Pete Carroll finally has all the pieces he wanted for his Seahawks offense.
Pete Carroll used to leave the offense to someone else.
He was in charge of preventing points. It was his offensive coordinator’s job to create them in his first two incarnations as an NFL coach.
Not anymore. Not after he made a decision before his second year at USC.
“I vowed, ‘If this is the last coaching job I ever have I’m going down with the stuff that I want to be my offense,'” Carroll said.
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The offense that will take the field Sunday against Arizona for first place in the NFC West? That’s his offense. At least it’s the closest Seattle has come to fulfilling the blueprint he laid out while at USC:
1) Mix a combination of runners, one smashing and the other dashing.
2) Post up a big-bodied wide receiver.
3) Get a quarterback who operates more like the offense’s point guard than its engine.
4) Move the ball liberally up and down the field.
It has taken months and hundreds of roster moves, but the Seahawks put the pieces together the way Carroll envisioned during the victory last week in Chicago. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck completed passes to 10 different teammates, Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett each scored rushing touchdowns and 6-foot-5 Mike Williams caught more passes than any Seahawks receiver in three years.
And just like that, an offense that couldn’t cross midfield in the second half of a defeat in St. Louis in Week 4 held its own on the road. Granted, it was just one game, but in that one game you saw Carroll’s plan.
“We’re using exactly the same approach and philosophy now,” he said. “It was so successful for us with such consistency and balance that that’s what we’re trying to recreate.”
It’s not a coincidence that Seattle didn’t make a move involving its 53-man roster this week. The only potential change in the offense is Chester Pitts might be healthy enough to play left guard as he recovers from knee surgery.
This will be a measurement to see just how far Seattle has come. After all, the Cardinals are the team that has won two consecutive division titles and they were the team that came to Seattle for Game 6 last season and held the Seahawks to their lowest rushing total in franchise history.
Same Game 6 opponent this season. Same site. This is a whole new offense, though.
“This team is being shaped the way Pete wants us to be shaped,” Hasselbeck said.
The Seahawks spent the better part of the past six months searching for their offensive future in Carroll’s past. They wanted a big, bruising running back, someone with the kind of hardball attitude that’s impossible to fake and difficult to tackle.
It’s why Seattle traded for LenDale White on draft day only to cut him 35 days later. It’s why the Seahawks pursued running back Justin Fargas, another of Carroll’s former USC players. Seattle thought Fargas was going to sign this offseason. The Seahawks had a jersey made up and everything, only to have the deal disintegrate at the last minute.
But last week, after more than six months of searching, the Seahawks suited up Lynch to fill that role of the hard-driving battering ram of a runner that is a staple for Carroll’s approach.
“Really, one of the most important aspects that you can add to your team,” Carroll said.
Lynch might have had the most lauded 17-carry, 44-yard rushing performance in history last week in Chicago, but it was impossible to deny the tone he set, gaining 21 yards on his first three carries in what turned out to be Seattle’s most complete offensive performance of the season.
Seattle’s defense certainly noticed. In the previous three games, the Seahawks defense had been on the field for 73 or more plays. Last Sunday in Chicago: 59.
It’s completing the equation that Carroll drew up first at USC and has sought to reconstruct in Seattle.
• The Seahawks released OL Breno Giacomini to add RB Chris Henry to the 53-man roster. Giacomini was signed off the Packers’ practice squad last month. He was not active for either of the two games he was a Seahawk.
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org