RENTON -- It's rare that Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll will openly voice frustration toward a player on his team. And yet, while he may not have named that player specifically it was clear on Monday that Carroll was frustrated with one specific play for free safety Tedric Thompson.
On the fourth play of Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Thompson allowed rookie receiver Miles Boykin to get behind him for a 50-yard gain that led to a Ravens field goal. Thompson was left chasing Boykin from behind and flailing side to side as he tried to get back in position trailing the Ravens receiver.
"Well we made a big mistake early, gave them a freebie down the field. That’s just distasteful. I hate that we gave them that because there’s no way that should ever happen," Carroll said.
Carroll's greatest edict for his defensive backs are to stay on top and limit explosive plays. It would probably be easier to forget the gaffe against Boykin on Sunday if not for another gaffe by Thompson in the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. Thompson leaped too early and a ball went over his head to John Ross for a 55-yard touchdown.
While Carroll backed Thompson at that point and has expressed his support for him repeatedly, the play against Baltimore clearly left its mark on the Seahawks head coach.
Marquise Blair, one of two second-round picks by Seattle this spring, made his first start as Bradley McDougald and Lano Hill were sidelined with injuries. Blair's play against the Ravens left an impression on Carroll as well. But those reasons were far more glowing in nature.
"I thought Marquise did a really good job," Carroll said. "I thought he was active, physical, covered well, made a couple things happen that were real positive and avoided a couple other things that were mistakes that he made. The guys covered for him pretty well and that helped us. I liked his play."
Carroll made it pretty clear that Blair is going to get more opportunities to play.
"He’s going to play some more. I’m going to say it that way for right now. I’m fired up about him," Carroll said.
With McDougald and Hill still dealing with injuries, that playing time may not come at the expense of Thompson just yet. But Blair playing well gives Seattle another option should they choose to make a change. Currently, McDougald is still working his way back from back spasms that kept him out of Sunday's game against the Ravens. Hill will not play this week either due to an elbow injury that will sideline him a while.
"He’s a little bit better but he didn’t just pop out of it yet," Carroll said of McDougald. "He didn’t come back today and he’s ready to go. So we’ll take it all the way through the week and see what happens. Obviously, he’s got a little issue, you know, and it’s keeping him kind of in the spasm mode and he hasn’t been able to shake it yet. We’re working on him and we’ll see what happens and we’ll go day-to-day."
Blair broke up a third down pass to Ravens tight end Mark Andrews, help blow up a run in the backfield, made a tackle on the opening kickoff and had several bright moments in his first full game action for Seattle.
"I liked his play," Carroll said. "It really was kind of like what we’d expect and he showed up immediately as we saw on the first kickoff too where he had had a couple plays in the kicking game that really kind of put him, knocked him down a notch a few weeks back. He jumped right back in and was a special factor so he helped himself.
On the decision to kick a field goal on fourth-and-3 in third quarter:
Because no fourth down decision in 2019 can escape being torn apart and dissected by analytics experts (or at least self-appointed analytics 'experts'), Carroll's decision to kick a 53-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter came under fire following the loss to the Ravens.
With the game tied at 13-13 with seven minutes left in the third quarter, Myers attempted a 53-yard field goal that sailed wide right and gave Baltimore possession at their own 43-yard line.
The argument put forth from the analytics community is that the Seahawks should have tried to go for it on fourth down instead. A punt could have netted just 15 yards of field position if the ball had gone into the end zone for a touchback and a missed field goal gives the opponent the ball near midfield in a tie game.
Carroll wanted to kick the field goal to take the lead.
"I want to go ahead (and kick)," Carroll said. "It’s within his range. We knew where we were on the field and all that. He was comfortable with kicking from there. It was a long field goal, but a chance to go ahead. They hadn’t done a whole lot on offense and we were feeling fine about playing defense on those guys and three points would have been a big deal in this game. So that was part of it."
"And I’m thinking he’s going to make it. He’s good — he’s a good kicker. The ball got pushed, but that’s it. I had the thought about punting it deep and putting them in a hole because of the defensive nature of the game. But with the chance to go ahead right there, and we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be in range, so we went for it."
The flip side would be that a three-yard conversion and chance to keep a touchdown-scoring opportunity alive would carry a higher probability of success than a 53-yard field goal try in rainy conditions. Via Pro-Football-Reference, the Seahawks have run 55 plays since Russell Wilson became quarterback in 2012 on fourth down needing between one and three yards for a first down in the regular season and playoffs combined Seattle has converted the first down on 42 occasions, or 76.4 percent of the time.
There is certainly valid reasons to consider going for it. Carroll said he just felt uncomfortable with attempting it at that point.
"It’s fourth-and-3, you know," Carroll said. "There’s a little difference. I won’t give you the whole scoop here, but that’s getting there. That’s a little longer than you want to go for.”
Right guard D.J. Fluker is expected to be fully back this week after playing sparingly in a reserve role against the Ravens on Sunday. Fluker had missed the previous game in Cleveland after injuring his hamstring against the Los Angeles Rams two weeks ago. Left tackle Duane Brown will be day-to-day this week as he works back from a biceps injury.
Defensive end Ziggy Ansah will also be day-to-day this week, but Carroll indicated that Ansah will need to practice in order to play against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. He missed Sunday's game against the Ravens due to an ankle injury.
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 20: Chris Carson #32 of the Seattle Seahawks runs the ball against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half of the game at CenturyLink Field on October 20, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)