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Pete Carroll narrowly lost the game, but he largely lost the fans

New Orleans Saints v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Monday night was not a game that the Seattle Seahawks were expected to win. Vegas didn’t think so. The average fan who’s seen Geno Smith play and anyone on the defensive line besides Darrell Taylor play didn’t think so. At multiple different points against the New Orleans Saints, Seattle shouldn’t have been in the game yet somehow were.

Yet, what the Seahawks lost this week was far worse than their reasonable 2021 playoff hopes.

I believe this time, Pete Carroll no longer has the faith of a critical mass of fans.

Let me be perfectly clear: Pete Carroll did not lose this game. Geno Smith and Jason Myers did that.

However, to a superior opponent, without Seattle’s starting Quarterback, Running Back, Left Guard and Defensive End, Pete Carroll put on bold display every flawed element of his tenure that has cost the franchise dearly far too many times. Had the team played a clean game, fought hard, shown adaptability and resilience yet lost, it would have exceeded the expectations of many - instead, Carroll did irreparable damage to his reputation.

I’d like to run with the examples Joe Fann gave above, plus a couple others not mentioned. These are not limited to Monday Night; that’s the point. Each one of what follows happened both in the game, and in general over Carroll’s career.

Personnel

Rashaad Penny’s final carry was with 11:26 left to play in the 3rd quarter. He ran for 2 yards. This was approximately the whole game longer than he deserved to be in ahead of Alex Collins, but to be more reasonable he should not have had more than a quarter, maybe just a couple of drives.

Penny finished with nine yards on six carries. Here’s some more fun, his long was a fiver so he had four other yards on five other carries.

He’s bad, has been bad, and for only about 18 minutes of his career in Seattle has shown himself to be anything other than a 0-1 yard extraordinaire.

To play him for an entire half over Collins...to give Alton Robinson one snap in Week 6...to suddenly have Will Dissly on the field for 40% of the game...to get Jamal Adams and blitz him three times in a game....

When Carroll says things like this, about this season’s second-most effective rusher:

It’s incoherent unfathomably indefensible nonsense. What are you doing, as the head coach, if not making it so that the players you think “should play more”, I don’t know, play....more?

Timeouts

If you’ve watched the Seahawks at any point in the last 10 years, you don’t need a stat or an embedded tweet for this. Pete Carroll’s team has been absolutely horrendous at timeout usage. Look, it was about as weird as it gets seeing the awkwardness come from Geno Smith instead of the play called with five seconds for a change, but it’s the exact same problem we’ve seen for a decade.

With a minute and a half left in the third quarter, Seattle went Run-Run-Timeout-Incomplete pass.

The decade-long graveyard of blue and green timeouts is a testament to frequently not having the staff on schedule and same page. Whether playcallers are not prepared, the players are not prepared, or the concept is not prepped, matters little. It is in the DNA of this organization not to have timeouts when needed, because they’ve been spent like house money to save meaningless 5-yard penalties on a near per-game basis.

Conservative calling

This was the most offensive part of the game. Once DK Metcalf did his DK Metcalf thing, this team absolutely needed to be in attack mode. Get any more points if possible, because the defense was playing well and weather was crazy.

Instead, at one point they ran the ball eight consecutive times over two drives.

Those eight consecutive runs gained 19 total yards.

Going to type that again.

In a 10-7 game with a skill-player advantage, Carroll ran the ball eight times for 19 yards, or one standard Rashaad Penny game.

If you think that was exclusively Shane Waldron’s idea, I am not sure what to tell you. Theoretically, if Russell Wilson threw eight times in a row he’d be in the red zone with his career yards per attempt. But they don’t throw eight times in a row. Nobody should do anything eight times in a row, probably. But alas, with two replacement linemen and a run game that averaged under 3.0 YPA, run it is what they did.

The other bit was unsurprising and again, microcosm of everything that has been. The Saints were 2/2 on 4th down. Seattle didn’t go for any except the last play of the game. Seahawks punted from 4th-and-1 twice.

Other in-game management

This one is harder to nail down, but has been the consistent summary of Pete Carroll’s skillset.

I believe - truly - that Carroll is a world-class motivator. I think he does remarkable things with creating culture, with inspiring young players and revitalizing cast-outs. He seems to be able to get a lot out of certain players. Not everybody, and I’m not smart enough to identify what his niche pattern is with hitting home runs.

On the other hand he has not proven himself to be a plus coach after kickoff. I am unsure of what he brings to the organization for 60 minutes that’s better than what other head coaches bring.

What we’ve discussed above is some of it, but the periods where a Pete Carroll team appears wildly undisciplined is another:

Players may hate Bill Belichick, and he’s not a particularly wonderful example at this moment, but at least you knew that if things got this disorganized something would be done about it. He’s traded dudes, benched them, the whole works.

Carroll meanwhile, has talked almost every week about how the mistakes the defense had been making were things they worked on in practice and he had no idea why they weren’t translating.

Well now they finally are, and Russell Wilson is out, and instead of being 4-1 when that happened, the team is on pace to have a loss column double the wins.

Where do we go from here?

The reason I chose the patterns above, is because they are the elements put on display for the fans every week. Those are things we can see, wonder (and ask Pete himself!) about, evaluate, and second guess.

Fans don’t feel like they need NFL coaching credentials to believe a timeout is worth more than five yards in most situations, or think things like “for the love of all that is holy why is Tre Flowers playing 15 yards away from his receiver.”

This time, during this season, it feels like Pete Carroll might have offered one too many decisions to be questioned. The fanbase is no longer his.