Category Archives: X’s & O’s

Hawks gonna let Russ cook two-minute meals?

Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson plan to be clapping about their offense a lot this season (Getty Images)“Let Russ cook” has become an annoying mantra repeated by some fans the last couple of years.

It’s a nebulous decree. For some, it is a call for Seattle to just throw the ball 40 times a game. For the smarter ones, it is a more nuanced request for the Seahawks to let Russell Wilson stir the pot in his own special way, especially earlier in games.

At the Pro Bowl in February, Wilson said he was all in favor of the latter. He talked about going up-tempo more — something we have constantly called for in the first half, especially. He also apparently has discussed this with Pete Carroll.

Don’t get too excited, cooking fans, but it sounds like the coach might have listened, based on staff moves he made and a report that Seattle is indeed talking about letting Wilson work up some two-minute meals.

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Post-Super Bowl notes

Frank ClarkYou have to be happy for Frank Clark, who has gone from tragedy to triumph over the past couple of years. Almost exactly two years ago, he sadly lost his father and other relatives in a Cleveland fire. Last year at this time, he said, “Let’s get this paperwork (i.e., contract) done so we (can) go on this hunt. I’m tired of the same results.” Well, the paperwork turned out to be trade papers and a new contract with the Chiefs, who gave him the $104 million Seattle would not. And then he got the different results he wanted by helping the Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV.

The lesson the Seahawks hopefully learned: It’s OK to pay a pass rusher top dollar. It might actually help you win a Super Bowl. They need to pay their top pass rusher, Jadeveon Clowney, this time.

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Why the Hawks again started slowly in a road playoff game

logo-playoffsWhy did the Seahawks come up short in Green Bay?

Plenty of fans and media are focusing on the end of the game: Pete Carroll’s decision to punt on fourth-and-11 from the Seattle 36 with 2:41 left (we would have punted, too), Ken Norton letting rookie Ugo Amadi cover Davante Adams on a third-and-8 that turned into a 32-yard gain and the close Jimmy Graham play against Lano Hill (why was he in coverage anyway?) on third-and-9 that sealed it.

But let’s be clear: That game was lost in the first half, when Russell Wilson and company scored just three points. It was the fifth time in nine road playoff games that Carroll’s Seahawks had scored three points or less in the first half (the four others were scoreless first halves). In those nine games, the Hawks have averaged 4.7 points in the first half, never scoring more than 13. They have led just once, 10-3 in Philadelphia in this season’s wild-card round, and they are 3-6 in those games (all of the losses in the divisional round).

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More unfamiliar faces, but Carroll knows this AIR-izona offense

at-arizona-logoThe Seahawks have been fighting in a dark alley so far this season — feeling their way against unfamiliar foes.

First it was new Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor, who brought schemes Pete Carroll and his staff were not ready for and nearly beat the Hawks with them. Then it was Mason Rudolph, who replaced injured Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh and almost rallied the Steelers. Last week, it was Teddy Bridgewater replacing injured Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara breaking tackles and leading the Saints to a surprisingly easy win.

Now Seattle faces another unfamiliar coach and QB as the Hawks head to dreaded Glendale to take on Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray’s AIR-izona Raid offense.

Carroll knows plenty about the Air Raid, though — since it is just an offshoot of the old run-n-shoot. The difference is the mobile young quarterback running it, and the Hawks need to join the other defenses that have made it hard on this year’s No. 1 draft pick.

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As two-QB Saints march in, how about a double quads formation?

Logo -- New OrleansAs the Saints come to town with Drew Brees sidelined, they still have Teddy Bridgewater and multi-tool quarterback Taysom Hill, and coach Sean Payton smartly is not letting on about how he is going to use them.

As Pete Carroll said, “I don’t know what Sean is going to do. Rarely does anybody know what he’s going to do when it comes to game time.”

In his two-plus seasons with the Saints, Hill has played all over the place: QB, tight end, receiver, running back, special teams. He’s a wild card the Seahawks will have to watch out for. But how much QB will he play?

“We have not seen enough of Hill to know how they would play him in this kind of situation,” Carroll said. “He’s been spotted in and out and they’ve done a lot of cool things.”

The visit by Hill and the Saints brings up a concept we have long wondered about: What could a two-QB offense do in the NFL? Not two rotating QBs, but two on the field together for most of the game.

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Can Hawks end rocky road streak?

Logo -- At PittsburghAs good as Pete Carroll’s Seahawks have been at home in September (15-0 after the ugly win over Cincinnati last week), they have been inversely successful on the road.

They are 3-13 on the road in the first month, 1-11 in the first two weeks and 1-8 in the first road game each season under Carroll.

If the Seahawks are going to end a five-year losing streak in road openers and win for the first time since their championship season, they are going to need to do well early in the 10 a.m. PT start in Pittsburgh.

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Outcoached again, Carroll needs to get his team up to speed fast

Logo -- CincinnatiWe all should be used to this Seahawks fact by now: Pete Carroll plays a conservative (i.e., ugly) brand of football that almost always leads to slow starts.

So why does Seattle always look so bad on offense early in the season? Why does the offensive line start so poorly? Why is the play-calling such a mess?

It really boils down to this: Carroll plays simple football, relying heavily on players to execute relatively basic concepts, while some other coaches use more complex schemes to help their players succeed.

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Hawks will keep running, but will Wilson & Schotty be better?

Logo -- CincinnatiAs the Seahawks open the season, one of the major points to watch will be the evolution of Russell Wilson and a fully Baldwin-less offense in Year 2 under Brian Schottenheimer.

The Seahawks put a lot of resources (financial and draft) into their passing game in the offseason, which led some to suggest (or hope) they are now building entirely around Wilson and are going to throw the ball all over the yard.

Clearly, people who think Carroll is going to sway from his run-focused approach are dreaming — and not really paying attention. Remember, Carroll is all about that circle of toughness — imposing his will on both sides of the ball.

As Carroll recently told 710 ESPN: “We want to play off the running game. … We want to run the heck out of the football. We love that part of the game, but we love everything that comes off that.

“We hopefully are going to show you a wide-open attack that makes you have to defend the run and makes you have to defend Russell sitting back there bombing footballs. We want to get the ball down the field and attack the heck out of it. That’s a big deal to us.

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‘How do we work these guys together?’

Logo -- CincinnatiNow that John Schneider has repeated his 2013 defensive line coup, the question becomes: How long will it take Pete Carroll, Ken Norton and company to get this collection of linemen playing to its best capabilities?

Schneider told 710 ESPN that Seattle’s front seven, including a trio of “phenomenal blitzers” at linebacker, is “a really cool group. (Coaches are) putting it together right now: How do we work these guys together?”

For a sampling, we merely need go back to 2013, the last time Schneider brought in two impact pass rushers at the same time.

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Hawks failed Glowinski & still need guards

Cable and CarrollPete Carroll and John Schneider have to be kicking themselves over how badly they screwed up with Mark Glowinski, who has to be just as happy that they released him from Tom Cable’s broken system in 2017 so he could get his career going in the right direction.

The guard was a good pick by Seattle in the fourth round in 2015, coming off an excellent college career at West Virginia, and he should have become one of Seattle’s line mainstays. Instead, Carroll and Schneider let him go in 2017 and he turned into one of the Indianapolis Colts’ best linemen in 2018, earning a contract worth $6 million a year.

Glowinski is the latest — maybe the greatest — example of how Cable’s system held players back in Seattle.

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