If you thought, as did Pete Carroll, that Russell Wilson was trying a little too hard in Arizona, wait until the game against the contemptible, foul and dastardly scalawags from San Francisco Sunday. Wilson’s clench might crack molars.
“No, I don’t think so at all,” the Seahawks coach said airily Monday about Wilson over-compensating for the woebegone defense. OK, but what if Wilson has to play the 49ers without Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde and Travis Homer? We’re talking full Superman mode for him, right?
The invocation of superhero rescue came to mind after Carroll disclosed in his Monday afternoon presser that the Seahawks’ top three running back have injuries that could keep them out of the first of the two annual NFC West soul-grippers with the 49ers (4-3).
Known Sunday when he missed the second half of the come-from-ahead, 37-34 overtime loss to the Cardinals was that Carson had a mid-foot sprain. Also known after the game was that Homer had a knee bruise that kept him out of overtime, when rookie DeeJay Dallas missed pass-block assignments that ended up getting Wilson sacked.
“We needed Homer in there,” Carroll told 710 ESPN radio Monday morning. “It was hard on DeeJay.”
Not known until Monday was that Hyde, freshly returned to the lineup after a shoulder injury, who ran 15 times for a season-best 68 yards and a touchdown, had a “tight hammy,” Carroll said.
What you thought was afternoon thunder was actually a region-wide gulp.
Unless Carroll is comfortable going with Dallas, a fourth-round pick who has two rushes for eight yards and four catches for 33 yards in his first season, the Seahawks may have to dive into the running back market. And that’s before dealing with the rolling calamity of the worst-in-the-world defense.
Pursuit of urgent emergency help, however, is complicated this season because of the testing regimen imposed by covid-19 restrictions.
“This is really difficult to get guys in here in time, where they could actually practice and have a chance to even be familiar with taking the hand-off,” Carroll said. “We have some things that we can do if we need to (within the roster). We’re gonna take it one day at a time and see if our guys can get back, with a couple creative thoughts going forward that we’ll keep in-house for now.”
Ooh, secrets. Creative thoughts. Hmmm.
So what happened last time the Seahawks lost three running backs at once? You know, in December: Carson, Rashaad Penny, C.J. Prosise. Lost to injury all at once.
Pure speculation, of course. But hey, Carroll is the one who opened the door. Although December was in The Before Time.
Marshawn Lynch, 34, is a free agent who left on good terms following the playoff loss in Green Bay. He played in the final regular season game and both playoff contests, scoring three touchdowns. What he’s doing now is known to few, and understood by fewer.
Ironically, Prosise, 26, was cut Monday by Houston, where he played special teams and had a single rushing play. He played four years in Seattle but only 31 games due to a passel of injuries.
Penny has spent the season on injured reserve recovering from surgery to repair an ACL torn in December. He’s nearing a return, but it didn’t sound like this week was likely.
“I saw him working out today and he looked pretty good,” Carroll said. “That’s on the (doctors), so we’ll wait and see what they say. I don’t have the timeline on that, but he was running hard today, so he’s getting close.”
The hope is that Hyde, 30 and a seven-year vet hired for depth, can make it against his old club.
“If Carlos is available to us,” Carroll said, “which we’re hoping he is, we feel like we can keep the tempo going if Chris can’t make it.”
Regarding Sunday’s dispiriting loss of a game that they controlled and never trailed until the final score, Wilson’s three interceptions — his most in a single game since 2017 — were decisive but not habitual, Carroll said.
“Russ hasn’t thrown balls like that; throughout his career, you can you can barely remember the times when that’s happened,” he said on the radio. “So that’s not something we should be worrying about.
“When we make big mistakes, it’s because we’re trying more than we should, when we try to make something happen.”
Wilson post-game took full responsibility: “I thought we played a really solid game, except for those three plays, to be honest with you. That’s on me.”
Mistakes from over-trying are hardly unique to Wilson, Carroll said, and didn’t think he was compensating for the defense.
“I don’t think that has anything to do with what’s going on the other side of the ball,” he said. “He knows what he’s doing. Sometimes plays get away. That’s to be expected. We try to avoid it, and minimize every every aspect of that, but unfortunately that was kind of the story in this game.”
Nevertheless, the shortage of healthy running backs adds pressure to a team that already had a severe shortage of defensive stoppers. It’s not hard to imagine Wilson looking through his closet for a cape.