Protection problems cause third-down woes

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said there’s a simple explanation for the team’s problems on third down the past two weeks.

“The protection issues have been at the root of it,” Carroll said Monday. “There’s a number of things that we can do better. But it has made the quarterback [Russell Wilson] move quite a bit and not allowed us to be on time the way we’d like to.”

The Seahawks have converted on only 5 of 26 third downs in the past two games, including only 2-for-12 Sunday in the 34-28 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. But Seattle was playing without four starters up front on offense.

“We’re working on it real hard right now,’’ Carroll said. “We got better from [the Houston game]. There were half as many [mistakes] this week as last week, even though it didn’t show up in the results so much. It’s a primary focus this week.”

Carroll said he believes Pro Bowl center Max Unger will return this weekend for the game against the Tennessee Titans.

Carroll also emphasized how well Wilson has played while trying to make up for the issues on the offensive line. Wilson rushed for 102 yards against the Colts.

“Both of the last two weeks he has taken what they’ve given him,” Carroll said. “He’s had to make decisions quickly on what to do, but he’s very resourceful and he hasn’t made poor decisions because of it.

“If there’s space, he’s taken off [running up field]. I’m a little concerned about that, but he’s doing what we have to do right now.”