The Seahawks had their usual "Tell the Truth Monday" to review Sunday's game against Tennessee, and the truth Pete Carroll saw was that his team made a lot of easily-correctible mistakes that contributed to a 33-30 loss, most notably the 10 penalties Seattle committed, five of which were of the 15-yard variety: roughing the passer calls on Jamal Adams and Robert Nkemdiche, a late hit out of bounds by Jordyn Brooks, a very debatable taunting call on D.J. Reed and an unsportsmanlike conduct call on Gabe Jackson.
As was the case a day ago, Carroll pointed the finger at himself when it came to fixing those mistakes, and said decision making will be a focus this week when it comes to handling those moments at the end of plays or just after the whistle.
"What was really important to address was the decision making," Carroll said. "More than anything else, it was the decision making in the moment, knowing when we're on the sidelines and knowing when you're late on the quarterback where you have to make the right choice of how to make your contact, and sometimes it's just so split second that they can falter. Both of the ones that we had were just bang-bang hits, and we have to get our head out of the hit, and that we didn't get that done either time. That's not a new emphasis for us, but we just have to emphasize the conscience that it takes that has to override the moment; the conscience of, you're performing for your team and these are the rules and here's how they call it and the discipline that it takes to get out of those situations carefully."
Carroll noted that a week earlier the Seahawks hit Colts quarterback Carson Wentz frequently and, at times, really hard without drawing flags, so players know how to do right in those situations.
"Last week we had a couple plays on the quarterback at the Colts, we had big hits on the QB, and our guys just did it right. (Bryan) Mone had a big one, someone else had a real big hit on him, I think might have been Darrell Taylor, and the guys made the proper choices with those moments. So that's what we're addressing, and we have to have that conscience that allows us to make the good choice.
"Same thing as the hit out of bounds, it's the same idea. There's a big white stripe there and it's, 'OK here I am I'm approaching it, I've got to make a good choice right here.' And that's where the real heightened aggressiveness, it's challenging for the guys to make the good choices at the right time. It's early in the year and we'll get better and we'll learn, and the really cool thing is that, of course we can fix that. Of course we can fix every one of those. That's five 15-yard penalties that all can be fixed, and I wouldn't be surprised if we don't turn it right now and we have a couple of great weeks and get going and we won't have any problem with it. I can't imagine that continuing to happen."
So when it comes to fixing those penalty issues, what is the solution?
"You have to be accustomed to being in that kind of rage that we play, and know how to manage it," Carroll said. "And we've got to stay cognizant of the rules and how people now the referees call the things—sometimes guys might lose the interpretation a little bit, but I thought the game was called well. I don't think there were any calls of the ones that I'm referring to that were in big question, so it was just a matter of our guys have to just stay aware and make sure that they're mindful of the situations that they're in and make really good choices and decisions and protect us whenever they can."
"There was a game to be won there, and that's why it's a real disappointment to let them get away with it."
In addition to those concerns about penalties, here are five things we learned from Carroll's Monday press conference:
1. DK Metcalf is feeling OK physically, but may have been trying a little too hard in the past two games.
Receiver DK Metcalf didn't look like he was 100 percent during the overtime period of Sunday's loss, and Carroll said after the game that Metcalf was sore after banging his knee, but a day later it sounds like there isn't an injury concern there.
"I saw DK, he said he felt fine," Carroll said. "That's all I know so far. We don't have him on the report at this point."
As for Metcalf's performance, which saw him flagged for three penalties, only one of which was enforced, while catching six passes on 11 targets for 53 yards Carroll felt like Metcalf might be trying a bit too hard to get his 2021 season off on the right foot.
"I think he was trying really hard early, and it happened in both games where he was really trying to set the tempo and try to find the competitive makeup of the game, and he needed to calm down a little bit, he was trying a little too hard," Carroll said. "But he was really working hard, I mean really working hard, and sometimes it goes too far. He had two holds on the on the perimeter screens, and those are important plays to us. He was really mauling the guy he was blocking, and it just went too far."
