Forget the officiating.
The Seahawks have too many other issues of their own to fix.
They have more flags than the United Nations. The offense has scored just one touchdown in nine quarters. The latest malfunction came on Sunday, a 25-20 loss to the previously 2-4 New Orleans Saints who had the NFL’s worst defense.
And Pete Carroll is owning all of it.
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“We (came) out of this game with a lot of work to do. …We have to do a better job in penalty situations, and I have to do a better job,” the Seahawks’ 65-year-old coach said Monday.
That was a day after 11 penalties — compared to New Orleans’ two — wiped out much of what Seattle (4-2-1) accomplished at the Superdome.
“I have to do a better job of getting the message across,” Carroll said. “And to be that far out of whack compared to your opponent in a game is really to give them great advantage. …
“We have to clean that thing up. We have a lot of work to do in a lot of areas, so we’re going to go at it and get this thing turned around, get ready.”
Get ready for Monday night’s home game against Buffalo (4-4).
Sunday was the fourth time in seven games the Seahawks scored one or zero offensive touchdowns. The past two games Seattle has run the ball just 36 times in nine full quarters, which averages out to four times per 15-minute quarter. In Sunday’s first half, they had just 3 yards rushing.
“We need to get out of what we’ve been in the past two weeks,” said Carroll, who built Seattle into a two-time Super Bowl team with a still-top-ranked defense and a punishing running game.
“This is not the way we want to play football. We need to fix this, and it just happened back to back to us in very similar fashion.
“I can’t wait to get back on the practice field. … There will be some things that will look different.”
Take that to mean a renewed emphasis on the run, not necessarily personnel changes.
One starter who could change is at left tackle. Usual starter Bradley Sowell tried to play at the Saints, but the sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee kept him inactive. Undrafted rookie George Fant made his first NFL start instead.
“(Sowell) has a chance. It’ll be day to day, but he has a chance to be back,” Carroll said.
Thomas Rawls won’t be returning to boost a running game that ranks 28th in the NFL. Seattle managed just 74 yards on 17 carries against the Saints and has just 126 yards on 36 rushes in the last two games combined. That includes the previous week’s 6-6 overtime tie at Arizona.
Rawls did his most intense, extensive running Monday since he cracked his fibula during the 9-3 loss at Los Angeles Sept. 18. Carroll said “this is the best he’s been.”
But the coach said Rawls won’t play against the Bills. The Seahawks would be thrilled if he could return for the test at New England Nov. 13.
Without the replacement for retired Marshawn Lynch as Seattle’s lead back the running game’s primarily been Christine Michael or bust -- actually bust more than Michael so far.
“He’s made some good special plays, the consistency to take care of the football and all that kind of stuff has been excellent,” Carroll said in assessing Michael’s 446 yards on 107 carries this season (4.2 yards per carry). “We just want him to have more opportunities and get out in the open.”
Michael’s yards are 78 percent of Seattle’s substandard rushing offense. He gained 31 of his 40 yards on one drive in New Orleans, the crisp, first one of the second half that resulted in a field goal. But he got just two carries for 6 yards the rest of the game.
“Just in general we just need to get more shots,” Carroll said. “We just need more, we need to dig in with the running game and we have not been able to get that done.”
“It’s frustrating to say that. … We’re just going to keep plugging away. We’re not stopping with anything that we believe in, because we know the formula we want to play with. We just haven’t really settled into it yet.”
About a half hour after Sunday’s game ended, Doug Baldwin sat alone at his locker at the Superdome. He was one of the last players in the room. He also was a voice of reason amid some Seahawks’ postgame griping about the officiating.
Seattle’s No. 1 wide receiver knows more damning, fundamental malfunctions are why the offense is malfunctioning.
“How many points did we put up offensively?” Baldwin asked, knowing the answer.
The Seahawks’ offense scored 13 points, one touchdown and two field goals, in four quarters against a Saints team that was dead last in the league allowing 32.5 points per game.
“Penalties play a factor, but I don’t think it plays that great a factor,” Baldwin said. “I mean, the 49ers lead the league in fewest penalties and penalty yards, so ...”
San Francisco is 1-6.
“Check our third-down percentage,” Baldwin said.
That’s 36.9 percent for the season, 23rd in the league.
“Check out how we start series,” Baldwin also said. “Are we ever more than 10 yards, first, second, third and more than 10? How many times are we in those situations?”
Seattle has been in first and more than 10 six times in seven games. That includes four times in first down and 16 or more yards to go. That’s been because of penalties such as Fant’s clipping in the first quarter against the Saints and center Justin Britt’s illegal block later in the half, also on first down.
The Seahawks have been in second down and 11 or more to go eight times. They’ve had third down and 11 or more twice.
That’s 16 times in seven games the offense has faced more than 10 yards to go on any scrimmage down.
Guess how many first downs the Seahawks have gained in those situations: zero.
Any game-planning to run the ball vanishes in such predicaments to pass.
“And, yeah, those might be penalties,” Baldwin said. “But the penalties are not what’s hurt us.
“It’s what happens before that.”
Yet Carroll was in an upbeat, we’ll-get-there mood Monday at team headquarters.
“We still feel like the potential is there to run. We feel like we’re more equipped than we were a year ago,” the coach said. “We feel like we can be better. We think we can be more aggressive. …”
One reason for optimism: quarterback Russell Wilson’s right ankle sprain being healed and his left knee sprain healing. Last season was one-fourth of Seattle’s rushing offense that finished fourth in the league at 141.8 yards per game. That’s 60 yards more than the Seahawks are getting right now.
“I know it’s coming, so I’m pretty optimistic about it,” Carroll said of running game, and offense in general. “We just need to keep slugging it out here as we find a way.
“We’re getting close.”
BENNETT SURGERY WEDNESDAY
Carroll said Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett’s arthroscopic surgery on his right knee will be Wednesday in Los Angeles.
The team estimates Bennett will return in two to three weeks.
Carroll said the team won't know until late in the week if SS Kam Chancellor (pulled groin) can play for first time in four games on Monday night. … Carroll said DT Tony McDaniel is OK after he left the Saints game with a twisted ankle. … TE Luke Willson, out since a knee injury in the win over Atlanta Oct. 16, will try to play against Buffalo, Carroll said. That would be a rather remarkable recovery.
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle