Carroll's tinkering has Seahawks struggling

Published September 20, 2011

| Sports Network

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said after Sunday's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers that he expected his offense to struggle early on.

That still isn't likely to sooth the panic in the Emerald City.

Just 20 games into his Seattle coaching career, Carroll has struggled to find consistency since returning to the pro level. While he was certainly able to handle the continuing roster turnover that is part of the college game, the former USC sideline general is quickly rediscovering it is tougher to mesh new parts together over a short time in the NFL.

Some new faces were expected when Carroll took over as Seattle's coach prior to last season. After all, if he was going to turn the franchise around, he had to do it with his players. But after a staggering 284 roster transactions a season ago, the Seahawks opened Week 1 with another 24 players who are in their first season with the club. Mix in a shortened offseason of workouts and camps due to the lockout, and it is no surprise that Seattle has managed just 383 net yards of offense through two games.

"Yes," Carroll said after Sunday's 24-0 loss when asked if he foresaw the early struggles on offense. "There's a lot of contributing factors and concerns.

"Knowing how new we were and how few opportunities we had to bring [the new players] along, it's going to take a little while. It's unfortunate and it's very difficult to have to live through it, but we know what's going to happen at the other end and we're going to stay the course."

That means sticking with Tarvaris Jackson under center for at least another week. Like he may have to do all season, Carroll was questioned on if he was considering a switch under center. He first said he would have to look at the film, but later committed to Jackson for next week's home opener against the Arizona Cardinals.

Carroll was quick to deflect the fire from Jackson, spreading the blame for Sunday's debacle to the whole team -- including himself -- while sounding more like a man protecting a bunch of college kids than a collection of professional athletes.

"I have to help more," he said. "I know I told the players in the locker room I have to help more, I have to find better ways to move the football and to make good plays like [on] third down. [Sunday] we had a hard time."

Ultimately, it isn't Carroll's job to move the football; it is Jackson's and the offense. The Seahawks couldn't do so versus the Steelers, managing eight first downs and 164 yards of offense. Just 31 of those came on the ground.

"I'm just in shock with the offense," said Jackson. "We just didn't play well at all. We couldn't get a rhythm."

Needless to say, the transition from the Matt Hasselbeck era to Jackson has not been smooth. After failing to establish himself in Minnesota, Jackson has thrown for 356 yards and completed 62.1 percent of his passes in two games. However, he has also turned the ball over three times, twice on fumbles, and been sacked 10 times.

"We need more explosive plays. We need more plays downfield," Jackson said. "We need to get our running game going. I think if we get our running game going, it will help with those explosive plays."

Seattle better find its offense in a hurry. Though mediocrity in the NFC West will allow the Seahawks some wiggle room, they can hardly afford a loss to the Cardinals this weekend with games against Atlanta and the New York Giants on the horizon. The club is already off to its first 0-2 start since a 4-12 campaign in 2008.

Just two weeks into the season, Carroll might be running out of time to get things going.

LIONS MEETING EXPECTATIONS

On the other end the spectrum, the Detroit Lions are living up their early- season billing as "sleeper team" thanks to their first 2-0 start since 2007.

The Lions are coming off a convincing 48-3 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, the largest margin of victory in club history.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been impressive, throwing for seven touchdown passes -- including four to wide receiver Calvin Johnson -- as the young signal-caller looks to put the first two years of his injury-plagued NFL career behind him.

"You know, it's a good start. That's the way we look at it," Stafford said. "We've got to keep it going, though. It's a 16-game season; it's a week-in, week-out, how do you do that week, and I understand teams are going to do more and more and more trying to take [his offensive weapons] away, like they did late in the game [Sunday]."

Good quarterbacks can make a weapon out of any target, and the 23-year-old Stafford -- the top pick of the 2009 draft -- has the tools to do that. Head coach Jim Schwartz knows that it is Stafford's job to put the ball on target, regardless of who he is throwing to.

"We've got good players around him, but you have to be able to make accurate passes," said Schwartz. "He knows where to go with the football. We have guys that can make plays, but you have to make accurate passes and that's what he can do."

Obviously keeping Stafford healthy is the key to the Lions' season, and he has yet to be sacked through the first two games. He now has a chance at leading Detroit to its first 3-0 start since 1980, but to do that the franchise will have to win at Minnesota this Sunday for the first time since 1997.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2011/09/20/carrolls-tinkering-has-seahawks-struggling/