2. Tyler Lockett is off to a "pretty spectacular" start.
With eight catches for 178 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, Tyler Lockett now has 278 yards and three scores, both of which rank second in the NFL through two games. Lockett now has 12 career 100-yard games, including two of the top five single-game totals in franchise history, Sunday's game and last year's 200-yard game against Arizona.
"It's pretty spectacular," Carroll said of Lockett's start to the season. "Really, he's been able to do all of the things that we would hope to see him do, finding ways to get behind the secondary and also just making real consistent catches too underneath. He's just been available for Russ really solidly. So he's off to a great start, and that's really good for us. Whenever either one of the guys gets hot, it makes a difference for the other guy and it'll help us out with getting the ball to DK and getting the ball to the tight ends, which didn't happen in this game. But shoot, he's doing everything we're asking him right now. He's doing great."
On Lockett's ability to make the spectacular catches look routine, Carroll said, "He's always had it. He's just as natural of a catcher as you can get. It showed up in his college film, he was a fantastic player. He's got remarkable hand-eye coordination, and also just the confidence to make those plays and be so comfortable. He makes them look so easy and so graceful. He's really talented and very confident."
3. Bobby Wagner is also off to a great start.
Lockett, along with Russell Wilson, who leads the NFL in passer rating through two weeks, have been the team's stars on offense, and on the other side of the ball, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner is playing at a ridiculously high level in his 10th season. Wagner started his season with a 13-tackle performance against Indianapolis that almost felt routine by his high standards, but on Sunday he took his game to another level, recording a franchise-record 20 tackles as well as a sack.
"He's off to a great start. He's been extremely active," Carroll said. "… He' just playing really good, he's really on his game, and he's handling everything really well so far. He's doing great."
4. Al Woods is thriving after a year off.
Veteran defensive tackle Al Woods took opted out last season due to COVID-19 concerns because his wife was pregnant, and during training camp the 11-year veteran said that time off might have helped him in that he felt healthier than he had in years. And while it has only been two games, Woods has indeed played very well despite a year away from football, including Sunday's game that saw him record a sack and a career-high seven tackles on a day they needed interior linemen to step up with Bryan Mone unavailable due to injury.
"Al played a terrific football game," Carroll said. "There were a ton of plays he was involved with, not just making the tackle, but contributing to the blocking scheme and keeping linebackers free. He had a lot of responsibility in that yesterday, and he really held the line of scrimmage great, pushed the pocket well, had a great sack for us and was a factor pushing the middle in some of the pass rushes that other guys had success on. So he just played a really good football game. He had played a lot of plays yesterday with Bryan not there—I think he and Poon (Ford) both played 60-some plays. That's a lot of plays for those guys to play. We missed Bryan."
Carroll admitted he did wonder how Woods would look this year after a year off, but said conversations between the two convinced him to give Woods a shot.
"I was concerned about it," Carroll said. "We talked a lot, and he said he had worked really hard to stay in really good shape, but you don't know until you see the guys, and he came in and he has been just rock solid throughout all of the work that we have done… he's really performing well. It's kind of like he bought a year taking that year off. The work ethic he put forth didn't put him at a disadvantage. He came back really, really good."
5. The new cornerbacks are getting up to speed.
While Seattle's two starting cornerbacks, D.J. Reed and Tre Flowers, have been with the team for a while, the rest of the corners on Seattle's roster are relatively new, but that group is catching up. Carroll acknowledged that it's hard for those players to get enough reps in practice to compete with the starters, but said their time is coming, and noted that both Sidney Jones IV and Bless Austin look like players who can help the team at some point.
"Both of those guys look good, they look like they can help us," he said. "We just have to make the call when it's time to give them a chance to play. It's not a position that we've rotated guys regularly over the years, so we have to wait and see how that fits."
The Seattle Seahawks take on the Titans in their second game of the 2021 season at Lumen Field. This album will be updated throughout the game. Game Action photos are presented by Washington Lottery.