in his season-ending press conference Monday. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Carroll says critics need to re-think blaming OC Brian Schottenheimer.

“First off, for somebody to look at this game and say somebody didn’t do this or do that, and try to hold that against them or whatever, I think is really unfair,” Carroll said of the criticism facing offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Most of that feedback questioned Schottenheimer desire to lean into the run, especially on early downs.

“I mean, hold it against me,” Carroll continued. “I’m the guy in charge of this thing. There’s nowhere to look at any individual guy here, in my opinion. It’s a team thing. But I’m on top of it and I’m the guy to be pointed at. We couldn’t have been more committed to being an aggressive football team than we were this year. That meant that we’re playing great defense and we’re working on our teams and we’re running the football and playing off of that. That’s us. That’s how we do it. And that’s not anybody but starting with me. The fact that Schotty was working the game plan and trying to hammer the football is what we did every week, and that’s how we’ve figured to win. And when it doesn’t work you have to get moving and find the ways that you’ve got to get there to get the game won. And that’s what we were attempting to do.”

2. Seahawks rookies are a promising group that performed well in 2018.

“We come out of there with a great feeling about our future,” Carroll said. “Our guys are excited about it and they know that we can do some damage in the playoffs, they know that we can go a long way, and they know they have a lot of work ahead of them, too… I love this team and I love where we’re going.”

Carroll was pleased with what he saw from Seattle’s rookie class.

“I think it’s a really good group,” Carroll said. “I think it’s a group that’s going to be here for a long time factoring in… (Michael Dickson) was phenomenal. Will (Dissly) was terrific starting his season off, we miss the heck out of him but he’s coming back and we’re thrilled to get him back… Tre (Flowers) had a fantastic season, played good all the way through the stretch of the season… I think you could see Jacob Martin helped us a lot. Rasheem Green will come back and be a big factor. Poona (Ford) had a great finish to the season, too. Poona’s legitimately going to play for starting time when we come back and he’ll be competing to do that. He warranted it with his activity… Rashaad is going to be a big factor. So it’s a really exciting group.”

3. This season was a tough transition for Rashaad Penny, but Carroll believes those struggles also come with youth and pressure.

“He did really well,” Carroll said of Penny’s season. The 2018 first-round pick finished with 494 combined rushing/receiving yards and two touchdowns.

“He’s been growing throughout the process. It was a jump for him, like it is for the guys. It’s a jump to be in the limelight, particularly when you’re a (first-round) pick and everybody puts the pressure and expectations on you and all of that. There’s a lot going on. And you’ve just got to go through it. He’s a young kid. Rasheem Green is 21, and I don’t know how old Rashaad is but he’s a young kid too, and there’s just so much ahead of these guys. Every day was a learning experience for them. And they’re not playing behind old guys that have been here for six or eight years or 10 years and can tell them the ropes and all that. They’re learning with new guys. I mean, Chris (Carson) just had his first full season playing. These guys are all learning together and they’re growing well together.”

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4. Several injured players will be ready to compete in 2019, including Jamarco Jones, Amara Darboh and C.J. Prosise.

The Seahawks have 10 players on their reserve/injured list, a few of whom will remain under contract for 2019. That list includes tackle Jamarco Jones, safety Delano Hill, tight end Will Dissly, running back C.J. Prosise and wide receiver Amara Darboh.

Critics have panned Prosise for his injury-plagued career and limited time on the field, but Carroll has made it clear he doesn’t feel the same. In fact, he reiterated his excitement about Prosise’s return Monday.

“(Prosise) really needed the surgery he had, it was a little more extended than we thought,” Carroll said, adding that Prosise will be able to return after an eight-week recovery. “I love C.J.’s play. I think he’s a fantastic player. He just has had that bug about staying healthy that he’s had to deal with, but he’s a terrific competitor when he’s out there. So it’ll be exciting to see him back.”

When healthy, Prosise brings plenty of versatility. And now with a resurgence in the run game, the Seahawks will have no shortage of competition at the running back position this summer. Prosise also has one year left on his rookie deal.

5. Seattle has some big contract decisions to make this offseason, but there’s no question for Carroll that Frank Clark will return.

Frank Clark had the best performance of his career in 2018, which was also the final year of his rookie deal. Clark, 25, is an undrafted free agent in 2019 — but Carroll has no doubt he’ll continue to be a Seahawk.

“I’m counting on it,” Carroll said. “Counting on it. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

“There’s a lot of stuff that has to take place, there’s a lot of business. John has a master plan of carrying this thing out… we’re well into it. There’s a strategy and a plan to carry this out. And our guys know; we’ve communicated with everybody that we’re ongoing and there’s a process to this. It takes a long time… We can’t go into any of that right now, but yeah, we want Frankie to be with us.”

Thirteen Seahawks become free agents in March. That list includes linebacker K.J. Wright, safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Justin Coleman, defensive end Dion Jordan, starting guards J.R. Sweezy and D.J. Fluker, and running back Mike Davis, among others.

Carroll and Schneider could also make a move with Russell Wilson’s contract. Wilson will become an unrestricted free agent in 2020.

“We’re talking about all of that, yeah,” Carroll said. “Russ and I met yesterday and we’re talking about the future and we’re talking about where we’re going and what we want to get done. That’s very much in our plans.”

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