A day after digesting the game film from Sunday's 17-9 loss against the Packers at Green Bay's Lambeau Field, Pete Carroll answered questions from the Seattle-area media at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center, where the Seahawks head coach began by sharing an assessment of how his team played in its regular-season opener.
"Disappointed that after all the time we've been working to go to our first game we didn't play as clean as we wanted to," Carroll said. "We had a real chance to win the football game and in a really tight game like that was — 0-0 at quarter, 3-0 at halftime and all — it can come down to a couple plays, a couple snaps, even maybe a couple decisions, and it did. We made a couple crucial errors — the turnover on the 5 and then giving them a play on a hurry-up situation — that was enough to make a difference in this game, us losing our touchdown was enough to make a difference in this game. So it was very frustrating to go all this time and then we went out there and played it that close, but still didn't play well enough.
"We've got work to do and I'm thinking that we're going to get back to the kind of ball that we're capable of playing, the stuff that we saw in preseason," Carroll added. "I don't think this is a statement of anything other than we didn't play well enough in the first game."
Beyond the Seahawks not playing up to Carroll's expectations, here are four more things we learned from his Monday press conference:
1. Thomas Rawls "Should Be Raring To Go" This Week
Thomas Rawls (ankle) was inactive for this past weekend's game against the Packers, but Carroll said he expects the running back to be ready for this Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field.
"Yes, we do expect Thomas back," Carroll said. "He should be raring to go."
Elsewhere on the injury front, Carroll noted that defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett came out of Sunday's game OK after each player briefly went down with an injury.
"We come out of it pretty healthy and in pretty good shape," Carroll said.
2. Special Teams "Jumped Out" Against Green Bay
With the Seahawks offense struggling to find its rhythm for most of Sunday's game, that meant plenty of opportunities for punter Jon Ryan, who racked up 275 yards on six punts (45.8-yard average), four of which were downed inside the 20-yard-line, including one which was downed at Green Bay's own 2-yard-line. Kicker Blair Walsh, in his first regular-season game as a Seahawk, went 3-of-3 on field goals and provided Seattle's only points.
Cornerback Neiko Thorpe and linebacker D.J. Alexander, meanwhile, each recorded a special teams tackle and proved solid on coverage units, and receiver Tyler Lockett, who saw his first game action since fracturing his leg last season, made his presence felt in the return game. Lockett should also be in line for more reps at wideout moving forward, Carroll said.
"What jumped out to me was truly the special teams," Carroll said. "I thought our kickers were terrific, our coverage guys — Neiko Thorpe, D.J. Alexander — were spectacular in their efforts and the plays that they were able to make downfield. Jon's kicking was just extraordinary in terms of controlling field position in the game, it's why we were able to keep them from scoring and the defense responding with the long fields and we were able to get off the field.
"It was great to see Tyler back in action. Now Tyler will be full-go this week. He came out of the game fine, meaning that he'll get to play more at the receiver spot and we'll continue to get him on his returns. It's so obvious that he's such an impact player back there, so it's great to see him. So we have very high expectations for our special teams group. I thought they jumped out."
3. The Offensive Line Got Better As The Game Went On
Assessing the game film is particularly valuable when trying to evaluate the play of the units up front, and after struggling to consistently keep quarterback Russell Wilson protected and open up holes in the run game early on, Carroll said Seattle's offensive line found ways to improve later on in Sunday's game against the Packers.
"That we got better during the game," Carroll said of what he saw from the Seahawks O-line after watching the game tape. "We protected much better as the game went on. Right out of the chutes we just missed a couple opportunities to do things, we made a couple mistakes, really they're errors that we had, and then also I give it to [Packers defensive lineman Mike] Daniels. He played a heck of a football game and he gave us some problems. We didn't deal with him as well as we thought we would."
Carroll mentioned misreads in protection and communication issues when asked what mistakes the unit made during a day that saw Wilson sacked three times, the offense run just 42 plays and convert 3-of-12 (25 percent) on third down, and Seattle running backs record 53 yards rushing on 15 carries, 30 yards of which came on one run from rookie Chris Carson.
"I'm disappointed that we're talking about that today," Carroll said. "I thought we were moving in the right direction, I've seen us move in the right direction. But in this game we weren't as sharp."
4. The Seahawks "Were Very Effective" Using An Up-Tempo Offense
Two of Seattle's three scoring drives against the Packers came with the offense operating in up-tempo mode. The Seahawks put three points on the board just before halftime, going 74 yards on eight plays and eating up 55 seconds of the game clock, and later added three points from a no-huddle attack in the fourth quarter that saw Wilson connect with receiver Paul Richardson on back-to-back plays to set up a 41-yard field goal from Walsh.
"We always know that we do well in those situations for the most part," Carroll said. "Sometimes it behooves you to play that way and sometimes it doesn't. Russell's very good in that mode and we practiced it throughout the offseason and we like going there."
With the Seahawks' success in the up-tempo comes the obvious question: why not go up-tempo all the time? Carroll's reply indicates the respect the Seahawks had for Rodgers and the Packers; notably if an up-tempo drive stalls after three plays, you're giving the ball back to a dangerous offense having taken very little time off the clock, and having given very little time for your defense to rest.
"There is some concern when you have a really explosive offense on the other side, a quarterback that can do a lot of damage, and so we played the game a little bit in that regard," Carroll said. "When it was time to, we did, and it was very successful.
"I loved the execution at the end of the first half. I thought that was about as good as we can do to take advantage of the clock and all that and then get down the field and have shots at the end zone to score. Then you saw us go to it when we had to in the fourth quarter. We were very effective there."
Photos of fans at the Seahawks' regular-season opener against the Packers at Green Bay's Lambeau Field.