Pete Carroll: Marshawn Lynch is 'supposed to be back' Sunday against the Panthers

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll expressed frustration and disappointment Monday about the team's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals but provided reason for optimism, as well, citing the improving health of Marshawn Lynch and the stabilization of the offensive line.

Here are five quick takeaways from Carroll's press conference that you need to know. 

5. Marshawn Lynch should play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers

Carroll: "He's supposed to be back," Carroll said. He had a good workout today and he should be on track for Thursday."

Translation: Lynch typically get a light practice on Wednesday before amping things up on Thursday. For the coach to cite Thursday (rather than call Lynch the game-time decision like Carroll has the past two weeks) is a strong indication that Lynch will be back as Seattle's main runner vs. the Panthers. While Thomas Rawls ran for an eye-popping 169 yards in his place last week against the Bengals, Lynch's ability to get the tough yards and extend drives has been missed. 

4. The offensive line made significantly improvements vs. the Bengals

When asked about what areas in which the club, as a whole, improved against Cincinnati, Carroll was quick to point out his blocking unit. 

Carroll: "Well, without question, the offensive line of scrimmage was really the best it's been," Carroll said. We came off the ball well, we ran the football the way we like to, we got the turns, 30 carries - we ran for a lot of yards and all. That felt like we're accustomed. Unfortunately, we needed a little bit, we needed a first down or two in the second--in the fourth quarter, second half there to give us the clock, and the change to put the game away. That was a big improvement for us. The communication was good. Russell was able to help us in protection a couple times, it allowed us to get some big plays and it was the sharpest we've been."

Translation: As the club has the past two seasons, the Seahawks are once again leading the NFL in rushing yards per game. The physicality and athleticism has always been there for Tom Cable's bunch. The improvement Sunday came with the communication between quarterback Russell Wilson, center Drew Nowak and the rest of Seattle's offensive line, as well as the fullbacks, tight ends and wide receivers blocking downfield. Sunday's breakthrough in the running game really was a team effort.  

3. Cary Williams, not Kam Chancellor was most at fault in Tyler Eifert's two touchdowns

Carroll was asked twice about Chancellor's role in allowing the touchdowns. He was the player cited by FOX analyst Troy Aikman. Carroll defended Chancellor in both cases and explained that the Seahawks were operating out of a zone defense and that it was Williams, a cornerback, who Chancellor was expecting to slide over and cover Eifert. Initially, Carroll simply replies that Chancellor was not the player out of position, before explaining a bit more when pressed on the second question. 

Carroll: "No. That's not true," Carroll said when asked if Chancellor lost the coverage. "There were zones in the deep coverage didn't get it done." 

"Yeah, we made a mistake on the first one, and then we talked about it, cleared it up on the sidelines," Carroll said about the breakdown in coverage which allowed for two "easy" touchdowns. "Guys knew what was going on. Really, Cary [Williams] had a chance to make that play. He was just inches from making the second play. First play, we made a mistake on, second play they just beat us with the rhythm of it. It was unfortunate, usually we can make those kinds of corrections, we can pull it off and it wouldn't happen again."

Translation: So many times over the years we've seen Chancellor come down aggressively on shorter crossing routes and knock receivers down violently to the ground, often breaking up passes. That's precisely what Chancellor was in position to do on these two touchdowns, keeping an eye on Cincinnati's pesky backs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill in his zone rather than turning to run in man coverage against Eifert. That means that after the tight end cleared Chancellor's zone it was on someone else to cover him. Carroll pointed out Williams, who struggled against the Bengals. 

2. Wilson had a good game but missed some opportunities late that could have made the difference

Carroll: "He did some really good things" Carroll said. He threw some good balls, his numbers were there again. He ran effectively when he had the chances to. He had a couple of opportunities that we're kicking ourselves over down the stretch on some third down, a couple third downs that we could have won, and we just didn't execute as cleanly as we needed to. Missed a chance at Jimmy [Graham] on a crucial third and eight, and missed Doug [Baldwin] on one. He just missed a couple of them. He'd been pretty good earlier and a couple just got away from us."

Translation: It is difficult to pin too much blame on Wilson in this game given how well he threw downfield when the Bengals attempted to blitz him. His lone interception of the game came when he tried to force a ball into Graham (opening Seattle drive of the second half). It is taking longer than Seahawks fans would like for Wilson and Graham to develop their rapport but these things take time.  

1.  Injured defenders Bobby Wagner and Jordan Hill could be out against the Panthers

Carroll: "No, I would think from what I hear maybe it's a couple weeks if it doesn't respond," Carroll replied when asked if Wagner's injury would keep him out long. "But he might be able to play this week too, so we'll wait and see."

Translation: Wagner (strained pectoral) and Hill (strained quadriceps) were injured against the Bengals with Seattle's All-Pro middle linebacker being able to return to action shortly after sustaining the injury. Wagner has proven his toughness in the past and his speed, explosiveness and reliable open-field tackling ability would be a significant loss against an undefeated Carolina squad built around bruising runners Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart. If Wagner is out, Brock Coyle would get the start. 

Hill, who is expected to miss a few weeks, could be replaced by Demarcus Dobbs (if he can come back from his shoulder injury). Otherwise, the Seahawks may have to get creative, pushing normal defensive ends Michael Bennett and Frank Clark inside more to help starters Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rubin. That, again, wouldn't be ideal given Carolina's size and power in the running game. Top Stories