BY Art Thiel 07:03PM 09/11/2017

Thiel: Graham ‘had a hard game,’ says Carroll

Lost in the heaping of lamentations upon the offensive line was the absence of any influence on the Green Bay game by TE Jimmy Graham. Pete Carroll took public notice Monday.

A Jimmy Graham play like this from the Jets game a year ago would have done wonders for the Seahawks in Green Bay Sunday. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

After a loss, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll’s favorite all-purpose descriptor for his take on the outcome is: “Disappointing.” It’s a safe word not only because it’s true, it doesn’t reflect anger or despair, two emotions in a long season that Carroll deploys almost never. When he does, it counts.

“After all this time working, I was really disappointed we didn’t pLay as clean as we wanted to,” Carroll said Monday following a 17-9 loss in Green Bay that was poorly played except for the part where they almost won. Until Green Bay made its last first down with a little more than two minutes left, all the Seahawks needed to tie was the ball and two plays.

For those skeptical of such magical thinking, please consult with any Packer left from the “Fail Mary” loss to the Seahawks in 2012. As Miracle Max said in the film Princess Bride, “There’s a difference between mostly dead and dead.”

To suggest that the Seahawks were in proximity to winning doesn’t feel right to fans who are raging against the offensive line again. But Carroll claimed that two “crucial errors” — the strip-sack fumble by QB Russell Wilson that gave the ball to the Packers at the Seattle 5-yard line, and the 12-men-on-the-field penalty that gave the Packers a free play that turned into their secondĀ  touchdown — were largely responsible for the dubious result.

Both of those plays were under the Seahawks’ control, unlike officiating judgments that are random and equal for all teams. The fact that both plays went the wrong way didn’t change Carroll’s view that the sky was not falling.

“We had a real chance to win,” he said. Add reversals of opportunities with passes in the end zone to WR Tanner McEvoy and TE Jimmy Graham that fell incomplete, and Carroll can justify his absence of woe-is-me.

What was more interesting was what Carroll said about Graham, whose poor production was overlooked in the hand-wringing over the O-line’s role in having three points and three first downs at halftime, and 225 yards of total offense for the game.

Graham had three catches in seven targets for eight yards. And he was part of the wretched blocking that helped produce a meager 90 yards on the ground, 40 of which were two Wilson scrambles.

“I thought Jimmy had a hard game,” Carroll said. “A couple throws got broken up on critical plays. They did a nice job of covering him up.

“I think he could have done better.”

Graham was victimized on the end zone play when three defenders had hands on him but no pass-interference flag followed. Carroll said he was told by officials that Wilson’s throw was uncatchable. Carroll scoffed.

“That should have been first and goal on the 1-yard line,” he said, referring to the punishment for end-zone pass interference. “He didn’t get a chance to make that play.”

But Graham in the fourth quarter also dropped a pass along the sideline that would have resulted in a first down.

“He was disappointed the ball got away from him on the sideline,” Carroll said. Asked about Graham’s blocking, he said pass protection was good but run-blocking “was not his best game. He’ll do better.”

Carroll’s forthrightness with criticism of individual play was a little unusual, but it was accurate and informative. Of Graham, much has been expected, especially at a salary of $10 million. He’s in his contract year, and given the health and experience behind Doug Baldwin among the receivers, this season figured to be the biggest opportunity of his Seahawks career.

With the defense functioning well to keep the game close, it would have taken only a decisive play or two from one among the receivers or running backs to have turned field goals into touchdowns. But Graham was a non-factor, including his blocking obligations that would have helped take pressure off Wilson and the line.

As always, Carroll was resistant to drawing big conclusions.

“I don’t think this was a statement of anything,” he said. “We just didn’t play well this game.”

The last time the Seahawks played in Lambeau in December, they lost 38-10. That outcome was beyond two plays and beyond disappointing.

This time, as Carroll said, was a real chance to win. Chance squandered.


  • Matt712

    Disappointing. That sums it up, alright; but not in the way of the thin-sliced game dissections Carroll and his staff are expressing. I’m disappointed that the two areas the Seahawks left last season needing to improve the most – even if only marginally – showed none at all: Offense staying on the field, and Defense getting off of it.

    I still think – and logic ought to dictate – that this year’s o-line will perform better than last year’s. Just imagine how ‘disappointing’ it will be if this team goes 10-6 and an early playoff exit without the excuse of injuries.

    • art thiel

      One game is a small sample size, Matt. And last year, they beat the Pats in NE, yet tied AZ. No sweeping conclusions yet.

    • John M

      Everyone here can feel some justification for PC’s phrase, “not his best game” if they watched the night game b/t the Broncos-Chargers. Okung now has a lightening bolt on his helmet and was absolutely consistent at the end of each play by standing very still with arms at his sides as the pile on top of his RB or QB grew ever larger . . .

  • wabubba67

    Art, I’m wondering why all defensive coordinators don’t coach their DBs to immediately grab and hold (anything just short of tackling) all eligible receivers when Rodgers is able to manufacture a “free play” by manipulating an offside or illegal substitution flag?? Both offsides and defensive holding are 5 yard penalties…and, in most cases, Green Bay would rather accept the offsides penalty (1st and 5 rather than 1st and 10). A one word code exclamation started by a heads up player like Thomas or Kam (and immediately repeated on the field by all) should do the trick.

    • art thiel

      Defenders can’t know for sure what the penalty is immediately. The flag could be on the offense.

      • wabubba67

        I understand that, but it seems that the risk (possibly negating an offensive penalty and replaying the down) is low while the reward (not allowing a cheap TD or long pass interference call) is relatively high. Really wondering what Carroll or Kris Richard would say if you asked either one about this. With the understanding that there are situations (2nd, 3rd, or 4th and over 5) when strategically it wouldn’t be advantageous to commit defensive holding due to the automatic 1st down.

  • tor5

    I agree we could have easily won the game and all this commentary wouldn’t exist. But for the fact that Carroll really wants to reestablish the grind-it-out offense, and there were no signs of any grinders.

    • art thiel

      Grinders will come, but rarely has it happened early in any Carroll season.