Despite a modest 20 points, Pete Carroll saw enough good things Sunday to proclaim progress, particularly since Russell Wilson had sufficient protection to make quality passes.
For an offense that ranks a respectable 10th in the NFL, the Seahawks are generating more intense hand-wringing among some fans impatient with progress, particularly after mistake-pickled win over Tennessee Sunday. The injury absence of four starters goes beyond an excuse to a substantial reason, but 20 points after 404 yards of offense seemed a little feeble to the restless.
Coach Pete Carroll was having none of it Monday.
“More so than you (reporters) feel after watching the game, we feel good about what happened,” Carroll said. “I think we made some progress.”
His principal encouragement was that the beat-up offensive line mostly held up for the first time since both starting tackles went down. A good chunk was due to the return of center Max Unger after a one-game injury absence.
“I thought we really improved the pass protection,” he said. “The whole mechanism was clearly better than it’s been. Max had a big play in that. And I thought the quarterback play was exceptional.”
Russell Wilson may have had the most calmly efficient game in his brief career, even though it lacked a touchdown pass. Wilson was sacked only twice, for a minus-four yards, and often spent a beat or two longer in the pocket, avoiding some of the frenzied jailbreaks of previous weeks.
That made for 23 completions (in 31 attempts), second-most this season. And none were picks.
“He did a really good job of taking advantage of the protection and also taking advantage of his opportunities to run,” Carroll said. “I like the way (the offense) looked, from the inside out.”
Three drives were spoiled by fumbles, one by Marshawn Lynch, one by Sidney Rice and two on the same play, the botched field goal attempt just before half that will make the Seahawks Hall of Infamy without the mandatory five-year waiting period.
Apart from the turnovers, Wilson talked after the game about how much more comfortable he felt than apparently at any point this season.
“I felt I was in tune with the offense,” he said. “I felt like I was really clicking with the guys today. Obviously, you want to score every single time you get in the red zone. (But in the NFL), it isn’t that easy. If we can turn over three plays (the Seahawks were 2 for 5 scoring in the red zone), it’s going to be lights out.”
Speaking of lights, the national TV lights will be blazing for the Seahawks in the ever-awkward Thursday night game on the NFL Network, this one in Phoenix against the 3-3 Arizona Cardinals. Awkward, because the short week is never good for the the bodies of players; ironic, in a time when the NFL is professing player safety as a big priority.
Carroll didn’t seem to think it was a big deal, because the teams benefit by having having 10 days on the other side of the game (11 for Seattle, because it next plays the Monday night game Oct. 26).
“I think it’s a great challenge for the guys physically to ask them to do this, but it’s relative — both teams are the same,” he said. “It’s a big event, our guys like playing on Thursday night. They’re excited about it. It’s similar to the Monday night or Sunday night feel.
“They’ll be in recovery phase all the way until Thursday.”
Given Seattle’s depth of talent, they may be more prepared than most to handle a Thursday game.
“One thing I am happy about is the (fewer) number of plays that our guys played (Sunday),” he said. “The rotations worked out well to give them the best chance to be as healthy as possible for this week.”
Starting TE Zach Miller will likely return Thursday after hamstring problems: “He was really close to playing last week and I think hopefully it will work out so he can have a full game participation,’’ Carroll said. . . . DE Chris Clemons hurt his elbow Sunday sufficiently that he probably won’t play, but it isn’t going to require surgery. “He has a little issue in there, ” Carroll said. “It’s basically (pain) tolerance and it’s going to be a challenge for him to get back in a short week. In a normal week, he would have a better shot.” . . . Rehab for WR Percy Harvin ” is going great,” Carroll said. “There have been really no setbacks now and he is ahead of schedule in a number of areas.” He won’t be ready for Arizona. After that, Carroll said he didn’t know about a return, although the Oct. 28 Monday night game against St. Louis might be a big stage for the comeback . . . MLB Bobby Wagner “is up running around already” from a high ankle sprain that kept him out Sunday, but Carroll was uncertain about his availability . . . RT Breno Giacomini, who had arthroscopic knee surgery, will be out a few more weeks.