Seahawks coach Pete Carroll held his usual Monday morning radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle, talking about Sunday's win over Dallas, the upcoming bye and the health of receiver Ricardo Lockette, who had surgery in Dallas Monday to stabilize ligament damage in his neck. For more on Lockette's situation, we have an update here. As for the rest of Carroll's interview with Brock and Salk, here's a bit of what stood out:
1. Reinforcements are coming.
Unfortunately the Seahawks will be without Ricardo Lockette for the rest of this season, but there is positive news on the injury front with regards to two players coming back from long-term injuries. Carroll said that receiver Paul Richardson, who opened the year on the physically unable to perform list with a knee injury, should be ready for Seattle's game against Arizona after the bye, and that cornerback Jeremy Lane, also on PUP because of knee and arm injuries, should return to practice next week.
On Richardson, who returned to practice last week but has not yet been activated to the 53-man roster, Carroll said the receiver could have made it back for Sunday's win over Dallas, but that they decided to give him one more week of practice before doing so: "He's ready. Paul could have played this week, but when he comes back, he's totally in the mix. He had a great week, he's ready to go now. He looked fantastic, he looked fast as lightning. We're encouraged by all that."
Carroll said Lane, "should be practicing when we come back. We'll have to figure out whether he's ready or not from there, but that's a big boost for us. He's a heck of a football player, great (special) teams guy. It'll be fantastic to get him back."
2. Reducing the sack total was a big point of emphasis.
Obviously the Seahawks would prefer to prevent sacks every week, but after seeing Russell Wilson sacked 31 times through seven games, they put more focus on finding ways to protect the quarterback, both with the way they blocked and also by finding ways for Wilson to get rid of the ball quicker. The result was Seattle's first game not allowing a sack since its Super Bowl XLVIII victory over the Denver Broncos.
"I know you say, 'why didn't we do that a few weeks ago?'" Carroll said. "Well we did to different degrees, but enough is enough. It was more important to not have negative plays than almost anything that happened in the game plan. That was conveyed and we got it done, and you saw a really good job by the O-line to take care of business. Against a really good rush group too—that's a ferocious rush group."
In addition to doing some things schematically to keep Wilson upright, the Seahawks also got a strong performance from the line across the board.
"The offensive line made great progress yesterday," Carroll said. "The first time in games and games and games, we didn't give up a sack. They protected well and Russell got the ball out quicker, purposefully to try to see if he could help from his end of it. It didn't always work out for us, but our rhythm was very good and very quick and the protection was excellent for the first time. There were a lot of positives."
Carroll also made a point to praise the play of Alvin Bailey, who was starting his first game of the season in place of an injured Russell Okung, which against Dallas meant spending much of his day blocking Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy.
"Alvin played a terrific football game," Carroll said. "He's got Hardy all day long. Come on, stepping off the bench and doing that? That was a great job by Alvin. I was really fired up for him."
3. Richard Sherman came up big on and off the field.
A day after calling Sherman's performance on Dez Bryant “stellar,” Carroll sounded even more impressed after watching the film, calling it one of the best games he has seen out of the three-time first-team All Pro.
"Richard Sherman played a phenomenal football game," Carroll said. "What a phenomenal game. I would put that as one my favorite games he has played. From the first play... he knocks the thing down, to playing the deep balls, and all of the things he did."
Not only did Sherman help shut down Dallas' passing game, he was also an important voice in the locker room at halftime, along with defensive end Michael Bennett, Carroll said. Following Lockette's injury, emotions were high and the game easily could have gotten chippy in the second half, but Bennett and Sherman, among others, made sure the Seahawks' focus was in the right place.
"Richard was a fantastic leader on the field in this game," Carroll said. "During the time we had to take care of the emotions that were going on, I was so proud of him the way he handled it and sent the message exactly how we would want it sent, precisely on point. Everybody needed to hear it. This was a very difficult game in that regard—halftime was a very unusual halftime, it was dead silent in there until coaches got to the players. Guys were still trying to process what the heck just happened. So the leadership—Michael Bennett was there too—guys just did the right thing. It would make the 12s really proud of their guys. They really handled it well and came through when it could have gone crazy, because the guys were so emotional about what happened. It was just a fantastic job."
4. The Seahawks are always looking for ways to improve their roster.
In-season trades don't happen very often in the NFL, so it wouldn't be accurate to say the Seahawks, or any other team, are likely to make a deal before Tuesday's trade deadline, but as is always the case, they will at least explore their options. Carroll and general manager John Schneider have always made a point of leavening no stone unturned when it comes to improving their team, so if there's a trade out there to be made, the Seahawks will at least talk about it.
"We're always engaged," Carroll said. "John's burning up the phones right now. We always are, that's just the way we compete. We love our team, we love the guys we have on this team, but we need to listen to see what's going on."
5. The bye is a good time for self-improvement.
During any given week, an NFL team dedicates much of its limited time to preparing for an upcoming opponent, but with a week off, the Seahawks will spend some time evaluating their own play and looking for ways to improve.
"Self-scout stuff, that's the first thing, because you really can take a focused look at it now, try to get a good new perspective and see what we want to do," Carroll said. "I really like where we're going. We're really playing base defense as good as we've played it. We don't have to do a whole lot of different stuff, we just need our guys to keep playing stuff right, but there will be some little things there. Offensively, we're transitioning some to some really fun things that are looking good. We're going to continue to grow and expand, and try to build off this game with the protection is really important, make sure we don't put our guys in situations. We did some real nice help work yesterday that worked out great."
While coaches will be busy with that, Carroll wants his players to rest so they can come back healthy and fresh for the second half of the season. Teams are allowed to hold a limited number of practices during the bye week, something the Seahawks have done at times in the past under Carroll, but this year players are off all week following meetings on Monday.
"The guys are going to come back raring to go now," Carroll said. "They're going to be fresh, their legs are going to be good. We want them to take a good break right now, we'll cash in on it. We've done this before. People worry about how much break you give them; I don't. We kick right back into the mode Monday when we come back, and we'll be ready to put together a great week."
The week 8 match-up against the Dallas Cowboys came down to a nail-bitting finish, with the Seahawks holding on to their late lead for the win.