No, the Seahawks aren’t trading Marshawn Lynch.
No, we don’t hate him or think he’s useless.
No, you can’t believe everything you read and hear.
Yes, that is what Pete Carroll had to say Monday about the latest round of what he says is fabricated fun being debated across the country about the Super Bowl champions. The most recent, unsubstantiated one Carroll addressed was from Sunday in which an ESPN report said the Seahawks want to do one of the following: trade their four-time Pro Bowl running back before Tuesday’s 1 p.m. (PST) league deadline for deals; or get rid of Lynch as they did Percy Harvin following this season because they are tired of his act.
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“I have nothing say about that, because there is nothing to that,” Carroll said at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, one day after Seattle improved to 4-3 with a 13-9 win at Carolina. “I have no idea where that came from. We have nothing to say about that.”
It was the latest in two weeks of stories with anonymous sources claiming the Seahawks have everything from pro- and anti-Russell Wilson factions in the locker room to teammates who think their quarterback “isn’t black enough.”
To Carroll, it all seems like a circus at this point, a needless sideshow to ignore as the team heads into home games against Oakland (0-7) and the New York Giants (3-4) the next two weekends. This is a mammoth chance for Seattle to get to 6-3 before a six-game stretch that will define their season: at Kansas City (4-3), versus Arizona (6-1), at San Francisco (4-3) on Thanksgiving night, at Philadelphia (5-2), versus the 49ers and at the Cardinals.
And he doesn’t want to waste any moment of this chance on that circus.
“At this point, I don’t think it behooves us to try and respond to all these kinds of things in the locker room,” Carroll said. “Our players have told you how they feel. Our coaches have told you how we feel about it. We are in a really good place right now. … It’s just not worth it.
“There’s nothing to that (report on Lynch). I don’t know where that came from.”
Asked if he talks to Lynch “regularly or semi-regularly,” Carroll interjected: “Whenever I need to.”
“Look, what do you want me do … (are) you asking me about my personal relationships with my players now?” the coach said, clearly and unusually perturbed.
“We are doing great.”
Reminded the media doesn’t get the opportunity to get Lynch’s feelings directly on this — or any — matter, Carroll said: “He’s doing fine. He works his tail off. I’ve been reporting on him all the time because he’s done a great job.”
Lynch conspicuously skipped the team’s visit to the White House in May. In late July, he missed the first week of training camp with a contract holdout into August that increased his guaranteed money from $5 million to $6 million and added another $500,000 in guaranteed cash up front.
Since then, he’s had 482 yards rushing with three touchdowns on 111 carries and another three touchdowns receiving, the last statistic is a career high for a season. He spent much of his sideline time during Sunday’s win at Carolina talking to fellow tailback Robert Turbin, and at times Wilson.
“Since the day he got back here he’s looked terrific,” Carroll said. “He returned in great shape and he’s busted his tail and done everything we’ve asked from him.”
“You watch, we have a whole process of how we bring him back (giving him practices off each Wednesday to rest). Our trainers do a great job with him. He’s always ready to play, and he’s played his tail off. He’s doing great.”
Asked if it’s safe to presume Lynch will be a Seahawk past Tuesday’s trade deadline, that Seattle will not be dealing him to San Diego, Oakland, Beijing or another city of rumor du jour, Carroll said with a chuckle: “Yeah. You are strong. Go ahead, you go with that.”
Lynch remains the fulcrum on which the Seahawks’ offense sits. The team needs his production and threat to defenses to get back to the playoffs this winter. Seattle’s offense has looked its worst and held the ball its least this season on the days Lynch had only six and 10 rushes in losses to San Diego and Dallas respectively..
Carroll acknowledged the offense has felt more like he wants it the past two games. They have shown a better mix of Lynch’s running inside to set up Wilson’s play-action passing and scrambles later in games.
Lynch had 18 carries against St. Louis and 14 at Carolina.
At one point in the first half, the Panthers had a 6-0 lead and the ball for 19 of the game’s first 25 minutes. Carroll said that’s when he reminded offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and assistant head coach Tom Cable to keep giving Lynch carries instead of “getting anxious and all of a sudden we are throwing the ball on every snap.”
That’s what happened against San Diego and Dallas, and Seattle lost. Against Carolina, they stayed with Lynch — to varying results for 62 yards rushing. But that’s the mix and rhythm Carroll wants on offense the rest of this season.
So, no, he’s not tired of the running back’s unique act.
“That’s a couple weeks in a row. Really hope we can build on that, and the comfort of it,” Carroll said of using Lynch as the basis for the offense. “I like the guys we have in our spots, the rotations and all of that. We just need to keep building and keep growing, and catch on from there.”
EXTRA POINTS: Carroll said MLB Bobby Wagner, who has missed the past two games with turf toe, and TE Zach Miller, who has missed the past three following ankle surgery, are still “going to be a while.” Both saw a specialist over the weekend when the team was in Charlotte, N.C. Neither got a timeline on a possible return. Usual OLB K.J. Wright will again be in the middle and Luke Willson will be the fill-in tight end on Sunday against Oakland. … The coach said CB Byron Maxwell and C Max Unger each have a chance to play against the Raiders. Maxwell missed his second consecutive game because of a strained calf. Tharold Simon started for him in Simon’s second NFL game. Carroll joked with a thumbs up that he “made it through the game,” a reference to Simon spraining his ankle at St. Louis and getting thrown out of the exhibition opener at Denver in August for fighting. … S Jeron Johnson got a concussion on the kickoff following the Seahawks’ go-ahead touchdown at Carolina with 47 seconds remaining in the game. ... OLB Malcolm Smith has a mild groin strain. … Carroll wouldn’t commit to rookie WR Paul Richardson again returning kickoffs as he did against the Panthers while Bryan Walters was out with a concussion. Walters may be back Sunday. Walters could return punts and Richardson kickoffs. Carroll said he wanted to start Richardson on kickoff returns first rather than punts because there is far more for a punt returner to handle. The team trusts Walters to be sure-handed and make good decisions returning punts. Kickoffs are relatively — and literally — more straightforward. Richardson can show off his blazing speed there, as he did running back Carolina’s kickoff 47 yards in the first quarter to set up Seattle’s only score of the first half, a field goal. … Look for rookie LB Kevin Pierre-Louis to keep getting a rush role off the edge. Carroll liked how Pierre-Louis blitzed at Carolina after Smith got hurt. It was the fourth-round pick’s first extended playing time (20 snaps) on defense.