Theme of the week: Experience matters

atlanta-logoPete Carroll spent a lot of his Monday press conference explaining Richard Sherman’s outburst during Seattle’s 26-24 win over Atlanta and breaking down the injury situation, but he offered some good analysis of his 4-1 football team as well.

Among the big points he made: Experience matters, and they missed Kam Chancellor; Kelcie McCray handled the criticism like a pro; Germain Ifedi had a rough game as he makes up for missed time; the pass protection is strong because of Russell Wilson’s development; and the running game just didn’t get the chances vs. Atlanta because the Seahawks had to rally in the fourth quarter.

Carroll said the 36-yard touchdown by Julio Jones that set Sherman off was a result of “just not being on the same page.”

“What was clear to me is that Kam is a big factor,” Carroll said. “We don’t see that stuff; I can’t remember another game when Kam was playing (where that happened). He has such a connection and skills at communicating and all that.

“Kelcie couldn’t have that; he hasn’t played enough with our guys,” Carroll said of McCray, who was acquired via trade just before the 2015 season. “He’s been there, but it’s not the same. We have to adapt to that. Kelcie played really well, he did a nice job in the game, but still the communication is not as good; otherwise it wouldn’t matter if we had played together for five years. It matters, and there’s something to that. I thought it was evident that that happened.

“There’s nothing you can do about it,” the coach added. “If you could, you would. It’s just time and experience. It’s nobody’s fault. You just have to get out there and play. You have to be through all of this. That’s why experience is important.

“When you don’t have it, you have to adjust. We didn’t adjust well enough to the way we were communicating. We didn’t do a good enough job. We can do that way better than we did. The game didn’t have to go like that, but it did. Now we’re faced with it and what are we going to do about it?”

Carroll said McCray “was a stud about” taking the criticism on “Tell the Truth Monday.”

“He did a great job to make sure that we got to the next step. Here we are today. We’re in the meeting room and we’re moving and we’re together on the same page. That’s what Tell the Truth Monday is all about: It’s to clear everything and get to where we’re back on the same page and everybody is in line with one another. We did that.”

Another new player Carroll said had a rough game was Ifedi, the first-round pick who missed the first three weeks with a high ankle sprain. Ifedi whiffed on a third-down run on the first possession, but he also blocked three guys on Christine Michael’s first touchdown run.

Overall, though, Carroll said, “He had a hard game. He had a hard time. He’s just getting going. He did some great stuff, but he did have some plays that he would like to get back and just things that can get fixed fundamentally. There’s just so many areas that he can improve upon and will.

“We love the good stuff and we just have to get through the other stuff. It’s not a physical question. It’s not a mental thing. It’s just fundamentals and identification and stuff like that that we can really fix. He’s going to be really good and he’s made a difference — you can tell — just being out there.”

Carroll was more impressed by the pass protection from Bradley Sowell and Mark Glowinksi on the left side. He said the pass pro “looks really good. It’s much improved.”

“I thought you could see Russell very comfortable and he took advantage of moving subtly to make space for himself and find receivers and make plays,” Carroll said of Wilson, who hit 25 of 37 passes for 270 yards and was sacked only once. “That’s a good improvement for us. At this time last year we were way above in sack totals, so we’re well ahead. Hopefully we can keep getting better and really put together a good season of protecting the quarterback.”

Carroll said the improved pass pro began last year and has continued early this season.

“I just think the connection between how we‘re throwing the football and the job that Russell is doing getting the ball out has connected with the pass protection,” Carroll said. “This isn’t new this year. This goes back to last year. Go back to the middle of last year and we made some great adjustments and some really nice decisions that were made by Tom (Cable) and Darrell (Bevell) and the offensive staff to put this thing in the kind of mode that it’s in now.

“What we really hope to do is recapture what happened in the second half of the season, and we’re on those numbers. We’re maybe even ahead of those numbers right now. Things are going in the right direction.”

As for the running game, which netted just 76 yards on 24 carries (not counting Wilson’s three kneel-downs to end the game), Carroll said, “We just didn’t run it enough. Tom and I were clear about it at halftime. We were going to get this thing going in the third quarter and we were going to come back in the fourth quarter and run it 15 times in the fourth quarter and put the game away. Which we always do; that’s how we do it.

“But the game didn’t go that way,” Carroll said, meaning the three touchdowns by the Falcons in the third quarter. “Bev really sensed that we really were on it protection-wise. He was comfortable to throw the ball a lot in the second half. We were moving the ball by controlling it that way. That’s why we went that way.”

The Seahawks had 10 plays in the third quarter and ran it just twice, for two yards.

“And then in the fourth quarter we needed to come back (they ran it just four times),” Carroll said. “I think it was really the confidence and protection that allowed us to go the way we went. If we stayed ahead, we’d run the ball tons in the fourth quarter. But we didn’t get a chance to do that.”

While the Seahawks didn’t move it on the ground very well, neither did the Falcons.

Their running backs – Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman – had been tearing up opponents. But Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and company shut them down – on the ground and through the air.

A week after tallying 286 yards and scoring twice in a win over Denver, Freeman and Coleman combined for 67 yards and no scores vs. Seattle. Wagner had 14 tackles — nine on Freeman and Coleman.

The Seahawks are still the No. 1 overall defense in the NFL – No. 3 against the run.

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