The Seahawks had one of their best offensive years ever in 2018. Yet they forgot two of their best offensive weapons at times. That can’t happen again.
Listen, I’m just a schlep who writes about the Seahawks. The coaches in Seattle know, oh, about a thousand times more about the game than I do. So it’s particularly maddening when I and every other person watching the Hawks see them leave a potent weapon on the bench. This happened multiple times in 2018 with two players. One was a very high-profile player while the other flew under the radar. But coaches need to be aware of those stealth guys. And they certainly should know what’s going on with their top players.
The high-profile player I mentioned is Chris Carson. You knew that was coming. The average five-year-old in greater Seattle knew that was coming. Heck, your cousin Bob who just shows up on gameday for the nachos knew that was coming. So tell me, exactly how on Earth did Pete Carroll and Brian Schottenheimer not see that when it was happening?
Yes, I’ve complained and kvetched about this before, along with every other 12 in the universe. I have yet to hear an explanation for the reason the Seahawks managed to give Carson just seven carries against the Broncos in the season opener. Carroll had said repeatedly the Seahawks were going back to the run game. Yet they only ran 16 times in Denver. Sure, give your first-round rookie Rashaad Penny the ball. At the half, Carson had 36 yards on three carries, while Penny had five yards on three carries. In the second quarter, Seattle ran 15 pass plays and just two running plays. Carson was given the ball just once in that 15-minute span.
Unbelievably, things got worse the following week against the Bears. Despite the fact Carson had 51 yards on just seven carries in the opener, Seahawks coaches gave him an even lighter workload in Chicago. This is after Penny totaled eight yards on his seven carries in Denver. So of course, you’d keep Carson off the field.
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Things didn’t start that way. Carson got the call on the first three plays of the game, in fact. In the remaining 58 minutes and 24 seconds, the ball would be handed off to him just three more times. Carson might as well have caught a flight home with 11:09 left in the first half, as he didn’t see the ball again. To be fair, they did try to dump the ball to him in the flat once in the third quarter. That play seems to counter Pete Carroll’s statement after the game, that he thought Carson was tired from special teams play. Carroll later said he misread the situation and assumed he was being used a lot there, even though Carson had been in on just two plays.
I’m sorry, but how does that happen in a league that has unlimited coaches? I don’t blame Carroll for this directly, but the staff is certainly to blame. Clearly, someone on the coaching staff should be sure the head coach knows exactly how every player is being used. And the responsibility for that falls right on Carroll’s shoulders. To his credit, he took all of that responsibility, as he always does. To the coaching staff’s credit, Carson averaged 20.6 carries per game for the rest of the season.
Seahawks could have used more of this guy, too
The player that flew under the radar was Jaron Brown. Brown certainly didn’t come into 2018 with the same expectations as Carson. Seattle can be excused, to some degree, for not using Brown as much as they should have. However, at some point you have to start paying attention to your own player’s results, don’t you? Coming into the final half of the season, Brown had been targeted just 11 times. He caught eight of those balls and converted three into touchdowns. Yes, it’s a small sample, but that’s a 73 percent catch rate and better than one touchdown per four targets. You’d think you’d be intrigued enough to see if he could keep that performance going.
Yet Brown was targeted just once in the next three games. Yes, David Moore was lighting it up during this span. You know who wasn’t? Malik Turner. No disrespect, but Turner got two targets in the game that Brown finally got his first in three games. Turner, who had produced exactly eight fewer catches and three fewer touchdowns to that point.
At least the Seahawks finally remembered Brown in game 12. The former Cardinal showed his gratitude with his best game of the year. Brown caught all three of his targets for 67 yards and two scores. With the drop off of Moore, the Hawks had found their third receiver, again. Except somehow, they didn’t. Moore saw just four targets in the last four games of the season. Despite being a monster in the red zone (six targets and five touchdowns) in the first dozen games, he wouldn’t see a red zone target again.
Back in March, Carroll was interviewed by the great John Clayton, and had a few things to say about Brown. As Andy Patton reported for the Seahawks Wire on USA Today, Carroll had high praise for his veteran receiver:
"Jaron Brown is a really good player that we look back and we could’ve used him a lot more. He did a lot of things for us. He blocked well, and fit into a lot of stuff, scored five touchdowns on a limited amount of catches. So we know we can go to him, he’s a real pro and so we’re anxious to see him develop more."
Yes, looking back, Seattle could have used him a lot more. As with Carson, I’m not sure how this happens. No, Carroll’s job isn’t tracking how often every player gets used. It isn’t Brian Schottenheimer’s job either. But for Pete’s sake (Carroll, that is), the Seahawks better make sure it’s someone’s job this season. When you have 26 coaches on the roster, surely one of them can make sure Carroll doesn’t lose sight of a prime weapon. Austin Davis, I nominate you!