The Seahawks didn't just win their season opener in Indianapolis, they won playing the type of football head coach Pete Carroll loves to see, with good things happening in all three phases of the game. The offense was balanced and explosive in its debut under Shane Waldron, the defense kept an explosive running game in check and held the Colts to only 16 points, and special teams play was solid as always, and the Seahawks did all of that against an opponent that won 11 games last season.
"I really liked the overall effort," Carroll said. "It was a complete effort in that everybody contributed. Both sides of the ball and special teams played together well. The complementary football was obvious… Because of the respect we have for that club, this was a really good, solid win."
In addition to being pleased with the overall performance, here are six takeaways from Carroll's Monday press conference:
1. The defensive line depth was obvious.
The Seahawks used a deep defensive line rotation both to get after quarterback Carson Wentz and also to bottle up the running game, and just about everyone contributed in some way. The Seahawks got sacks from four different players, including a 2-point attempt, recorded 10 quarterback hits and just about everyone contributed to the run defense.
"The variety of guys that contributed," Carroll said when asked about his thoughts on the defensive line. "It was really spread across the board. Everybody had something to contribute. It was interesting when Alton (Robinson) came in late, he had a nice contribution late too; he just didn't get a chance to play many plays just because of the rotation. Everybody looked good. Darrell (Taylor) particularly, I think he played 25 plays or somewhere right in there. He was very active, and really an exciting addition as we've been talking about. We were hoping he'd show up on game day. They have a good offensive line too. Remember, they only allowed 21 sacks all last season, so that's a really good group that they're playing with. It was a good effort across the board. The rotation, we're not settled on how to do it yet because we had everybody contribute."
2. What goes into good run defense.
The Seahawks held a very good rushing attack, led by second-year back Jonathan Taylor, to just one explosive run—a 12-yarder late in the fourth quarter when the Seahawks were playing pretty conservatively on defense—and held the Colts to a 3.8 yards-per-carry average. The Seahawks played that stout run defense all afternoon long despite playing nickel defense for much of the game.
"They were a really good rushing team last year," Carroll said. "Jonathan had a big year with a ton of yards after contact, so we had a lot of respect for them. We had to try to keep them in check which I felt like we did. They picked up some yards late in the game when they ran the ball, and we were just running clock. I thought, all in all, we did a really nice job of corralling them. We could have tackled a little bit better. We missed some tackles that they bounced off of, because he's a really good runner, that's why he gets so many yards after contact. What it takes is discipline, it's really discipline. The game is measured, in terms of run, about how you play in relative spacing, the spacing between the blocks and the defenders. That's where the discipline needs to take place, you have to play the schemes properly and play accordingly with the guy next to you and behind you. It takes a real strict approach, it's not just all blood, guts, and hard nose stuff. It's really about the technical side of it and playing the scheme well. I think we did that pretty well. Last year we were a pretty good run team, so this is a good start for us. Whether you are playing in base or nickel, you have to use it all and we still have to fit our guys in. The defensive backs have to work with our defensive line and linebackers so that's what it all calls for."
3. The offense was "almost flawless" in its first game.
The Seahawks were debuting a new-look offense on the road and against a very talented Colts defense, but if there were any wrinkles to still iron out, it didn't really show as Russell Wilson and company put together three first-half touchdown drives to take control of the game early. Wilson was spectacular, throwing four touchdown passes with no interceptions; several of his weapons showed up, led by a 100-yard, two-touchdown performance by Tyler Lockett; and the offense was balanced, with Chris Carson rushing for 91 yards.
"I just think we were sharp first time out," Carroll said. "A lot of guys contributed, and there's a lot more there. It was a really efficient, good first ball game. A couple protection issues that we just missed out on that we could've easily changed the outcome on. Other than that, it was really almost flawless. A really good start."
4. The nickel cornerback competition is still ongoing.
Ugo Amadi opened the game as Seattle's starting nickel back, but that doesn't mean the job is necessarily his going forward, not if Marquise Blair has anything to say about it. Those two competed throughout camp for that spot, and Carroll said last week it was too close to call, and sure enough, the two split playing time almost evenly Sunday, with Amadi playing 34 defensive snaps and Blair playing 28. And a day after the game, Carroll said that rotation is likely to continue.
"We're just going to keep going with the rotation at this point," he said. "I felt—and I think Marquise did too—that it was good to get back out there. It was a little bit more new to him than he would have anticipated. Remember, since the second game of last year, he's played 17 (preseason) snaps going in this time. He's still getting going, a lot more comfortable. He was a little bit on edge trying to do things exactly right. He wasn't quite as cut and loose as he will be. Ugo did a really nice job, really added to the looks and disguises and all that stuff. These guys are challenging each other. That's what competition does. These guys are going to get us really good play. I can't call it yet."
5. Bryan Mone stood out among a deep defensive line group.
As mentioned earlier, a lot of players did good things on Sunday, but one player who Carroll singled out after the game and again Monday was defensive tackle Bryan Mone, who had a career-high five tackles and was a huge part of a big day on run defense.
"I think it stood out the most," Carroll said when asked about Mone's performance. "He had the most special plays in one game with the hits on the quarterback in particular. His line of scrimmage play was really good, he's always good there. He had a good day of getting into the back field and hitting the QB. He had remarkably well executed hits on the quarterback where he didn't get penalized because he had some big shots. He did it really well and exactly the way you need to. It takes a lot from it when you pound the guy in the dirt, and they throw a flag on you, but he did not let that happen. He played a really good ball game, and he continues to be a force. We love playing with the big guys and he's a factor."
6. The NFC West "came out roaring."
Not only did all four NFC West teams win on Sunday, but three of the four—Seattle, Los Angeles and Arizona—won by double-digit margins. The NFC West has been one of the best divisions in football in recent years, and early signs point to that again being the case.
"The division came out roaring," Carroll said. "There were a lot of points scored, a lot of big plays, and a lot of exceptional play. I had a chance to catch the highlights from the other teams while we were flying home last night, and it was just one big play after another. What do you expect, it's arguably one of the toughest divisions in the league. There's no doubting it from the start. It's going to have to make us better, that's what this means. It was a pretty heralded opening."
The Seattle Seahawks take on the Colts in their first game of the 2021 season at Lucas Oil Stadium. This album will be updated throughout the game. Game Action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.