RENTON — A few feet can make a world of difference in how a football coach feels the day after a game.
Had Greg Zuerlein’s last-second field goal not drifted just a bit to the right, then Pete Carroll would have spent his Friday news conference talking about a devastating loss (and even further lamenting the team’s failure to close out the game on defense, which he acknowledged left him frustrated).
But as Carroll said, the Rams “had a chance to win it and didn’t get it done. Obviously we are happy to take it. They (wins) are hard to come by.’’
Now the Seahawks get their “mini-bye,’’ off until Monday afternoon before beginning preparations for a game a week from Sunday at Cleveland.
Here’s more of what Carroll said as he met the media Friday.
D.J. Fluker has a hamstring pull so Jamarco Jones could stay at right guard
Veteran right guard D.J. Fluker left the game after the second series with what Carroll said was “a hamstring pull.’’ He said he didn’t know how long Fluker would be out, but such an injury could certainly cost him a few games or so.
In what was the biggest revelation of the night, second-year offensive lineman Jamarco Jones stepped in to play the rest of the way, and not only filled in but did so admirably — according to Pro Football Focus he was the only one of the team’s six offensive linemen who played (excepting George Fant, and his tight end role) who did not allow a pass rush pressure.
It was not only Jones’ first NFL action on the line but also the first time he had played guard in a game at any level — he was a tackle at Ohio State and that’s where the Seahawks envisioned him when they drafted him in the fifth round in 2018 (he missed last season with an ankle injury).
But Jones has gotten practice at guard much of the year, with the team knowing his likely role this year would be as a backup on gameday, which means being needed to play several spots. That work increased when Ethan Pocic was hurt after the second game of the season and Seattle wanted to further add to Jones’ versatility in case he was needed.
Still, Carroll said “I was shocked that it was so smooth for him to move to the right side (he’s played mostly left tackle) and play guard.”
If Fluker can’t make it back for Cleveland, Carroll hinted strongly they’ll stay with Jones in Cleveland (and getting his first start near where he played his college ball).
“When Fluke may be unable to go we are fortunate that he stepped up like he did,’’ he said.
Wilson’s game just as amazing on film as it was in person
Carroll said Thursday night he thought the game might have been the best of Wilson’s career. The stats bore it out as his 151.8 passer rating was the second-best of his career behind only the 158.3 at Detroit last year in a 28-14 win.
“It’s incredible that he had such impact on the game when we only threw 23 passes,’’ Carroll said of Wilson, who completed 17 for 268 yards and four touchdowns. “He had a number of runs that were really good (eight carries for 32 yards). His scramble efficiency and effectiveness was off the charts. I just thought it was an exceptional night for his consistency of being able to find his way out of the problems.’’
The most exceptional was his TD pass to Tyler Lockett and the toe-tap heard round the world in the first quarter.
Carroll said after the game he had yet to see a replay of it.
By Friday he had.
“It’s amazing how little space there was for Russ to evaluate that he (Lockett) would even be available to him,’’ Carroll said. “It wasn’t like he came running across the field and you could see it coming. He was going this way in the corner of the end zone already and the pass, Russ threw him to that corner in a sense. He said ‘this is one spot the ball could go and see if you can get there’ kind of thing. And as we have seen so many times, those guys see football together. … They see it as one and that’s chemistry and that’s extraordinary and it took every bit of that.’’
Carroll says short-yardage failures helped led to fourth-down decision
Friday, Carroll acknowledged more clearly that some of Seattle’s failures this season in short-yardage situations led to his decision to kick a field goal rather than go for it on a fourth down late in the first half. Jason Myers missed a 48-yard field goal and the Rams drove for a touchdown. The turnabout meant instead of Seattle possibly being up 21-6 — or at least 17-6 — the Seahawks were ahead only 14-13 at halftime.
The decision came after Chris Carson was stopped for no gain on third-and-one.
Seattle also memorably failed on a fourth-down play that helped turn around a loss to the Saints two weeks ago.
“I’d like to always go for it,’’ Carroll said. “I’d like to always jam it at the line of scrimmage. We needed to be better to do that and we are not quite there yet. We’ve got a great kicker and we need to kick the football in whenever we can. Have all the confidence in the world that he is going to make every kick.’’
Defense left Carroll ‘a little frustrated’
Had Seattle lost, the conversation Friday would have mostly been about Seattle allowing the Rams to drive 67 yards on 10 plays in just 1:27 on the final drive on a night when Los Angeles had 477 yards overall, the most against the Seahawks this season and more than any team got against Seattle a year ago.
Carroll said the Seahawks went in with a desire to stop the Rams’ running game and force them to throw. That mostly worked as Todd Gurley had just 51 yards on 15 carries and only 20 yards on nine carries following the first two series of the game.
But the passing game was another matter. Jared Goff was not sacked in throwing for 395 yards, with his only interception coming on a pass that went off the hands of tight end Gerald Everett (and, eventually, into the hands of Tedric Thompson).
Carroll noted that the Rams threw a new look at the Seahawks, going with a two-tight end formation roughly a third of the night, taking out one of their receivers (Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks each had season-low snap count percentages). The Rams were renowned for last season using a three-receiver set almost 90 percent of the time. Carroll said Seattle adjusted to the two-tight end look and thought it might be coming. But the Rams still completed 10 passes to their tight ends for 183 yards, including three for 46 on the final drive.
Carroll said what irked him most were the two two-minute drives — the Rams’ TD before the half and then the one that set up Zuerlein’s final kick — situations in which Seattle has often thrived.
“Really bothered me that we weren’t able to get out of them,’’ Carroll said.