BY Art Thiel 06:52PM 10/31/2016

Thiel: Wilson more limited than Seahawks let on

Russell Wilson couldn’t throw deep Sunday, nor could he run well. But he missed a victory by about one foot. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll thinks a turnaround is not far away.

Russell Wilson against Miami, when he could do things like throw touchdown passes. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Lamentations run heavy over the absence of offense — one touchdown in the past nine quarters, resulting in a tie and loss — but it’s become apparent that QB Russell Wilson’s injuries have compromised play-calling and execution more than the Seahawks previously let on.

In the wake of the 25-20 loss in New Orleans Sunday to a Saints team with a weak defense, coach Pete Carroll acknowledged Monday that a priority has been put on saving Wilson’s body by cutting risks.

For the first time since week two, Wilson played Sunday without ankle braces. But he still has a brace on his right knee, and the latest trauma, a pectoral muscle injury, limited his ability to throw deep Sunday. The Seahawks’ longest pass play, 43 yards, was thrown by WR Tanner McEvoy. Wilson rarely threw a pass more than 15 yards, one of which was intercepted.

“There was a little bit of that in the game,” he said of the absence of the long ball. “He wasn’t able to let it go all week long (in practice).  We were limited until we saw him throw the ball a little bit. He did a good job of not wasting throws during the week (as we tried to) determine whether he could, and knowing he would be OK. ”

The ankle and knee braces were bothersome.

“He would tell you it just feels cumbersome,” Carroll said. “He still has ankles taped. It was just like wearing a knee brace. It feels like you’re carrying a lot of extra weight.

“He was pleased he made it through (without the ankle braces). He felt better. He looked better during the week of practice. He came out of the game not nicked at all in any of the multiple areas that we’re concerned about.”

Carroll acknowledged that they have stripped down the playbook.

“There’s elements of the run game this year that are different than last year,” he said. “Part of it is we haven’t allowed  him to run very much. He’s been very effective over the years, and we’ve had to take care of him. He’s getting better . . . getting better. We’re excited about that.”

He needs to get fired up about something because the 6-6 tie with Arizona that preceded the Saints loss comprised a stretch as feeble offensively as at any time in Carroll’s seven-year Seattle tenure. The Seahawks are 28th in the NFL in rushing at 81.4 yards a game, which includes all three of the yards on the ground in Sunday’s first half.

The No. 1 rushing team in the NFL, a spot often occupied by the Seahawks during the Marshawn Lynch empire, belongs to Dallas at 164.1 yards per game. Second, 10 yards back, is Buffalo, Seattle’s next opponent, at the Clink on Monday Night Football. The Bills’ emphasis is what Carroll seeks.

“We need to get out of what we’ve been in the past two weeks,” he said. “This is not the way we’re going to play football. We’re going to fix this. It’s happened back-to-back on us, in similar fashion. We need to dig in with the running game. It’s frustrating to say that.

“I can’t wait to get back on the practice field. We all feel the same way. It will look different.”

Carroll was almost defiant in his confidence that solutions are imminent.

“We’re going to take a turn a little earlier than the halfway point” of the season, he said. “We’re going to take a big step forward in the next couple of weeks.”

Getting Wilson healthier is the primary source of his conviction.

The fact that he made it out (healthy) again, we can get started,” he said.  “He’s done everything he can do to help us (considering) the limitations we put on him to keep him safe and sound and playing. He’s busting at the seams, ready to go.”

An admirable sentiment, and one play too late to help the Seahawks Sunday. The Seahawks had the ball at the Saints 10-yard line with two seconds remaining, trailing by five. As Wilson came to the line, he saw a pending blitz, and a probable double-team of TE Jimmy Graham, the preferred red-zone target.

WR Jermaine Kearse on the right had single coverage by a smaller cornerback. But instead of a slant, Kearse ran a fade. Wilson lofted the ball too high. Kearse caught it at the back of the end zone but with only one foot inbounds.

According to Carroll, Wilson changed the protection properly but didn’t have time to signal a route change to Kearse before the play clock expired.

“It was a well-disguised blitz,” Carroll explained on his ESPN 710 morning radio show. “You couldn’t tell it was an all-out blitz until the final movement of the free safety. It took Russ awhile for him to detect it. They didn’t show right away.

