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Seahawks snap counts: Chris Carson plays less, not more

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s reality, but for the first time in nine years I really have to question what Pete Carroll is saying. Yeah, I know that he’s had questionable quotes and supposed decisions in the past and I’m forgetting or ignoring those right now, but this feels like the most active of his questionable answers. When asked why running back Chris Carson disappeared from the game in the second half and only got six carries, Carroll claimed it was because he was “gassed” from having to “double dip” and play special teams.

“He’s a fantastic special teams guy, so he just had to stay in there,” Carroll said (per Gregg Bell of The News Tribune), “That was not the design going into the season. But this week he just had to do it, and had to help us out. We’ll play him more. There was nothing about his play that kept him out there. We just didn’t get enough chances, and I wanted to get Rashaad (Penny) going a little bit and see where he is and see where he is in his development.”

So let’s get this straight:

  • Carson was gassed
  • Carson had to play on special teams, contributing to him being gassed
  • Nothing to do with his play
  • Wanted to see where Penny is in his development by giving him fourth quarter carries in the fourth quarter of a road game down one possession
  • (I don’t think they ran the ball one time in the third quarter?)

Okay, interesting. Now let’s go to ... Chris Carson:

Wait, Carson didn’t say anything about being “gassed.” He didn’t mention special teams at all. Said nothing of a last minute decision by Carroll to give Penny some preseason developmental snaps. Carson claims that this was the plan ... the whole time?

Remember, after last week’s game in Denver (again, Carson was apparently too tired at Mile High to play as many snaps as he wanted to), Carroll claimed that Carson would get more of the workload moving forward. Instead, Carson got 19 snaps on offense, compared to 20 for Penny by the end of the game. And I think Penny played pretty well in that fourth quarter (a plan to have a fresh-legged RB in the fourth quarter is not a bad one, but it’s not even what Carroll ever claimed to be doing) but why did Carson lose opportunities almost immediately? Why did he finish with six carries? Why did the offense keep passing over and over again in the middle of the game — a one possession game — when they couldn’t successfully pass the ball against a Khalil Mack-led pass rush?

And how many special teams snaps did Carson officially get?

Two.

Maybe that number is inaccurate, but if it’s accurate, Carroll is saying that Carson gets too tired to play after 19 snaps, six carries, and twice running down the field to cover on a punt or kickoff. Yikes. That’s pretty scary for Carson, if true. He’s a professional athlete.

If it’s that way in September, how many snaps will Carson be able to handle in December? Or is it just the “game plan” all along? Here’s the rest of the snap counts:

  • Joey Hunt filled in for Justin Britt on 11 snaps. Would be interesting to see how those 11 plays went.
  • Will Dissly is obviously the number one tight end. He does seem to be really good, but it’s also another bad sign for Nick Vannett, who played 21 fewer snaps. The former third round pick is potentially fighting for a roster spot before next season, if not sooner. I mean, I know that seems a little obvious, but Vannett seems really unremarkable and had 23 yards on five targets. When Ed Dickson returns, it could push Vannett off the active roster.
  • David Moore had 20 snaps but no official targets. He did draw a pass interference penalty on the defense.
  • Penny, 20 snaps. Carson, 19. C.J. Prosise .... 18? So Prosise had virtually the same number of snaps as Penny and Carson? When? He’s clearly in there to block, as he had zero carries. How good of a gameplan is it when you’ve got a running back whose presence makes it CLEAR that he’s not going to carry the ball?
  • Shaquill Griffin, Austin Calitro, Akeem King, and Bradley McDougald played all 66 defensive snaps. Earl Thomas missed one snap. I don’t know that Calitro was a glaring weakness? Overall, the defense is just a lot slower without Bobby Wagner. It’s not necessarily one player’s weakness so much as it is having a guy who is a Hall of Famer and the difference on the field that he makes being missing.
  • Mychal Kendricks played 54 snaps just days after signing.
  • Barkevious Mingo played 53 snaps, which means that defensively they were using three linebackers way more often than they were three corners. That’s not a strategy or snap count result we’ve seen often in the recent past.
  • Justin Coleman played only 20 snaps.
  • Shamar Stephen got 43 snaps, compared to 12 for Nazair Jones, who was inactive last week. We all liked Jones a lot, so I wonder what the coaches don’t like about him right now, at least compared to Stephen. Poona Ford got 15.
  • Dion Jordan got only 14 snaps after Carroll saying his playing time would be ramped up this week. It really wasn’t.
  • Tedric Thompson got 13 snaps with the defense sometimes going with three safeties. He played nearly as much as Coleman, which is really surprising.
  • Jacob Martin played 23 snaps on special teams? Think of how gassed he must have been. Prosise played 12 special teams snaps and 18 on offense, giving him 30 snaps. Of all players, this was not “too much” for Prosise. So what’s happening with Carson, or is it really the answer at all?