Seahawks’ Pete Carroll: No ‘new answers’ for persistent issues
It was much of the same for the struggling in Sunday’s Seahawks’ 23-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, and with that latest defeat, Seattle is 3-7 with just seven games remaining.
The Seahawks’ biggest warts were on full display against the Cardinals, and those issues have been reoccurring to the point where head coach Pete Carroll walked out of his postgame press conference out of frustration. While he did return roughly 20 minutes later, it was clear on Sunday that the winningest head coach in franchise history is struggling to comprehend where his team stands through 11 weeks.
“There’s a lot of stuff that we can fix and clean up. We have to be consistently right,” he said. “As the game gets near the end, that’s how you finish well and we’re not clean as we need to be.”
When it comes to the game against the Cardinals, who were without star quarterback Kyler Murray and All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins, Carroll didn’t think that Arizona did anything to dominate that game.
“We were feeling good about it and we let them get out of here,” he said. “They didn’t overpower us or overwhelm us in any way. They just won the football game and we didn’t win it at the end. So it’s frustrating to miss that opportunity.”
Carroll was asked about what drove him to leave his press conference early.
“I didn’t have any new answers for (the reporters) is why,” he said. “… It wasn’t like I couldn’t think of an answer.”
The answers Carroll was giving were the same ones he’s been giving to the media all season long. That’s because through 11 weeks, the Seahawks’ struggles remain the same.
“Third down was a big factor again, and we didn’t hold onto the football on offense, so we’re back on the field for an extra 20 plays on defense as the game wears out,” Carroll said. “That has been a reoccurring theme, and we’ve got to turn that to play better football.”
Carroll said Seattle’s defense, which has been one of the few bright spots for this team in recent weeks, was “hanging in there” but didn’t get the support it needed from the other side of the ball. The Seahawks were on defense for more than 40 minutes in the loss a week after spending 39 minutes on defense in a defeat in Green Bay.
“We needed to compliment them with a couple scores, and then we’ll see how we duke it out at the end in that setting instead of coming from behind,” Carroll said.
The issues with the Seahawks’ offense have been consistent this season. The offense has failed to sustain drives and too often relies on big plays to move the chains. Lack of execution on early downs has forced Seattle into third-and-long situations. Against the Cardinals, the Seahawks converted just two of 10 third-down opportunities, and both were third-and-1. Their average line to gain on third down was 8 yards.
Carroll said he hates to “keep filling this one out because these answers are gonna come out very similar,” but many of the offense’s issues come because of a lack of rhythm caused by quarterback Russell Wilson’s finger injury.
Wilson suffered the injury in Week 5 and returned just last week, and in eight quarters he’s guided the Seahawks to just 13 points while completing just over half of his passing attempts.
“Russ missed three weeks and he went out half of one game, so now he’s back and we’re trying to get back on track again,” Carroll said. “That means that we’ve been counting on the quarterback to be in the center of all of this stuff. And so we’ve got to help him function better.”
Carroll thought Wilson “did some really good things” in the game, but he wishes Wilson and the offense was better in the red zone, where Seattle scored just one touchdown in three trips. He also said Wilson’s finger isn’t playing a role in the offense’s struggles these last two weeks.
“We’ve been one of the top teams in the league in the red zone, and we didn’t get our wins down there and tried a little bit hard. You’ll see Russ pump one and try to pump a guy off and and go to Gerald (Everett) back there in the back corner and we could have just taken the (checkdown), but he was trying to throw a touchdown pass,” Carroll said. “So those are just the things that enter into his game. We could have used him to be better on a couple plays, but we need to help him, we need to make sure that he has the opportunity to execute and then it would have worked out there.”
Sticking with the offense, Carroll felt that, after reviewing the tape, the play calls were correct throughout the game given the situations the team found itself in.
“We just needed to do it better and be more right and maybe just chill out a little bit more in the situations and just count on us functioning and doing right,” he said. “Maybe we’re pushing and pressing a little bit on it, and that’s that’s something that I have to do a better job of helping our guys believe that we know what we’ve got, we know what we need to do and then we go out there and execute and then we’re getting good results.”
Going forward in Seattle’s final seven games, Carroll said his team will continue to fight hard in order to be cleaner and “more precise” as a team. He’s also not worried about his team giving 100% effort.
“We’re gonna see if we can maintain the focus to let us do things right more, and that’s what’s got to happen,” he said. “We’ve got to be more accurate. We’ve got to be more consistent and take advantage of the opportunity by being right at the moment when it’s available to us … And then you build on it and you get another one, you get another one and then you’re gaining momentum to get over the top of your opponent. And that’s why it’s just such a constant about it starting with effort.”
With the offense struggling to score or move the ball, and with the defense having trouble at times getting off the field against the Cardinals, Carroll was asked about the Seahawks’ identity.
“I think it’s hard to see it when you’re not being successful,” he said. “We’ve always said everything starts juice-wise on special teams. And then the defense has to be aggressive and tough, and it starts at the front and works its way on back. And then on offense, we have to close the circle of toughness with really running the football and playing off of that.”
Carroll said there’s “a whole mentality of it” when it comes to what the team strives to do in all phases of the game, but “we’ve got to do it.”
“You can’t see it, because we haven’t been successful with it,” he said. “But that’s what we’re building towards.”
CB Tre Brown’s injury
One of the reasons for the Seahawks playing better on defense of late has been due to the play of their cornerbacks.
D.J. Reed has played well since moving back to the right side while rookie fourth-round pick Tre Brown has been incredibly consistent since making his NFL debut in Week 6.
Reed was inactive for Sunday’s game with groin and knee injuries, and while Brown earned his third career start against the Cardinals, he played just 23 snaps before he went down with an injury while in coverage.
Carroll said after the game that Brown has a patellar tendon injury, but it wasn’t clear how severe it was.
On Monday, Carroll said again he wasn’t sure about Brown’s status, but he said that the rookie’s knee has had “a long-term kind of in and out thing over the years” going back to his college career.
“He put that foot down, he’s gonna go make that play on the deep ball and he hit it and it just crumbled him,” Carroll said.
While Carroll didn’t make any declarations about Brown’s status, it was rather ominous that Carroll referred to Brown’s rookie season in the past tense.
“He had a fine run in his rookie shot here and I was really, really fired up about the way he played and the consistency,” Carroll said.
Listen to the full Pete Carroll Show at this link or in the player above in this post.