Pete Carroll looks back, and ahead: ‘We’re in the middle of something special’

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 14:  Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll looks on against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on January 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 14: Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll looks on against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on January 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

SEATTLE – Part optimist, part realist, coach Pete Carroll gave a lengthy postmortem on the Seattle Seahawks’ season on Monday afternoon at the VMAC.

In short, a flood of injuries and the failure to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs were the two things Carroll said were the primary factors in the Seahawks’ falling short of making it back to the Super Bowl for the third time since he’s been in Seattle.

“Just start with the QB, and Thomas (Rawls), “Carroll said. “I think those two are just so obvious. You can see how fast Russell can run and what he can do and for not even half the schedule where he had that kind of freedom.

“And Thomas was banged up the whole time. And it was hard for him to overcome it and get through it. We saw what he’s like when he’s right, and we were counting on Thomas being at that point when he returned. And unfortunately, he broke his leg in the Rams game, differently than the other injury. My hat’s off to Thomas. How much more difficult can it be for a guy trying to get back and help his team?”

Carroll said he was proud of the way the team fought through various rough patches this season, saying the connection between players in the locker room was as tight “as any team that we’ve had at any time” during his years in Seattle.

“Based on the character, based on the connection, based on the love that they have for one another, I think we’re in the middle of something special,” Carroll said. “I continue to feel like that.”

Carroll said Tyler Lockett and Earl Thomas should be recovered from their respective injuries in time to return for the start of next season.

A handful of close losses this season – including a late-season loss at home to the Arizona Cardinals – ultimately cost the Seahawks the No. 2 seed in the NFC and their clearest path the to Super Bowl. Carroll said it was a good reminder that every game is important.

“That’s why every game is a championship game, because you don’t know which game is gonna be the factor,” he said.

Carroll also made public a previously unreported injury to cornerback Richard Sherman. Carroll said Sherman suffered a knee injury that slowed him, and might’ve contributed to the chippy attitude that emerged both on the sidelines and with the media during the latter stages of the season.

Carroll said he had a long conversation with Sherman on Sunday to “make sure that we left on really good terms” going into the offseason.

“I think there were a couple outbursts that were documented well that really took us to a place we don’t want to be,” Carroll said. “We don’t want any part of it.  The emotional side of it took it to a place that was a distraction that we had to get through. And we did. We did deal with it and got through it, probably better on the inside than the outside, for those watching. We were able to go directly at stuff, we grew from it. Sometimes, the setbacks can allow you to grow, and they did.

“But we don’t need those distractions. It’s hard enough. It’s hard enough when everybod is in lockstep and all that. We get it. We know what happened. We dealt with it.  When it was time to reprimand, we did. When it was time to take action, we did.”

He said the team might look for help in the draft at linebacker and cornerback, where starter DeShawn Shead could be out for an extended stretch after suffering a severe ACL injury in Saturday’s loss to Atlanta.

Carroll said the Seahawks will continue to emphasize competition, and said he warned his team that a “whole slew” of new players will be brought in before next season.

“We do have the opportunity to be a really good team over a long period of time,” Carroll said. “We’re close. We were close again this year.”

Carroll said he anticipates there might be some changes on the coaching staff. Offensive line coach Tom Cable interviewed Sunday to be the San Francisco 49ers’ head coach, and Carroll said he think there’s a good chance Cable will land the job.

He also offered a strong vote of confidence for offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, whose play-calling has come under fire at times from some groups of fans.

“I’m sorry to say this, but they don’t what they’re talking about,” Carroll said. “Darrell does a great job.”

The next big date on the calendar is March 7, when free agency begins. The draft will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia.

“We’re going to get better,” Carroll said. “To think otherwise would be crazy.”