Parsing Pete Carroll: Why the contradictions on Jimmy Graham?

Sep 6, 2016, 10:55 AM | Updated: 12:34 pm

Coming off a torn patellar tendon, Jimmy Graham is uncertain for Seattle's opener against Miami. (A...

Coming off a torn patellar tendon, Jimmy Graham is uncertain for Seattle's opener against Miami. (AP)


Parsing Pete Carroll is one thing.

Trying to reconcile a contradiction is something else. On the one hand, the Seahawks coach told reporters Monday that tight end Jimmy Graham is, “going one day at a time with the thought that he’s going to play” in Sunday’s regular-season opener.

Twenty seconds later, Carroll said, “I have no expectations that he’s going to play this week. I’m not counting on that happening.”

What the what? Is Graham going to play this week or not?

Well, it takes a trained ear to understand what is going on. Or in this case, an actual device. It’s 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Pete Carroll Translator” (patent pending). It has been refined through more than six years of Carroll press conferences, not just to transcribe what he says but to understand what he actually meant.

Now, we can’t vouch completely for the validity of the following translation. It is, however, the best we can do. Keep that in mind and take this with the spirit with which we “Parse Pete,” which is to try and read between the lines.

Question: What do you need to see from Jimmy Graham this week?

What Carroll actually said: “We’re going one day at a time. He’s pumped up about it. We’re going one day at a time with the thought that he’s going to play. That’s our thought. We’ll find out how that works out with no goal in mind at this point. Really, we’re just going to do it and see what that means. He’s doing that so he practices at his highest level and he’s really pushing it so we can see. It’s very similar to how we did it with Thomas (Rawls) and so we’ll see what that means at the end of the week. And we’ll just take it one day at a time and then one week at a time.

“I have no expectations that he’s going to play this week. I’m not counting on that happening. I’m just counting on him coming out and having a really good day on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and we’ll see what happens.”

What Carroll really meant: Dude. Do you not remember what happened with Marshawn Lynch last year as we headed into the playoffs? Because I sure do. We saw him practice that week before our sub-arctic survival test in Minneapolis. He looked great. Well, maybe not great, but pretty good, and I went on and on about how great it was to have him back.

I remember doing all that. And I also remember him not getting on the plane to fly to Minneapolis.

I also remember Percy Harvin pushing really hard to come back in 2013 and face his former team. He got out there on the field against the Vikings, had a great kickoff return and even a great catch and then we didn’t see him again for the next five weeks.

So I’m not putting any pressure or expectation on Jimmy Graham. I’m not even holding out a carrot promising that he’ll be able to play if he feels good. Everything looks good, but not even Jimmy is going to be the one to tell us he’s going to play. It’s his body, and we’re going to watch this week and see if he really might be ready to go.

In other words: We’ll let you know on Sunday morning right between 11:30 a.m. and noon Pacific when we announce our inactive players.

Question: Where have you seen Thomas Rawls improve the most?

What Carroll actually said: “Think of where we were at this time last year and what we knew about him. He had just come off the Raider game in preseason where he had a good game stomping around on the field and making some runs, and we thought maybe he might be able to help us. Well, now we think he can be a terrific factor for our running game. His attitude, the great work ethic that he brings, the toughness that he brings, just a great addition because we know that now.

“As we look at it, he’s much more confident. He knows where he fits. He’s ready in the next couple of weeks to get back in where he can play and start a game, take a game over and do all of the things that he can do.

“It’s still time to take care of him as we get him back. He only carried the ball a couple of times so far, but he’s done everything we can ask of him. He’s had an extraordinary offseason of hard work. Everybody admires the heck out of him. He was here every day throughout the entire offseason getting ready and just did a great job. It’s a great accomplishment for him. He looks like he’s full speed, ready to go.”

What Carroll really meant: Don’t freak out if he doesn’t start this weekend. Seriously. Don’t. He’s a huge part of what we’re doing going forward. We love the way the running game goes when he’s in there. Really, that was true as far back as last season. Our running game clicked better with Rawls than it did even with Marshawn Lynch in the backfield.

But Rawls has now carried the ball twice since he suffered that season-ending ankle injury in Baltimore last year. Two carries. That’s all he got Thursday in Oakland. We need him to be able to carry the ball 20 times in New England in November, not 20 times on Sunday against Miami.

In other words: Don’t freak out and think something is wrong if Christine Michael, not Rawls, starts on Sunday.

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Parsing Pete Carroll: Why the contradictions on Jimmy Graham?