RENTON, Wash. – The first moment where Pete Carroll could tell the frustration was growing in his Seahawks team came when normally sure-handed receivers like Sidney Rice and Zach Miller started seeing passes hit the ground.
Then came Marshawn Lynch animatedly throwing his arms around in disgust and later vehemently talking with a coach on the sideline as Seattle’s run game continued to flounder.
Carroll has an unhappy group on his hands. Keeping that frustration from becoming a divisive rift is now one of his challenges.
“There’s already frustration now. I think you could see it in our play. I addressed that,” Carroll said. “I think our guys were over-trying at times and it got us a little out of whack and it even showed up catching the football. … I think that comes from pressing, which is a result of frustration. I think it’s already here. They’re already frustrated, and I am, too.”
There were plenty of questions facing Carroll on Monday after the Seahawks dropped a 34-12 decision to Cincinnati on Sunday for their second straight loss, and fell four games behind San Francisco in the NFC West.
Carroll said he can see how a rift could be developing with the Seahawks defense playing well for the second straight week and allowing the Bengals just three offensive points in the second half, but Seattle’s offense continuing to stumble.
Cincinnati’s two second-half touchdowns both came late in the fourth quarter – one on a punt return by Brandon Tate and the other on an interception return by Reggie Nelson. Seattle’s defense gave up just 84 yards in the second half that gave the Seahawks a chance to rally from a 17-3 halftime deficit.
“There were some very good things there that give us a chance to continue to keep growing and give us a chance to stay in games until we can balance out the offense,” Carroll said.
But that offense remains Seattle’s biggest headache, and it’s partly self-inflicted. Carroll was left to explain why that deficit occurred in the first place and how much of that was due to his decision to start Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback.
Whitehurst took most of the snaps in practice last week as Tarvaris Jackson continued to recover from his strained pectoral. Jackson got his most extensive work on Friday and went through an early workout at the stadium on Sunday. But the situation with Jackson’s injury was so tenuous, Carroll said, that Jackson asked to take very limited snaps during the regular pregame routine.
It was Carroll’s goal to use only Whitehurst and give Jackson an extra week of rest, but by early in the second quarter it was clear Whitehurst wasn’t the answer. Jackson went on to throw for a career-high 323 yards in just 21/2 quarters.
Carroll said he’s going with the idea that Jackson will be his starter in Dallas and that fixing Seattle’s run game is a top priority.
The Seahawks were held to 61 yards rushing – 28 coming on one run by Leon Washington – and Lynch managed just 24 yards on 16 carries.
Even though he expressed his frustration visibly on the field, Lynch put much of the blame on himself afterward.
“I just felt the first half was kind of my fault that the offense didn’t get going the way it should have. There were a couple plays out there where I feel myself, I didn’t execute right, and I think those were plays that would have put the game in a different perspective,” Lynch said. “Just got to man up and say ‘I didn’t execute the way that I should have executed on those plays.’ I kind of felt like I put us in a hole.”