Pete Carroll ripped unfairly for calls in Seahawks big win

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 03: Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks looks on against the Los Angeles Rams at CenturyLink Field on October 3, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 03: Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks looks on against the Los Angeles Rams at CenturyLink Field on October 3, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /

The Seahawks pulled off a big win against the Rams. Judging by some of the criticism, you’d think Pete Carroll had nothing to do with it.

Basking in the afterglow of a win like the Seahawks pulled off over the Rams, you just want to stay in that happy little bubble. All you want to do is talk about all the amazing plays. You picture the relentless runs of Chris Carson. You see the amazing escapes of Russell Wilson. And yes, you replay The Catch by Tyler Lockett – no descriptive needed. And then someone has to badmouth some calls by Pete Carroll and ruin it all.

I’m not about to say the man is infallible. We all know that he truly made some brutal decisions in the loss to the Saints. There is no way to defend the choice to not call a timeout as the first half wound down, trailing 20-7. The call to kick an extra point instead of going for two was – well, it was brutal. To his credit, Carroll thoroughly owned those decisions and shouldered the blame. That’s a head coach’s job, to take the heat when the team loses. Besides that, he was right. The loss to New Orleans was on him.

So we come off this amazingly good Thursday night win, and there are questions about a couple of big decisions by Pete Carroll again. Specifically, Mike Florio has questions. He describes these decisions as “head-scratching”. The headline states there were multiple instances, yet Florio describes two. No, Florio doesn’t write his own headlines, and yes, two is a multiple of one. The implication is quite different from the reality. Try this: “Pete Carroll makes two questionable calls out of 146 plays.” Reads a bit differently, doesn’t it?

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But were those two decisions really questionable? The first call mentioned was the option the Seahawks ran on third and two with 1:57 left in the game. Chris Carson had a terrific game, to be sure. But the Rams had stopped him for either no gain or a loss five times. One of those stops came on third and two, the other on third and one. So a Carson run was by no means automatic.

So Pete Carroll dialed up the option. Florio and other critics seem to forget that Russell Wilson was pretty elusive himself against the Rams. DangeRuss had run the ball eight times and picked up 32 yards. Tyler Lockett was trailing, and he’d already made the highlight reel of the 2019 season. How often have you read articles screaming for Carroll to put the ball in the hands of Wilson? Oh look, here’s one by Mike Florio. In his praise of Wilson, he writes “[Wilson showed] multiple examples of gyrating away from pressure”. Wow, it sounds like I want that guy with the ball in a crucial third-down situation.

The other supposed bad decision was the decision to kick a field goal on fourth and one at the Losa Angels 30-yard line. So let’s reset this. There’s 1:38 left on the clock. You’re ahead 14-6. Your defense has kept the Rams out of the end zone so far, holding them to two field goals. You ran Carson on third and one but the Rams stopped him for no gain. You signed last year’s Pro Bowl kicker Jason Myers exactly for these situations. Please tell me how any of this points to a bad decision. If Myers makes it, you’re ahead 17-6. If he misses, the Rams have to drive 62 yards in a minute and a half. The second scenario played out, but the odds were very much in Carroll’s favor in every aspect of that call.

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I grant you that at times it’s far easier to find faults than it is virtues. It’s far easier to point at two choices and ask, “Why would you do that?” than to nod at the other hundred-plus choices that went right. Considering what Russell Wilson had already accomplished in this game, you better believe I’m putting the ball in his hands on third and two. Pete Carroll has made some bad calls before, as have we all. He made the right calls in the win over the Rams.