By Travis Duncan
Two key problems from Sunday's loss 34-12 to the Bengals are making fans and the Seattle media question Pete Carroll's ability as an NFL head football coach. Some have had held out hope but are now turning. Others are revisiting clock-management scenarios from last season and again voicing their displeasure about Carroll.
The first point of contention is since Tarvaris Jackson clearly was able to play, why didn't he come into the game until the Seahawks' fourth offensive series and with 10 minutes remaining in the first half?
Secondly, at the end of the first half, when Marshawn Lynch ran for the first down on 4th and 2 on the Bengals three-yard line, why didn't Carroll save a timeout for that scenario? The decision to go for it is also debatable, given the overall inability score points, but the "clock management" issue is more upsetting to Seattle fans.
Carroll was hoping Lynch could punch it in from three-yards out. Throughout the game Lynch simply wasn't able to penetrate against the Bengals. He carried the ball 16 times for 24 yards in the game averaging 1.5 yards per carry. It simply wasn't there. He was able to score the team's only touchdown in the fourth quarter on a two-yard run but that play withstanding, the Seahawks wasted downs every time they ran it.
As for the decision to start Whitehurst-that is the puzzler. More than anything it looks like it was simple indecision by the head coach.
Whitehurst did not play terribly in the three series he was in the game. He was sacked twice and tried to move around and find open receivers, but the Cincinnati pass rush wasn't going to allow him to do much.
Once he was in the game, Jackson played as well as he has in any game thus far. Even with the pressure and having to look out of the corner of his eye to see if James Carpenter had let another man go by him.
Carpenter was serviceable but when he was beat he was beat bad. Also the rush from his side often forces Jackson or Whitehurst to take the underneath receiver more often then they probably would like to, preventing deep passes.
Defensively, the Seahawks did everything they could. They were beat twice by Andy Dalton and could have done a better job against running back Benard Scott. But all things considered the story looked frighteningly familiar: the Seahawks defense left everything on the field and the offense was a day late and a dollar short in the fourth quarter.
Andy Dalton was limited to 18 of 29 completions for 168 yards with two interceptions but his two touchdowns to A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson were enough. On both touchdowns the receivers simply had a step on the Seattle secondary and Dalton took his shot. Other than that Seattle did a nice job stopping the rookie-who didn't look like a rookie.
Had the offense done its share of the work, stopping the Bengals rushing attack on a few more key plays may have made a difference. Cincinnati rushed for 92 yards on 26 carries.
The evolution of how a coach begins to fall out of the good graces in a community, I believe, always starts with the local media. Here is a sampling via Mike Sando of ESPN.com
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times writes under the headline "Take a chance? Pete Carroll will Nike: He'll just do it"
"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 responsibility, but that's very different from actually changing his M.O."
Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times "It would be nice if we could put it all on Carroll's terrible clock management and decision to bypass a field goal to try to score a touchdown at the end of the first half. That's what made Carroll refer to himself as "hormonal" and use adjectives like "frickin' " to describe his frustration after the second quarter expired with Marshawn Lynch falling inches from the end zone. But the Seahawks' problems didn't stop there. The offense was a disaster to start the game. This is where the season gets especially difficult. The Seahawks can't pretend anymore. They are who they figured they would be — a bad team waiting for young talent to develop, hoping that management has made the correct personnel decisions and needing the coaching staff to adapt and give the players a better chance to be successful."
David Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune "Carroll taking the blame and saying he’s got to get better is admirable. And surely the team benefits in many ways from Carroll’s energy and collegial approach. But players look to coaches to help them win games, and too many of these sorts of games eventually erode a coach’s credibility with the players and fans."
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