The Seahawks have no idea why it’s happening. But at least they know what is happening.
“It’s shocking,” said SS Jamal Adams. “Seattle is not used to this.”
As it is turning out, that’s part of the problem. Especially for Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. He’s like an airplane pilot who was never taught how to pull up the nose.
“I’m not prepared for this,” he said. “I’m struggling to do a good job of coaching when you are getting your butt kicked week in and week out.”
There you have it.
The 23-13 home loss Sunday (box) to an Arizona Cardinals team playing without injured stars Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins was so profound that Carroll owned up publicly to bewilderment. His team is 3-7, all but out of the expanded NFL playoff picture and most important, out of answers.
Even post-game, he was off his game of gab.
Pressers in the Loo’s interview room always begin with his summary, followed by questions. This time, he said he had no opening remarks, then said “go” to reporters. Somber and fumbling, he made a sincere effort to answer questions, but quit after eight minutes: “I’m done.”
Then after Adams and LB Jordyn Brooks spoke, Carroll, showered and dressed, surprisingly came back. Said he was told his media session was short, which he didn’t seem to realize. He explained he wanted to fulfill his self-imposed standard of media obligation: “You have jobs to do.”
Voluntarily, Carroll invoked his failed head coaching tenures with the Patriots and Jets in the 1990s. He’s often cited his reflections on those firings that led to adoption of the coaching principles that led to his success at USC and, until now, his 12-year Seattle tenure.
“I’m just not any good at this (losing),” he said. “It’s just new territory, and I’m competing every way I can think of. I’m just unfamiliar with it. So if I leave (a media session) early, or if I make a mistake . . . I’m not on my best game right here, so — I mean, it’s been 20 years since I remember anything past that.
“I’m not making any excuse, and I don’t want to get good at this — that’s the other thing; I don’t want to get good at this.”
Unfortunately, he may have to get good at it. If Carroll, his staff and players, given the day’s stakes, cannot muster a better plan and execution than was seen Sunday at home, where intermittent failures prompted boos from the once-enthralled loyalists, then losing will continue. Don’t bother parsing playoff tie-breakers.
And if losing continues . . . well, the ground is coming up fast on the pilot.
Carroll sounded bereft of solutions. Everything in his toolbox was required for this game, and none made a difference.
The wounded division leaders, blasted 34-10 at home by Carolina the previous week, obviously had something to prove, but had to travel to a hostile environment and play with backup QB Colt McCoy, who himself was questionable because of an injury. The Seahawks were free of last week’s woes in Green Bay — a good Packers defense, bad weather and Russell Wilson’s first game back from a month-long layoff due to finger surgery.
But the Cardinals won wire-to-wire and made McCoy, who beat the Seahawks a year ago with the New York Giants, look as good as Murray. The Seahawks, meanwhile, converted just two-of-11 third/fourth downs. With seven minutes left, the offense finally scored its first touchdown since the third quarter of the Jacksonville game on Halloween.
Carroll seemed as stunned as everyone else.
“It’s really surprising, now that we’re back with Russ and we’re having such a hard time scoring and moving the football,” he said. “The hard part of it, this is kind of — it’s what it’s been like, and it hasn’t gotten better, and we have to improve. We have to find our ways. We have to coach better, and (players) have to find their ways. Russ has to find his way. We’ve got to catch the ball when we get our chances.
“It’s everything. It starts with me.”
That’s the standard line of accountability for most coaches, including Jimmy Lake. The University of Washington took up their coach on it, and fired him. Suddenly, Carroll finds himself in similar cross-hairs, although no one knows what Seahawks owner Jody Allen thinks, since she’s never answered a single football question about the team she inherited from her brother, Paul.
But as Carroll himself said, this is uncharted territory for a team that has missed the playoffs only twice in his tenure. The 10-game record is Seattle’s worst since 2009, and only one NFC team, Detroit (0-9), is worse.
“We’ve always had a lot of positive stuff to build on, and we haven’t been this far behind the record right now,” he said. “We could still turn the thing and win a bunch of games at the end, and be fine. We all feel like that’s what’s going to happen. We’re going out every single day and go to work. We get in the locker room, and we’re coming out at halftime . . . we need two scores and we go right down the field and get our score, and we stop
them. We’re thinking we’re winning the football game. We don’t think anything different than that. That’s the way we operate.
“But there’s seven losses on this schedule right now, and that’s a lot of games.”
The shaky return of Wilson, who has lost three in a row for the first time in his career, remains the center of the dysfunction. Carroll was asked what is different now with Wilson than before the injury.
“I don’t have an answer for that. I don’t think — I don’t know,” he said. “We’re not getting our chances at making the plays. You saw us. We were trying to run the football to give us some rhythm to play off of it, but you still got to convert on third down. We didn’t get it done.”
On seven third-down drop-backs, Wilson had five incompletions (including a drop) and two sacks. He’s clearly not the same player he was before his injury. But as always, he concedes little that would suggest any acknowledgement of the obvious, then made a comparison between the football woes and his late father’s health, which, at minimum, was awkward.
“I think that I’ve had harder days too,” he said. “This is a pretty hard day. It’s a hard couple of weeks, because we’re feeling it right now. We know that we’re up against it. But what I also do know is that, man, I think about my dad when he was on his death bed. That’s what I was thinking about when I came back in the locker room.
What we’re up against is not harder than that. He lived another three and a half years, and they
told him he had only 12 to 18 hours left to live.
“For me, seven games sounds good to me. I look forward to the next seven, and when we do figure
it out, which will hopefully be this week, everybody better watch out. That’s got to be our mentality.”
Given what Carroll and Wilson said Sunday, there was nothing to suggest anything will be figured out. If it didn’t happen for a stakes game with the division rival, it’s hard to imagine when it happens.
Not with the ground about to arrive.