It’s become a common refrain in recent years — when the Seahawks’ offense endures a rough outing, coach Pete Carroll inevitably points to the lack of a running game.
So it was again Monday as Carroll said the Seahawks handing the ball to running backs 11 times in a 17-0 loss to Green Bay — the team’s first shutout since 2011 — was “not enough.”
“I didn’t like it that we didn’t get to run the ball more,” he said of a run-pass ratio of 43-16 that included five scramble runs by quarterback Russell Wilson. “In a close game like that, I would have expected we would run the ball more than we did.”
That ratio was skewed somewhat by the Seahawks throwing 13 passes with just one run by a tailback in the fourth quarter as Seattle vainly tried to rally.
Still, Seattle had a 15-5 ratio of called passes to runs in the first half.
Alex Collins rushed for 41 yards on 10 carries, all in the first three quarters, which Carroll felt showed the running game could have made more of an impact had Seattle stuck with it.
“Alex was (averaging) four-something (4.1 yards per carry),” Carroll said. “We need to play on that and run with that.”
One factor is that the Seahawks were just 1-5 on third downs in the first half and 2-5 in the third quarter.
“There’s not enough chances,” Carroll said. “We came out running the ball and hit an 11, then a six. We got some movement and some space, but then we didn’t convert and then we’re off of the field.”
An effective running game, Carroll said, would have taken some pressure off the passing game, which struggled in Wilson’s first game back after missing three games because of a right middle finger injury.
“We need to help them more and make sure they’re complemented with their play,” Carroll said.
Collins has started the past five games in place of injured running back Chris Carson, who has not played since Oct. 3 at San Francisco while dealing with a neck injury.
The Seahawks hoped Carson would return for the Packers game as he officially returned to practice Wednesday off the injured reserve.
Instead, Carroll announced Carson was not yet ready to return, and he was not activated to the 53-man roster.
And Monday, Carroll gave what appeared to be a less-optimistic outlook for a Carson return.
Asked if there’s anything new on Carson, Carroll said: “I’ll give you an update on that in a couple days here. I don’t have anything for you right now. So I don’t have an update for you. But we’ll be revisiting that by Wednesday.”
That points to there being some kind of resolution to Carson’s status soon.
The Seahawks have said all along that given the sensitive nature of a neck injury they will err on the side of caution. Carroll has said twice that the injury is not the same as the ones that ended careers of former Seahawks Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril, but the team has not detailed the exact nature of his condition.
On Sunday, during his weekly appearance on the team’s pregame radio show, general manager John Schneider essentially called Carson week-to-week.
Carson signed a two-year contract in the spring worth up to $10.425 million in the wake of rushing for more than 1,000 yards in each of the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the team expecting him to again be the main ball carrier.
Lately, the Seahawks have relied almost solely on Collins. Seattle had hoped to also get some significant contributions from 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny. But after coming back from a calf injury, Penny had just 16 yards in 13 carries against the Saints and Jaguars and then did not play against the Packers.
Penny was active for the Green Bay game, and Carroll said injury was not an issue.
“He’s fine,” Carroll said. “Just, the game didn’t spread out. I wish he could have played. We just didn’t get enough carries.’’
Depending on Carson’s situation, Penny might be needed to be a big factor at some point for the Seahawks the rest of the year.
One way or another, the Seahawks need to get the running game going more, Carroll said.
After finishing with 75 yards on 16 carries Sunday the Seahawks are now averaging just 99.8 rushing yards per game for the season, 23rd in the NFL and among the worst of the Carroll era.
Seattle averaged 88.9 yards per game in his first year in 2010. The lowest average since then was 99.4 in 2016, the year Wilson endured knee and ankle injuries and the season after Marshawn Lynch retired.
The Seahawks averaged 123.2 last year, and Carroll in the offseason said he hoped that number would improve this year.
“It hasn’t caught fire the way it needs to, so it’s still a work in progress for us,” Carroll said.
Carroll says Metcalf is frustrated
The lasting image of the Seahawks’ offensive frustration in a 17-0 loss Sunday to the Packers figures to be the ejection of receiver DK Metcalf with 1:23 left after getting into a brief tussle with two Packers players.
