Yes, Chris Carson is the starting running back, says Pete Carroll, who also refuted the idea that a time out in the fourth quarter showed that the team doesn't want Russell Wilson changing plays on the field.
Two games isn’t necessarily a huge sample size to determine much of anything about an NFL team.
Conversely, it’s also one-eighth of an NFL season.
And through two games, the numbers compiled by the Seahawks offense tell a rather disheartening story — Seattle is 27th in total offense (291 yards per game), 29th in rushing (69), 21st in total points (20.5).
Actually, Seattle is first in one offensive stat — sacks allowed (12).
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Wednesday, when he held his regular weekly news conference, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll addressed the key questions hovering over the Seattle offense following Monday night’s 24-17 loss at Chicago.
Here’s a review of four that stood out:
CARROLL SAYS RUSSELL WILSON HAS MORE FREEDOM THAN EVER
Wilson’s uncharacteristic reaction when the Seahawks called a time out midway through the fourth quarter drew much social media reaction and speculation, with some theorizing that Wilson may have been unhappy the coaches didn’t want him to change a play that had been sent in.
That led some to wonder if Wilson has the same kind of ability to audible in the scheme of new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer that he had previously.
Carroll volunteered an explanation of the timeout, which came two plays before Wilson threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown that essentially ended the game, during an answer of a question about Wilson.
“We were misaligned on that and the clock was running down and so we called timeout for that reason and that was that,’’ Carroll said (there was nine seconds remaining on the play clock when the time out was called).
“I know there are all kinds of theories out there. Everything is fine. We were competing for the moment. Russ didn’t know why we called timeout at the time. Right immediately, he wasn’t sure what it was and that was all we were dealing with.’’
Asked if Wilson has the same freedom in this offense that he had previously, Carroll said: “He has a lot of freedom. He has more freedom than he’s ever had. Much more as a matter of fact, and he has done great with it.’’
That freedom also includes the ability to run whenever Wilson wants, Carroll said.
Wilson has just 22 yards on five carries this year, few seeming to come on designed runs.
He had at least five carries in 12 games last season when he averaged 36 rushing yards per game. He had a long run of at least 10 yards in all but two games last season. He has a long of 9 so far this season.
“We always like him running,’’ Carroll said. “I think it’s great when Russ runs. We don’t discourage him from doing that and we want him to take off and go and move whenever he can.’’
CARROLL SAYS HIS OWN ‘IMPATIENCE’ HAS LED TO FEWER RUNS BEING CALLED
Speaking of the running game, the Seahawks have so far been unable to get it going in any consistent manner with Seattle having just 138 yards on 38 carries and an average of 3.6 yards per carry.
Seattle last year averaged 101.8 rushing yards per game and 4.0 per attempt, numbers the team deemed not good enough and that helped lead to the firings of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and offensive-line coach Tom Cable.
Carroll has insisted the past two weeks that the team wants to run more than it has but that circumstance — an inability to convert third downs and mount long drives, for instance — has made it difficult.
Wednesday, Carroll also took the blame for influencing Schottenheimer’s play-calling.
“My impatience a little bit, you know, with figuring that we should be on the board more than we have and just got him to throw the ball a little more than I wanted him to,’’ Carroll said. “I’m over that. Both games were so close throughout, they were close enough we could have done whatever we wanted to all the way down to the end of it. Just got a little bit impatient, threw the ball a bit more than we needed to …. I need to be a little less impatient. I … tend to be that way though.’’
That led to a question of whether Carroll is exerting more influence on the playcalling than he has in the past.
Carroll said no but noted that he and Schottenheimer “are growing together. … I was with guys for a long time — 7-8 years you know, and similar play calls. And so there is stuff to go through, there are new situations that happen. … I need to do a really good job to help him and that’s really what my job is to help him be really good and I’ve got to do a better job to help him.’’
CHRIS CARSON REMAINS THE STARTING TAILBACK
Carson’s usage Monday night — just six carries and none after the 11:51 mark of the second quarter — led to lots of questions that only grew when Carroll said one reason Carson didn’t play more is that he was “a little gassed’’ from also playing on special teams. Turned out Carson saw just two snaps on special teams.
Carroll reiterated Wednesday that he made a mistake in assessing Carson’s condition, saying he had assumed Carson was being used on special teams more than he had been.
“I screwed up,’’ Carroll said. “I thought he looked like he was winded early in the game so I was just concerned about it and I thought it was because of the special teams because he hadn’t had a lot of plays yet. … it’s no big deal. Just trying to keep the guy fresh is what it amounts to.’’
Carson said Wednesday that he didn’t feel any more tired than any other game.
“That was his decision he thought at the time,’’ Carson said of Carroll’s assessment that he was “gassed.” “My job is to come in and play when my number is called and I’m ready whenever.’’
Carroll also said the team wanted to see first-round pick Rashaad Penny get some significant action — Penny finished with 30 yards on 10 carries while Carson had 24 on six. But Carroll said Carson remains the starter heading into Sunday’s game against Dallas
“We always are going to spell a little bit,’’ Carroll said. “Rashaad got some chances in the fourth quarter and wanted to see him run and see what he could do and he did fine. That’s all it is. There’s nothing other than that. There are no changes in approach, no changes on the depth chart or any of that. So we should be really clear about that.’’
PASS PROTECTION IS BETTER BUT IT’S TIME TO START SHOWING IT
Carroll again cited opposing pass rush as one reason why Wilson has had some struggles in each game.
“It’s been hard on him because we’ve had so many rushes on us,’’ Carroll said. “We’ve had a hard time protecting him for a variety of reasons. I think he is busting his tail. He’s doing everything he can and he’s been tough and resourceful and he’s been special when he’s been moving and getting out.’’
But Carroll also insisted the protection is improved from a year ago.
“Even though the sack numbers are there our protection is more solid than it’s been,’’ Carroll said. “It was throughout the preseason and Russell is counting on that rhythm to help him.’’
But Carroll also said he knows at some point the protection has to look as good as he insists it is.
“It doesn’t mean much to you guys until we start doing it,’’ he said. “… We are just getting better and so it is going to show and we are going to take advantage of it… but I can say all I want about it. We have to show it.’’