Carroll: Seahawks are ready for final stretch of 2019, starting with LA Rams
The Seahawks are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, riding a five-game winning streak heading into a critical NFC West road showdown with the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams on Sunday Night Football.
Seattle is 10-2 – tied for the best record in the NFL with four other teams – and currently sits atop the NFC West. Seattle also holds the conference’s No. 2 seed and can clinch a playoff berth with a win or tie on Sunday.
While many are surprised with the team’s success, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told 97.3 KIRO FM’s Dori Monson on the weekly Pete Carroll Show Friday afternoon that the team isn’t exceeding their own expectations.
“Those expectations for the people you’re talking about aren’t in this building,” Carroll told Monson. “We were counting on doing well here.”
A win over the Rams would give Seattle 11 wins, a playoff berth and six-straight victories. What does Carroll see from Seattle’s Sunday opponent?
If Sunday’s game is anything like the last time the Seahawks and Rams squared off, buckle up.
Seattle won a thriller in Week 5 30-29 in a game that came down to the last few seconds. A Rams missed field goal sealed a Seahawks victory. Carroll expects a tough fight from the 7-5 Rams again, this time in Los Angeles.
“With our team and their team, it’s not going to matter exactly about the numbers and stuff,” Carroll said. “We’re going to go for it no matter what and they are too. They’re a championship club with all of that background and makeup and players that have the dynamics to just win games and numbers of guys who are good.
“This is a great matchup again to go on the road and do it in LA will be fun, but we expect them to be really hard in all phases to deal with and we have a lot of respect for their talent.”
The Rams’ offense hasn’t been as potent as the last two seasons under head coach Sean McVay, but it clicked last week against the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams won 34-7.
“They looked like (it was) a perfect looking ball game for them. On all cylinders they were hitting it,” Carroll said. We’re seeing nothing but a really impressive latest game to deal with.”
As has been the case the last few weeks, the Seahawks are fortunate in the injury department.
Only four players missed practice Thursday while five others who were on the report practiced.
Linebacker Mychal Kendricks and tight end Luke Willson were among those not practicing. Both are battling hamstring injuries.
“Mychal has not practiced yet during the week with his hamstring (injury) that just wouldn’t go away,” Carroll said. “Luke’s not practicing. He’s not quite back yet.”
Willson has not played since Week 10 while Kendricks was a game time decision on Monday, but he played. As of Friday, both are listed as doubtful along with fullback Nick Bellore.
Cornerback Neiko Thorpe was ruled out for the second-straight game and Carroll announced later on Friday that Thorpe is having sports hernia surgery that will end his season.
Offensive tackle Duane Brown (biceps and knee) was a full participant and defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney (core) and Ziggy Ansah (neck/shoulder) were limited. Brown will play and Clowney, who missed Week 12’s matchup with the Eagles, is questionable but Carroll expects him to play. Ansah’s status is more uncertain. He left Monday’s game after delivering a big hit and is also listed as questionable.
“Those other guys are out there,” Carroll said. “Ziggy has to get back from his shoulder (injury) and Clowney’s been practicing throughout. Those guys look pretty good, but I won’t know about Ziggy until we get all the way through game time.”
An 11th Seahawks win on Sunday would help tremendously in a very tough NFC conference.
The New Orleans Saints are also 10-2 and thanks to a Week 3 victory over Seattle, hold the No. 1 seed. The San Francisco 49ers are also 10-2, but the Seahawks beat them in Week 10, so the 49ers currently hold the No. 5 seed.
The Saints and 49ers square off on Sunday, and while a 49ers loss would help Seattle in the NFC West race, a Saints loss would put Seattle at the No. 1 seed if they can beat the Rams Sunday night.
“It kind of took a while to get to where we are now, but we’ve got a shot to battle and control what’s happening in the future and that’s all we can hope for at this time,” Carroll said. “So, we’ll see where it goes, and good stuff can happen here if we get a couple more wins.”
Wins against tough teams, like Seattle’s Week 13 opponent, certainly help the Seahawks gain confidence in the home stretch of the season. The Seahawks won 37-30 on Monday Night Football against the Minnesota Vikings, who are now 8-4 and currently hold a playoff spot.
“It felt like that was going to be a challenge that would be like a playoff game at (home) and everyone was there for it and ready to go and revved up and it felt like that in the prep, the quality of the club we were playing and all that stuff was all there so it’s a really good opportunity to come out on top and there were a lot of positives there,” Carroll said. “It was still a really solid win and lets us know that we’re playing good teams these last few weeks and we’re able to hang onto (wins), so it gives us a sense of confidence that’s going to be important down the stretch.”
Part of Seattle’s success in recent weeks has been the run game succeeding against tough run defenses.
The Seahawks piled up rushing yard totals of 145, 147, 174 and 218 over their last four games. All those opponents – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 49ers, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Vikings – ranked in the top-10 in rushing defenses entering those contests.
On top of that, the Seahawks’ defense has showed tremendous improvement over the last three games.
“I really like the formula that’s showing up,” Carroll said. “I’d like to see us take care of the football a little better, but other than that, the stuff that’s happening makes us a good club.”
The Seahawks are great in November and December under Carroll, and he and his club are hoping to continue that run of late season success.
“We’re excited about finishing (the season). This is that time,” he said. “We work at it all year long to get to this point where we have a shot at making a big finish and hopefully, we can take this one day at a time and see if we can start knocking some stuff off and really make this a fun season.”
Listen to Carroll at this link at roughly the 21:52 mark.