ART: Any NFL defeat can be characterized as a step back, but the Seahawks’ 34-12 loss at the Clink to Cincinnati Sunday was much more — a fall-over-backward-and-drop-dead defeat, responsibility for which can be given to head coach Pete Carroll. He mismanaged this thing from pre-game to the end.
STEVE: Obviously, Carroll is not your leader in the clubhouse for NFL Coach of the Year. I thought his biggest gaffe was his play calling right before the end of the half when the Seahawks, in the red zone, had a chance to come away with a touchdown or a field goal and instead came away looking like Oliver pleading for more gruel. If the Seahawks scored a touchdown there, as well as in the second half when they entered the red zone again following a 55-yard completion from Tarvaris Jackson to Ben Obomanu, it might have been a different game. But, alas, no. The good news is that there is a lot of football left to play. The bad news is that there is a lot of football left to play.
ART: After the game, Carroll took full responsibility for the massive bungle at the end of the first half. He called it “my mistake” by wanting to “jam a touchdown down their throats.” It was an adolescent response to a situation that is best managed by adults. After getting to the Cincy 5-yard-line with 19 seconds to play, they couldn’t figure out what to do and wasted five seconds before burning their final timeout at 14 seconds. At fourth-and-2, they decided to go for it instead of kicking a field goal. When a run play with Marshawn Lynch was good for the first down but not the touchdown, the Bengals smartly squatted on him, then slapped the ball around to kill the clock and deny the Seahawks another play. Bad as it was, it was a repeat of a nearly identical situation a year ago against San Diego. Carroll then promised to “take note” of the foolishness. Obviously, he lost the note. Everyone makes mistakes, but the Seahawks offense is so inexperienced that it has no margin for error from the head coach.
STEVE: Young, yes, but not without some talent. Once Charlie had finished “Whitehursting” the Seahawks in the first quarter, Jackson came on and threw for 333 yards. Two receivers, Obomanu and Sidney Rice, caught passes worth more than 100 yards. The Seahawks have not had a 300-yard passer and two 100-yard receivers (Matt Hasselbeck, 414; Jerry Rice, 145; Darrell Jackson, 113) since Dec. 4, 2004, against Dallas. But to only get 12 points out of that is absurd.
ART: Jackson’s total was the most meaningless 300-yard game in Seahawks history. Understandably rusty after a 20-day layoff from games, Jackson should not have played Sunday unless injury demanded it. It was another big mistake by Carroll. He admitted he was trying to keep Jackson out of the game another week to get him close to 100 percent following his strained pectoral muscle, so he started Whitehurst. But Carroll caved in to urgency and jerked Whitehurst after three series because “nothing was happening,” he said. So he undercut Whitehurst while forcing Jackson to work a miracle mid-game. He wasn’t ready. It took him 40 passes to get his 300 yards, and a lot came after they were behind and couldn’t run the ball anyway. Jackson wasn’t awful, and he had a lot of help in holding back the offense — four false start penalties and a couple of holding calls along with six drops by receivers. Clearly, after seven games, one of which was a 36-25 win in New York against the Giants, they are regressing rapidly.
STEVE: My vote for the most meaningless 300-yard game in Seahawks history goes to John Friesz on Nov. 3, 1996, against the Houston Oilers. But that’s beside the point. I, you, and everyone else can see that the Seahawks are regressing. Question is why. Lots of people think it’s Carroll.
ART: This game exposed what soldiers sometimes call mission futility: Asking the impossible with limited resources. A year ago, the Seahawks got away with churning the roster because of the mess left by former GM Tim Ruskell and the weakness of the NFC West. But a second season of many new players and no established leadership is catching up to Carroll. His specialty of defense is solid, but going without an established QB was a dangerous risk with so many new faces. And now he’s waffling between two guys who really can’t do the job. And for the second week in a row, a key starter was scratched just before the game with an “injury” that was never disclosed before the game. Last week it was Lynch who didn’t play against Cleveland. This week, wide receiver Mike Williams had a hamstring problem that kept him out. I suppose it’s coincidence, but when a team seems directionless, such mysteries invite suspicion.
STEVE: Speaking of a team with no established quarterback: We had an opportunity to watch Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton, whom the Seahawks could have drafted instead of OT James Carpenter in last spring’s body snatch. Dalton threw a couple of long interceptions, but looked pretty poised for a rookie.
ART: Mistakes aside, Dalton appears to have what it takes to be a steady success in the NFL. Carroll post-game talked about most everyone on the offense being “part of the future,” which is obvious when it comes to Carpenter and the rest of the O-line and most of the receivers. Granted, patience is needed. But asked whether that meant the QBs, Carroll redefined “the future” to mean the next few weeks. I understand the principle about building a line for the long haul, but sometimes in the draft a special guy falls through the cracks. Dalton, taken 35th, has a chance to be special. Not sure that can be said about Carpenter, especially when he was part of a group that helped the Seahawks to 61 yards rushing.
STEVE: A lot of our business (media) involves jumping guns, putting carts before horses, and counting chickens before they’re hatched. It’s a long way to the draft, but the Seahawks have to make QB the priority, based on the returns of 2011.
ART: Without a doubt. I’ve said since he came here that Jackson was a placeholder until the 2012 draft. Carroll can’t say that publicly, but it’s obvious. On Saturday, college football provided a good platform for three top-tier candidates — Stanford’s Andrew Luck, USC’s Matt Barkley and Arizona’s Nick Foles. All have a bigger upside than Jackson, who’s better than I believed based on his four years at Minnesota, but not a high-caliber talent. Then again, nothing was high caliber about the Seahawks offense (or special teams) Sunday, including the coaching.