Carroll: Seahawks won’t rest healthy starters with playoff berth secured
RENTON – It’s not in Pete Carroll’s nature to ease up.
So even with the Seahawks assured of one of the NFC’s two wild-card spots and out of contention for the division title, Carroll said they’ll play to win their final two regular-season games regardless of how the playoff scenarios might shape out. That means not sitting any healthy starters.
“I really don’t believe you should ever ask players to take a break,” Carroll said Monday. “I think they’ve got to go.”
The Seahawks secured a postseason berth on Sunday with their win over Cleveland combined with losses by the Buccaneers and Giants. Arizona won Sunday night and thereby clinched the NFC West, which means Seattle will end up with one of the two wild-card spots regardless of what happens over the final two weeks.
Carroll alluded to the possibility that Seattle could sit some starters who are dealing with injuries. Left tackle Russell Okung strained his calf Sunday while strong safety Kam Chancellor didn’t play due to a bruised tailbone. They come to mind as players with whom the Seahawks might err on the side of caution.
“Now, if we decide not to play guys for different reasons, that could happen,” Carroll said. “But that’s not going to be because we’re going to take a step off the gas pedal right now. We want to keep driving it. All we’re going to do is try to play the best we can and try to have a really successful week and we’ll see where that leaves us next week. There will be no reason not to go for it again.”
And there’s still some more practical motivation for the Seahawks to win out, which is that they would help their chances of ending up with the conference’s fifth seed. Seattle currently holds it by virtue of a tiebreaker over Minnesota, which is also 9-5 but lost to the Seahawks two weeks ago.
The fifth seed would play on the road in the wild-card round against the fourth seed, which at this point is guaranteed to be the winner of the NFC East. The Redskins (7-7), Eagles (6-8) and Giants (6-8) are all in contention for that division, but none of those teams have a winning record.
The sixth seed, meanwhile, would play at the third seed, which the 10-4 Packers currently hold. So hanging onto the fifth seed would in all likelihood mean a more favorable first-round matchup.
But even if Seattle’s seeding was already determined or were to be any point before the end of the regular season, Carroll knows no other way than to play to win.
“It’s like letting somebody not try very hard,” he said. “I don’t find any place for that in our game.”