Their defensive coordinator is already gone, to coach Atlanta. Four-fifths of their secondary might need surgery. The fifth just became an unrestricted free agent.
And the criticism for their choice for the final play of Super Bowl 49 rages on.
The Seattle Seahawks have had better days in their five years under coach Pete Carroll than their Monday.
Seattle’s spent, regretting team returned home Monday afternoon following one of the most thrilling and ultimately excruciating endings in Super Bowl history.
Given there have been 49 of them, that’s saying something.
Carroll talked informally on a patio outside the team’s Arizona Grand Resort hotel before the Seahawks left on buses to nearby Sky Harbor Airport for their charter flight to SeaTac Airport.
“It’s pretty hard right now for all of us; I think you can all understand,” Carroll said of the 28-24 loss to New England sealed by his and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s decision to throw on second down from the 1-yard line with a timeout and 26 seconds left — and to leave the NFL’s leading touchdown maker, Marshawn Lynch, idled in the backfield instead of running the ball for the winning score.
“In the long run, it will make us grow stronger,” Carroll said, adding the players’ resolve and trust in his program remain intact. “It hurts because it was so sudden. It is so far off of what should have happened for us.
“We had it done.”
Carroll said he believes Richard Sherman will need Tommy John surgery — a ligament-replacement procedure — on his left elbow. The injury was the result of teammate Kam Chancellor slamming into the All-Pro cornerback trying to make a tackle in the fourth quarter of the NFC championship game two weeks ago.
“As long as he doesn’t try to come back as a late-inning reliever, coming in from the left side, he should be all right,” Carroll joked.
“There’s plenty of time to work all that out.”
Sherman played with the injury Sunday. Carroll added Chancellor was “super human” in playing the Super Bowl with an unspecified but apparently long-standing injury. The coach said Chancellor and Earl Thomas, the All-Pro safety who played Sunday after dislocating his left shoulder and tearing labrum tissue in the NFC title game, might both need offseason surgeries.
“Guys played through unbelievable issues,” Carroll said. “That was a heroic thing for those guys to be able to play. And all three of those guys might end up getting fixed up here. And they all knew it. They wanted to play for their teammates, and they did that. And they did it in great fashion.”
Carroll said Jeremy Lane will need a procedure to set and heal “a real difficult break” of his left arm. He fractured it while bracing his fall at the end of his interception return during the first quarter Sunday.
The only one of the top five defensive backs not injured, Byron Maxwell, became an unrestricted free agent on Monday. He’s now available to the highest bidder.
Now, as for why the Seahawks lost instead of won their second consecutive Super Bowl …
Carroll reiterated it was his decision — upon seeing New England bring in heavier, goal-line defenders inside before the decisive play — to counter with three wide receivers to the right side of the formation and two tight ends. Bevell called for a quick pass by Russell Wilson to either the left side, to Doug Baldwin who had gone in motion that way, or to either Ricardo Lockette or Jermaine Kearse on the right.
Wilson chose the inside-slanting Lockette, who was cutting under an attempted rub-off move by Kearse. Patriots undrafted rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler didn’t wait for Kearse to pick him off or for Lockette to run to the ball. Butler sprinted back at Wilson’s throw, cut off Lockette from the ball with his outside shoulder and secured an interception that will be talked about around Seattle for quite a while.
“We were very confident in the sequence,” Carroll said. “Let me say this, too: I never call a play, I don’t coach these guys one time, thinking we are going to throw an interception or we’re going to fumble the ball. … So when we make these decisions, just like we make the decision with 6 seconds to go in the half (Wilson’s second-quarter touchdown throw to Chris Matthews that tied the game at 14), we are trusting our guys. We are trusting the process, going with what we know and what we’ve learned and how we compete.
“That’s why we do what we do. That’s why sometimes we get scrutinized for stuff — ‘Why did you do this? Why did you do that?’ — it’s because we believe in ourselves. And believe things are going to happen. ‘Why did you call the fake field goal (in the NFC title game)?’ Because we believed in it that it was going to work. It may be difficult on the outside to understand that, but that’s how it goes.
“There was not a thought in my mind that we would make a mistake on that play — and really, the mistake was a tremendous play by the guy on the other side. Just a tremendous decision and play that changed the game and won them their championship.”
As for one report Bevell had initially called a run but Carroll changed it to the fateful pass: “First off, Darrell Bevell is an incredible play-caller. He did it again, put us right down in position to win the game. We are so lucky to have him. … There’s is no reservation in that thought, and don’t make it out that there is. … He’s crucial ... to our future here, as well.
“We were going with ‘extra’ personnel, which is three wide receivers in the game. We thought about throwing the ball. That was part of the reason we sent that group in. We could have easily gone otherwise (and called a run by Lynch, the lone running back in the formation). But we knew against that goal line personnel we had the advantage in the passing game. So let’s throw,” Carroll said. “We knew one of those downs we were likely to throw the ball, and maybe two of those downs we were going to throw the ball, depending on how we would need to save the clock.
“It wasn’t about ‘Just run the ball.’ That wasn’t the thought. There wasn’t a thought of, ‘Do we run the ball or pass the ball.’ That did not happen.”
About an hour after Carroll spoke, the Falcons made their long-expected announcement that Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is Atlanta’s new head coach.
“I am grateful for this opportunity, and I am excited to be the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons,” said Quinn, whose two seasons as the Seahawks’ coordinator were the first time since the 1985-86 Chicago Bears a team led the league in fewest points and yards allowed in consecutive seasons. “This felt like the right fit from the beginning, and I want to thank (Falcons owner Arthur) Blank for his resolve as this was an extended and complicated process. My goal is to build upon the foundation that has been laid here and to play a physical brand of football as we build a championship caliber team.”
Carroll said he didn’t want to talk about Quinn’s loss just yet, or what the domino moves might be within his staff. Defensive backs coach Kris Richard and linebackers coach Ken Norton, both highly popular with their players, are considered candidates for promotion to follow Quinn as coordinator.