“He had to go with what was called and make the most of that. We missed by inches. If it didn’t happen so late, he might have done a couple things different.”

For all the hand-wringing, Carroll was aware that the Seahawks are 4-2-1 and atop a division where the problems of the foes make the Seahawks’ worries of hangnail caliber.

“I think we may have been fortunate to be as far along as we are right now, with everybody coming back together,” he said. “Russ will be at his very best — I don’t know that he’ll be 100 percent — but you’re going to see things happen that will make us better.”

If not, there’s always the now-traditional McEvoy platoon for the deep throws. There’s no reason a copycat league like the NFL can’t steal from baseball.

Rookie LT Fant gets an attaboy

George Fant, who last started in a football game at the pee-wee level, started at left tackle Sunday and received a gold star from Carroll.

“Once he settled in, he did some things very well,” he said. “We were pleased with his ability to be consistent throughout the game. For his first game, it was impressive. It gives a chance to think he can compete and play there.”

But Fant committed three of the Seahawks’ 11 penalties: A false start, clipping and a block in the back (mistakenly charged to C Justin Britt). Unlike his basketball days at Western Kentucky, where Fant was a star, he can’t foul out in football.

Noteworthy

DE Michael Bennett with have arthroscopic surgery on Wednesday that will keep him out two to three weeks, meaning he will miss at least the Buffalo game and at New England . . . DT Tony McDaniel will play against Buffalo. He came out of Sunday’s game late with a sore ankle, but it was not serious . . . RB Thomas Rawls went through a “vigorous” running workout Monday and came out well, but will not be ready by Monday. “He”s close,” Carroll said. “We have to make sure of his conditioning. He’s got to make it back so he stays back.”  . . . The groin injury of SS Kam Chancellor lingers, and will be a game-time decision as to whether he will miss a third straight game . . .  TE Luke Willson (arthroscopic knee surgery) is also running. “He said Buffalo, so we’ll see,” Carroll said. “It would be an amazing accomplishment.”


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YourThoughts

  • ll9956

    There has been a great deal written about the officials’ bad calls and non-calls. The pick non-calls doubtless changed the outcome of the game. Even the NFL expert, Mike Pereria, said New Orleans should have been penalized. I would assume that PC will complain to the NFL. If the NFL agrees, I would love to know what consequences could be assessed on the official(s) at fault.

    As far as I am concerned, they deserve a very harsh reprimand from the NFL. They should be banned from officiating in the post season and maybe not even invited back next year. When officiating errors change the outcome of the game, it’s got to be considered pretty serious.

    • osoviejo

      Officials are graded on every play. Scores are used to determine postseason and advancement opportunities.

      They have every reason to care about getting it right. However, officials are part-time. They don’t work hard enough at their craft, and will always be limited by the amount of time they are required to spend on it.

      Couple that with players and the reduction of -their- practice time, and you have two clear reasons for the decline in product quality.

      Hire full-time officials and get players back to practice (both of which require collective bargaining), and the game has a good chance to improve.

  • PokeyPuffy

    An 0-1-1 road trip, with a pec problem and an banged up defense thrown in on the side. gottta wonder if just resting him would have made the most sense, as you mentioned in your previous column Art. What harm would playing Boykin have been? He prolly could have scored more than 6 in Phoenix and 13 in NO, even with a similarly limited playbook available to him. If he failed whats the harm? Plus, the entertainment value of watching the gimpster hobbling around in the backfield is pretty low. Lets see some fresh legs!

  • osoviejo

    I know you don’t write the heads, Art, but this one is misleading. Unless I missed it, there’s nothing in the column to suggest anything is being hidden by the Seahawks.

  • Tman

    The Salary cap has decimated the Seahawks super bowl team and injured their star quarterback. We see this repeatedly in the NFL.

    Is it fair to limit players salaries without limiting owners income? Has the Salary cap faced legal challenge?

    The propaganda says “America is the land of opportunity..you can earn all the money you can command.

    The salary cap says “no, you can’t” So champions moved to teams that could and would pay, if they could find teams with room under their cap.

    The Salary Cap idea is sold by the owners..telling fans it helps bring parity. Does it?

    The salary cap limits player salaries. Does any employer have the right to do that?

