BY Art Thiel 07:56PM 11/16/2015

Thiel: Carroll can’t recall such a bad game start

Lamenting the aftermath of another wrenching loss to a good team in a close game, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll sent the game plan was dismantled because of field position following penalties.

Considering the 14 penalties for 131 yards, Pete Carroll spent more time talking to officials than his players. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

On the Seahawks calendar, it was Tell the Truth Monday — or Morose Monday, whenever they have played a good team in 2015. Except for this Monday, when coach Pete Carroll was sardonic.

“It’s really a shame — we had a really good game plan,” Carroll said of the 39-32 loss to Arizona Sunday. “You might have liked it.”

Carroll claimed fans at the Clink and a national TV audience never saw the plan, not when major offensive penalties compromised the start of Seattle’s first four possessions and allowed Arizona to race to a 19-0 lead.

“I don’t ever remember a game where your first four drives start first-and-20,” he said, sounding genuinely bewildered. “When that happened, we would wind up in third-and-whatever. We couldn’t convert.”

It was, in fact, four random acts of unkindness for which there is neither connection nor explanation.

To review:

First possession: After one first down, a face-mask penalty on TE Luke Willson (not RT Garry Gilliam, as officials first called it) made it first down and 25 at their own 28-yard line.

Second: Holding on LG Justin Britt, for first-and-20 at the 10.

Third: Willson again, holding, for first-and-20 at the 12 (produced a sack/fumble that turned into a safety).

Fourth: TE Jimmy Graham, holding, first-and-20 at the 10.

On the fifth possession, the Seahawks played penalty-free and took an up-tempo version of the offense 80 yards in six plays, which included a pass interference penalty on Arizona FS Tyrann Mathieu, for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 19-7.

“It just didn’t happen the way we planned at all,” Carroll said. “Then the game changed: We got back to making sense. In the drives we didn’t have penalties, we scored. When we had major penalties, we couldn’t overcome it.”

It was a little more complicated than that, but his point is well-taken. What he didn’t mention was that in years past, the Seahawks often had the talent to overcome such setbacks. They’re not there yet, not after paying championship salaries to championship winners.

And even when they have championship players, sometimes they don’t play like it. CB Richard Sherman was beaten for Arizona’s first touchdown pass by Cardinals WR Michael Floyd when Sherman committed to covering a receiver on a shorter route. In the fourth quarter, safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas both messed up covering TE Jermaine Gresham on a 14-yard TD pass.

Even the coaches sometimes get outsmarted. On the game’s decisive play, the 48-yard draw that backup RB Andre Ellington took to the house for a 39-29 lead with 1:58 remaining, Arizona coach Bruce Arians outmaneuvered Carroll and defensive coordinator Kris Richard.

“It was s good choice by them — maybe they recognized we were coming,” Carroll said of a failed blitz. On third-and-four at the Seattle 48, the Cardinals bunched three receivers to the right and left a single wideout on the left. Palmer lunged to his left to hand the ball to Ellington.

“We had a blitz that should have hit (Ellington) him in the backfield,” Carroll said. “The left guard reached us and the ball popped where it’s not supposed to go. They had a screen going on the other side, so there’s very few (defenders) left. Kam (Chancellor) had the first chance and didn’t get to it, and we got blocked.

“It was a beautiful job of executing the draw play.”

The upshot of multiple, game-long miscues was that Arizona had 84 plays to Seattle’s 52. That sort of disparity that wears down the defense is what happened in the other lost-lead defeats this season.

“There’s a common thread there,” Carroll said. “When you get into (opponent play numbers) in the 80s, that’s a lot of plays. When you get to 78, 79, 80, those are the ones that make the difference in the game.

We don’t want to be in that situation.”

But they are in the situation because the offense can’t keep the defense off the field. Until the offense does its share, the defense bears too much of the burden.

Despite all the penalties and mishaps, the Seahawks, remarkably, came back to lead, 29-25, with 13 minutes left. Then the defense did itself in on Arizona’s next possession.

The drive looked dead when Carson Palmer threw incomplete on third and 10 at the Seattle 39, perhaps even out of field goal range. But LB Bobby Wagner, who otherwise played a splendid game, was flagged for illegal contact when he shoved a receiver more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

First down, Arizona, and two plays later, touchdown Arizona, the go-ahead score.

Wagner looked as if the shove was more out of fatigue than foolishness. Carroll was exasperated by some of the officiating calls, but not that one.

