RENTON — The Seattle Seahawks won Sunday, and they won on the east coast no less. So why, a day after his team’s 16-12 win in Carolina, did head coach Pete Carroll call that victory “a very frustrating game” if his team just improved to 3-2?
Well for the most part, Carroll was frustrated by the mistakes that kept his team from winning more comfortably. First-half penalties slowed the offense — most notably the holding call on tackle Breno Giacomini that negated a 56-yard Russell Wilson pass to Golden Tate — helping limit the Seahawks to a pair of field goals despite a statistically impressive half. A rather silly penalty on defensive end Chris Clemons also kept the Panthers on the field on their only scoring drive of the half. And in the second half, Carroll was frustrated by the three turnovers that if not for another very impressive outing by Seattle’s defense, would have cost the Seahawks the game.
“It was a very frustrating game for the most part, because we could not get on top of it. We were playing well and doing some really good things,” Carroll said. “You could feel us executing in different areas that spelled that we could be ahead and taking command of the football game, but we weren’t able to because we got in our own way.”
But here’s the thing, even if the Seahawks clean up some of those mistakes, there will likely be some frustrating games in their future, win or lose, as long as the offense is as limited as it has been through five games. The offense, and Wilson in particular, absolutely took some steps forward Sunday, but still struggled to produce in the red zone.
No matter how good Seattle’s defense is — and you probably don’t need reminding of this, but it’s really, really good — the Seahawks are going to find themselves in a lot of games in which the margin for error is very slight until the offense finds more ways to score. Carroll admitted that is a concern.
“Heck yeah,” he said. “I told you it’s going to be this way until we get better and until we improve and take advantage of all of the opportunities. We need another touchdown a game, and the games will be so much different. Four more points in each game make so much more of a difference than those field goals. So we keep banging away at it. We’d like to be physical down there and run the football. It’s been hard to get in, so we’ll just keep going.”
And it’s not that Carroll is expecting his offense to catch all the way up to his defense, he just needs to see some marginal improvement. That one touchdown a game he speaks of would make a world of a difference for a team that through five games ranks at or near the top of the league in several defensive statistical categories.
“We’ll grow with it,” Carroll said. “As we are with all areas we’re trying to make sure we get the points that are there and don’t jeopardize ourselves too soon. I think you’ll see us be more aggressive as we keep going. Some guys have got to make some plays for us, and we have to make some calls for them too. So we’ll work together to get that knocked out.”
Until that happens, Carroll has no concerns about his defense’s ability to handle the pressure of being asked to do so much, not after watching his defense hold its last two opponent’s without an offensive touchdown.
“No, these guys are tough as nails,” he said. “They aren’t worried about that. They like it like that. They’re fine.”
The good news for Seattle as it tries to improve its red-zone offense, and in doing so increase that currently slim margin for error, is that Wilson and the offense showed an ability to target a problem and make a drastic improvement. After the Seahawks went just 2-for-9 on third down in a loss to St. Louis, Carroll and Wilson, who didn’t complete a third-down pass in that game, said the offense needed to improve on third down. In Carolina, the Seahawks did just that. Wilson completed his first nine pass attempts against the Panthers and 9 of 10 overall, five of which were for first downs, and the Seahawks converted 7-of-14 third-down chances overall, including a 13-yard touchdown pass to Tate.
“We do need to score more in the red zone; we’re not getting that done,” Carroll said. “But the area we targeted last week of third downs improved enormously for us on both sides of the football, so we’re pleased with that.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.