Pete Carroll backs off saying Seahawks offense will open up for Geno Smith. It still must

Hold up. Silence the trumpets. Box the confetti. Call off the parade.

Pete Carroll wants all to know he is... still the same Pete Carroll, after all.

The 71-year-old coach made a point following the last full practice before his Seahawks (1-1) host the Atlanta Falcons Sunday (1:25 p.m., channel 13) to walk back much of the news he’d made earlier this week.

You know, when the run-first coach said it was time for quarterback Geno Smith to throw more and further down the field. That is, to loosen defenses that so far this season have ganged up close to the line against Rashaad Penny and the run while with umbrella coverage against passes deep to DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.

“We need to not hold back, at all,” Carroll had said Monday.

That was with his offense scoreless in the last six quarters and counting.

Now Carroll wants you to know, no, he isn’t suddenly Pass-a-Rama Pete. He says he was just supporting Smith two games into him replacing traded Russell Wilson as Seattle’s quarterback able to run the entire playbook.

“What I’m really saying there is my confidence in him has just grown,” Carroll said Friday. “He had a fantastic week again...he’s just on his game.

“That’s it. And nothing is going to really change, drastically.”

As Metcalf said Wednesday when Carroll’s previous, no-holding-back comment was the talk of the Seahawks offense, “we’ll see.”

Coach Pete Carroll congratulates quarterback Geno Smith during his 2-minute drive to a touchdown late in the first half of the Seahawks’ preseason game at Pittsburgh Saturday night.
Coach Pete Carroll congratulates quarterback Geno Smith during his 2-minute drive to a touchdown late in the first half of the Seahawks’ preseason game at Pittsburgh Saturday night.

Some of this may be public posturing and gamesmanship. Carroll of course wants to keep the Falcons guessing on what the Seahawks are going to do Sunday. Whether Seattle really will change offensively from the unit that is last in the NFL in rushing (56 yards per game) and has Smith first in completion percentage (81%) — but with the shortest completions for the fewest yards (8.3 yards per catch) in the league.

Yet chances are Smith and the Seahawks will indeed be throwing more into the areas behind the defenses stacked to stop the run and underneath the shell coverages of two safeties deep bracketing and eying Metcalf, in particular.

Atlanta is 22nd in the NFL in pass defense. The Falcons have allowed 506 yards passing total in a one-point home loss to the Saints plus their rally late to a six-point loss at the Los Angeles Rams.

“Yeah, I believe there will be opportunities,” Smith said. “We are two games into the season, and we have a long season to play. But I do believe that there will be more opportunities.”

So far, Smith has been checking down on deeper routes and throwing to patterns fewer than 10 yards and usually more like 5 down the field.

“We are just going to take what they give us, until they start to play us more in man coverage and up in our faces,” he said, two games into his first full-time starting job in eight years. “It doesn’t make sense just to try and air it out just for the sake of doing that. I’m always going to take what they give us and try to be efficient on offense. That’s the main goal, to be efficient, and to move the ball to score. ...

“We are not trying to go out there and throw the ball up into double coverage.”

Smith has thrown one interception — last week during the team’s 27-7 loss at San Francisco, on a pass over the middle behind Lockett — in 62 dropbacks this season. A second interception at the 49ers got wiped out by a defensive pass-interference penalty on the Niners against Metcalf last week.

If the Seahawks’ offense fails to score again Sunday against one of the few teams Seattle will be favored to beat the first months of this rebuilding season, the question for Carroll will become: Is taking care of the ball with no turnovers a more important factor than scoring points for his quarterback?

Drew Lock would be curious to find out that answer. The 25-year-old former Denver starter is waiting as Smith’s backup after losing what was a disjointed competition for the Seahawks’ starting job that ended Aug. 26.

Carroll said this week of the 31-year-old Smith: “He has proven that he is ready in the preparation of the preseason and the offseason and all that has folded into where now, he’s really ready to go and whenever the opportunities come and count on him to do stuff.

“There is no hesitation.”

We’ll see.