Dave Boling

Dave Boling: Pete Carroll is not about to put his Seahawks on cruise control

“I really don’t believe that you should ask players to take a break; I think they’ve got to go,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says.
“I really don’t believe that you should ask players to take a break; I think they’ve got to go,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says. toverman@theolympian.com

Pete Carroll didn’t seem to fully understand the question. He paused, trying to absorb a concept that might be outside his ken.

He was asked about resting some of his players now that the Seahawks have secured a berth in the playoffs.

Wild-card seeding remains at stake, and a number of players are dealing with seemingly minor injuries, so those things have to be considered.

But easing toward the postseason would be as foreign to Carroll as waking up in the morning without a positive attitude.

“There will be no reason not to go for it again,” Carroll said last week. “It’s like letting someone not try their hardest. I don’t find any place for that in our game.”

Carroll encourages his players to have shooting contests at a basketball hoop in the meeting room; he keeps score in everything the team does from the moment players enter the building.

For five seasons, he and his staff have spent every day creating a culture focused specifically on playing with unreserved passion. Every game, every day, every drill.

It manifests itself at times when you hear of veteran All-Pro starters who lobby coaches to let them see action on special teams just so they can get another couple of plays on the field.

You think these guys are going to miss out on an opportunity to play hard in a game?

“I really don’t believe that you should ask players to take a break; I think they’ve got to go.” Carroll said.

The Seahawks go into the weekend in a somewhat static position. They’re guaranteed a wild-card berth, but can’t overcome Arizona’s lead in the NFC West. Currently the fifth seed, there is still a chance Seattle could drop to sixth depending on Minnesota’s performances.

Carroll may have no choice in having a few key players sit. Tackle Russell Okung (calf), receiver Doug Baldwin (hamstring) and strong safety Kam Chancellor (pelvis) were all in doubt for the visit by the St. Louis Rams.

Versatile backup lineman Alvin Bailey jumped in for Okung against Cleveland last week, and already had been seeing action as the jumbo tight end in run situations. He should get the start at left tackle.

Baldwin has been on one of the best streaks ever for a Seahawks receiver, pulling in 10 touchdown passes in the last four games. If he sits, it creates more targets for Tyler Lockett and Jermaine Kearse.

And Chancellor’s replacement, Kelcie McCray, stepped in last week and led the team with eight tackles against the Browns, showing a knack for run support.

“If we decide not to play guys for a different reason, that could happen,” Carroll said of the injured players. “That’s not going to be because we’re going to take a step off of the gas pedal right now. We want to keep driving it and try to play the best we can this week and have a successful week. We’ll see what that leaves us next week.”

The Hawks slipped a bit late in the 2013 season, losing two of their last four regular-season games on the way to their Super Bowl win. That club started 11-1, though, and had a full season of momentum established.

As was the case last season, the 2015 Seahawks have turned things around in the second half and have finished strongly, winning seven of their last eight.

But, unlike every season since 2012, the Hawks did not earn a bye in the first week of the playoffs.

That week was useful in providing rest and recovery time for players heading into the playoff drive.

This year, they’ll have to come back from the finale at Arizona and head out on the road almost immediately for a wild-card game, facing away games for as far as they can take it.

But planning for that involves looking ahead, beyond the games remaining on the schedule. And that, like the notion of giving players time off when there are games to win, is foreign to Pete Carroll’s teams.