Another blowout loss has Pete Carroll asking tough questions of himself, Seahawks

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 23: Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks looks on during the second quarter of a game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lumen Field on November 23, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jane Gershovich/Gett

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is frustrated, too.

After the Seahawks suffered a 31-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Thanksgiving night with the offense again looking rather out of sorts, Carroll said on Friday that he's got to find a way to get things back on track.

"I’m concerned. I’m concerned about our club," Carroll said. "I’m concerned about everything we’re doing right now. That night last night will make you challenge everything. There are questions to be asked and answers to be found. That’s where we are right now."

The Seahawks have been limited to just three offensive touchdowns scored in their last four games played and did not find the end zone Thursday night against the 49ers. It was the second time in four games the offense was unable to score a touchdown.

Carroll isn't someone to throw players or fellow coaches under the bus. It's one reason why Carroll is so respected among players and his peers in the coaching sphere. However, Carroll was pretty blunt about the struggles of the offense over the last month of the season and the lack of an identity for the group as they sputter along through the biggest stretch of the schedule.

"I don’t feel that (identity) as much as I would like to," Carroll said. "I would like to feel it, that the mix was good and we’re back to the play-(action) passes that have been so effective for us."

That the Seahawks are 11 games into the season and are still struggling to establish an offensive identity is concerning. Seattle is third-worst in the NFL in converting on third down at just 31.3 percent. They are in the bottom third of the league in red zone conversion percentage at just 47.2 percent. They're also 26th in the NFL in rushing yards per game with just 95.8 yards per game.

With those issues in mind, Carroll came about as close as he gets to being critical of a fellow coach as he lamented the ongoing struggles of the offense.

"We have unique talents and we've got to make sure we're maximizing that. I feel like we're not," Carroll said. "I feel like we're not seeing stuff. You saw the play-making of Jaxon (Smith-Njigba) again last night and he continues to show stuff that separates him from others and we just need to give him more chances. We've got guys in different areas of our game that can do stuff, I think, better. Our tight ends can be used better than we've used them in the last couple weeks, so we need to get that going again. We have some real positives; we just have to make them come to life. I think that has the best chance of moving us ahead and making us go forward. Just looking at what has happened in the past here."

The coach that is, of course, responsible for deploying the offense effectively is offensive coordinator Shane Waldron.

Waldron's play-calling isn't responsible for a broken play on the first snap of the game when someone does the wrong thing. He's not responsible for Geno Smith tripping over Zach Charbonnet for a sack on the second series either. Those are player mistakes that put the offense is terrible positions.

However, the Seahawks run the ball the fourth-fewest of any team in the NFL at just 23.3 attempts per game. Seattle is calling passing plays at a 62 percent rate for the season, which seems way too heavily skewed toward a passing game that hasn't proven itself worthy of that level of faith. Some of that is going to be game effects, of course. Needing to throw while trailing, getting into long yardage situations, etc.

But Carroll said earlier this month that he wasn't happy with where the run-pass splits were, too.

"I’m still working at it. It’s still a work in progress," Carroll said on Nov. 13.

"We talked about it today in our meetings, how important it is to run the football and how it affects so many other aspects of your play. We aren’t three yards and a cloud of dust, we just want balance as best as we can get to it. That balance doesn’t even mean 50-50 all the time, it just means it complements, really works together to strengthen the other aspect of the game."

And when you've only scored three touchdowns offensively in the last month, the search for answers will get that much more intensive.

"We’re fighting to get it right," Carroll said. "I want to emphasize the guys as much as we can and see if we can maximize the players even more so."

Whether it's the run-pass splits, a banged up offensive line, some nagging injuries to skill position players, execution errors, or anything else you could attribute the issues toward, the Seahawks know they have to be better offensively to get into the playoffs at the end of the year.

"We’re looking really hard," Carroll said. "We have to maximize our people and have to make sure that we’re putting them in the best positions for them to contribute so that we can make our momentum felt early in the game. We’ve had some really good game starts; this wasn’t one of them. This was about as tough as we could make it on ourselves."