RENTON — Pete Carroll is set to embark on his 16th season as an NFL head coach. He also served as USC’s head coach for another nine.
But if Carroll has learned a lot about football in all those years, one thing he said he’s never figured out, is predicting how his team is going to perform heading into its opening game.
“I don’t know nothing,’’ Carroll said with a laugh Friday when asked whether he had a handle on how the Seahawks will play in Sunday’s opener at Indianapolis. “After all this time you’d think I’d know something. But I don’t know nothing.’’
Still, some parts of the team are more predictable than others.
The defense features 11 starters who either were with the team last year or in 2019 and a returning coordinator in Ken Norton Jr. And all three members of the team’s kicking battery are back for a third straight season.
That leaves the big unknown as the offense, and particularly first-year coordinator Shane Waldron. Waldron has called plays only once in his life, in 2011 at Buckingham Browne & Nichols (Massachusetts) High School.
He’s also installing an offense that figures to blend in some of the schemes of the Rams — where he was passing game coordinator the past three years — and a heavy dose of up-tempo.
Almost none of it was visible in the team’s three preseason games as the Seahawks held out quarterback Russell Wilson and many other starters or key players.
“I would say I’m curious about the whole thing, the offense, too,’’ Carroll said this past week. “I’m curious about how it all fits together because you start all over and create a whole new life about this team. I’m anxious and excited to see our guys go because we have guys in all of the right spots that we love. We are really looking forward to them pulling off the game plan. On both sides of the ball, it’s like that. Maybe it’s a little special for the offense because it’s brand new.”
Much of the personnel is actually the same as a year ago.
The only listed starters who weren’t with the team in 2020 are right guard Gabe Jackson and tight end Gerald Everett. Of the team’s 10 receivers and running backs, the only new face is rookie Dee Eskridge. And the most familiar face of all is that of Wilson, who threw a career-high 40 touchdown passes last season and now is entering his 10th year with the Seahawks.
That leaves the biggest curiosity Waldron himself, hired to replace Brian Schottenheimer, who was fired even after a season when the Seahawks scored a franchise record 459 points and scored 28.7 points per game, eighth in the NFL
Waldron called the plays for Seattle’s three preseason games, if from a severely limited call sheet.
He did so from the sidelines and said for now that’s where he prefers to be, which is a switch from Schottenheimer, who moved to the press box last year to call games after working on the sidelines his first two seasons with Seattle.
“It’s a little bit better of a feel as far as being able to communicate with everyone, especially with the quarterbacks, right down on the field as the game is going on,’’ Waldron said. “Then a lot of that stems from (offensive passing game coordinator) Dave Canales, who did such an unbelievable job helping out with me and being a guy that can be upstairs that has a great view of everything going on. A couple other coaches will be upstairs, and a couple will be downstairs. But the way that has flowed with our offensive staff has felt like the best thing to do for our team.”
Waldron also got his feet wet calling games with the Rams, given some chances in preseason games and scrimmages.
But the 42-year-old Waldron said he knows none of those experiences will be like Sunday, when the games count and every play call is sure to be analyzed and scrutinized like none of his ever has been before.
“We had some of those dry runs throughout the years and those preseason games, but obviously there’s nothing like the regular season,’’ Waldron said. “Getting ready to do it, it’s been something I’ve been getting ready for, for a long time. It’s been a great job. The coaches have done an awesome job of helping me along the way since I stepped in the door here. I feel ready to go, and I can’t wait to get this thing kicked off.”
Injury update — Colts short-handed at CB
While Seattle had a clean sheet with its injury report, the Colts listed three players as out — cornerback Xavier Rhodes, tackle Eric Fisher and defensive end Kemoko Turay.
The nine-year veteran Rhodes was listed as the starter at one corner spot and likely will be replaced by second-year player BoPete Keyes. Fisher is Indy’s starting left tackle and likely will be replaced by Julien Davenport. Turay is a backup end.
Rhodes’ loss could be something the Seahawks specifically try to exploit, undoubtedly hoping to get his replacement in one-on-one matchups with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf as often as possible.
LB Rhattigan promoted to game roster
The Seahawks on Saturday made two roster moves, including promoting linebacker Jon Rhattigan off the practice squad to the active roster.
Teams can promote two players each week to their active roster. Rhattigan, an undrafted rookie free agent from Army, had four tackles in the final preseason game against the Chargers — the only preseason game he played after missing the first two due to injury — and will add linebacker depth and likely play on special teams Sunday.
Rhattigan’s promotion gives Seattle 54 players on its current active roster. The Seahawks will have to declare at least six as inactive 90 minutes before kickoff Sunday.
Under new NFL rules that went into effect last season, Rhattigan will revert to the practice squad Monday.
Seattle also released tight end DeShon Williams from the practice squad. Williams, who played at UW, was signed to the PS this past week. That gives Seattle one opening on its 17-man practice squad.