‘Didn’t get rolling’: Pete Carroll on Seahawks’ offensive struggles

Nov 24, 2023, 12:52 PM

Seattle Seahawks...

Geno Smith of the Seattle Seahawks limps off the field against the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 23, 2023. (Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

(Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks were bullied in primetime on Thursday, losing 31-13 at home to the San Francisco 49ers in a game that got out of hand in a hurry.

The Next Day: Seattle Seahawks still yet to close gap on 49ers

The Seahawks fell behind 24-3 at halftime and struggled mightily to move the ball all night long, especially in the first two quarters.

While the defense did ultimately step up and make some plays in the second half, Seattle’s offense had a night to forget.

That was a big topic during this week’s Pete Carroll Show on Seattle Sports with the head coach of the Seahawks.

“On offense, for the first six or eight plays, we’re kind of stumbling around out there,” Carroll said. “And I say that because (quarterback Geno Smith) gets tripped back by our 1-yard line. But we just didn’t get rolling.”

Even with a nightmare start, the Seahawks had a chance to make it a very close game in the third quarter.

The Hawks got a pick-6 from Jordyn Brooks to make it 24-10, and then Seattle drove to the red zone with a chance to get within one score.

But the Seahawks couldn’t cash in, settling for a short field goal and their last points of the game.

“The unfortunate drive when we get down there and we’ve got to take the field goal, there’s back to back plays that could have put the ball on the 1-yard line,” Carroll said. “It didn’t happen, and so we have to kick a field goal. That was a big one right there, for sure.”

“When it got to 24-13, it felt like yeah, OK, this is a good football game here and we’ve made ourselves a chance to get back in this thing. And it just didn’t,” he later added. “… It was just one sequence after another that was going to make the difference. I didn’t realize at the time not scoring (the touchdown and instead the field goal made it) 24-13 would have been that big of a deal, but (not getting) that touchdown was really, really big.”

Carroll gave a lot of credit to the 49ers for dictating how the game went.

“Tthe defense that we played against, they make you have to get it done, and you’ve got to execute. And you can’t hold the football, which we got sacked a bunch of times last night because we got in situations where we had tried to get the ball down the field. They make it hard,” he said. “And when the fields are long, like it was horrible field position for us, it’s totally in their favor … We have to stay out of those situations continued because a team like that, they’re already established. That’s how they play. And so you’ve got to find your ways, and we did not find our ways. We just need better mix in all of the aspects.”

The Seahawks, Carroll said, wanted to push the ball deep down the field with Smith and the team’s receivers. Outside of a spectacular one-handed grab by rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seattle didn’t connect on deep shots.

That was something Carroll was upset about looking back on the loss.

“Where we came up short was on the deep ball. We really went after these guys downfield. They’d had a ton of penalties and all that and we wanted to see if we could convert on those. And we didn’t get anything out of it to speak of other than the corner route that we hit Jaxon on,” he said. “But we made a concerted effort to get the ball down the field. And DK (Metcalf) missed by inches on the one that we catch (in the first half) that might have an impact on the game … I think the downfall for us was we weren’t able to convert on the chances that we take. When you throw it incomplete, you lose a whole play in the sequence, so we didn’t get as much out of that as we thought we would.”

Execution and play-calling

The Seahawks have plenty of weapons on offense, especially in the passing game where Smith-Njigba joined a receiver room with Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Seattle also has three tight ends the team likes to use, and a few young dynamic running backs.

So what’s been the problem?

“We do have guys that we like to go to, and we would like to utilize everybody and you’d like to feel like we’re really smart and we’re using all the guys and all that. But when there’s not many plays, it just doesn’t feel like it works out that way. And we’re never going to be able to satisfy all those issues right there because we like all of our receivers … It’s a problem. It’s a good problem, though. And it’s one I just wish we were settled more. We’re getting late in the year now and we’ve got to get it together and make sure that we do a better job than we’re doing right now.”

Carroll was asked about the balance of trying new things and also thinking that the team’s plan is good and the execution is just lacking.

“There’s a challenge to that because you see stuff that works, and you see stuff that is executed well against them, so you want to see if we can tweak our stuff so it’s different, or it shows us what we should choose from the things that we have in our repertoire. But that’s part of it. That’s also constant in the game,” he said. “… And the most important part of it is what can you execute well? Because things don’t always happen the same way like they’re supposed to. We ran three or four different plays in this game that were unique to this game plan that the look didn’t wind up being the way we most wanted it to be, so we had to tweak it or we had to get out of it, so we didn’t get the shot that we wanted. That just happens.”

Carroll was also asked about potentially interjecting during play calls from his coordinators and the balance of letting them have autonomy and also deciding when to step in.

“That’s what this job is. It’s figuring how to try to influence in a way that feels right to do and try to make observations in the field, and then also make sure that you’re supporting their momentum as they put their plans together and their calls together,” he said. “There’s a big opportunity to really screw them up to try too hard with from the head coach position, whether it’s in the game or whether it’s in preparation during the week. And that’s just an ongoing struggle. It’s been that for 20 years in trying to figure out how to do that best … There’s a lot to that.”

Carroll said that stepping in during a drive can change the play-caller’s outlook and mess things up.

“If I speak to the callers during the sequencing of the calling, I’ve learned that’s totally unfair to them,” he said. “And you can’t afford to do that because they’ve got a train of thought that they’re on in their sequencing. I learned that a long time ago. That doesn’t mean I don’t screw it up once in a while, but I’m really good at that now. But I used to be (worse). I would factor in way more than I should. And it’s just really disruptive to them. They have to have their train of thought connected and supported as well. So I spend most of my time between series when conversing with guys in games.”

Carroll did later say, though, that he’s heavily involved on both sides of the ball.

As for one specific play, which was the Seahawks running out of shotgun on fourth-and-short in the fourth quarter, here’s what Carroll said.

“The blocking scheme of the play was it was a downhill blocking scheme, but we’re in the gun to run it. I think the call is hoping that you get them to widen, thinking ‘they may throw the football’ and we get an edge there. That’s all that was,” he said. “I thought we made the sneak (on third down), first of all. I thought we made that and we didn’t, I guess, and so we gotta go for the next one. Should have had that. Should have been an easy conversion right there. We didn’t get it.”

Listen to the full Pete Carroll Show at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

• What They Said: Seattle Seahawks break down blowout loss to 49ers
• Instant Reaction: 49ers blow Seattle Seahawks out on Thanksgiving
• Watch: Seahawks rookie JSN’s 1-hand grab draws comparisons to OBJ
• Huard: Seahawks need rookie Derick Hall to step up in pass rush

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