The Seahawks kick off their week of practice looking to bounce back from a tough overtime loss to Tennessee, and they do so knowing that they're preparing for an equally motivated opponent, with Minnesota coming into the game with an 0-2 record following two close losses.
"Really crucial week for us to get back on track and bounce back," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We know our opponent is in the same mode, and whoever does the best job this week getting ready and preparing and all of that will have the best chance to win. So practice is really important this week, and it starts today."
Here are five things we learned from Carroll's Wednesday press conference:
1. There's still room to grow on offense.
The Seahawks have done a lot of things well on offense, scoring 58 points in two games with Russell Wilson posting a league-leading 146.9 passer rating, but it also hasn't been smooth sailing for eight straight quarters. The Seahawks faltered in the third quarter of their win in Indianapolis, then scored an important insurance touchdown in the fourth quarter, then in Sunday's loss to Tennessee, the Seahawks were unable to sustain drives in the second half, scoring only once on a 68-yard pass to Freddie Swain. While there have been plenty of encouraging signs about the new offense under Shane Waldron already, Carroll expects to see the offense continue to improve over the next few weeks.
"We're going to get better," Carroll said. "Because of the intricacies of it, we're just going to get better, we're just going to improve as we go, because it takes time, it takes reps. These are the first two games we've played together, so I would say three, four weeks from now, you'll see us continue to take advantage of all of the hard work that's come before it where we can—it's always about minimizing the bad swings; that's a golf reference right there in case you're wondering—and just cleaning it up and being more precise and consistent. So we're going to get better. Is there stuff (to improve)? Yeah, it's just feeling comfortable with it, playing really fast with it, really quickly responsive in taking advantage of what we're looking for, and what the call has to offer, so there's still a real upside."
2. Jamal Adams is also still growing in Seattle's defense.
Just as the Seahawks expect to get better on offense, they expect the defense to develop over time, and one player in particular Carroll expects to see improve throughout the season is safety Jamal Adams. Carroll talked a bit about how certain players over time have had freedom to improvise at times, within the confines of the defense, and Adams is one such player, as were, among others that Carroll mentioned, Michael Bennett and Earl Thomas on past Seattle defenses. As Adams gets more comfortable in the defense and as his teammates get more familiar with him, he should be even better.
"He does have a certain amount of freedom, as all of our players do," Carroll said. "If you know what the situations and what the opportunity is that's presented, we want to go for it, we're trying to go for it. Not outside of the guidelines of the defense and the scheme, ever, on either side of the ball, but I'm always encouraging guys, particularly guys I know that have it in them and have the instincts to go and take a shots, I'm looking for the opportunity for them to do that, and to try to gauge that as we go. I know there's a fine line thereabout going too far and taking chances that are outside of the scheme.
"He'll get better… He'll get more precise and he'll pick and choose his opportunities even better. Right now we're going through that, and he's not the only guy."
3. Alton Robinson deserves to play more.
With the Seahawks deploying a deep defensive line rotation in the first two games, second-year defensive end Alton Robinson hasn't been on the field a ton, but he has looked really good when he has played, most notably with a sack and forced fumble against the Titans that set up a Seahawks touchdown. And for fans who want Robinson to play more, know that Carroll agrees with you, meaning we should see the 2020 fifth-round pick on the field more often Sunday.
"He's doing it," Carroll said when asked what Robinson needs to do to earn more playing time. "He looks really good. He has had really good play so far, he just needs more. If anybody's clamoring for that, me too. He needs to be out there more. We've got a big rotation, so it's going to take us a little while to get it all sorted out where we can maximize it, but he's been really effective. He hasn't done anything other than that so far. He's just a pup and he's coming up, and we're really excited about what he's doing."
4. The nickel corner competition is still developing.
Through two games, the Seahawks have been alternating between Ugo Amadi and Marquise Blair in the nickel role, though Amadi has been playing more. Blair, who tore his ACL early last season after winning that role in camp, is pushing for more playing time, and Carroll is hoping that those two make it a tough decision on who to play there.
"We're developing it and picking and choosing situations and spots and bringing them along," Carroll said. "Marquise has got to catch up just because he hasn't had a chance to play that much. We're trying not to overdo it early. He's recovered, but yet we still don't want to overdo it. We'll just let the play show. Hopefully it's a problem, it's a problem when you've got two guys and you'd love to play them both. Either one of those guys can play, and we like both of them. They're a little bit different—mostly what Ugo has in his background, he has more time put in. He has played the position more, so he's a little more fluid with some stuff and disguises and things like that, so he's a little bit ahead in that area. So, it's a good problem."
5. Injury updates.
Defensive tackle Bryan Mone missed Sunday's game with an elbow injury, but is getting more strength back in that arm and could make it back this week, though it's too early to know that definitively.
"His strength is really coming back," Carroll said… "I don't know what that means yet, but his strength came way back from where it was, so he's feeling much better. We've got to find out if that's enough to let him play. I don't know."
On right tackle Brandon Shell, who left the game with an ankle injury, Carroll said, "He's still a little sore right now. He won't go today. We'll see what happens as we go day to day."
Carroll said if Shell can't play this week Jamarco Jones, who took over late in Sunday's game, is the likely candidate to fill in, but also mentioned undrafted rookie Jake Curhan as a possibility.
Running back Rashaad Penny, who missed Week 2 with a calf injury, is running again, but it unlikely to play against the Vikings.
"He's running," Carroll said. "He won't make it this week unless there's a real surprise at the end of the week due to the progress he has to make on-ground running and all that."
The Seahawks have played the Vikings 17 times in the regular season (12-5) and once in the playoffs (1-0). Check out action photos from throughout the years of their matchups.