Regarding officiating, Carroll sounded despairing, and didn’t see much point in a public diatribe.

“I don’t even know how talk about penalties at his point,” he said.

The easy out is to avoid them. But nothing is easy for the Seahawks this season.


  • Warchild_70

    But there’s a flag on the play, how I hate that sentence. Bone headed, stupid infractions I just wish that it was a flagrant misdeed you know ripping into the QB and holding a helmet WITH a head inside (Just kidding) not an air-headed brain fart that seems to be d jur.

  • jafabian

    The team has lost its focus. The offseason was very telling with players making how much their salaries a priority. The bye week was also very telling, at least for Wilson who made his bye week activities very public for whatever reason, similar to Tony Romo who has done the same and received criticism for his bye week vacations. Romo never had playoff success like Wilson, will DangeRuss go down that same road? His numbers are down across the board. Interesting that he and Colin Kaepernick have had huge issues this year after both were heralded as the QB’s of a new generation.

    Did not like Sherman getting burned for a TD. Though Kam and Earl could have and should have been backing him up replays showed he left his man hoping to get an interception. 9 times out of 10 he guesses right but this season it’s been more like 6 times out of 10. They’re still in the hunt for the Wild Card but at this point I’m wondering if watching the playoffs at home might be the tonic they need to get their swag back.

    • SeaRaays

      Arizona players were back to practice after 3 days off. This game meant more to them. That with the slant of officiating ..made this game an uphill battle for an overconfident team.

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  • ss

    All the stupid little things on both sides of the ball added up to one big, embarrassingly unfortunate and costly loss. Last night, the better team – from the coaches on down – won.

  • 1coolguy

    The offense is Bevell’s responsibility – the play calling, the personnel, the penalties, the 22 minutes of possession and all else that goes with it.
    Who would rate this offense in the top 20 in the league?
    Who would rate it in the top 5, where it SHOULD BE?

    Let’s not forget 12 of the points last night were the result of Palmer’s fumbles.
    Bevell is no longer cutting it Pete and John and needs to be replaced.

  • Matt712

    It’s OK if Pete didn’t see much point in a public diatribe; that’s what fans are for:

    Taking nothing away from AZ, the officiating at times had me wondering if I was watching a Pac 12 game. For 93 years, it seemed very much like we all knew what a catch was in the NFL. But somehow, in the last two, it has become a complete mystery – a mystery that gave the Cards 3 points. That 3 point difference could very well have kept the Seahawks from unwisely going for those 2-point conversions.

    I mean, c’mon guys, it’s catch, not an orgasm! Oh wait, I get it… you don’t know what “football move” is, do you?

    • Pixdawg13

      During the broadcast, they made a big thing of Pete’s noting that this crew had called only one defensive PI penalty all season, but had called many defensive holds. Nobody mentioned that this crew apparently will not call offensive holding, at least not on Az. I saw a *minimum* of 7 blatant holds that should–and usually would–have been called. That’s ignoring the many instances of kinda borderline holding that sometimes is called, sometimes not.

      Not saying the officials cost Seattle the game–but they sure made the playing field slant to the Cards’ side.

  • PokeyPuffy

    I thought one bit of excellent coaching was the consecutive challenges that Arians threw in the second half. The Hawks had offensive tempo and were marching past midfield when the two challenges slowed things to an absolute halt. It reminded me of an NBA time-out i.e. when the opposing team is going on a run you basically stop their momentum by calling a TO.
    So my takeaways from that sequence:
    1: Even though he didn’t win both challenges, he deflated the home crowd, blunted the offensive rhythm, and the drive fizzled.
    2: I think Arians understands the importance, if not the necessity, of tempo to an offensive drive. This is something i think Pete is kinda clueless on.

    Anyhoo, from here out my expectations have been sufficiently lowered, and I can look forward to following the Hawks for entertainment value alone. Perhaps we can play the spoiler for the Cards, Vikings or Steelers over the next few weeks? Maybe we can focus on finding our identity and playing better as a team? Maybe our overpayed superstars will find humility in this wasted season? Those are the humble aspirations i have for the season.

    Art I also totally agree that the defense is not to blame here. By gosh
    they scored almost half the points we made, and were on the field way
    too long.