Specifically, Metcalf threw an openhanded punch at Green Bay’s Rasul Douglas.
The NFL Network reported Monday that Metcalf will be “evaluated” for a likely fine for the incident as well as attempting to get back in the game by walking into the huddle but will not be suspended.
The incident was the latest of several Metcalf has had this year as he has also drawn previous penalties and fines for taunting and unsportsmanlike conduct.
After Sunday’s game, Metcalf defiantly said that the reason for the altercation is that he is “tired of losing.”
But coach Pete Carroll said Metcalf sung a more conciliatory tune in a couple of conversations the coach and player have had since the game.
“We talked last night on the plane some and then talked again today,” Carroll said Monday afternoon. “… The last thing he wants is for this to continue. He’s been really good for five or six weeks now, he’s just been playing ball and digging in. He wants to make sure that’s what his work stands for. So I’m anxious to see him come back out this week and get going.”
Metcalf also raised eyebrows when, speaking of how to fix Seattle’s offense, he said, “We’ve got to get the ball to our playmakers and let them make plays.”
Metcalf had just three receptions for 26 yards, his lowest yardage total of the season, on eight targets, though two of the targets were essentially throwaways.
Asked about getting the ball to Metcalf more, Carroll said: “We always want him to get the football, we want Tyler (Lockett) to get the ball, and we want Gerald (Everett) to get the ball. Those are the thoughts that we have, so the game plan is set to get that done if we can. That’s our intent.”
Carroll reiterates Wilson’s finger not an issue
Carroll repeated Monday what he said after the game Sunday: Wilson was ready to play the game after recovering from surgery on his injured middle finger Oct. 8, a rehab process some speculated might have taken a few weeks longer.
But Carroll did allow that maybe sitting out three games and then returning after practicing for just a week might have had an impact.
Still, Carroll said the way Wilson practiced convinced him Wilson was healthy.
“We expected to come out and pop the ball around and look like we did in practice, but we weren’t as sharp at getting the ball thrown and caught,” Carroll said. “(The Packers) had something to do with that. But I would say that there is no question that if you don’t play for a month, it’s going to affect you. We were hoping that we would be able to find our way and get going, but unfortunately, it wasn’t quite as sharp. Maybe in this week coming back (Sunday against Arizona) we will be a little more on it and more precise.”
Carroll also resisted the idea that Seattle might have underestimated that Wilson needed more time to recover.
“I don’t know if we were underestimating anything,’’ Carroll said. “It’s just that you have to deal with it, and these are the circumstances. You are going to come back after a layoff, you are going to have to play, and you have to get going. We had to do that, and this is the game that it was.”
Seahawks might have ‘dodged a bullet’ with Duane Brown injury
The Seahawks suffered two injuries Sunday with left tackle Duane Brown leaving with a hip strain in the third quarter and defensive back Ryan Neal leaving to be examined for a concussion.
Carroll said the injury to Brown, who was replaced for the final 21 snaps by Jamarco Jones, might not be serious.
“It looks like we might have dodged a bullet with Duane,” Carroll said. “He has a hip strain, but we got good reports today, so we will take it one day at a time, we might be lucking out on that one.”
As for Neal, Carroll said, “He will be in the concussion protocol, and we will need to see how that goes.”
Neal played 11 snaps in the team’s six defensive back, or dime, package before he was hurt.
Seahawks re-sign Mabry, cut Luton
The Seahawks made one roster move Monday, re-signing tight end Tyler Mabry to the practice squad after he cleared waivers and releasing quarterback Jake Luton to make room.
Luton, a Marysville native, signed with the Seahawks in September after being waived by Jacksonville and was on the 53-man roster for the first two games of the season without playing before being waived and then signed to the practice squad. Luton essentially then became the team’s No. 4 QB after Seattle claimed Jacob Eason off waivers on Oct. 20, with Eason behind Wilson and Geno Smith.
In the wake of Wilson’s injury, Luton suited up as the backup quarterback as a practice squad elevation for games against the Steelers and Saints but did not play.