Take a chance? Pete Carroll will Nike: He'll just do it
Posted by Danny O'Neil
Coach Pete Carroll couldn't have been clearer when talking about the decision to put the ball on the ground and effectively eliminate Seattle's ability to kick field goal before halftime.
"I need to do a better job," he said, "and make sure that we get our points when we get our opportunities."
Sounds reasonable enough, right? What more can you say when the man raises his hand and says, "My fault. Shouldn't happen again."
Except Carroll didn't say that Sunday. He said it last year after a first-half gamble went belly-up in Week 3 against San Diego. The Seahawks had the ball at the Charger 2, 19 seconds remaining and no timeouts. They opted for a quarterback sneak on third down, and when quarterback Matt Hasslebeck was tackled at the 1, Seattle couldn't hustle its field-goal unit out to attempt the kick before time expired.
"I got a little bold about our situation," Carroll said the day after that game. "We need to take care of business better."
• Pete Carroll takes blame for Seahawks' end-of-the-half snafu
By Danny O'Neil | The Seattle Times
The next week in St. Louis, the Seahawks faked a field-goal attempt, and instead of trying a 50-yard kick Jon Ryan was tackled for a 9-yard loss at the end of the first half.
On Nov. 14 in Arizona, the Seahawks had the ball at the Cardinal 16 facing fourth-and-1 and leading 17-10 with 1:10 left in the second quarter. The Seahawks ran Hasselbeck on a quarterback sneak, and not only was he stopped for no gain, but he suffered a broken bone in the wrist of his non-throwing hand.
And then that brings us to Sunday when Seattle had the ball at the Cincinnati 3, facing fourth-and-2 with 14 seconds left and no timeouts.
That's when Carroll got all "hormonal" as he said afterward.
"It was really simple," Carroll said. "I wanted to jam it down in there."
The Seahawks called a play that had both a pass and run option depending on what the defense showed. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson correctly diagnosed the defense and called the run to Marshawn Lynch, who was stopped just short of the goal line.
That would have been fine. If Seattle had a timeout, which it didn't, and so the crowd at CenturyLink Field watched as the Bengals did their best to maintain a pigpile while time ticked away. Somebody kicked the ball away, receiver Doug Baldwin tried to hand it back to the official and the time expired before the Seahawks got close to running a play.
Say what you want about delay tactics by Cincinnati, but Seattle can't expect to run two plays in the span of 14 seconds without stopping the clock. Not realistically anyway.
The onus is on Carroll, and his time in Seattle has made a couple of things clear:
He's not going to shy away from taking those kind of chances. If they don't work out, he'll accept responsbility, but that's very different from actually changing his M.O.
Consider what he said in diagnosing exactly what happened against Cincinnati.
"I don't mind telling our guys, 'Let's go knock it in and make a touchdown and see if we can do it,' " he said. "I have an attitude and a personality about how I want to do it. As we're developing as a team, we're not quite capable of taking advantage of that yet."
He's essentially saying that his coaching guts are writing checks that his team just can't cash. Not yet anyway.
There's something admirable about this. A certain swagger that is pretty compelling. In a league where coaches tend to opt for the path of least resistance and play it safe, Carroll is unabashedly headstrong.
But is it foolhardy? Seattle hasn't seen these gambles play off yet. Not like they did at USC, and the question will remain whether he can be so bold in the NFL.
But it's not like Carroll is going go all meek now. He was asked after the game -- given the similarities between Sunday's situation against Cincinnati and what happened last year against San Diego -- how he'll temper that sort of call in the future.
"I've got my mechanisms," he said. "That means there's guys reminded me, 'This is one of those times,' you know? And I need to listen to 'em, just help me. Because I know how I want to be, and you'll see it eventually. You'll see how we'll be, but we're not there yet."
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By Steve Kelley | The Seattle Times
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