Assessing The Defense & Other Things We Learned From Pete Carroll's Monday Press Conference

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Seahawks are back in Seattle following their first loss of the season, an overtime defeat to the Arizona Cardinals that was just as tough to stomach a day later after reviewing the film.

"We're no less disappointed in what happened in that game after looking at the film," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "There were so many opportunities to win the football game. We've been in these situations where we count on things to happen and the right plays happen and the right situations and the right complementary play occurs, and we just missed it. So they got a good win, and it won't be long until we're playing those guys again."

In addition to a handful of injury updates, here are five things we learned from Carroll's Monday presser:

1. Carroll sees his defense "making at turn this season."

The Seahawks defense has struggled at times this season, including Sunday night when they gave up 37 points, 31 first downs and 519 yards. And as has been the case throughout the season, a lot of those yards and points came late in the game. 

"We gave up less stuff late in the game again," Carroll said. "We give up over 100 yards rushing in the fourth quarter. We got in a spread-out game, they spread the thing out more than they had been, and we just didn't play as aggressively as we would like to you know. They did a lot of dinking underneath, and hunt-and-pecked with the running game, did a nice job with it, and they got done what they needed to get done, just barely you know. So I'm not going to talk a whole lot about the game plan and all that, but there's things that we'll do a little bit differently next time we play them."

An issue at times Sunday, and throughout the season, was the way Arizona was able to convert on third down. Carroll said a lack of pressure on Kyler Murray—Seattle recorded zero sacks or quarterback hits—was a factor there.

"It really comes down to generating pressure on the quarterback, and it's not just the pass rushers, it's all of it," Carroll said. "We came out of the chutes early (in the season) you know with pressuring and trying to get after it, and create a complement to the front four guys, and we're still there, and we still have to do that. We have to make it more difficult on the quarterback by harassing him. The whole key is that guy throwing it, making his decisions, and we have to do a better job in a number of ways."

Asked where things stand with the defense now and the role of the coaching staff in fixing things, Carroll was quick to point that he's very involved in the defense, and said, "We have to keep working to put our players in the best positions to be aggressive and to be effective, and we need to help them more in our pressure. We did not try to get after them very much last night, that was not part of the plan going in, and when we needed it, we needed to adjust, and I wish I would have got that done. Kenny and I are in there working that stuff out. So my assessment is that we're working really hard with our with our guys to get them in the right spots. I'd really like to feel the continuity of everybody that we can count on, but we're not quite there yet. And I really think that because of the intent and the focus and the guys playing hard and running hitting, that we're going to make a turn, and we're going to turn for the better and it's going to make a big difference in this season."

2. Russell Wilson was spectacular at times but that was overshadowed by three interceptions.

Sunday's game was a strange one for Russell Wilson, who at times looked like the dominant player he has been all season, but who also threw three interceptions for the first time since 2017, and for only the fifth time, postseason included, in his career.

Wilson accounted for 472 total yards, 388 passing and 84 rushing, the second highest total of his career and threw three touchdown passes to Tyler Lockett, but that wasn't quite enough in no small part because of those turnovers.

"It was a spectacular game for him in a number of ways, but it all gets clouded and mired in three picks," Carroll said. "They were just unusual situations that happened, they weren't normal type of situations, I don't think this is the kind of stuff that's going to keep coming. The last one in particular, Russ really tried to push something in there that wasn't really available, he made a tough decision there. The takeaways, they discourage you from being excited about his game, but he really played really well and made a ton of great throws in the game and great decisions to run too, so that's just the life of a quarterback."

3. The Seahawks are looking into trades, like always.

With the trade deadline coming up next week, there are no guarantees the Seahawks will make a move, but what you can be certain of is that they will at least be looking into about every possibility to improve their team. Tampering rules prevent Carroll from talking about any specific players or hypotheticals, but when asked about the possibility that players who Seattle looked into in free agency may now become available in trades, Carroll said those types of moves would be considered.

"I would tell you like always tell you guys, and this is just the facts, we are in on everything we can know of. And so if there legitimately has been conversation from a particular team, John (Schneider) knows it, and he's on it. That means that we're listening to whatever the options are and we're trying to figure things out to see what's best and all of that. There's a lot a lot of factors in all this, not to mention (salary) cap and all kinds of deals. But the point being, are we interested in guys that we were interested before? Yeah. We have lot of information because we've done our homework and stuff like that, so we are we are focused in on stuff like that."

4. Carroll thinks the Seahawks will learn from this loss.

On Sunday night, Tyler Lockett suggested that Sunday's loss could in a way be good for the team and prove to be a galvanizing experience, and asked about that suggestion, Carroll agreed with the veteran receiver. 

"I do, because there were a few things that happened really across the board," Carroll said. "There were a couple penalties on special teams. There were a couple critical penalties that really changed the game. We've been really good with our numbers of penalties, but that was a factor. When we had our chance to finish—we finished the game with DK in the end zone, but we had the penalty that brings it back. So I think it's just allows us to really hammer home how important it is to do things right, particularly as you're finishing down the stretch, and do things right longer than the other guys. That's basically what it's all about to be a great finishing team. And I think this couldn't be more clear. The illustrations when we watch the film today, the guys will totally get it and understand it, and it'll just make the messaging that much stronger."

5. Stephen Sullivan could be a factor this season, but it's not clear yet at which position.

Stephen Sullivan, a seventh-round pick out of LSU, played receiver and tight end in college, but the rookie has spent some of his time on Seattle's practice squad working at defensive end over the past few weeks, his first time playing that spot since college. Despite the lack of experience there, Carroll isn't ruling out Sullivan contributing this season, though it's not clear yet whether that will come on offense or defense. 

"He could play for us on either side of the ball right now, he really could," Carroll said. "Whether we can make that move with him or not on the defensive side, we've got to kind of call it here pretty quick. He's put in good time to do it; we haven't crossed the threshold of throwing him out there, but we've talked about it. He's a good-looking athlete in both spots. He's just a really versatile kid, so we're kind of in the middle of all that right now."

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