The Seahawks returned from Chicago early Tuesday morning, and after getting a chance to review the film, head coach Pete Carroll went over what he saw from his team in Monday night's loss to the Bears on 710 ESPN Seattle.
Here are five things we learned from Carroll's weekly appearance on the Brock and Salk Show:
1. The offense needs to "get rid of the negatives."
The Seahawks struggled to get going on offense the way they had hoped, and while Russell Wilson and company did put together two fourth-quarter touchdown drives, it wasn't enough on a night where they had just 80 yards through three quarters. One of the main issues, Carroll said, are the number of negative plays, and sacks in particular, that are wrecking drives before they can ever get going.
"We just have to clean it up, just keep cleaning it up," Carroll said. "We have potential to do a lot of cool stuff. We've just got to clean it up and get more accurate and get rid of the negatives. It's really a question of eliminating the negatives, and we have to convert on third down (second half, the flow of the game was there for us)… We have to get rid of those two aspects of it so that we can play."
One issue Carroll is seeing right now is that Wilson is "over-trying a little bit" which is contributing to the high sack totals.
"He's pressing in difficult situations to try to see if he can come up with a way to make something happen instead of just getting rid of the football," Carroll said. "…In some of the situations, like when it's third-and-14 or something like that, we don't need to take another loss right there, because it's so hard to make that conversion anyway. If it's there, boom, take it, if not, get rid of the ball and let's go kick it. The momentum of the rush building on you is a factor, we'd like to eliminate that by not giving them the shots at it."
Of course it's not easy to tell a quarterback to give up on a play and throw it away, especially one who has made so many great things happen by extending plays.
"That does go right to Russ' competitiveness, man he's a battler, and he's going to try to figure it out, and he has so many times," Carroll said. "But maybe not then, not now, keep us flowing a little bit better so we don't have to take the negatives. The negative plays were really difficult, and it kind of adds up on you."
2. The defense was a bright spot.
While Carroll and his players know the offense needs to fix some issues going forward, one encouraging sign from Monday's loss was the play of a defense that was missing several key players, including linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright.
Carroll said the defense, which held the Bears to 271 yards and a 3.2 yard-per-carry average on the ground, "played really good."
"I thought that was really evident particularly after getting through the film," he said. "A number of guys played well. The up-front guys did a good job to hold their running backs to 2 yards-a-carry. Those guys are determined to run the football—the little (Tarik) Cohen guy is a rocket, as we saw on returns, and (Jordan) Howard is a really good solid football player—they couldn't run the ball on us. That was a combination of the guys up front, who played really solid again, and the 'backers fitting up right. Austin Calitro did a nice job in his first start, and for Mychal (Kendricks) to come in and add like that, it was just a nice collective effort… I thought it was a really good statement of our guys' ability to hang in there and stay tough."
Two players who really stood out to Carroll were Bradley McDougald, who took on a bit more responsibility than usual, moving into a hybrid linebacker role at times when the Seahawks brought Tedric Thompson on as a third safety; and Calitro, who made his first start at middle linebacker, recording eight tackles to match McDougald for team-high honors.
"Gosh he played good," Carroll said of McDougald. "… I thought Bradley played really well. He was doing a number of things in the game plan… And boy he made a lot of plays. He made some plays as a linebacker, he made some as a safety, he made some plays in coverage, so I was really thrilled about him."
On Calitro, Carroll said, "I don't think we should miss Austin Calitro. He called the whole game, he was in the middle of all of that, he was in every play of the game, and he played hard and tough. That's a lot to command. He's controlling the whole situation coming from the sidelines to transfer it to the players on the field, and he played tough and aggressive and made some big plays."
3. Shaquill Griffin's first interception of the season looked familiar.
For anyone who has watched the Seahawks in recent years, it would be hard to see Shaquill Griffin's first interception of 2018 without being reminded of the player who made so many similar plays at left cornerback from 2011-2017. To get his first of two interceptions in the game, Griffin ran stride for stride with Bears receiver Allen Robinson, then leapt in front of the bigger receiver to haul in a deep shot down the sideline.
"It was interesting, when Shaq first got here, I showed him how (Richard Sherman) made it, how he came to life as a young player, and it was all on long balls, just like last night. But (Griffin) just hasn't had that many opportunities. He hasn't been beat deep very many times at all—he had one big one (last season)—but very few times over last season. For whatever reason, they went after Sherm a lot and he kept turning over those fade routes. So for (Griffin) to get a chance, to make the play, be in position, he has all the skills to do that, it was wonderful to see that. And to get the tipped ball was great, that's just playing good heads-up football. And I'm teaching Tre (Flowers) the same way, showing him how you can build a career on staying on top and owning the deep ball. Let people keep challenging the young guy and you can make plays on it. So it was nice to see that happen."
4. It will be "great to come back" to CenturyLink Field.
After two tough losses on the road to open their season, the Seahawks are very much looking forward to playing their home opener at CenturyLink Field on Sunday.
"It is challenging, and it is an issue, you're in silent count and doing all those things you've got to do," Carroll said of opening the season at Denver and at Chicago. "And it'll be tremendous to come home… It's great to come back and play in front of our guys. I hope the 12s will be jacked and help us out and give us the kind of feeling so we can take advantage of the pass rush and those kinds of things."
5. The Seahawks are hoping to get "a nice boost" with players returning from injuries this week.
The Seahawks played Monday's game without a number of key players who were sidelined by injuries, including Pro-Bowlers Wagner and Wright, and Pro-Bowl receiver Doug Baldwin. Also out were Flowers, who started Week 1 at cornerback, and right guard D.J. Fluker. Carroll sounded confident that several of those players will make it back for Sunday's game against Dallas.
On Wright and Wagner, Carroll said, "Judging from how they ran last week before we left, and I know they ran over the weekend too, if they came out of that OK, then they have a chance to play."
Carroll said Fluker, who missed the first two games with a hamstring injury, "should be pretty darn close to getting back as well."
On Flowers, who injured his hamstring in the season opener, Carroll said, "Tre was really close. He was running hard in pregame and all of that. I'll be shocked if he isn't ready to play."
Carroll said Baldwin, who injured his knee in the season opener, is "maybe a little bit farther than the other guys, we have to wait and see though."
Carroll said getting some of those injured players back will be "a nice boost for us, obviously. We went on the trip without those guys, without Bobby and K.J. and Doug, that's a first in a long time. But the other side of it is the way Duane Brown stepped up and the way (Jarran) Reed stepped up to make sure the leadership felt was obvious."
As for center Justin Britt, who left Monday's game late in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury, Carroll said X-rays were negative but they are still waiting for MRI results to know the severity of the injury.
"He hurt his shoulder," Carroll said. "He got banged on the fumble, he went after the ball and got extended in kind of a funky way there. So we've got to see, I don't know the results. The X-rays were negative, so that's a good sign. He got an MRI today."
Go behind-the-scenes with team photographer Rod Mar as he captures exclusive images from the Seattle Seahawks' road game against the Chicago Bears during Week 2 of the 2018 NFL season.