In the quiet of a locker room stunned by all they’d just lost, Seahawks general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll huddled with quarterback Russell Wilson.
But this wasn’t the typical, quick postgame greeting.
Instead, this one lingered, the three most important people in the Seattle organization speaking in hushed tones trying to figure out what to do now.
The Seahawks not only suffered a defeat on the field Sunday, a stunning 27-13 decision at the hands of the 5-9-1 Arizona Cardinals, but also lost running backs Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise to season-ending injuries.
That left Seattle playing the second half with just one tailback – rookie Travis Homer. The Seahawks already were short-handed at the position following the loss for the season of Rashaad Penny against the Rams.
Carroll also revealed after the game that left tackle Duane Brown will have knee surgery Monday. He called it “not a major surgery.” But he also said the best-case scenario is that it is “a couple-week deal.”
So consider Brown out next week, too, when the Seahawks will play the San Francisco 49ers in a game that will decide the NFC West title, but one in which Seattle suddenly looms as an underdog even on its home field.
As Carroll said, “We do kind of like running the football.”
But as for how Seattle will do that without Carson – who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards each of the past two seasons – and Brown, and at the moment with only Homer on the roster as a tailback, isn’t easy to figure.
“It’s a challenge,” Carroll said.
So will be piecing together a defense that played without three starters Sunday – defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, cornerback Shaquill Griffin and free safety Quandre Diggs – and it showed in allowing 412 yards to the Cardinals.
Carroll had hoped Clowney (core) and Griffin (hamstring) might be able to play but said it became apparent as the week wore on that neither was getting better.
“They both tried and they weren’t right and they couldn’t pass the tests with the trainers,” Carroll said. “So, it wasn’t even a tough call when we got down to it. We held out hope that maybe they could turn a corner, but neither one of them did.”
The hope now will be that Griffin and Clowney can make it back next week – Diggs sounds like a longer shot with a high ankle sprain – and at least make Seattle relatively whole against a 49ers team riding high after the comeback victory Saturday night against the Rams.
But Seattle’s options at tailback are mostly bringing in outside help.
And one option might be a rather big and interesting name.
Many fans began hoping for a return of Marshawn Lynch almost immediately, and until it doesn’t happen there might be a chance that it does. Lynch’s contract ran out following last season with the Raiders and he remains an unrestricted free agent, having yet to file retirement papers.
It also was learned the Seahawks could have interest in free agent running back C.J. Anderson, a 28-year-old who was signed late last year by the Rams and helped lead Los Angeles to the Super Bowl and was with the Lions earlier this season.
A source also confirmed Seattle brought in former Seahawk Robert Turbin and former Houston Texan Alfred Blue last week for workouts.
Carroll wouldn’t say what Seattle would do, only saying that “we will make some moves here. … John’s got to get to work and figure out what we are going to do next.”
And as might be expected, Wilson expressed optimism the Seahawks will find a way to make it work.
“We’ll have to be able to respond,” he said. “That’s just part of the game. Everybody gets dinged up, every team … adversity is temporary and you just have to answer back and respond.”
Seattle has done that in legendary fashion under Wilson, who is 31-7 in starts after in-season defeats.
But this will be a test like few others since he arrived in 2012.
Seattle, of course, knew going into the game that it had the hole card of hosting the 49ers next week, knowing that a victory would give it the NFC West title.
But the defeat Sunday still hurt Seattle as the Seahawks just had to win out to be assured at least the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a bye the first week of the playoffs.
With the defeat, Seattle could potentially fall to the No. 3 spot even if it wins next week if the Packers win out.
It also makes it harder to get the No. 1 seed – a Saints’ victory next week at Carolina would eliminate Seattle from that. It’s even now possible the Seahawks could fall to No. 6 seed if they lose and the Packers and Vikings each finish 12-4.
But as Wilson said, “The good thing is we have a chance to win the NFC West.”
And as Carroll said, that will make it imperative – if not also easier – to forget about what happened against the Cardinals.
“We just weren’t good enough today,” Carroll said. “But really, our focus is gone on that game because it wasn’t going to be on this game after we got in this locker room anyway with the game coming up next week.”
Good thing because injuries couldn’t fully explain the way Seattle face-planted in this one.
After driving 89 yards for a touchdown the first time they had the ball, the Seahawks gained just 135 yards the rest of the day on 12 possessions, held to a season-low 224 yards overall and 4.0 yards per play.
And after the quick lead, the defense allowed Kenyan Drake to run 80 yards for a touchdown to tie it, on his way to 166 overall, more by himself than all but one other team has gained this year against Seattle (Baltimore, which had 199).
And when Seattle cut the lead to 20-13 early in the fourth quarter, the defense allowed Arizona backup quarterback Brett Hundley to lead a 78-yard drive to put the Seahawks out of their misery for good.
“Nothing worked out the way we wanted it to,” Carroll said.
They’ll hope the added work they had to do Sunday night works out better. The season will depend on it.
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