“The Seahawks are going to be a running team as long as Pete Carroll is the coach. If you can’t handle that then you probably should pick another team to root for.” — Bob Condotta on Twitter
Condotta is right: Pete Carroll is not going to change his philosophy — or his offensive coordinator. Nor should he.
Unlike some fans, we have no issue with Carroll’s overall tactic of controlling the game with the run and great defense. This is the same philosophy that took the Seahawks to two Super Bowls, and Carroll is very confident it will take them back.
But he will evaluate how the first year with Brian Schottenheimer went, and they hopefully will improve their in-game adjustments so they can avoid the kind of unnecessary playoff loss they just experienced in Dallas.
As Carroll said, “We have to adjust a little bit quicker.”
Schottenheimer’s failure to take advantage of his team’s strong passing attack, as the running game failed again and again, was one of the key reasons the Seahawks lost to the Cowboys. It was obvious, and Carroll admitted it.
But Carroll also defended his offensive coordinator and his philosophy, making it clear neither will change. As Carroll said, Schottenheimer just did the coach’s bidding this season. It wasn’t always pretty — in fact, it started and ended very ugly — but Seattle did finish with the league’s top rushing offense and the No. 2 scoring unit in club history while turning it over a league-low 11 times (one off the NFL record).
“What a terrific football season we had,” Carroll told 710 ESPN. “This was the second-highest scoring team in the history of the franchise … and we outran everybody and we did not turn the ball over. We almost set an all-time NFL record for fewest turnovers in a season. That’s discipline and tactics and approach and all that. … Brian’s a helluva coach, and he does a great job and he did a great job with our guys throughout the season and will continue to.”
Like this entire new version of Carroll’s Seahawks, Schottenheimer had an inconsistent season. It started poorly as he and Carroll tripped over each other in the first two games. Then, after the 0-2 start, they focused on the running game, which carried them to four wins in the next five games. Even in the Week 5 loss to the Rams, Schottenheimer put together a complete plan that resulted in three TD passes by Russell Wilson and would have been good enough to win if the defense had been better.
The loss to the Chargers was maybe Schottenheimer’s worst game between the first two and the Dallas loss. It featured a stale game plan — the dreaded run, run, pass — that begat a bunch of bad decisions by Wilson.
One of Schottenheimer’s best games for adjustments came in Week 12 against Carolina. The running game was not working (just 75 yards), and Schottenheimer put the game in Wilson’s hands (22 for 31, 339 yards, two TDs). As Carroll said after that win, “On a day when we couldn’t run the ball like we had been, Russ came through and had a great day throwing the ball.”
Too bad they didn’t remember that in Dallas.
“You can see when we got knocked out of running the ball the way we wanted to we weren’t the way we wanted to be,” Carroll said of the loss in Dallas, which featured just 73 rushing yards by Seattle. “We have a way and a style, and we have to adjust a little bit quicker — I agree with that. I wish we would have made some more plays in the throwing game that would have offset and just changed the field position.”
It was disappointing because it meant Carroll and Schottenheimer still, in Game 17, had not figured out how to positively react to adversity against their offense. Carroll perhaps had gotten so used to having an elite defense backing his running game that he was counting on that side more than he should have — and thus didn’t prompt Schottenheimer to let Wilson throw it more on a day the pass had great success (8.6 yards per attempt, one sack).
But at least Carroll seems to understand that is something he and Schottenheimer have to adjust for the future.
“We already go to work on it to put together what happened, what took place, what we set out to do, what we would do differently, how we would see it differently, what we’ve learned from our players, what we’ve learned from our coaches,” Carroll said.
“Schotty and Mike Solari … did a marvelous job together, but there are adjustments to be made there, too, as we go forward — adjustments in what our players are capable of doing. All of those things have to be evaluated, so it is a big challenge and it’s not over. We’re just in the middle of it. Everything is a competition for us. We’re competing to figure all of that out. It obviously is a challenge that we can handle, but we think we can do better and we’re going to try and improve and find every way we can to make this as competitive a club as we can.”
And they’re going to do it Carroll’s way, whether you like it or not.