Seahawks coach Pete Carroll held his regular Monday press conference a day after his team's thrilling 35-30 win over New England. In addition to providing some injury updates, including some unfortunate news for two key defensive players, Carroll also covered a number of other interesting topics. Here are five things we learned from Carroll's Monday presser in addition to the injury news.
1. Bobby Wagner's greatness extends beyond the plays he makes after the snap.
Sometimes, Bobby Wagner's greatness is obvious. The All-Pro linebacker led the NFL in tackles last year, he's the franchise's all-time leader in tackles, and he's made more than his share of highlight worthy plays over his career.
Other times, however, Wagner's Hall of Fame intellect make all the difference before a play even starts. That was the case on the deciding play in Sunday's game, with Wagner telling the defense in the huddle exactly what was coming, and what they need to do to stop it. Both L.J. Collier, who made the game-clinching tackle, and Jamal Adams, explained that Wagner knew not just that Cam Newton would be carrying the ball, but which way he was going, and instructed the line to slant a certain way to make the stop.
"That play in particular, it really speaks to what you're talking about, because he had to go in the huddle and tell them something that they hadn't heard before," Carroll said when asked about Wagner's ability to see things pre-snap. "And when he did, he conveyed it, and he had to wait to make the call and he makes the call, and everybody executed just right. It was really a masterful demonstration of his control, and the impact that he has on those guys, because he was able to tell those guys something, he had to wait for a call, he made the call, and they executed it. Every single guy was on it, so somehow he got that word across, and you're talking 15 seconds or 20 seconds or whatever the heck it was in there—it couldn't have been more than 30—and to pull off a play that was executed perfectly like that at what time was—it shows the respect they have for him, it shows his command of the game, and I think it's an illustration of what you're asking. He is a real pro, but it's more than just what he can do. It's really the relationship, and the respect he has from the other guys when he says something, they do it. That's so valuable, it's just such a valuable attribute. It's why he's been such a good player and he's done as he has."
And while it didn't show up on the stat sheet, Wagner also made a big impact on the play after the snap, as detailed by former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz.
2. Pass protection has been an early bright spot.
The obvious factor in Seattle's red-hot start in the passing game has been the play of Russell Wilson, as well as his weapons, led by DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. But Wilson has been able to throw a league-high nine touchdowns and look like the best player in the NFL through two weeks in no small part because of the way the offensive line has quickly come together. It hasn't been perfect, by any means—Wilson has taken his share of hits and there have been too many penalties—but for having no preseason, a line with three new starters has done a lot of really good things to help Wilson and the offense function at a high level.
"I thought that what was positive about that game last night was that the past protection was so solid," Carroll said. "You saw Russell in command of the rhythm and he was able to, at times when things didn't look open enough for him, he bought more time and he used that to throw it. He also use that to run really effectively, and I think those scrambles, the 40 yards he gets us in scrambles is so valuable. It's just backbreaking plays. You feel like you've got to a guy stopped, and then they take off and run, and he the touchdown to Tyler, a couple other plays he made in throwing game, but then his runs were really effective.
"So I'm really excited about that connection with our guys up front, and Russ feeling the timing and the security in the pocket, I think it's the best we've looked in some time, and I think that's why you see Russ off to such a good start. Russell's always been able to kill you when he when he sits in the pocket and he has time and he has space. We've not been as good protection wise over the years we'd have liked, he's had to move more purposefully. Now he really can do it as he needs to, and hopefully we can keep growing and stay consistent and keep that working. I think he's just as big a threat as he's ever been right now."
Asked more about the line, which features three new starters in center Ethan Pocic, rookie right guard Damien Lewis and right tackle Brandon Shell, a free-agent acquisition, Carroll said, "The guys are doing really well. Honestly, they're doing well. Brandon Shell's a good player, and he's holding up, he has been really consistent so far. Damien is doing a fine job too, he's a really good athlete for the position. Even though there's newness there, he's just got great feel for it, and he's really tough and really strong and all that. And Pocic is playing well. Ethan has given us a transition that was better than we might have thought with a new guy coming in, just because he's been a student of the game since he's been here. He really helps in that regard. And maybe there's a LSU thing going on here with the center and the guard, I don't know, but they're communicating really well. I just think that, plus the rhythm of the throwing game, is really at a good spot right now, so we'll just try to keep it rolling."
3. Why Carroll wanted offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to move from the sideline to the coaches' box.