    • Jessicaeandrews2

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    • art thiel

      The irony often has been noted that when capitalism’s leaders buy NFL teams, they become socialists.

      • Tman

        The owners are Predatory Capitalists, Billionaires who pay no taxes . They buy politicians who exempt them from taxes. Example. An owner makes an annual income of a Billion Dollars. Normal 32% tax rate would mean our treasury collects 320 million leaving the Billionaire 680 million to live on each year. Billionaire wants it all. Billionaire pays a million each to 100 senators, 435 congressman, one secretary of the treasury, one President, one Vice President and 5 Supreme Court Justices to exempt the billionaire from taxes. 543 million one time expense, leaving the billionaire 457 million to live on the first year and a billion a year to live on thereafter.*

        There are 544 Billionaires, some making as much as 50 Billion a year, starving our treasury year in and year out. 6 billionaire media corporations control 95% of everything we see, hear and read.** The Billionaires control both parties, selecting the candidates we choose between, giving the appearance of “choice”. The billionaire press blacks out candidates who promise to tax them. The Orange one claims to be a billionaire, is owned by gambling interests. HRC is wealthy enough to afford an apartment that costs 220,000/month. Both represent the 544 non taxpaying Billionaires. The police and army exist to protect and enhance the incomes and well being of the non taxpaying billionaires. Is any of this a good idea? How can bribing public officials be legal? Does this sound like democracy? The Billionaires rig our politics. Do they rig the games, too, for their benefit?
        *see Bush/Cheney tax cuts for the rich
        **Comcast, Disney, Fox, Time Warner, CBS, Viacom

  • Will Ganschow

    You observed last week that Wilson should sit a game. So many of his passes sailed because he couldn’t put any zip on them. He’s the Man, but having Boykin in there could not have ended any worse, and he would have some experience for later in the season when all of Wilson’s denial comes home to roost.

    Collingsworth (not Schenkel.) He looks and sounds like a Schenkel.

  • Howard Wells

    My gawd, how bad is Boykin!? Who is responsible for acquiring him? If he is our #2 QB…..but is not as good as a denatured Russell Wilson?! good heavens! Why not waive him and get a past-his-prime offensive lineman? The Seahawks will continue to start and play Wilson for the entire season because they have no QB to back him up. The offensive offense should have us thinking of losing to improve our #1 draft pick.

    8-7-1 at best this year. A middling draft pick…pathetic results next year. Fer gawd’s sake! Sit Wilson now! Get a better pick for next year. This season is lost!

  • Effzee

    “We need to get out of what we’ve been in the past two weeks,” he said. “This is not the way we’re going to play football. We’re going to fix this. It’s happened back-to-back on us, in similar fashion. We need to dig in with the running game. It’s frustrating to say that. I can’t wait to get back on the practice field. We all feel the same way. It will look different.”

    - Its frustrating to say that?! You’re tellin’ me! Also, I don’t believe for a second that Bevell feels the same way. He’s the one doing his own thing here. He’s the one not following the philosophy. He’s the Whiz-Bang Let me Toss it All Over the Field Guy. Everyone else seems to be aware of the Defense Wins Championships thing, but Bevell just leans on the defense and refuses to hold up his end of the deal. He calls three stupid, ill-conceived plays in a row that would each *look* really cool if they worked, and then puts the defense back on the field. Every time he calls a run play, it seems like its just thrown in there to keep the defenses honest, before he goes back to throwing again. The only reason the runs worked in the past is because of BeastMode. Bevell has had the extreme luck of having Favre and Lynch as offensive weapons to cover up for his complete terribleness. I would love nothing more for it to “look different” next week, but I have no reason to believe Pete will actually influence Bevell to begin to run the ball more. I’ve been sold this line again and again. Show me, don’t tell me. Get the damn QB under center, and run the damn ball.

    • Meganmgarcia

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  • http://rip-ragged.com/dross Raymond Meyers

    It’s Hillary’s and Trump’s fault. Oh, and Rand Paul and Harry Reid, too. And let’s not forget to blame Bush and school lunches. Why on earth do we drag politics into football? It’s a game – an expensive diversion and distraction – for crying out loud. Let’s try to keep it in perspective, folks.