For Seahawks fans fretting over how much running quarterback Russell Wilson had to do Sunday, and how little was done by running backs, coach Pete Carroll is urging all to chill.
“Scrambling is inherent to how we play,” Carroll said Monday after escaping Carolina with a harrowing 12-7 win over the Panthers. “We look forward to the results. That’s something we’re really trying to be good at.
“We want to be the best team in football dealing with scrambling opportunities.”
They certainly have the right guy in Wilson, although Carolina’s front seven did as good a job as any in hemming in his forays. He ended up with only seven yards in five carries, but it was the time he bought behind the line of scrimmage that allowed him, after a slow start, to complete 24 of of his final 28 passes for 320 yards — the second highest total of his short, admirable pro career.
“There are a lot of big plays out there in those situations,” Carroll said. “Russell is natural at it and we’ve just bought into going along with him. He’s very unpredictable. The receivers have to be adaptable. Those are really hard plays on (receivers) because they have to run so much. (For defenses) it’s as hard as you can deal with.”
Wilson was compelled to make something happen because RB Marshawn Lynch was stiffed, gaining 43 yards on 17 carries. Carroll owned up to some blame for the playcalling that produced only 70 rushing yards, with a long of 15, although he was vague.
“We just didn’t get it done the way we liked it,” he said. “I contributed to that. So I’ve got to make sure that I do the right things and get us on track. We didn’t make the adjustments we normally make. It just took us awhile.
“By the end of the game, we were able to run the ball enough to make the drives that we needed.”
Carroll likely is inspired to pick up his play-calling this week, owing to the Sunday visit of the San Francisco 49ers, a game that you may have heard was coming.
Formidable as the 49ers are, they aren’t much on stopping Lynch. He has three consecutive 100-yard games against San Francisco, including the 42-13 blowout in December at the Clink when Lynch ran for 111 in 26 carries. In that game, the Seahawks were up 21-0 a minute into the second quarter, which made the choice to run much easier. That included a 24-yard TD run by Lynch on the second play.
Part of the problem in Charlotte appeared to be OG James Carpenter, who appeared fatigued and whiffed a few times on blocks as he split duty on the left side with Paul McQuistan. Carpenter hasn’t played much in preseason, but Carroll insisted he was all right, even though he said he “was disappointed” in the run game.
“He made it through feeling good and did alright,” Carroll said.
He may have been referring to his health more than his play, but whatever the case, the 49ers were sure to have noticed.
Despite problems, the O-line play was well ahead of the opener a year ago in Phoenix that the Seahawks lost, partly due to the rookieness at right guard of J.R. Sweezy, a converted defensive lineman.
“We’ve come a long way,” Carroll said. “I think the ability to make all the calls right with Russell in the pass protection was a big deal. That’s miles ahead of where we were last year. The Arizona game was a horrible experience for us. (DT) Darnell Dockett had a career day against us.
“It was fun to talk to Sweezy on the plane last night. He had a hard time a year ago. (Sunday) he was very comfortable and played well.”
The test for Seahawks fans Sunday: Figure out which Wilson scrambles part are of the deal in the twice-annual “What’s Your Deal? Bowl,” and which come from Carpenter sucking wind.
Avril likely back
Carroll reported that DE Cliff Avril, who sat out Sunday, “is a good possibility” to play against the 49ers. His fellow DE, Chris Clemons, will take a full practice for the first time this week and “we’ll see how he does. He’s exactly where you want a player to be. We have to hold him back.” . . . Carroll said in a team meeting he called out praise for three D-linemen new to the team: Tony McDaniel, Michael Bennett and O’Brien Schofield, the latter starting in Avril’s place. “They all look like they fit into our style of play,” he said. “It’s a hard to hold someone to seven points in the NFL.”