Pete Carroll Show: Jimmy Graham’s usage, Seahawks’ final score, Richard Sherman situation and more
The Seahawks started their fourth-quarter comeback from a 13-point deficit against Arizona with a 37-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to tight end Jimmy Graham. He caught the ball at the 25-yard line then ran by, around or over five Cardinals defenders who had a shot to stop him.
It was the type of man-amongst-boys play that Graham has a penchant for making. It was also only the third pass that was thrown his way on Saturday, which made you wonder why he wasn’t a bigger factor in the Seahawks’ passing game earlier in their loss to the Cardinals. He had one catch for six yards on two official targets in the first half as Seattle’s offense managed all of 94 yards and three points.
Graham has been one of the NFL’s more productive tight ends this season with 61 catches (tied for seventh at that position), 859 yards (third), and six touchdowns (tied for fourth). But what happened Saturday raised anew the recurring questions about his inconsistent usage in Seattle’s offense.
Brock Huard weighed in on this during the first hour of “Brock and Salk” on Monday (right before the 25-minute mark in this audio link), contending that Graham’s lack of targets wasn’t for a lack of trying and instead more of a function of everything that was going wrong for Seattle’s offense in the first half. He said a handful of passing plays were designed to go to Graham but broke down before Wilson could find him.
Coach Pete Carroll pointed to how Arizona defended Graham as another reason.
“It just didn’t go that way. They were re-routing him at the line of scrimmage a little bit more than we would like, but we’re always trying to get him the ball,” Carroll told “Brock and Salk” on Monday. “The guy’s almost got 1,000 yards this year, so it happens by games (from the defense). He did a great job when he got the ball to take off and run again. We’d love to get him the ball more. The ball just kept going towards Doug in this game.”
Indeed, Doug Baldwin caught 13 passes on 19 targets for 171 yards – all career highs – and scored a touchdown. Carroll alluded to the injury issues in Arizona’s secondary as a factor in Baldwin’s monster game. The Cardinals were playing without free safety Tyrann Mathieu and cornerback Marcus Cooper.
“It just happened that way,” he said. “It was not by design, although we did go into the game knowing that we should have good matchups with Doug with their guys that were banged up, so it just kind of flowed that way. But we really did well in the second half doing everything that we did, but we always want Jimmy to get the ball more.”
Here’s more of what Carroll told “Brock and Salk” on Monday:
• Asked about cornerback Richard Sherman tripling down on his criticism of the offensive play-calling and whether that situation was a distraction at all internally, Carroll said: “No, not after – it may have been, but we met Wednesday and had a special meeting Wednesday to make sure that we were moving ahead and moving forward and we did that and it was not even a factor.” Carroll said it’s rare to have such a meeting, saying, “just when we need it” and that this was one of those times. “This rose to that level,” he said. “I thought it was worth it. Yeah, it was worth it at the time to do it then. There was a lot of other stuff that we dealt with there, but that was part of it.” Asked if he’s more confident in his team after that meeting, Carroll said: “I’m fine. Yeah, we’re fine about it. It’s not an issue. You can keep talking about it, but it’s not an issue.” My read on this: It may no longer be an issue, but Carroll certainly seemed miffed about what Sherman did – his initial sideline outburst and how he didn’t back down one bit from it in his press conference.
• Asked about the kicking issues Seattle had Saturday, Carroll noted that it’s been a recurring problem against the Cardinals. That’s true. As noted in this story from when Hauschka missed a game-winning attempt in Arizona earlier this year, he has curiously struggled against the Cardinals. However, most of his issues have come at their stadium. And Seattle has had issues with its place-kicking operation all season with four missed extra points (all the result of blocks) before Hauschka missed one at the end of Saturday’s game. Carroll: “This is a Cardinals thing for us. We’ve had trouble. If you go back over the years, there’s some numbers there you don’t want to see. There’s some terrible numbers against these guys with the field-goal kicks and stuff. So it’s been a problem for us. I think it’s more us than them. They’ve always been good, but I think it’s more us than them. We have to handle our business better than that in all the aspects of it. The snap was a little off, the timing of the kick caused that (to be) not as good as we need to, but we’ve had problems with these guys. Calais (Campbell) is up there and those other guys aren’t all there, but it’s still an issue for us. I’m hoping that this is a Cardinals thing. We don’t play them any more. We’ll see what happens here.”
• Carroll acknowledged that in situations like the one the Seahawks faced on their final possession, they could take more time off the clock before scoring. After Wilson hit Paul Richardson for a 5-yard touchdown pass on first-and-goal, the Cardinals took over at their 25 with 60 seconds left then drove 50 yards to set up the game-winning field, using their final timeout in the process. Carroll didn’t say he regretted the decision to not take more time off the clock, only that it could be a consideration in that situation. The reason he didn’t Saturday, he said, was because he was confident in Seattle’s defense after it forced a three-and-out on Arizona’s previous possession. Carroll: “You could. We need to get in the end zone there. You got to get it done so we do it. We could have run the ball there to let the clock run, see if you can get it in. We could have done that. But we’re believing in our defense. We’re thinking, look what just happened the series before. We played out of our minds and killed them the series before. You feel like everything’s going and so you’ve just got to do everything you can to make sure you make that score. But yeah, you could, you could. You leave it down to the last couple downs. But I think you’ve got to go score and do it and there’s maybe a time you could think that way. I’ve never held us back. There have been times where I’ve said let’s go ahead and run it at them here with the thought that we could run it in, but it’s not with the thought of let’s delay the game for the finish of it.”