Reading Between the Lines: Pete Carroll on the Seahawks’ Week 1 win

Sep 10, 2013, 10:26 AM | Updated: 10:54 am

By Danny O’Neil

Editor’s note: Football coaches speak their own language, and each one has his own specific dialect. In Pete Carroll’s case, that dialect is littered with superlatives and includes the frequent use of “cool” to describe everything from receptions to results.

Danny O’Neil is in his eighth year covering the Seahawks, his fourth with Carroll at the helm, and is considered fully fluent in Carroll-ese. As with all translations, though, this one is subject to a certain degree of interpretation. Take it with the humor with which it is intended.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Carroll’s press conference following Seattle’s 12-7 victory at Carolina:

Question: Russell Wilson faced a lot of pressure early in this game, but then he was able to steady things and was finally able to get the ball down the field, scoring on a 43-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse.

What Carroll actually said: “The way he started, we were backed up and they kind of got after us pretty good. He didn’t start real well. It wasn’t him necessarily, but we didn’t get the completions and all. I think after the first five or six passes, he was on fire. He made a ton of great plays, staying alive.”

Russell Wilson threw at Carolina’s Josh Thomas on consecutive plays, the second time connecting with Jermaine Kearse for a 43-yard score. “It was cool to see the guys come through when we went right back after him and got it,” Pete Carroll said. (AP)

What Carroll meant: Yeah, we went three-and-out on the first two possessions. Yeah, he completed only one of his first five passes for a whopping 1 yard in the air, but did you see the way Wilson played after that? He could have stayed dry in a rainstorm or escaped a tackler in a phone booth, take your pick. Wilson had as many incompletions in his final 28 pass attempts as he did in his first five throws. It was amazing. Incredible. And to think a year ago, people were complaining we started him ahead of Matt Flynn.

Question: What about Kearse’s touchdown? Did you see something on the right side to come back?

What Carroll actually said: “Yeah. Stevie (Williams) got behind him pretty clearly and we just didn’t hook up with that one. We had a play that had a shot there if it was there, and Kearse made a great catch. It was a great throw, and it was cool to see the guys come through when we went right back after him and got it.”

What Carroll meant: Did we see something? Yeah, we saw Stephen Williams a full step and a half behind that cornerback, Josh Thomas, who had stayed up and in our receiver’s business all game and decided to put in a pair of fresh legs and go right after him again. And Kearse may not be as fast as Williams, but he was fast enough to get a step on the defender and come down with a heck of a catch.

Question: What does this game say about the maturity of your team? You did face some adversity and were able to pull it out.

What Carroll actually said: “I think this is a different team than the first game a year ago. We were in a similar situation a year ago and we couldn’t find a way to get it done, and we did today. I think it’s a world of difference. I think this is a really good team we played, too.”

What Carroll meant: Let’s see, one year ago at Arizona we ran seven consecutive plays inside the Cardinals’ 20 and couldn’t get in the end zone to win it, and this game we scored a touchdown on a 43-yard dart take the lead in the fourth quarter and then ran out the final 5:32 to win the game. Yeah, I think that says something about our maturity.

Question: They really got after the running game, and there weren’t a whole lot of holes there?

What Carroll actually said: “I don’t know. We did not feel good at all about the way we ran the football today and we need to go back and take a look and see what happened here because we thought we would be better than that. We had a really nice array of things we wanted to do, and we tried them all. We tried everything we wanted to try and plan and we weren’t getting much movement. I thought they played very active up front, and were very difficult. We’re just real disappointed in that.”

What Carroll meant: So 70 yards on the ground wasn’t doing it for you? Me neither. That’s the fewest rushing yards we’ve had in a full game since December 2011. Marshawn Lynch finished with 46 yards, and do you think that one of the hardest-driving runners in the league started turning down yardage on the table? Because I don’t. We didn’t make many openings for him up front.

Part 2: Monday’s postmortem

RENTON – Carroll’s press conference at Seahawks headquarters Monday afternoon:

Question: How did your offensive line play?

What Carroll actually said: “They wound up doing all right as the game wound up. We needed to help them a little bit scheme-wise and some things that we needed to fix in the run game that against that opponent didn’t work out right for us. Really, I don’t think it’s anything but we need to get back to business and we’ll make this go in the right direction.”

What Carroll meant: So it seems that everyone thinks the offensive line got taken to the woodshed on Sunday, and to be fair, there wasn’t a lot of headway in the ground game. But before we go thinking this was some sort of trip down memory lane to the protection problems of September 2011, let’s look at the first two possessions as separate and distinct from the rest of the game because Russell Wilson held the ball for a long time, and that’s part of the plan. We want him to scramble and buy time and make things happen. But that means he’s going to be scrambling because you can’t block forever, and if we’re being honest, the pass protection wasn’t as poor as some people are making it out to be. I’m not going to mention any names because I don’t want to single Danny O’Neil out.

Question: How did you think James Carpenter played?

What Carroll actually said: “James played fine. He did a nice job. He made it through feeling good health-wise. He played a number of plays in the game. He played quite a bit and had enough chances to show run and pass that he’s ready to keep moving forward, so we’re really happy that he made that progress. He played about half the game. They about split it, so it was good to get him the activity.”

What Carroll meant: Carpenter did not hurt himself nor did his play result directly in another individual’s injury. No harm, no foul.

Question: So, will he start at left guard for you this week?

What Carroll actually said: (Shakes head for 2 seconds.) “Not necessarily. It’s Monday. It’s just Monday.”

What Carroll meant: You just had to push it, huh? Just had to push it.

Question: So first-and-15 from the 3 with 5:32 left. I know you work on that stuff in practice, but there is no better experience being first-and-15 at the 3 and then driving down and closing the game out. So it’s kind of a positive is what I’m saying.

What Carroll actually said: “I think you just said there’s no better experience than being first-and-15 on the 3. Is that what you just said?”

What Carroll meant: I think you just said there’s no better experience than being first-and-15 on the 3. Is that what you just said?

Question: It’s among the top five experiences that came to mind.

What Carroll actually said: “Given the opportunity to enter in on this, that doesn’t fit into my top anything, but I appreciate the optimism as always. We got knocked back right off the bat, and it just didn’t matter, and the guys really executed really well.”

What Carroll meant: I think you just said there’s no better experience than being first-and-15 on the 3. Is that what you just said?

Question: In terms of Russell’s pass protection, which was very difficult for him to get free, was it something they were doing or was it something in your plan?

What Carroll said: “No, we were just backed up. We were in tough situations. We tried to go ahead and stay with the plan to get the ball downfield a little bit early in the game. It just was hard. It was just hard. And they were coming out there all fired up. Once we settled in pass pro-wise, we did a nice job as the game went on and really thought we targeted their pressures very well after we got going. It was just getting started, and he started, I think he was 1 for 5, but we had a drop in there. We just didn’t get as clean as we would like it, but once we got going, we were fine.”

What Carroll meant: So we’re backed up, which is understandably uncomfortable, but need I remind you that Wilson had as many incompletions in his final 28 pass attempts as he did in the first five? He was incredible, and it’s impossible to be incredible if there wasn’t at least some semblance of pass protection.

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Reading Between the Lines: Pete Carroll on the Seahawks’ Week 1 win