BY Art Thiel 01:09PM 11/21/2017

Thiel: Carroll defends Seahawks’ aggressive way

Offering no apologies, coach Pete Carroll defended his fake field goal call as part of his overall belief in aggressive plays and playcalling that has served the Seahawks well.

The Seahawks secondary managed to hold Mohamed Sanu (12) to three catches and 34 yards, and kept the Falcons’ passing game to under 200 yards. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

The fake field goal play that failed Monday night in the three-point loss to Atlanta will live long in the video archive of Pete Carroll’s legacy. Despite much criticism, the Seahawks coach Tuesday was undaunted and unapologetic, and likely will use it again if circumstances warrant.

“Fans say, why didn’t you know” it wouldn’t work, he said Tuesday on his weekly post-mortem on 710 ESPN radio. “Well, if we we knew it wasn’t going to go, we wouldn’t have done it. We prepared it well, spent a ton of time on it. It was a chance to walk into the end zone. It would have been a huge play.

“I like being aggressive when we have our chances. The situation was right. The time frame was challenging. I was comfortable we had talked through it.”

With seven seconds left in the first half and trailing 24-17, the Seahawks, facing fourth and one with one timeout left, were set up to kick a field goal from the 17-yard line. Instead, holder Jon Ryan shoveled a pass to TE Luke Willson running along and behind the line of scrimmage. Immediately, he was clobbered by DT Grady Jarrett for a four-yard loss.

“We get waylaid by the tackle; we didn’t think that guy would ever make it to the play,” he said. “That’s a big call — that’s what my job is.

“So the points aren’t on the board, and sure enough, here comes (the absence of) those points” as the difference in the outcome.

The aggression that has always been a Seahawks hallmark played out perhaps even more significantly in two costly plays that helped create 10 Falcons points in their 34-31 win. While praising the overall play of CBs Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell, the injury replacements for Richard Sherman (tendon surgery) and Shaquill Griffin (concussion), Carroll cited two pass interference penalties that were critical.

On Atlanta’s opening drive that begin at its 48-yard line, QB Matt Ryan quickly tested Lane on a deep ball to Mohamed Sanu in the end zone, where Lane’s otherwise good coverage included a brief jersey grab. One play after the 25-yard penalty, it was 7-0 Falcons.

In the second quarter, Maxwell, who figured to get only spot action in his first game back with Seattle after being cut at midseason by Miami, was busted along the sidelines at the Falcons 43 for a 15-yard PI. It sustained a drive that became a field goal for a 24-17 lead.

“Maxey came off the bench and played really well,” Carroll said. “He looked like us again. You could see the style come back. (But) the difference was probably the PIs. We weren’t quite chilled enough to let those plays happen.

“Jeremy’s in the end zone all over the guy, and had a little bit of a grab. That’s legit. Maxey didn’t have to (foul). He had it covered up. Those were significant plays. Other than that, I thought those guys did fine. Having backgrounds with those guys helped. They weren’t out on an island, having never done it before.”

Along with a 15-yard personal foul on Earl Thomas for unnecessary roughness, Carroll noted that the secondary accounted for 63 of the 108 yards in penalties as the Seahawks continue to pad their NFL lead in football crime.

Carroll suggested the lost yardage was the cost of doing business the way the Seahawks do it.

“Our play (in the secondary) is very aggressive, maybe it’s expressed more there than any place else on the field,” he said. “It’s our style. for a long time. I’ve coached that way throughout my years. We’re in guys’ mugs all day long. When you’re not, there’s more room to stay away” from penalties.

He pointed out where the aggressive style worked on special teams. In the second quarter after a field goal closed the deficit to 21-10, PK Blair Walsh blooped a kickoff to the Atlanta 15, where it was mishandled and recovered by Seattle’s Tedric Thompson at the 11. A subsequent short TD run by Russell Wilson brought the Seahawks back into the game.

“It was worth a chance and it worked out beautifully,” he said. “If we don’t work on those things (repeatedly in practice), I don’t do them.”

Aboushi out, Joeckel likely back

Regarding the Seahawks’ growing casualty list, Carroll confirmed RG Oday Aboushi will miss Sunday’s game in San Francisco after dislocating a shoulder Monday. But the O-line was likely to get a boost from LG Luke Joeckel, who looks good to return from a six-week absence due to arthroscopic surgery.

LT Duane Brown pushed through a sprained ankle and “came out of game better than when he went in,” Carroll said.

RB Mike Davis, who came off the practice squad last week to start Sunday and looked good before straining a groin muscle, is “unlikely” to get well in time for the 49ers game, he said. That likely means that Thomas Rawls, who was a healthy inactive Sunday for the second time this season, will likely play Sunday along with fellow RBs J.D. McKissic and Eddie Lacy.

The Seahawks rushed for 136 yards, but 86 belonged to Wilson on seven carries. The running backs gained 50 yards on 16 carries.

There was no update on Griffin, who is in the concussion protocol for the next few days.


  • coug73

    Coach Bubbles needs to be like Yoda, be patient, take the points. Seven seconds was not a ball game.

    • art thiel

      Erroneous, he was.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Lane’s pass interference was not a momentary shirt grab. He restrained the receiver’s second arm from being part of the play and then gloated about it immediately afterward. Pass interference. A blunder. Hawks have gotten away with a lot of this. But it’s coming back to haunt them.

    • John M

      Lane’s PI was nothing new, he’s been there an above average number of times, yet he can also make plays. But the display after was stupid for somebody that’s been in the league as long as him. Nobody really likes it but the violator and it costs the team.

      This was a hard game to watch. The effort was not lacking and few bounces went their way. I thought the D overall did well with an ad hoc plan. Then there was that fake punt . . .

      • art thiel

        The Falcons benefited from two short-field TDs early and a defensive touchdown. Given the wounds, Seahawks D did all right.

    • art thiel

      Thanks for the description. Carroll had no complaint about the call.

      It was no accident that the Seahawks were OK with trading Lane.

  • Husky73

    Art— Interesting that there was no story or interview with Steve Sarkesian during the week. Or did I miss it? Or did he say “thanks but no thanks?” Or was no one in the media interested?

  • jafabian

    First clue that the fake FG wouldn’t work: Atlanta kept their starting defense on the field instead of replacing them with special teams. Surprised the Hawks didn’t call a time out then. Considering the propensity of injuries on their home field this season I wonder if the Seahawks will acquiesce to the Sounders long time request to go with a thicket FieldTurf? The Hawks have been resistant because they feel that the players are faster with a thin turf whereas the Sounders like it thicker to prevent (wait for it) injuries. Something to think about, especially when the spate of injuries may have closed their Super Bowl window for this season.

  • ll9956

    The advisability of the fake FG will be debated for a long time. My 2 cents worth is that it may be asking too much, but as one poster pointed out in a previous piece on the game, it would have been nice if Carroll could have anticipated that a 250 lb. long snapper would not likely be a match for a 300+ lb. nose tackle.

  • tor5

    I’ll give Pete a pass on the fake FG. The fact that it didn’t make any sense is exactly why it had a decent chance of working. Kudos to Dan Quinn for being ready for it. But, yeah, it was heartbreaking. Still, I was surprised by how well the Hawks played and am not at all ready to give up on them. They played with maximum effort and did the 12s proud, in my view.

  • Effzee

    It seems like the franchise is in total disarray right now. I think we
    can put to bed the idea that Pete and John are wizard talent evaluators.
    They’ve had exactly one good draft from top to bottom, and have signed a
    handful of undrafted free agents on offense who have made something of
    themselves. They do seem to be pretty consistently able to find
    linebackers and defensive tackles, I’ll give them that. But they’ve too
    often had to go the trade route to make up for their shortcomings.
    Lynch, Graham, Harvin, Richardson, Brown… Too many trades to get key
    performers that they’ve been unable to find in the draft. The philosophy
    with the offensive line is a team-killer, and the decisions there have
    had a ripple effect throughout the roster. There’s just too much
    pressure on this defense. The whole team pretty much rides on RW’s
    ability to make magic happen, and most of the time that it happens its
    on sand-lot plays that don’t resemble anything in the actual playbook.
    Pete and John started off hot and took the league by storm with the
    original defense they built. But ever since the throttling of the
    Broncos, its been slowly going downhill. They can’t get out of their own
    way in penalties, “hormonal” coaching decisions, and flubbing draft
    picks. They’ve also invested heavily, time and again, in injury-prone
    guys who never become not injury-prone…. Not to mention replacing
    Hauschka with Walsh is just about the laziest move they could have made
    at kicker. That one was a harbinger of things to come.