NASHVILLE, Tenn. The Seahawks’ running-back situation got clearer in Tennessee. Thomas Rawls is barely in it. Eddie Lacy’s not in it. Still.
And Richard Sherman got about twice as many snaps on Sunday as he could have.
The snaps counts from Seattle’s 33-27 loss to the Titans showed rookie Chris Carson has seized not only the lead running-back role, but most roles at tailback. Carson played 41 of the offense’s 73 snaps. The Seahawks went with C.J. Prosise 27 times most in hurry-up or third-down modes, and in other passing situations when they split Prosise , a former Notre Dame wide receiver, out wide with no backs.
Rawls entered the preseason as Seattle’s lead runner he was during his injury-filled 2016. Then he got a high-ankle sprain in the exhibition opener and missed a month. Carson, the seventh-round draft choice from Oklhaoma State who played only two years of major-college football, spent the month Rawls was out running decisively with one-cut-and-go moves that fit the Seahawks’ zone-blocking offense. He also showed more of an ability to pass block and catch passes than Seattle expected.
Rawls got just five carries for 4 yards the previous weekend in the home win over San Francisco. Sunday, the NFL’s leader in yards per carry as an undrafted rookie in 2015 got just one, inconsequential snap.
That was one more than Lacy got.
Lacy was at least in uniform Sunday, a week after being a healthy inactive for the first time in his five-year career. But the Seahawks’ splashiest offseason acquisition never got off the sideline in Tennessee. Lacy still has five carries for 3 yards through three games this season.
Coach Pete Carroll explained when asked about Lacy following Sunday’s game his offense only had its running backs rush 15 times, for 43 yards, against the Titans. Once the Seahawks fell behind in the third quarter, the running game that wasn’t going anywhere again anyway yielded to Russell Wilson’s passing.
Sherman played all 73 snaps for Seattle’s defense. That number could have been about 30 had officials not ruled his hit out of bounds on Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (video of it linked into my game story here) was a live-ball personal foul for unnecessary roughness rather than a dead-ball unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. Sherman had one unsportsmanlike foul earlier in the second quarter, for taking off his helmet to argue with an official for a pass-interference penalty that negated an interception by Kam Chancellor.
Sherman said he took off his helmet because he felt the Seahawks’ offense was on its way onto the field for the change of possession and his job was done on the field.
Carroll didn’t agree, saying “you can’t take your helmet off.”
Sherman was arguing with a deep sideline official for throwing the PI flag on him from behind. Sherman said the official explained to the three-time All-Pro cornerback he had grabbed Titans intended receiver Eric Decker’s jersey in the front at Decker’s chest.
“Unless he has X-ray vision...,” Sherman said of the official being able to see through Sherman’s and Decker’s backs.
Chancellor said Sherman’s outburst unnecessarily detracted from what the defense was trying to accomplish on a draining, 88-degree with 97-percent humidity.
"I think every time we get into bickering, it’s wasted energy," Chancellor said in a quiet locker room of spent Seahawks. "I think it takes a little bit of the focus. It distracts. And it takes a little bit of energy.”
Chancellor was asked if Seattle’s star-packed defense will discuss this bickering this week before it plays Indianapolis at home.
"Yeah. Yeah, we’ll get to it," Chancellor said.
"We were saying something when it first happened. And after while, if you start getting into it too much you start losing your energy and your focus.
"We said as much as we could say. In the end, everybody is their own man. Everybody’s got a part on this defense. And we’ve just got to do better. We’ve all got to do better."
I asked Sherman if his hit on Mariota was out of anger.
"No. He was still in bounds. I was playing until the whistle blew," Sherman said. "Yep. Yep.
"If the quarterback slides or gives himself up or something like that, then you stop. But if there still yards that he’s gaining you are going to play to the whistle. It’s so crazy how the game is nowadays.
"He came up to me and said, ‘Good hit,’ because he understood that I am playing to the whistle. I’m not waiting until he’s two steps out of bounds. And it’s a game of inches, so you can’t give up anything.
"It is just one those plays. It’s football. It seems like football is getting a lot softer, in terms of the way it’s officiated or the way it’s seen. But it’s football, at the end of the day."
To Chancellor’s point, I asked Sherman if that was energy he spent arguing with officials would have been useful and better directed in the second half. That’s when the Seahawks defense noticeably tired and faded, allowing Tennessee to score 28 points including 21 in the decisive third quarter.
"No, it was necessary energy, because did you see the offensive PI they called (on Decker, a few plays after Sherman’s hit on Mariota) later on? Did you see the holding call, do you know what I mean? It was necessary energy. Those are obviously make-up calls, but obviously it helped our team, kept them out of scoring range.
"I hate make-up calls just as much as the next man. But if you don’t call it in the first place, then you have to make it up."
Another seemingly make-up call was how officials ended up adjudicating the hit out of bounds on Mariota: they made it offsetting fouls when they flagged one of the Titans for going after Sherman for doing it. So no yardage--just love--lost on the play.
Sherman said on his interference penalty for knocking Decker to the ground, "I went to other officials and asked them, because I wanted to know. I wanted an explanation. It’s nothing (that) they called PI. They call PI all the time. But they’ll say, ‘Hey, you grabbed his shoulder’ or ‘Hey, you grabbed his face mask.’
“But when a guy gives you no explanation and just tells you to get back to the huddle it’s…you’re not giving me an explanation because you don’t have one. Then it makes you suspicious of the call."