When Pete Carroll was the defensive coordinator in San Francisco, 49ers head coach George Seifert told Carroll he wanted him to work from the coaches' box above the field rather than on the sideline. Carroll was reluctant, but once he did, he realized the advantages to seeing the game at that angle. With that in mind, Carroll and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer decided this offseason that Schottenheimer would make the move after two years on the sideline, and so far, everyone is liking the results.
"When I went to San Francisco, George Seifert wanted me to be upstairs, and I'd never been upstairs before in calling defenses. And when I went up there—kind of reluctantly because I love the game, want to be on the sidelines and all that. When I went up there, there's a whole different world. It's a whole different world sitting upstairs. Brian had been up, years ago, quite a while ago, and I just told him that's I wanted to do. And now that we can communicate so directly with the quarterback, he said, 'Great, I'll do it.' He'll tell you right now—we've only got a couple games plus the mock games we had under his belt—but he feels like he's in great command of what's going on. And if you can imagine, when you're sitting upstairs and you're watching the placement of the ball—the play happens, and you can see that the balls on the hashmark, and it's third-and-four or second-and-five or whatever it is, instead of somebody having to tell you that when you're on sideline. Because when you're on the sidelines, you can't tell; most of the time you're kind of half guessing. You can see all that happening, as well as see the substitutions happening without somebody having to tell you. Everything processes much more clearly and facilitates what you need to know with gathering information. He's really comfortable with it, and obviously it's working out well, and he had Russ are really on hitting all cylinders. So it's a great start to that transition."
4. Jamal Adams has been great, but can be even better.
After recording a team-high 10 tackles and his second sack in as many games, safety Jamal Adams was quick to point out that he made some mistakes on Sunday night as well, and as much as the Seahawks love what they've seen from the offseason trade acquisition so far, Carroll too knows that Adams can be even better going forward.
"There's a lot of room for him (to improve,) and he's the first to tell you," Carroll said. "He's such an active football player that sometimes his active can take him chasing some stuff that he needs to ignore at times. I love the way it plays, we're just going to keep coaching him like crazy to get it right. He's going to make plays in all phases of the game, but he's got to clean some things up and he knows it. He's asked to do a lot of stuff in our scheme. He's not just playing strong safety sitting the line of scrimmage, he's all over the place, and it would be taxing for anybody. So he's got to clean up."
Carroll also noted that the absence of Quandre Diggs, who was ejected in the first quarter for a helmet-to-helmet hit, followed by the injury to Marquise Blair, affected everyone on the defense, Adams included.
"Really, losing Quandre (Diggs) was a big deal to us," Carroll said. "He has been a fantastic player for us in the short time we've had him. He's just been so steady and so consistent in all that. That forced a couple different moves to happen, Marquise (Blair) going down, it just took us a couple steps down into the depth chart there, and we didn't respond as well as we'd like to. There were just some plays that got away, on a really good throwing team that knew what they were doing and the quarterback was on fire, it made it hard on us. So we'll definitely clean some things up this week, and we just need to get better, we need to play better."
5. The big numbers by opposing passing games are somewhat the result of situational factors, but there's plenty to clean up.
The Seahawks have given up 831 passing yards through two games, the most in the NFL. Some of that has to do with the fact that the Seahawks held double digit leads in the second half of both wins, leading to opponents throwing frequently to catch up—the 98 pass attempts against Seattle are also a league high. The Seahawks also played most of Sunday's game down their top two free safeties after Quandre Diggs was ejected and Marquise Blair left early in the second quarter with a knee injury. But while game situations and absences explain some of those big numbers, Carroll also knows there is plenty of room for improvement.
"Well they've thrown it like 80 times in the first two games or 90 times in the first two games, I think that's part of it," Carroll said. "This was an offense that, I don't know that, but I would think they came in to run the football, and they didn't stay with that. And they just decided to get away from it. Part of its playing good run defense, they averaged (2.7 yards per carry) of rush, so you can see that wasn't maybe in the cards for them to stay with it.
"We've given up too many explosives, particularly kind of in the catch-up mode that we've been in; we got to do a better job there and we have to execute better, we gave away, I don't know, maybe 80, 100 yards in situations there that we didn't need to give up. We have to play cleaner, we've got to keep working at it. There were some mistakes that were made, and some of it was the newness and guys not seeing things together, all stuff that we can definitely get better at. But you can feel both games were kind of similar in that regard that it felt like the other team felt like they're behind, and they played like that and they threw it like that. That's part of the impact and the dynamics of having an offense that's been really productive in the first couple weeks."
The best photos from Week 2's Seahawks-Patriots matchup on Sunday Night Football at CenturyLink Field. Presented by Nesquik.