Somber Carroll reflects on Amtrak tragedy, far less important Seahawks' loss
RENTON Searching for a positive--ANY positive--from the Seahawks’ face plant in getting smashed by the Rams?
Here are two:
All-Pro Bobby Wagner didn’t hurt his hamstring by playing in Sunday’s 42-7 loss any more than it already was injured.
And fellow Pro Bowl linebacker K.J. Wright is also likely to be back recovered from a concussion from eight days ago to play this Sunday when Seattle (8-6) tries to keep its miniscule playoff hopes alive in a Christmas Eve game at equally desperate Dallas (8-6).
“Bobby has come out of the game like he was about a week ago,” Seahawks coach Carroll said Monday, referring to the Dec. 10 loss at Jacksonville which Wagner exited early in the second half with a badly strained hamstring. “It didn’t hurt him at all to play (into the third quarter against Los Angeles this past weekend), which we are very fortunate. That means he will have a really good chance to go again (at Dallas).
“K.J. still has to clear everything. But he’s feeling recovered and it looks like he has a chance, so by Wednesday he should be in pretty good shape to practice.”
Wagner probably won’t practice all this week, just as he hasn’t for the last month before he hurt his hamstring even more against the Jaguars two games ago. He was not nearly his usual, speeding and thumping self against the Rams. Wagner particularly lacked his usual lateral speed, his ability to avoid blocks and his closing speed on ball carriers. Todd Gurley sometimes sped past the middle linebacker who entered Sunday with one missed tackle all season, on Gurley’s way to 144 yards rushing and three touchdowns--in the first half.
Carroll said the game film showed how affected Wagner was. But the coach did not elaborate in what way.
Among all that galled Carroll about his Seahawks getting steamrolled by the Rams with the division title and likely his team’s playoff chances at stake, not stopping Gurley and the run was No. 1.
“The last time we played these guys we were able to hold Todd Gurley to 50, 60 yards or something like that,” Carroll said.
That was Oct. 8 in Los Angeles. Wagner, Wright and now-out-for-the-season Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor combined to lead the 16-10 win in which Gurley gained just 43 yards rushing. That was about par for his four career games against Seattle--before Sunday. Gurley entered last weekend with fewer yards against Seattle than any other team he’d played more than once. He had one touchdown in four previous games against the Seahawks. Sunday he had three TDs and L.A. had a 34-0 lead before halftime.
“That was a huge factor in this game, obviously, that we weren’t able to control.”
Carroll mentioned “we needed to respond on offense” after Gurley and the Rams took full advantage of Tanner McEvoy’s fumble on the third play of the game and Seattle’s special-team breakdowns covering its punts to take a 13-0 lead right away.
“And we weren’t able to do that,” Carroll said. “So the mixture of those two things really played into their game. Allowed them to rush the passer the way they are capable of (seven sacks of Russell Wilson, three by All-World defensive tackle Aaron Donald). And it allowed them to run the football the way they wanted to.
“Those two working together really made it difficult.”
He mentioned Russell Wilson being off on his throws, for the second consecutive week. He mentioned how “disappointing” and “frustrating” it’s been that Jimmy Graham has one catch on five targets for minus-1 yard the last two games, how the offense hasn’t been able to get Graham involved early in these losses after he had nine touchdown catches in the previous eight games.
These could be the last two games of Graham’s Seahawks career. The 31-year old’s contract that has averaged $10 million per year the last four years ends after this season, and the team has a big-money decision to make on him.
"We need him active," Carroll said. "And we certainly would like to get him active earlier."
The entire offense needs to get active earlier. The Seahawks have not scored a point in the first half of the last two games.
Against the Rams Seattle gained just 149 yards--over the entire game. That was its fewest since Oct. 28, 2013, a 14-9 slog past...the Rams. That was on a Monday night in St. Louis.
Oh, and Carroll had this to say about any tension between Wagner and teammate Earl Thomas. Following the loss to the Rams Wagner responded angrily on his Twitter account Sunday to Thomas saying Wagner shouldn’t have played so injured, and that it took too long for Wagner to pull himself out of the game.
“Oh, there might have been, in the exchange, or whatever,” Carroll said of tension. “Bobby was a little upset.
“But I think we’ll be fine.”
Now, onto the next: Dallas on Sunday. After 100-yard games by Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette two games ago and then Gurley’s stampede on Sunday, here comes 2016 NFL rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott fresh and probably mad for his first game back from the league’s six-game suspension.
“Oh, yeah, he’s going to be all fired up,” Carroll said of Elliott.
But because of what happened--and absolutely did not happen--just beating the Cowboys and then Arizona at home on New Year’s Eve in the regular-season finale wouldn’t be enough to get Seattle into the playoffs for the sixth consecutive January. The Seahawks need Atlanta (8-5 as of Monday afternoon) to lose twice in its final three games: later Monday night at Tampa Bay (4-9), at New Orleans (10-4) this week and home against Carolina (10-4) Dec. 31. Plus Seattle needs Detroit (8-6) to lose either at Cincinnati this weekend or at home to Green Bay on New Year’s Eve--when the Packers will likely be eliminated from playoff contention. The Bengals (5-9) already are playing out the string.
Such is the predicament Seattle created this past weekend with their worst margin of defeat of the Carroll era, and worst since 2009 in the next-to-last game Jim Mora coached Seattle.
How do the Seahawks come back from all that to win at Dallas on Sunday?
“We are ready to get going again. We have to,” Carroll said. “We’ve got a big game coming up. So we have to turn it.
“I know it may seem difficult for those out there, to understand how we can do that. But we will. That’s how we work. That’s how we operate.”