The Seahawks improved to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history thanks to Sunday night's comeback win over the Minnesota Vikings. Now they head into their bye week feeling good about what they've accomplished, while also knowing there's plenty of room for improvement. They also are kicking off a bye week that will be very different than normal, with players having to stick around town due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll explained a bit of what this unusual bye week will look like for the Seahawks, and also gave some of his thoughts on another dramatic victory:
1. Seahawks coaches will use this week to evaluate the team's play five games into the season.
While from a rest standpoint, a later bye can be beneficial in that it allows a team to be fresher down the stretch, one benefit of an early by is that it gives the coaching staff some extra time to make some adjustments that would be more challenging to make during a game week.
And as nice as a 5-0 start might be, by no means do the Seahawks feel like they don't need to get better. Add in the expected return of some injured players, including safety Jamal Adams, and the Seahawks have plenty of reasons to believe they'll be a better team coming out of the bye than the one that took the field Sunday.
"We have to look at everything," Carroll said. "This is our chance to do that. So this is a full week of evaluations. This is a great time for us. To be where we are and have a chance to look back and fix things and get better and all that, as well as get a little healthier, this is a great time for us."
2. This won't be a typical bye week for players.
In a normal year, players would have scattered all over the country not long after Sunday's win, either to go home to visit friends and family, or to vacation somewhere, perhaps a region of the country or world that's enjoying better weather than ours.
This year, however, players will be staying put due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will continue to test daily for the virus. Players will still have a lot more free time on their hands, however, so it will be on them to maintain the discipline that has allowed the Seahawks to get this far into the season with out any COVID-related disruptions.
"We have to be so tuned in," Carroll said. "Rule No. 1 is always protect the team, and this is what this week is about. Rule No. 1 is about conscience and staying connected to team and your players and who you represent and all that. Everything is at stake, and why it's such a big deal is we're out of our normal routine. We can't practice this one, this is the first time; we've just got to do it. I love practicing everything and being prepared and having a mentality for it, and this has just got to carry over from all the time we've had. Our guys will test every day in the morning, so they'll stay at least connected in that manner, and I'm kind of hoping that our guys will work out and be around the facility and do their do their thing in fashion so that it's somewhat normal, because we're entering into a new week, and the routines are starting over. So I'm concerned about guys making errors, they error in their ways, then they run into the wrong people, they go to the wrong place, and they become vulnerable, and we change the bubble effect of what we've been creating here and working so hard to keep. So it's all about conscience. We'll do everything we can to remind them in every way, and the players are going to work at it amongst themselves with real direction is really crucial. So hopefully we'll be able to pull it off."
3. Special teams continues to shine, and provided Carroll's "favorite play of the game, by far."
The Seahawks had two takeaways on defense that set up touchdowns, and the defense also made a critical stop. On offense, Russell Wilson threw for three scores, including the game-winner, he and DK Metcalf connected for 39 yards on fourth-and-10 with the game on the line, and Chris Carson had a very impressive 29-yard touchdown run that featured multiple broken tackles. None of those big plays, however, topped the hit Damontre Moore put on Vikings kick returner Ameer Abdullah to put the punctuation mark on a 21-0 Seahawks run in the third quarter.
"That was my favorite play of the game, by far," Carroll said.
Moore's hit on kick coverage was just part of a great game for a Seattle special teams unit that has been nearly flawless through five games. Michael Dickson, who might be better than he was in his first-team All-Pro season two years ago, pinned the Vikings inside the 20 four times, including two inside the 5-yard line, Jason Myers continued a perfect start to the season by making all of his extra point attempts, Damontre Moore's tackle was one of two on kick returns that kept Abdullah from reaching the 25-yard line, David Moore had an impressive punt return that included an over-the-shoulder catch in terrible conditions, and for the fifth straight game, the Seahawks did not commit a penalty on special teams.
"Special teams have been just lights out," Carroll said. "We have been so clean and so disciplined, the execution has been terrific. The kicks, the guys have been almost perfect, both guys and Jason and Mikey. The balls Mike was dropping on them, he had almost a perfect game punting the football last night. We didn't always take advantage of the field position he gave us, but those two guys, and David had a real nice punt return—we're not getting many kickoff returns, the ball's getting kicked deep so much—but the whole function of all of it is great. And hopefully we can keep it going. No penalties for five weeks, I don't think we've ever gotten a streak like that, maybe we have, but I don't think so. That's attention to detail, and really it's good leadership, Larry Izzo is doing a great job with those guys."
4. Reinforcements are coming, but Carroll doesn't know yet who all will return after the bye.
The Seahawks know they will be healthier coming out of the bye, but they aren't sure yet who all will be back for their Week 7 game against Arizona. Carroll said last week safety Jamal Adams and running back Carlos Hyde should make it back after the bye after missing the past two games. The Seahawks were also without guard Mike Iupati, safety Lano Hill and linebacker Jordyn Brooks on Sunday, and could get some or all of those players back after the bye as well.
The bigger question might be who is able to return from injured reserve, the physically unable to perform list and the non-football injury lists. Receiver Phillip Dorsett and defensive end Rasheem Green are both eligible to come off of IR after the bye, and the Seahawks also could soon be bringing back running back Rashaad Penny, who opened the year on the PUP list, and rookies Darrell Taylor and Colby Parkinson, who both started the year on the NFI list.
Asked about those players' possible return, Carroll said, "We really don't have any updates on those guys, it's two weeks away. We'll just have to use all the time… We'll just have to wait and see, but we're going to get stronger, we know that. We're going to get some real comebacks coming to us, when is the question."
Another big addition to the defense will come when Damon Harrison is ready to go. After signing to the practice squad last week, the veteran defensive tackle and former first-team All-Pro was not elevated for Sunday's game because he needed more time to get into game shape having not played football since the end of last season.
"We really didn't get a lot done because of the setup for the week," Carroll said. "We were in walk-thru mode on Wednesday, we didn't put pads on at all last week, we just did helmets, so we really didn't get a great look at him. He's got he's got some work to do. He's a big man, and he's got to get in shape before we can see him at his best."
The Seahawks also escaped Sunday's game with no new significant injuries, Carroll said, though defensive tackle Anthony Rush did leave the game with swelling in his knee, so again, while they don't yet know who all will be back after the bye, the Seahawks will definitely have a healthier roster.
5. Carroll wants to be there for Dan Quinn, but has no idea what that mean's for Quinn's coaching future.
The Atlanta Falcons fired head coach Dan Quinn on Sunday, and given Quinn's history in Seattle, where he served as defensive coordinator under Carroll on two Super Bowl teams, there was instantly speculation that Quinn could end up back in Seattle. Asked if that was a possibility, Carroll said he wasn't thinking along those lines yet, but rather just concerned with checking on Quinn to see how he was handling the bad news.
"I haven't talked to Danny yet, I don't know what's going on with him," Carroll said. "But we love Dan and all that, and we'll have to see what's happening in his world. I'm not even thinking anything about that right now, this is about him getting reset and balanced. It's an enormous undertaking to get let go in a program like that, and the profile of all of that, and I'm going to try to support him and help him any way I can."
The best photos from Week 5's Seahawks-Vikings game at CenturyLink Field, fueled by Nesquik.