The Seahawks are back in Seattle following a successful trip to Detroit, one that saw the offense play a fantastic game in a 48-45 victory, but that saw the defense struggle to stop the Lions offense.
Pete Carroll addressed both of those topics and more in his Monday press conference, and in addition to an update on injured linebacker Darryl Johnson, here are five things we learned from Monday's session with the media:
1. The offensive line "did a fantastic job."
Just about everything went well for Seattle's offense on Sunday, with Geno Smith putting up huge numbers again, and with DK Metcalf and Rashaad Penny each having big games, but for those players to go off, and for the Seahawks to gain 555 yards while averaging 8.8 yards per play, the Seahawks also needed a big day from the guys up front, and they got just that from the offensive line.
"It was really consistent pass protection-wise," Carroll said. "They did a fantastic job. Working together with the timing of getting the ball out and all of the different actions and movements that Shane (Waldron) had our guys doing helped, but the guys played really consistently across the board. We have to get rid of a couple of penalties and not give them stuff, but as the game wore on, you saw us develop more opportunities in the running game. They just did a really solid job. If we were giving out a game ball, I would give it to the offensive line."
2. Explosive plays given up on defense are "the big concern right now."
The Seahawks obviously were happy to fly home with a victory, but they also returned to Seattle knowing that they have a lot to clean up on defense, most notably the amount of big plays they're allowing.
A week after Atlanta won in large part because of some crucial big plays, the Lions were able to stay in the game behind explosive plays in the passing and running games, most notably a 81-yard catch and run by T.J. Hockenson that set up a touchdown, and a 51-yard touchdown run by Jamaal Williams. The Lions also scored on a 32-yard Jared Goff pass to Hockenson, and were able to complete a 28-yard pass on second-and-23.
"We have to get better at our stuff, we have to get more consistent because what's happening is that the explosive plays are affecting drives as they always do," Carroll said. "If you have an explosive play, the odds of scoring goes way up. That's the big concern right now. We came out OK on our third-down numbers—we didn't do well on fourth down, we did OK on third down—but the explosive plays are giving them all kind of opportunities that we can't give up. Those are one thing or another, it's not any one thing. It's not the coverage that we are playing, or the style of stuff, or any of that. We just have to execute better and not give up the yardage that we are giving up."
3. Ryan Neal is going to get more opportunities to play.
Safety Ryan Neal saw his most significant playing time of the season, in both dime (six defensive back) and three-safety packages, and was on the field for 36 of 74 defensive snaps. Neal was injured for much of camp and the start of the season, but given the good things the Seahawks have seen out of Neal over the past two seasons while filling in for Jamal Adams, the plan is to start getting him on the field more as the season progresses.
"I really think that he's going to continue," Carroll said. :I talked to him just before this game about this week coming up. We had prepared him to play against Detroit, but I had told him that I wanted to try to expand his play time and give him more opportunities to do stuff. I just liked the guy on the field. He's an aggressive, fiery, feisty dude and he hits people and seems to make things happen. So, I'm anxious to see if we can continue to grow his opportunities."
4. The Seahawks are "still competing" to find the right combination of players on defense.
Given some of the struggles the Seahawks have had on defense, it's no surprise that coaches are considering different options, both in terms of the plays they're calling and scheming up, and in the players on the field. On Sunday, Darryl Johnson started at outside linebacker in place of Darrell Taylor, and Sidney Jones IV got some action at left cornerback in relief of starter Mike Jackson. The Seahawks have also been getting rookie outside linebacker Boye Mafe more involved in the rotation in the past couple of games.
"We're still competing," Carroll said. "We've still got some competition that's why we are rolling guys around to see who's starting. All of our guys are going to keep playing. The guys that have been in there, I think Mafe played 30- something, 34 plays, or something like that. That's getting going. We need more and we'll keep rolling the guys and making sure that we are trying to keep our guys fresh. There is a chance that L.J. (Collier) comes back this week. That will be good for us to get him back in the action and see where he goes in play time. I think we just need to keep working and keep finding our way and making sure we are getting all the right info so we can make the right choices. But now, most everybody that you have seen rotate are going to continue to do."
5. The run defense improved in some areas, but big plays were still an issue.
Early in the game, the Seahawks forced three-and-outs on Detroit's first two possessions—though Detroit got the ball back on a fumbled punt return on the first fourth down, and had a successful punt fake on the next one to stay on the field—and it looked like the defense was on its way to an improved performance.
One thing that showed early was that Seattle's run defense, which was an issue in a Week 3 loss to Atlanta, seemed to have cleaned up some of its issues. Unfortunately, that didn't last the entire game, as the Seahawks gave up a couple of big runs, most notably a 51-yard touchdown by Jamaal Williams, but there were still things to build on going forward, even if the big-play issue is still a significant concern.
"We fit better off of the down three guys," Carroll said. "They really tied down the middle of the defense and did a good job. We really can count on our big dudes inside; they can get that done. It's us fitting, whether it's the linebackers or the safeties fitting up, fitting properly, and making sure that we are in the right leverage positions to make the tackles. I feel really confident in what we are doing in the middle, and those guys can get that job done. That is a good step forward, and there were a bunch of plays where they didn't make much of anything. We had a 50 and a 21-yarder or something like that, that's half of their yardage. It didn't have to happen at all."
The Seahawks face the Lions in Detroit for Week 4 of the season at Ford Field on October 2, 2022. Game action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.