A day after the Seahawks opened their season with a hard-fought 21-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, head coach Pete Carroll met with the media to give his thoughts on the game.
Carroll’s overall assessment of the game was that while he was obviously happy to get a win, and was happy with the overall effort, his team definitely has a lot of room for improvement.
“After taking a good look at the film, there’s a lot of stuff for us to get better at,” Carroll said. “We were fortunate to get the win. You’re always fortunate to get the wins in this league. They’re so hard to come by. Thrilled that we got off to that start with so much to gain and to improve in all areas, really. Really happy with the overall effort, our speed that we played with. We really showed up on special teams, we really were flying. That’s something we tried to come out of camp with, with effort being foremost for us and gives us a chance to be at our best when we’re playing hard the whole time. So that was a good start there. It was a really good job of finishing. We got the game done and again, we came from behind a number of times and had to come up with the plays and the calls and what was necessary, and we were able to get that done. We almost finished the way we liked. We like finishing that last drive. We gave them the ball with 20 seconds in the game and we like to wrap that thing up right there. Lot to learn, lot to grow from.”
Here are seven takeaways from Carroll’s Monday presser:
1. Other than the penalties, Seattle’s draft class showed to be “a really good class.”
The Seahawks saw a number of members of the 2019 rookie class contribute, from DK Metcalf leading the team with 89 receiving yards, to Ugo Amadi serving as the nickel corner, to Ben Burr-Kirven forcing a fumble on punt coverage, to undrafted defensive tackle Bryan Mone being part of the defensive line rotation. It wasn’t quite a perfect day for the rookies thanks to a number of penalties committed by the youngsters, but overall Carroll came away encouraged by what he saw.
“I think we had five penalties by rookies in the game, which is, I don’t want to say is classic, but it was kind of classic,” Carroll said with a grin. “I was really fired up that we got the ball to DK. You can see why all of the interest and focus has been there. He can really help us and we’re just getting him started of course, but it was nice for him to come through and make some tough catches and guys hanging all over him and all that. I saw Russ (Wilson) go to him some situations and all. I thought that we really got good play on special teams from the young guys in particular. They did all kinds of good stuff effort wise and hustling and hitting and all that. It’s a really good class. It’s going to be a really good group for us. We’ll be looking to see how L.J. (Collier) can add into it in the upcoming weeks. Maybe this week, maybe next week, whatever. That’ll just be even better.”
2. The Seahawks played a lot of base defense in part because they really like their trio of linebackers.
In today’s NFL, it’s common to see a team employ its nickel defense on anywhere from half to two-thirds of its defensive snaps. On Sunday, however, the Seahawks stayed in base defense for most of the game, as was evident by the fact that Seattle’s nickel corner Ugo Amadi played only 21 snaps (Akeem King also played one when Amadi came out of the game), while K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks each played 69 snaps and Bobby Wagner played all 77.
Some of that was matchup-related—the Seahawks wanted to make sure they stopped Joe Mixon, who last year led the AFC in rushing and averaged 4.9 yards per carry, but it was also a move that reflected how much the Seahawks like that linebacker trio.
“It’s some of both,” Carroll said. “We like these guys on the field. Mychal Kendricks is such a good guy in space coming off the edge. He’s effective, a good tackler in open field, good coverage guy to add in with Bobby and K.J. We feel comfortable with those guys playing and we can do a lot of stuff with them.”
Playing that much base defense kept the Bengals from attempting many runs, or from succeeding when they did, gaining 34 yards on 14 carries, though as Carroll noted, the Bengals did move the ball well through the air.
“It worked out in that they didn’t run the football at all with their extra receivers in the game,” Carroll said. “We really played the run game really well, which is what we were hoping to do. They were satisfied with throwing it and they did a nice job of that. We need to play a little bit better on the back end on a couple explosives and we would’ve had a pretty solid game. They did a really nice job though. They had a couple really nice design things and they came through and executed well.”
3. Sunday’s game showed that Chris Carson will be a weapon in the passing game this year.
Leading up to the season, Carroll and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer both said that the Seahawks would look to get their running backs more involved in the passing game, and on Sunday that proved to be the case, with Chris Carson catching a team-high six passes, matching his career high. Carson gained 35 yards through the air, including a 10-yard touchdown catch and run.
“It was something that was part of the offseason to involve him, and he jumped out with six catches,” Carroll said. “That was a lot of catches for him. It’s clear why we’re trying. He made some nice plays running with the football. The touchdown play was a phenomenal run after catch. We’re not talking about him lining up as a wide receiver to run post routes and digs and stuff like that. We want to use him in classic fashion for the running back position and letting him catch the ball with space and run for obvious reasons.”
4. Shaquill Griffin was “as good as we’ve seen him.”
While the Seahawks made some costly mistakes on the back end of their defense, contributing to Andy Dalton’s big numbers, cornerback Shaquill Griffin had a very good game, breaking up multiple passes with good coverage and physical play. One of Griffin’s best plays, a breakup on a deep ball intended for former University of Washington speedster John Ross, didn’t count because it was blown dead, though both he and Ross went hard through the completion of the play having not heard the whistle.
“I thought he played really well,” Carroll said. “I thought he played a really good football game, tackling well also. I thought he was on it, aggressive and confident. It’s as good as we’ve seen him. I think it was a great start for him.”
5. Jadeveon Clowney “was a good factor” in his Seahawks debut.
Carroll reiterated Monday that Quinton Jefferson “had a great game,” but Jefferson’s big game wasn’t the only impressive defensive line performance against the Bengals. Jadeveon Clowney, who arrived a week earlier in a trade with Houston, recorded his first sack, had a tackle for loss, batted down a pass, and impacted the game in ways that didn’t show up on the stat sheet.
“There’s two or three other plays in there where he drew a penalty one time on penetration,” Carroll said. “He was in the face of the quarterback two different times; I think on third down situations where the ball got thrown away. He was a factor. He was a good factor his first time out. He’s just as rusty as can be, and barely clinging to us, is the assignments he was able to pick up. But he did it, got through it and was pretty clean.”
6. Tyler Lockett was targeted only twice, but “the idea was to go there, we just couldn’t get it there.”
Tyler Lockett, the team’s leading receiver a year ago, was targeted only twice and had one catch, albeit a very important one, the 44-yard touchdown that put the Seahawks ahead for good. The Seahawks obviously wanted to get the ball to Lockett more, but a number of factors kept that from happening, including a low total number of plays, the Bengals doubling Lockett at times, and pressure making it difficult for Wilson to have time to find his receivers.
“We looked at him a number of times,” Carroll said. “The idea was to go there, and we couldn’t get there. We didn’t forget he was out there.”
7. The offensive line’s 2019 debut “wasn’t as good as we had hoped.”
The Seahawks came into the season with very high hopes for their offensive line, and that group is still confident it can be one of the league’s best groups, but they didn’t get off to the start that the linemen or their coaches would have hoped.
“Not as good as expected,” Carroll said of the line play. “We thought we would come out more efficient than that in the run game and protection wise. Really, playing off the running game would’ve helped us quite a bit in the pass actions and stuff like that. (The Bengals) did a nice job. They were totally playing on us and did a really good job with their coaching. I thought they had a good thought in how they tried to work with us. Really, it wasn’t a good as we’d hoped, and we’ll do quite a bit better.”
Game action photos from the Seattle Seahawks' regular season opener of 2019 against the Cincinnati Bengals.