RENTON — Chatting amiably on his weekly ESPN 710 radio show Monday after the methodical 27-17 road win in New York over a Jets team that was 10-6 last year, Pete Carroll said casually, “I think we have a helluva football team.”
It occurred to me that in six previous years covering his Seahawks coaching tenure, I’d never heard him say such a thing. Certainly, the statement has been true numerous times. He’s probably said it privately many times. But he usually isn’t that direct publicly, especially early in a 3-1 regular season whose future is likely rich in locusts, vipers and sundry dragons.
Not to mention that just two weeks earlier, at his homecoming to a sold-out Los Angeles Coliseum where he flourished as USC’s coach, the Seahawks lost 9-3 loss to the Rams and looked lame doing so.
Later Monday at his presser at team headquarters, I asked him if his “helluva team” comment meant this 2016 outfit could be his best.
“There’s a chance,” he said. “I think we have a chance.”
Well. Let’s all have whatever Carroll is having.
The past two weeks apparently have been a stout elixir for what ailed the Seahawks in the first two weeks.
It could be that the recuperative powers of QB Russell Wilson, who had a sprained right ankle and a wrenched knee in consecutive weeks, yet produced one of the best games of his career, has had some sort of a radiant effect beyond his battered joints (cue the hallelujah chorus).
More pragmatically, Carroll sees all parts at or near premium function. He cited two comparative stats from the previous season: Through four games last year, the Seahawks gave up 18 sacks, compared to nine this season. On defense, sacks are up from six to 12 year over year.
“There’s a lot of really good phases of our team that we can count on,” he said, listing experienced leadership, Wilson reaching his prime, growth in the offensive line, kicking game and a defense that has been the season’s most consistent element.
He didn’t seem to be worried about the rushing numbers, 29th in the NFL at 3.3 yards per attempt.
“We’ll grow in the running game,” he said. “I’ve loved this team all along. I’ve seen it coming. Just the way they’ve gone about the work. We have a chance to be really good. We just have to go out there and keep doing it one week at a time and one day at a time.
“That’s nothing to project what’s going to happen at the end of the year; I don’t know that. But I do know what these guys have put into it, and how determined they are. It’s everything we’re looking for.”
At least a part of the optimism springs from the opportunity to heal during the bye week. Asked whether Wilson would take the time to rest, Carroll smiled and said, “Just the other way,” explaining the rigorous rehab regimen Wilson has planned. At this point, it is as useless to question Wilson on rehab tactics as it is to call out a Kodiak grizzly on salmon fishing techniques.
The time until the next game Oct. 16 against Atlanta should allow enough healing so that all the top Seahawks draft choices can get on the field at once for the first time — first-rounder RG Germain Ifedi (ankle), second-rounder DT Jarran Reed (hip), third-rounder RB C.J. Prosise (wrist) and fourth-rounder TE Nick Vannett (ankle).
Ifedi and Reed have already started games, Prosise has played and Vannett has yet to be activated. Carroll also expected a full-speed return of WR Tyler Lockett.
Most of Carroll’s optimism is founded, as always, on defense. Seattle held the Jets to 10 points until a fluke fourth-quarter touchdown after the Jets scooped and scored on a fumble that the Seahawks thought was an incomplete pass.
The game highlight was three turnovers, the Seattle trademark.
“We had a chance for six or seven turnovers,” he said. “It was a lot of fun. The guys really felt like we broke through a little bit. It’s such a big deal to us. We make so much emphasis on it. It was kind of a relief that it finally happened. We had a good time in the locker room afterwards.”
On the NFL quarter pole in Seattle, they’re taking down the Ace bandages and hanging flower baskets. Helluva thing.
Morgan on IR for hernia surgery
One piece of bad news was LB Mike Morgan was to have surgery Tuesday for a sports hernia by a specialist in Philadelphia. Morgan stayed back east when the team returned from New York and was put on short-term injured reserve, meaning the Seahawks can bring him back after eight weeks.
The surgery is similar to one RB Marshawn Lynch had last season.
“There’s a lot of different ways surgery can come out, but it’s basically the same concern,” Carroll said. “It could be anywhere between four to six weeks.”
The replacement starter will be chosen from among Cassius Marsh, Kevin Pierre-Louis and Jordan Tripp, an undrafted free agent from the University of Montana promoted from the practice squad Monday.