Carroll says Seahawks need to retool, not rebuild

NFL

SEATTLE — As the Seattle Seahawks wind down their worst season in more than a decade, coach Pete Carroll doesn’t believe a “restart” is in order.

“Not for one reason at all am I thinking that we have to restart this whole thing and create a new philosophy and a new approach and all that,” he told 710 ESPN Seattle on Monday. “I don’t think that. I think we’ve got the essence of the things that we need. We’ve got to build on them, we’ve got to support it better and we’ve got to continue to grow and progress. There ain’t no standing still, but there’s the foundation for doing things.”

Carroll volunteered that thought when asked a general question on his weekly radio show about the team’s future. A day earlier, he had sidestepped a question about a possible rebuild, saying after the Seahawks fell to 5-10 with a 25-24 home loss to the Chicago Bears that his focus was on this week.

That officially eliminated them from playoff contention and locked them into a last-place finish in the NFC West. It’s only the third time in 12 seasons under Carroll and general manager John Schneider that the Seahawks have not made the playoffs, and according to ESPN Stats & Information, it’s the first time they’ll finish last in their division since 1996, when they were playing in the AFC West.

The Seahawks were already assured of their first losing season since 2011. Their 10 losses are their most since they went 5-11 under Jim Mora in 2009. That led to a reset of their football operations with the 2010 hires of Carroll and Schneider, who overhauled the roster. The most significant changes they’ve undergone since then came in 2018. In what was more of a retool than a rebuild, they moved on from, or lost to injury, some of the core members of their Super Bowl defenses, including Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett.

Carroll, who has final say on personnel matters, said the Seahawks were “very optimistic” about their level of talent going into this season. He mentioned their offensive line in particular, saying it’s been “fine” and hasn’t been the problem “at all.” But he said the Seahawks have been “up against it” with how loaded the rest of the NFC West is. They’ve gone 2-3 in divisional games.

Their two Pro Bowl selections (linebacker Bobby Wagner and free safety Quandre Diggs) are the fewest in the division. Two of their Pro Bowl players from last year have been hurt, with quarterback Russell Wilson missing three games with a broken finger that may still be impacting him and strong safety Jamal Adams suffering a season-ending labrum tear earlier this month.

The 49ers have five Pro Bowlers this year, while the Rams and Cardinals have four apiece.

“We like what we’ve got, but you’ve got to admire what the other teams have and acknowledge the fact that they’ve got some great players over there, too,” Carroll said of the NFC West.

Carroll was asked if Jody Allen, who’s been the team’s de facto owner since her brother Paul passed away in 2018, has signed off on the idea that a restart isn’t needed.

“We’ve been on the same page about everything that’s going on since she took over,” Carroll said.

The 70-year-old Carroll is under contract through the 2025 season while Schneider is under contract though the 2027 draft, each signing an extension within the last 14 months.

The Seahawks don’t have a first-round pick in 2022 because of the Adams trade and own six selections in all.

Among the key Seahawks who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents this offseason are Diggs, tight end Gerald Everett and three of their starting five offensive linemen in left tackle Duane Brown, center Ethan Pocic and right tackle Brandon Shell.

Wilson’s future is also in question after he voiced his frustration last offseason, leading to trade talks between the Seahawks and Bears. Wilson, who’s under contract through 2023, has since said he wants to remain in Seattle. Wagner is signed through 2022 and will be coming off his eighth straight Pro Bowl but has a cap charge of $20.35 million next season.

Wilson’s absence and uneven accuracy since his return are among the reasons why Seattle’s offense ranks 20th points per game. Their defense is tied for seventh-best in points allowed.

In noting the difficulty the Seahawks have had pinpointing Wilson’s recent struggles, Carroll said he doesn’t believe coordinator Shane Waldron’s system is the issue “at all” and noted that the quarterback doesn’t feel like he’s still hurt.

“But the results are a little bit different,” Carroll said, “and the accuracy thing, maybe there’s a couple plays a game, and I think that there’s a factor in there, some that we have to deal with that we really don’t have control of like we wish we did.”

Carroll was asked on 710 ESPN Seattle if he’s confident about the future of the team.

“Yeah, we have to continue to build, though,” he said. “We’ve got to get better and keep bringing in the players that can help us make the difference. We’ve got to get healthy again and we’ll see how that goes. The quarterback position with Russ having to deal with what he’s dealt with — which most players could not have handled the way he did — we’ve got to see how he bounces back. He will certainly be great again. He’s going to be a great player. I don’t feel like it shows right now, but I think that’s what’s going to happen because he’s got it in him to do that.

“So we build around those factors and all of the pluses that we can generate. We’ve got contracts, we’ve got a lot of free agents. We’ll figure that out later but there’s a lot of questions and things that we’ve got to [get] through and figure out. It’s just not the time. It’s not the time to asses all of that. But there’s a lot to look at and there’s a lot of positives and a lot of plusses.”

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