Pete Carroll Show: Turnovers making it ‘too easy’ for Seahawks’ opponents
Just a few weeks after starting the 2020 season 5-0 and sitting atop the NFC West and NFC as a whole, the Seahawks find themselves 6-3 after dropping three of their last four games.
The most recent loss was a tough one, falling 23-16 to the Los Angeles Rams in the offense’s worst performance of the year.
As he does the morning after every Seahawks game, head coach Pete Carroll joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant as well as former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus for The Pete Carroll Show on Monday. You can listen to the full interview in the player below or at this link. Let’s get to the biggest takeaways from what Carroll said.
Seahawks’ turnovers need to stop
There are a number of reasons why the Seahawks have dropped three of their last four games, but if you ask the coach, reason No. 1 is his offense turning the ball over at way too high of a clip.
“That’s what leads to the problems and it always has, always will,” Carroll said. “That’s how the game goes and that’s why it’s such a big part of our thinking … It’s just too easy for the opponent when you give them the football.”
Over those last four games, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has 10 turnovers and 10 touchdowns. All of those turnovers came in Seattle’s three losses. He threw two interceptions in Los Angeles, and Carroll said the first one, which occurred in the end zone in the first half, simply can’t happen. Wilson stepped up and had room to get perhaps 10 or more yards for a first down, but as he approached the line of scrimmage, he threw it downfield to the left corner of the end zone for tight end Will Dissly. Rams cornerback Darious Williams was there and recorded an easy interception.
“We talked about it last night and we’re talking about just making sure when he has a chance to run, take it. Don’t go to the next level of the (play), just go ahead and take what you’ve got and see what’s in front of you and go ahead and go for it and be real decisive about stuff,” Carroll said. ” … He had plenty of room to take off and get 10 yards probably and get the first down … and he thought he had something and he took a shot at it. I support the heck out of all of his ability to function and make these kinds of decisions and over the long haul, he’s going to make the right ones. But on that instance, that was a really big play that didn’t have to happen and was unfortunate.”
That fourth-down decision
On the Seahawks’ first drive of the second half while down 17-13, Wilson rushed forward on third down but was ruled short of a first down by less than a yard. That set off a series of events that has been heavily criticized by fans and media alike.
First, Carroll challenged the spot. The call stood and the Seahawks were out of a timeout.
Next, Carroll sent the offense back on the field. The ball was at Seattle’s 42-yard line and it looked like the Seahawks would attempt to get the first down and extend the drive. Instead, Wilson unsuccessfully attempted to lure the Rams offsides, so Seattle took a delay of game and punted. Los Angeles then marched down the field on a 14-play, 88-yard touchdown drive that lasted nearly seven minutes.
After the game, Carroll doubled down when asked about the sequence, saying he’d play it the same way again if given the chance. He tripled down on Monday.
“The part of it I tried explaining to (the media) is if you don’t make the conversion, it’s like you fumbled the football. It’s like you gave them the football across the midfield stripe,” Carroll said. “That early in the game … I did not want to feel like we had to be desperate, we had to go for it and if we don’t, the game may be over or whatever.”
Carroll said he hoped that Michael Dickson would deliver a good punt to flip the field, which he did, pinning the Rams at the 12-yard line. He also hoped that after a poor first half, the defense would get the ball back. That just didn’t happen.
“Because we didn’t go for it doesn’t mean that’s why they scored on the next drive. We could have stopped them, too,” he said. “We had a couple big situations there. And we should have, but we didn’t and that makes it look like now this is a big topic for you … That’s the choice we made and it should have worked. We kicked them deep and we should have stopped them, got out of there and got the ball back at midfield and it just didn’t happen.”
Seahawks’ defense makes progress
You wouldn’t think there’s reason for optimism with this defense after nine games this season, but in the last three games, the Seahawks have seen some improvements in many ways.
Against the 49ers in Week 8, Seattle dominated from the start until backup quarterback Nick Mullens came in and moved the ball down the field with the Seahawks in a comfortable lead.
Against the Bills, even while allowing 44 points, the defense had seven sacks, which was a quarter of the amount Seattle had all of last season.
The defense then got three sacks against the Rams on Sunday, and after allowing 17 points in the first half, that unit allowed only one touchdown in the second half, which came on Los Angeles’ first drive after halftime.
Carroll didn’t want to offer specifics on what worked in the second half against the Rams, but he thinks the issues his defense has had are getting resolved and there are fewer mistakes being made overall.
“You go into the game hoping things are going to work out, but we’re also counting on executing properly. We made a couple errors (in the first half) and the errors turned into plays,” he said. “Again, we’ve seen teams be able to take advantage of when you’re out of position and that’s been a count of the good teams on the other side and also the mistakes that we make, so we have to clean those things up. There wasn’t anything new, there wasn’t any surprises at all, it was just functioning and doing the right thing at the right time and sometimes we missed it and they made some plays on it.”
The pass rush’s improvement has also been a welcome sight, with safety Jamal Adams tallying two sacks on Sunday and new defensive end Carlos Dunlap continuing to play well. Carroll said the pass rush will be critical on Thursday in a rematch with the Cardinals. When those teams faced off in Week 7, the Seahawks had no sacks or QB hits on 48 Cardinals passing attempts.
“We’re turning a bit of a corner there and I’m hoping we can continue to bring some problems,” Carroll said. “It’s going to be really important this week. This quarterback (Kyler Murray) runs all over the place. We’re going to have to be really consistent with our pressure and make sure we keep him corralled and keep him from making the big plays he’s capable of and see if we can keep him down.”
Adams, who leads Seattle with 5.5 sacks this year, injured his shoulder in Los Angeles. Carroll said he’s not sure if that could cause Adams to miss the game with Arizona.
Carroll said his star safety is sore, but “if he can play, he will.”
Getting back to balance on offense
The Seahawks have been more pass heavy than ever this season, and while that worked early in the year, it’s been a problem over the last few weeks with Wilson’s 10 turnovers. A big reason for those turnovers has been the lack of a running game with Chris Carson (foot) and Carlos Hyde (hamstring) missing the last three games.
Carroll has prided himself on having offenses with powerful running attacks and it sounds like we could be seeing more rushing attempts when those two get back on the field.
“I don’t think it’s without notice that we have not had the same mix that we’d like to have or the same threat that we’d like to have when we have Chris and Carlos back there. It just doesn’t feel the same, so we have to find a way,” Carroll said. “It was a reason that we went with (Alex Collins as the lead back against the Rams), to make sure we had a tailback who was going to play the first- and second-down stuff and try to get back into that mold a little bit and it still didn’t feel the same.”
Carroll likes to use the word “balance” when talking about the mix of running and passing on offense. He dropped that word again when talking about his offense going forward.
“We have to get back to mixing our stuff and back to balance so we’re not just relying on the throwing game where they can keep calling their stuff to get after you and cover you more aggressively because they don’t have to respect the run as much,” he said.
As of Monday morning, though, Carroll said it’s unclear whether one or both of Carson and Hyde could be back for Thursday after missing the last three weeks. Both Carson and Hyde ran hard at the end of last week, but Carroll said it was clear they needed to be held out of the game against the Rams. Whether or not they play, you can still expect to see more running plays going forward.
“It’s going to be close, and there’s a chance,” Carroll said about the running backs’ injuries. “Whether they make it back or not, we still need to mix our game and make sure that we’re presenting the attack like we know how to do.”