Pete Carroll Preview: Wilson returns for Seahawks, Eskridge expected back
The Seahawks return to action this Sunday after hitting the bye week at 3-5 after a decisive win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, and they face a tough first task back with the 7-2 Green Bay Packers.
While the first half of the season didn’t go the way the Seahawks wanted to, head coach Pete Carroll has made it clear that he feels the second half of the season will be different. He echoed that during his weekly conversation with Seahawks play-by-play announcer Steve Raible for The Pete Carroll Preview, which airs every Friday at 8:15 a.m. on KIRO 97.3 FM’s Seattle’s Morning News.
“We’ve really, you know, coined this that we’re starting all over again,” Carroll said. “… We went right back to the basics, which is how we’ve always done this, and hopefully our guys will take to it. It’s really important. Now we’ve got to have a great second half.”
The good news for the Seahawks is that their second half of the 2021 season will include star quarterback Russell Wilson, who is returning to action after missing three-plus games due to two injuries to his middle finger on his throwing hand. Wilson suffered the injury in the third quarter in Week 5, missed Weeks 6-8, and then Week 9 was Seattle’s bye week.
The Seahawks designated Wilson to return from injured reserve earlier this week, and he will be back under center in Green Bay on Sunday.
“Have you seen anything at all in this week of preparation that tells you we’ve got to take it easy on him a little bit?” Raible asked.
“No, no, really not,” Carroll said, laughing. “We expected to kind of build during the week. There’s so few days that he’s had. He started throwing last Tuesday, so that’s a week, and then we started practice on Wednesday, so he’s had a week behind him of prepping to throw before starting the practices. Each day went well.”
Carroll called Wilson “so disciplined” in how he’s handled everything since the injury, which was the first time he’s missed games during his NFL career.
“Maybe he’s 100%? I don’t know, but I’m not worried about it,” Carroll said. “Maybe he is because he’s just worked his way and willed his way through this. And so we’re gonna play football and be excited to go.”
Carroll doubled down on saying that Wilson is physically ready to go on Sunday for the Seahawks because of what Wilson expected after the surgery.
“With Russ he expected to be back playing. He thinks he was ready to play at the end of four weeks,” Carroll said. “He could have played last Sunday, and that’s what he was shooting for so that he knows that he would have had another week to get ready for the next week. So I mean, that’s so far ahead of schedule and anybody that’s ever had any of their kids or themselves break a bone, you know, you break your wrist or whatever, it’s six to eight weeks. This is four weeks and he’s playing NFL football and then he’s gonna play a football game on the fifth week.”
Wilson isn’t the only member of the Seahawks offense who could be making his return. Rookie receiver Dee Eskridge (concussion) and starting running back Chris Carson (neck) were both designated to return from injured reserve this week as well. That doesn’t mean that both will play, though, as that means the team has 21 days to add them back to the 53-man roster. Eskridge has been out since Week 1 while Carson hasn’t played since Week 4.
“Dee Eskridge looks like he’s gonna make it and Chris we will have to wait all the way to gametime,” Carroll said. “We won’t know before then.”
UPDATE: Friday, Nov. 12, 2:23 p.m.: Carson has been ruled out
Facing Mr. Rodgers
The Seahawks aren’t the only team expecting to get their star quarterback back on the field as the Packers expect Aaron Rodgers, who missed last week’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs as he tested positive for COVID-19 and is not vaccinated, to be back and playing against the Seahawks.
Rodgers reportedly is expected to play, but he must test negative for COVID-19 on Saturday and Sunday.
Carroll told reporters this week that the Seahawks are preparing as if Rodgers will be under center in Green Bay, and he told Raible what makes Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP, so tough to go up against.
“He’s really quick with the football, so the ball is gonna be on the perimeter immediately as fast as anybody can get it out there,” Carroll said. “And they do feature that in their offense, so that’s a featured aspect of it. They run the ball, they’re a conservative offense, basically, and those kinds of passes add to that. But the magic comes when the play breaks down. That’s when he’s really special.”
Carroll said Rodgers has “all of the throws” and excels in bump and run situations.
“He’s as good a fade thrower as you can find and he’s got all the back shoulder stuff and all of the finesse things,” Carroll said. “… He also has a great hard count. He also has a great sense for tempo. He’ll catch you if you’re substituting sloppily. He’s got all those things that are part of the makeup of playing against the Packers.”
For really the third year in a row, the Seahawks started off tremendously poor on defense, giving up over 450 yards a game each game from Week 2 to Week 5.
That unit has played much better of late, and now the Seahawks will see if they can keep playing well on that side of the ball against one of the toughest offenses in football.
“It has really been an obvious turnaround,” Carroll said. “We saw it really five, six weeks ago. The third-down numbers started to turn. We’re like sixth in the league on third downs on defense, and that’s a big turn for us, too. And explosive plays are way down as well.”
Carroll, who started his coaching career as a defensive assistant, said his guys are “really playing” and that he expects that to continue for the season’s final nine games.
“I’m expecting that we’re counting on that and that’s going to be part of what you’re dealing with when you play against us,” he said. “We’re gonna keep knocking those points down and not give them anything. If we can keep track of the football like we have, it’s a great asset to winning football.”
Listen to the full Pete Carroll Preview at this link or in the player below.