Pete Carroll met with the media on Tuesday afternoon at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center as his team readies for its Wild Card playoff game against the Detroit Lions on Saturday, January 7 at CenturyLink Field.
Here's five things we learned from the head coach as the Seahawks embark on their fifth consecutive trip to the postseason:
1. "If You're Not Enjoying This, You're Missing It"
Twenty NFL teams saw their seasons end this past weekend, and Carroll began his meeting with the media with a reminder of just how fortunate the Seahawks are to be one of the 12 teams still competing at this time of year.
"This is such a good time of year for players and coaches and fans and all that," Carroll said. "It's really exciting to be involved in the playoffs. You can feel it already, see it in the room. It's just a great time of year, so we're pumped up about it.
"Really fortunate that we get to open up the playoffs at home and playing for the 12s here at [CenturyLink Field], it's a big deal, and we want to make sure that we put together a tremendous week of preparation and everybody's on point so we can play like we're capable and have our best chance to get started well this first round."
Carroll said he can feel the excitement level around the building as preparations begin for the Wild Card round.
"As you go along each week fewer teams are playing and there's more there to have fun with," he said. "That's really what it is, is fun. If you're not enjoying this, you're missing it. It's great stuff, every part of it, every phase of it — the media part of it — all of it. It's all fun and it's really what we work for."
2. The Seahawks Will "Keep Feeding" Thomas Rawls
Alex Collins was again the leading snap-getter at the running back spot this past week in the Bay Area. Most of the rookie's play time came in the second half after a decision was made to pull many of Seattle's starters, including running back Thomas Rawls, in order to give them some added rest before the Wild Card round. Carroll said he intended for Rawls to receive a heavy workload against the Niners, but the impending result of the Atlanta-New Orleans matchup influenced that thought, as the Falcons amassed a large lead over the Saints — Seattle needed an Atlanta loss to have a chance at securing the NFC's No. 2 playoff seed. As a result, Rawls finished with eight carries for 14 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run, in Sunday's 25-23 win over San Francisco.
"Really that's just the way the game went," Carroll said. "I had intended for him to get the ball quite a bit feeling that we would be contending all the way through the game and all that. Then as the game changed a little bit and the other game changed a little bit we just started to make some decisions to try and see if other guys could take the play time away from guys. That was what that was all about. Really wanted him to get the ball 20 times is what I was looking for, and it didn't happen."
Through Seattle's past three games, Rawls has rushed 37 times for 56 yards, an average of 1.5 yards per carry. He left one of those games with a shoulder injury, and as Carroll notes, his carries were limited in another. Carroll said he doesn't see that low yards-per-carry trend continuing into the postseason.
"I don't think it's going to be like that going forward," Carroll said. "I think there were some numbers in there, he didn't carry the ball very much. Every running back needs to get out there and stay on the field and keep playing. He hasn't gotten a lot of carries because he got nicked here or what happened last week. I don't think that's really a factor to be concerned about on our end of it. We're going to just keep feeding it to him."
3. Assessing J.D. McKissic's Day
The season-ending leg injury to receiver Tyler Lockett meant Seattle fans would see a couple new faces at kick and punt returner in the Seahawks' regular-season finale.
Running back J.D. McKissic, who was signed late last month, and receiver Paul Richardson handled kick returns in the Seahawks' win at Levi's Stadium, with cornerback Richard Sherman fielding punts. McKissic brought back one return for 22 yards and Richardson returned one for 10 yards, while Sherman returned one punt for six yards and fair-caught four others. Carroll came away impressed with McKissic's performance, as the rookie added one rush for two yards and caught two passes for 16 yards in what was his first regular-season NFL action.
"He did a good job," Carroll said of the Arkansas State product. "He played a good football game for us. That's the first time he's played in a regular season NFL game. He was very comfortable, competed really well, good decision making, handled the ball well, he did fine. We like that guy.
"Richard did a really good job back there taking care of the football," Carroll added of Sherman's punt return reps. "So it was a good job by him."
4. Frank Clark's "A Fantastic Player"
Earlier this season, Carroll admitted the Seahawks didn't use defensive end Frank Clark as much as they should have in his first season with the team. Clark, the team's first pick in the 2015 draft, had 3.0 sacks his rookie year. He's received more play time in his sophomore campaign, and has upped his sack count as a result, recording 10.0 quarterback takedowns, including one in last week's win over the 49ers, a game that also saw him recover an Ahtyba-Rubin forced fumble and return it 27 yards to help set up a Russell Wilson to Luke Willson touchdown two plays later.
"We should have played him more last year, he was very productive," Carroll said. "He's more disciplined now, he's playing the scheme better and he's just playing more. He's a fantastic player. He's so explosive and his effort is so uniquely consistent. He really gives it up every play. He makes things happen.
"You could see on the return the other day, he looks pretty good with the ball in his hands," Carroll added with a smile. "We could get another guy to carry the ball, that would work. But he's just a terrific athlete but better than all that it's just how hard he plays. That's what really makes him special."
5. Seahawks "Couldn't Be Luckier" To Have The 12s
The Seahawks own a few impressive marks playing in the Pacific Northwest. The team has a nine-game home winning streak in the postseason that dates back to 2005, and the club is 5-0 in home playoff games since Carroll took over in 2010.
And when the sun goes down and the lights go on at CenturyLink Field, the Seahawks get tough to beat. Seattle owns a 12-1 mark at home in primetime regular-season games dating back to 2010, and under Carroll, the Seahawks are 22-4-1 in all primetime games, including playoffs.
"5:15, it's going to get dark," Carroll said with a laugh when asked about his team's success in primetime, a reference to the evening kickoff time set for this weekend's Wild Card playoff against Detroit.
"I have not been able to really nail that other than just the extraordinary spirit of the people in this area," Carroll added of Seattle's success at night. "They love their teams and they support it. They're still griping about basketball not being here. There's this fervor, this energy about it that shows up. Whether it's the Huskies or whether it's us or whether it's any of our teams here, it's amazing, Mariners get it, too. I don't know why it is, it's just an extraordinary relationship that our fans have with their teams and they support us in great fashion. We couldn't be luckier to have them."
Get to know the faces of the Detroit Lions' offensive and defensive units heading into the team's Wild Card playoff matchup with the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.