  • Just Another Bullwhip

    Thiel says, “[The Seahawks don’t now have the talent to overcome setbacks] ,not after paying championship salaries to championship winners.” Well, then, for example, you have the Patriots, who somehow manage to know how to do it. But, wait, the Patriots are just cheaters, right? That is how they have won all those Superbowls, right? Or at least that is what whiners and those who do not like what the Patriots stand for, in many respects, culturally say, right? And, frankly, I would not classify Russell Wilson as a “championship winner” so valuable that he deserved anything like the salary he is eating up. In fact, he knew it also, which is why he knew he had to get that money this offseason, while the shine was still on to a larger extent. The best thing the Seahawks could have done was let Wilson play out his contract, then offer him a mid-range quarterback contract, and in the meantime start grooming someone else to do what Wilson does, which is, basically, nothing as it relates to quarterback excellence, but rather simply running an offense designed, optimally, to minimize mistakes and score through a smash-mouth approach while leaving the defense to truly dictate the course of the game. The Seahawks are going to pay for the Wilson folly the whole time they increase their circling of the drain the next few years. And that also does not even really address the bad vibes Wilson’s contract spread throughout some of the actual really valuable players on the team.

    • rosetta_stoned

      By the way, I think Holmgren’s Super Bowl team was better than the Carroll Super Bowl teams.

      That’s because you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      But, we already knew that.

      • SeaRaays

        Not even close. The only thing better of the Holmgren team was the O line. Holmgren never won a playoff game on the road with his crew either. Also the Walrus had the luck at the time to play in a weaker division also.

        • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

          The one constant in that thought process is Coach H brought this team some notoriety and credibility in reaching the SB in 05.Then came the inept Steve Hutchinson move and the decline of Alexander. There is only one coach who has brought a World Championship and 2 straight SB appearances to Seattle and in that respect its a no brainier. That 2013 defense was so stifling they compare them to the vaunted Chicago Bears D of the mid 80s who were simply incredible and record breaking. Guys like Floyd Merriweather were so convinced Denver was going to smoke us in SB48 he bet and lost like 11 million. That SEA defense made all that put all their eggs on Denver look like miserable novices. I would take that 2013 squad every time when looking back to compare.

        • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

          Cheers to the Walrus….Kuo Kuo ka choo! But not a better squad than the fantastic 2013 Seattle Defense.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        Perhaps in trouble at the point where he ventured into the “I think ” Statement…

        I think Holmgren’s Super Bowl team was better than…….

  • ll9956

    You captured the crux of the matter, Art, with the statement, “Until the offense does its share, the defense bears too much of the burden.” I believe the OL simply lacks the talent of an elite unit. Pete talks about “determination”. With enough “determination” and adrenaline hopefully the OL can play better, stay on the field longer and give the D a breather, which of course would enhance its effectiveness. That remains to be seen.

    All the talk of the stupid, frustrating, drive-killing offensive penalties and the first-down gift-giving penalties by the defense will hopefully result in a relatively penalty-free game next Sunday.

    • Matt712

      I think it’s a question of skill as opposed to talent as concerns the O-line. According to Tom Cable, those guys have as much talent as any group he’s coached. I’m actually excited to see what kind of unit they can grow to become. But I never would’ve thought it could be done in the course of only one season. And I still don’t.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    That first half was horrid and it was reflected by Pete’s bewilderment. These are the guys we have watched for a significant part of this decade that rose to the occasion…delivered in that big game. Throttled that crucial opponent. Got the bounces and breaks at timely spots. I still laugh inside on occasion that just a half dozen years ago the Nat’l Media was saber rattling about the Hawks winning the division with a 7~9 record and being allowed to go to the play offs.They almost treated the Seahawk name as a synonymous way to explain mediocre for a season or two after that.
    Today the Natl media is crying what is wrong with the Seahawks? Vegas still believed in Seattle enough to make them 3 point favorites and they delivered a first half that really should be docked from their paychecks. It was borderline inept.
    You would like to hope they churn out two amazing performances this next 2 weeks at home and become world beaters again but don’t count on it.
    As Art said in the last line of this article. Nothing comes easy for the(2015) Seahawks. It has been the only consistent thing happening in this bleak season.

  • notaboomer

    you win some, you lose some and you spend $50 on beer either way.

    • Matt712

      Story of my life.

  • MrPrimeMinister

    For goodness sake pete, if you’ve got an unused game plan, shut up about it, and save it for the next time you play them. Don’t give stuff away man.