Seahawks Notebook: Carroll’s reaction to cigar celebration and more
Jan 8, 2024, 2:20 PM
The Seattle Seahawks’ playoff hopes went up in smoke when the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
That didn’t stop Julian Love, Riq Woolen, Devon Witherspoon and a few other Seahawks from lighting up cigars in the locker room after the Seahawks beat the Cardinals, 21-20. Love said on Twitter that they broke out cigars to celebrate the recent birth of his child.
The smoke session did not sit well with some current and former Seahawks who shared that they were upset the team was celebrating when they had been eliminated from the postseason. Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner wasn’t pleased, saying it was an example of the team’s youth. Former Seahawks punter Jon Ryan blasted the move on social media.
The Seahawk way is a bit different these days I guess. I could say a lot of things right now because I’m shaking with anger but I’ll just say I’m really disappointed. pic.twitter.com/ePoFQw7UPE
— Jon Ryan (@JonRyan9) January 8, 2024
On Monday’s Pete Carroll Show on Seattle Sports, the Seahawks’ head coach downplayed the significance of lighting up the “victory cigars” during his weekly appearance with Brock and Salk. His main issue was with the smell of the smoke.
“Forget that,” Carroll said. “Those guys were hoping that you’re gonna be in the playoffs and they bought cigars, I guess? It stunk. It was horrible. A horrible stench in the locker (room). But they don’t know. They’re young guys. I think Devon Witherspoon and some guys didn’t know any better.”
“What’s the big deal? Is that symbol that they don’t get it?” Carroll added. “No, they were trying to win and get in the playoffs and they thought they had them in their bag so they start smoking. There’s other things to be concerned about.”
A few hours after the game Sunday, Love responded to a tweet by The News Tribune’s Gregg Bell to clarify the reason for celebrating with teammates, which was the birth of his son on Dec. 22, 2023.
Insinuating that we’re celebrating not making playoffs is weak Gregg. These cigars were given to me to celebrate the birth of my son & I waited until the end of the season to share a moment with my guys. https://t.co/tZzJX9PyJG
— Julian Love (@_jlove20) January 8, 2024
However, he offered a different explanation to reporters in the locker room after the game.
“A lot of players know every year is emotional,” Love said. “There’s ups and downs. This team will not be the same next year. Just to celebrate your guys, your work all season. That’s all it was.”
Carroll laments youthful mistakes
When the Seahawks broke camp in August, their 53-man roster was the fifth-youngest in the NFL, with the average age a slight tick above 25-years-old.
Carroll said that youth was on display too often this season in close losses against Dallas, Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles Rams (twice), and even in Sunday’s win over the Cardinals.
“We played young, we made too many young-guy kind of mistakes all the way across the board. It’s a team that is growing,” Carroll said.
Despite finishing 9-8 for the second straight year, Carroll said he believes the Seahawks are closer to reaching the Super Bowl than they were a year ago. Seattle has missed the playoffs in two of the past three seasons and has not advanced past the wild card round since 2016.
“It’s so clear,” Carroll said. “We’ve improved, we’ve got some guys in situations that have helped us and we should grow. And we should we should come together in even a more powerful way. This team’s got a real future and not everybody can say that. There’s nothing to keep us from thinking that.”
Why Carroll said Seattle Seahawks struggled defending the run
Cardinals running back James Conner on Sunday became the latest ballcarrier to gash Seattle’s run defense, finishing with 150 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. This came a week after Steelers’ running back Najee Harris tallied 122 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries against the Hawks.
After a promising start to the season, the Seahawks’ run defense collapsed. They finished the year 31st out of 32 teams in the NFL, allowing 138.4 yards per game.
There were multiple reasons for the struggles. Defenders missed tackles far too often. The defensive line often failed to win one-on-one matchups. And losing Uchenna Nwosu for the season didn’t help.
Carroll hinted that the problems were also schematic. The coaching staff opted to change the defense midseason to limit explosive passing plays, which opened up more opportunities for opponents in the run game.
“In that transition, the running game got out of control. We were giving up 200 yards per game rushing for a month, which I can’t even fathom that,” Carroll said. “But that’s what happened. And so there’s this fine balance that you try to carry it, and that’s putting the players in the right place and practicing the right stuff.”
You can listen to Monday’s Pete Carroll Show in the podcast at this link or in the either of the audio or video players near the top of this post.
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