Pete Carroll says he's coming back for another Seahawks season and acknowledged the anthem demonstrations had an impact in at least one game during the 2017 campaign.
He made the remarks in wide-ranging, end-of-the-year press conference at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. It was the conclusion of a season which ended without a Seahawks playoff appearance for the first time since 2011.
"The season has ended too early," said Carroll out of the gate in the more than 35-minute press conference, saying the tried and true franchise formula did not work. "We have a formula for how we win. And we've been unable the last two years to incorporate a major aspect of that, and that's to run the football the way we want to run it."
Carroll says that will be a major point of emphasis in the off-season and he shed light on who expects to compete for the job.
"The runners need to come back to life for us, and that's Chris Carson, and CJ and Mike coming back, and whoever else can be part of that thing. JD McKissic was a really good positive aspect of our team."
He notably did not mention Eddie Lacy or Thomas Rawls. Lacy was a big free agent signing this past off-season.
The Hawks head coach said he didn't have any updates on the status of Cliff Avril or Kam Chancellor, both of whom suffered season-ending injuries. There has been wide speculation both may retire.
This off-season figures to be intriguing, with free agent status for several players, including tight end Jimmy Graham.
"We've talked to him. We love Jimmy and love for him to be with us," said Carroll.
He noted that Richard Sherman would undergo more than one surgery, but has had a "tremendous attitude" about recovery. His Legion of Boom teammate Earl Thomas was also praised by Carroll, despite a late year dust-up involving the safety visiting the Dallas Cowboys locker room.
"Earl got some media glitches along the way at the end there," said Carroll with a smile.
Carroll also said, that yes, despite published reports linking General Manager John Schneider to his hometown Green Bay Packers, "I think he's going to be here."
But the normally controlled Carroll went into uncharted territory for him when discussing the anthem demonstrations and how it impacted the team. Carroll acknowledged, it did.
"I think it had an effect in the game out there that week in Tennessee," said Carroll. "That was a different amount of emotional output that occurred before the game, and it looked like it the way we played."
In fact, the Hawks head coach said he believed teammates were ready to move on from the discussion later in the year.
"I found out during the course of the year that guys didn't want to stay on the topic...It was too draining and too deep."
Yet, the 66-year-old also acknowledged that he took the issue personally.
"There is real life stuff here that needs to be talked about and needs to continue to be connected with, but during the course of a football season, and all those factors that contributed to keeping that alive - some came from across the country, some internally from right in the locker room, all over the place - it was taxing," said Carroll.
He spoke specifically about Michael Bennett.
"The topic of this year couldn't have been more poignant. Think about what happened to Mike Bennett. Think about what happened to Mike on the week off. That affected a lot of guys because the truth hit home and we heard from our fans."
"Hopefully we've gained and learned, and we're better and smarter for it," said the coach, who added that owner Paul Allen was very supportive of the players' efforts.