RENTON — Pete Carroll likes the fact he’s coaching a “work in progress” as he put it on Monday.
Especially when they’re 8-1 with the best record in the NFC.
“I think it’s a beautiful thing to say,” Carroll said. “I’m glad I’m saying that right now in a sense because we have a lot of stuff ahead of us that we’re going to have to get better to handle and to deal with. We don’t want to peak too early.
Carroll is exactly right. The Seattle Seahawks may be leading the NFC thanks to the best start in team history, but the past two weeks have exposed a number of their flaws. They continue to have a propensity for starting slow, their run defense has been poor and quarterback Russell Wilson has been exposed to far more hits than Seattle would like to see its quarterback take.
Still, the Seahawks are finding ways to win despite the problems. The latest came Sunday when they rallied from 21-0 down to beat Tampa Bay 27-24 in overtime. It was the Seahawks 12th straight win at home, tying the franchise record for consecutive home wins.
For the second straight week, Seattle was a double-digit favorite and yet was pushed to the brink. It happened last Monday night in St. Louis when the Seahawks were shoved to the final yard on the final play before pulling out a 14-9 win over the Rams.
Then came Sunday when the Seahawks dug themselves a 21-point hole, then staged the biggest comeback in franchise history against the winless Bucs. It’s not the way Seattle wants to play, but as long as they keep winning Carroll is willing to live with the lessons that come with getting ugly victories.
Tampa Bay’s success running the ball with Mike James came on the heels of last Monday and St. Louis controlling the line of scrimmage against the Seahawks. The Rams rushed for 200 yards, the Bucs ran for 205. It marked the first time since the 2002 season that the Seahawks allowed consecutive opponents to run for at least 200 yards.
It’s a surprising two weeks of struggle stopping the ground game considering how good Seattle was prior to the last two games. The Seahawks gave up 66 yards rushing to Tennessee in Week 6 and 30 yards to Arizona in Week 7. Six of nine opponents have run for at least 100 yards on the Seahawks after only five reached the century mark the entire 2012 regular season.
Carroll said the way the front seven is fitting against the runs has been off, and many of the problems are with the linebackers.
“We’re just off a little bit and we have not fixed it in these two weeks. With that many yards being run we have to work hard at it and it’s a big dedicated effort because we don’t want to go that way,” Carroll asaid. “We have 38 runs and 40 runs the last two weeks. That’s because it’s available. They won’t run it that many times if we’re playing it better. We have work to do.”
That work also extends to the offensive line where Wilson was not sacked for the first time all season but came out of Sunday as battered as he’s been. The Bucs registered six quarterback hits officially and many of those were clear, powerful shots on Wilson.
It’s been a growing accumulation of hits that Wilson has taken in recent weeks. He was sacked seven times and hit 10 times by the Rams, and sacked three times and hit another nine the week before against Arizona. Carroll said there was no chance of Wilson missing practice time this week, but his quarterback was a little beaten up.
“He was real proud today. He was banged up, but he’ll be OK and we think we’ll put together a great week. We just have to do a better job of keeping him clean. We gave up no sacks, but he still got hit and he got hit substantially with a couple of penalties in there too. He got hit pretty good but he’s a tremendous athlete to take those hits and roll with it.”
Notes: C Max Unger and DE Red Bryant both suffered concussions against the Bucs and the status of each for Sunday’s game at Atlanta is unknown. … Carroll said he’s not expecting WR Percy Harvin to be ready this week. Shortly after Carroll’s press conference ended, Harvin tweeted that he’s, “getting very very close.”