Pete Carroll on Carson Palmer: “He’s an MVP candidate right now”

TEMPE, Ariz. – Lately, the Seattle Seahawks have been really strong in the second half of regular seasons.

In 2012, Seattle won seven of their last eight games. In 2013, they won nine of their last 11. In 2014, they won nine of their last 10. Those strong finishes in 2013 and 2014 propelled them to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances and one world championship.

The Seahawks are trying to get their engines in full rev mode for the second half of this season, having won two straight games over the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, both on the road.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll says the team likes to build continuity and confidence as the season wears on, and that’s the primary reason why they’re such a strong second half team.

“Past the halfway point, things seem to come together for us at our best,” Carroll said. “Young players are playing better and they’re contributing more and more regularly. We’ve worked hard. Everybody loves to finish well. It’s something that’s really important to us and so we’ve been trying to do that for a long time, way back to the (U)SC days. It’s been the same battle cry.”

Carroll recently came out and dropped the hammer on his team, saying that they should win every game from here on out.

Carroll’s expectations are high for his football team, as they should be, considering they won the Super Bowl two years ago, and came oh-so-close to winning it again last year.

Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman has no problem with his head coach coming out and saying his team should run the table. Sherman says Carroll put no more added pressure on them than what they already have on their collective plates.

“No, there is no pressure for us. I think that’s the expectation for every team when they go out there and play football,” Sherman said. “There’s no other reason to go out if you don’t expect to win.”

The team that’s standing in Seattle’s path to second-half perfection are their division rivals, the Arizona Cardinals, who will pay them a visit on Sunday night.

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, and most of Arizona’s players don’t feel this is a rivalry, with Seattle winning four of the last five games with Arizona going back to the 2012 season.

There’s seven more games for Seattle after Sunday night’s game with Arizona. Carroll feels this game is just as crucial as the ones following it, especially with it being the Cardinals coming to their house.

“They’re playing great football and they’ve been playing great for a number of years now,” Carroll said. “We know it’s a tough matchup and all that, so we’re going to try to put together what it takes to get a win, no different than any other time we’ve played our games.”

Carroll and the Seahawks didn’t get the liberty of seeing quarterback Carson Palmer in either matchup last season. Those two games came after Palmer’s unfortunate ACL injury, which wiped out the final 10 games of the season for him.

Palmer’s back this season, and he’s having quite a season for Arizona – what most critics believe is an MVP-caliber season.

“I agree that he (Palmer) is playing at that level,” Carroll said. “Somebody asked me if he’s a Comeback Player of the Year candidate, and I said, well yeah, he’s an MVP candidate right now. I’ve never seen him better. He’s working really well with the offense. He’s getting good protection. The running game is there, he’s got great receivers to go to, and Bruce (Arians) is calling a real good game for him.”

“It’s great to see him (Palmer), this late in his career, have this kind of success. I’m thrilled for him,” Carroll said. “He’s had some hard go-arounds. I’ve watched every one of them for years and been following him as closely as you can follow, and I’m happy for him. I hope we can play him pretty well this week, obviously, but it’s great to see him playing at his best.”

Palmer continues to climb the NFL’s all-time passing yardage chart. If he throws for 170 yards on Sunday night against Sherman and the rest of Seattle’s back end, he’ll pass Boomer Esiason (37,920) for 19th place on that list.

Sherman is excited to step on the field against Palmer, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, and the rest of the weapons the Cardinals will throw at him and his guys. Sherman says this is what he lives for, this kind of competition right up in his face.

“Yeah, this will be a fun game,” Sherman said. “It’s always a great competitive matchup when we play these guys. Just great respect for both sides and there are always some unique battles down the field. Obviously, we’ve been playing Larry (Fitzgerald) and Michael (Floyd) for three or four years now, and John Brown has come on as of late. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be an interesting game.”

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