After the weekend of division-round NFL playoffs, the Seahawks have to be a tad happier Monday that their season ended with the home loss the previous weekend to the Los Angeles Rams, however ignominious it was.
Better to find out early, at home, you weren’t championship caliber, rather than have your helmets handed to you after another futile mid-winter trip amid the pandemic to the cheese freezer.
The Packers’ 32-18 pasting of the Rams in Green Bay was the most decisive outcome of the weekend. For believers in the transitive property, it was a signal how far away the Seahawks were from Super Bowl-caliber this season despite the 12-4 record.
Against the purported top-ranked defense of the Rams, which held the Seahawks to a season-low 278 yards and two third-down conversions in 14 chances, the Packers had points in each of their first five possessions, and by game’s end, eight of 12 third-down conversions, 484 yards of total offense and a 12-minute, 28-second advantage in time of possession.
The domination had an asterisk: Rams DT Aaron Donald, Russell Wilson’s professional-life Joker, was ineffectual.
He started, but played only 40 of 75 snaps because of rib injuries sustained in Seattle when Wilson fell on him butt-first. Donald had one tackle Saturday and was seen crying on the sidelines near game’s end.
Aaron Donald crying is heartbreaking pic.twitter.com/LTa65M6o7A
— NFL Humor (@NFLHumor) January 17, 2021
“They didn’t pressure maybe as much as I thought they would,” Rodgers said dryly. Or maybe Donald is just a big ol’ teddy bear, looking for love.
Whatever, the Packers played, best as I can tell, close to the perfect Pete Carroll offensive game — 188 rushing yards (the Rams had 96) and explosive pass plays to four receivers, including the weekend’s longest completion, 58 yards to Allen Lazard for a touchdown with 6:52 left in the game to close out the Rams.
The Packers were in command on both sides, and even though LA QB Jared Goff and his surgically repaired thumb were credible throughout, he was sacked four times, and the Rams managed just 244 yards of offense.
Green Bay appeared easily the best team among the final eight, especially after QB Patrick Mahomes was bounced from Kansas City’s 22-17 win over Cleveland with a concussion.
No word yet on his availability for the AFC Championship. But even with him, there’s something about the defending champion Chiefs this season that seems less formidable than their 15-2 record. Starting in week 9, the Chiefs won games by margins of two, four, three, six, six and three points, then rested starters in a week 17 loss to the Chargers.
Even though the NFL set a record for points in a season — partly due to mandatory shutdowns for the virus that stalled defenses, as well as an unannounced liberalization of the rules on offensive holding — defenses have resumed their usual primacy in the postseason. Except for one result, the Browns’ freaky 48-37 win over rapidly decaying Pittsburgh, no losing team managed more than 24 points.
It is instructive for Seattle because it has a credible defense, but has a vacancy at offensive coordinator, after Carroll held Brian Schottenheimer largely responsible for the late-season fade that ended up helping produce the worst playoff game of Wilson’s career.
Pederson is from Ferndale and grew up a Seahawks fan, which is nice. But he’s also won a Super Bowl three years ago, which is relevant. Lynn was a running back with the 49ers 25 years ago when Carroll coached there, which is nice. But he was also 33-31 in four years as the Chargers’ head man and was part of this season’s development of rookie QB sensation Justin Herbert, which is relevant.
Both were speculated to have been candidates for any of the six head coaching jobs that opened up. But five of those have been filled, leaving only the Texans’ vacancy.
If neither gets the Houston job, and both want to stay in ball, either would be a good selection for the Seahawks’ OC job.
While no one but Carroll can speak to personal chemistry or priorities, there’s a shared virtue in each that is visible from the outside: NFL head-coach gravitas.
That’s something we haven’t seen with OCs under Carroll. Neither Schottenheimer nor predecessor Darrell Bevell had been top dogs, although their resumes were substantial. What would be intriguing is to see Carroll provide the video of the Packers’ win to either man and them:
And then let him grab it like a boss.
As important, it would be worthwhile for the OC to have the chops to be nobody’s friend.
After the departures of Bevell and Schottenheimer, Wilson genuinely seemed personally wounded, as with the loss of a friend. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Unless the relationship had been getting in the way.
Wilson is an easy guy to like, and his body of work commands respect. But as with most everyone in a high-pressure workplace, sometimes an ass-chewing is required. Which is hard to do among friends. Not impossible. Just hard. Especially if the guy is No. 4 on the NFL’s all time passer-rating list who needs to be told to do better.
Same with Carroll. He was asked recently who in the building holds him accountable. He mentioned GM John Schneider, assistant coaches/sons, Brennan and Nate (Brennan has taken the OC job at the University of Arizona) and former assistant Carl Smith. Not a crew likely to be in a casting call for Sopranos II.
“I would say I always need more help,” Carroll said. “I need to be coached up like everybody else. It really comes out as a competition issue. If you don’t want to hear the truth, if you don’t want to hear the hard stuff, then you ain’t competing.
“And so I’ll go wherever I got to go to get it.”
The pending opportunity may be that chance. Carroll can probably use someone who isn’t in awe of him, doesn’t need his friendship, and who knows the week-to-week ordeal of ultimate responsibility.
Together, Carroll and the new OC might start out aspiring to a small goal of replicating another feat by the Packers.
Saturday was the 14th time this season Green Bay scored on the opening drive, most in the NFL since the 2007 New England Patriots.
Imagine that. Being ahead early.
We know from our readings in the Book of First Carrollians that it is not possible to win the game in the first quarter, etc. But after watching the Seahawks score 30 points total in their final 11 first quarters of the season, the new OC may have the stones to inform the boss it violates no commandments to be ahead in the first quarter.
Presuming Carroll indeed wants to be coached up.