The Seahawks are back home after a tough Week 8 loss in New Orleans, and as usual, head coach Pete Carroll was on 710 ESPN Seattle Monday morning to discuss the game. Here are five things we learned from Carroll’s appearance on the Brock and Salk Show.
1. Injury updates on Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor, Thomas Rawls and more.
Carroll said defensive end Michael Bennett was scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery on his knee on Monday morning, and that if all goes well, the Pro-Bowl defensive end could only miss two to three weeks.
"Optimistically it's a two-to-three week deal," Carroll said. "It could be really clean to get in and out of there."
Carroll noted it appears this procedure will be similar to the one Luke Willson underwent after hurting his knee earlier this month against Atlanta, adding that Willson has a chance to make it back this week after missing the past two games.
"Luke has been talking about the Buffalo game, so we'll see if he can pull that off," Carroll said. "So it's that kind of potential (for Bennett), but you never know until they do the work and they figure it out."
Carroll said running back Thomas Rawls (fibula) will ramp up his running this week, but isn't expected to play against Buffalo on Monday night.
"I think he'll be running full-go during the course of this week is what we're hoping," Carroll said. "He was ground-based running a little bit last week, so I don't think he'd be that far along yet (to play Monday night)… We'll wait until he's fully healthy and ready to go."
Carroll said he believes safety Kam Chancellor has "a great shot" to make it back this week after missing three games with a groin injury, though Carroll noted he also was optimistic last week and Chancellor wasn't able to get back.
"I was really hopeful last week; this week I'm more positive that we've got a shot to get him back," Carroll said.
2. Russell Wilson's play through injuries has been "inspirational."
While Russell Wilson has not missed a practice this season, let alone a game, the Seahawks quarterback has not been at his best physically for almost the entire season. Wilson sustained a fairly substantial ankle sprain in the season opener, then a knee sprain in Week 2, and then he injured a pectoral muscle against the Cardinals in Week 7.
Carroll noted that Wilson again showed signs of improvement Sunday and is in a smaller knee brace and wearing less ankle protection, saying, "He just feels better, he's not so clunky running around."
Carroll has been impressed with the way his quarterback has handled this season while battling through so many injuries: "He just admirably figured out how to get through to game time… That was another remarkable job of playing through stuff.
"He really has been through a lot. He would never tell you that. He doesn't want me talking about it, but it's inspirational. We'll follow his lead and so many other guys' who are doing so many great things to keep us up front."
3. Third down was a problem on both sides of the ball.
On both sides of the ball, third down was a struggle for the Seahawks against the Saints, and that was one of the big factors in deciding the game, Carroll said.
The Saints converted 9 of 15 attempts, and while some of those did come via penalty, they also were strong on third down because they stayed out of third-and-long situations.
"They were so in tune with staying on schedule," Carroll said. "If you look at their numbers, they had one third-and-9, and everything else was… they had like 12 third-and-6s or less. They are statically the best team in the NFL on third-and-6 or less over the last three years. So they're really, really good there, and they got to play right into their strength, and we couldn't get out of there."
It also doesn't hurt having a future Hall of Famer at quarterback: "(Drew) Brees had a pretty typical Brees day. He hit most everything and they were able to keep moving the sticks. They did a terrific job on third down and we couldn't stop it."
The Seahawks went 5 for 11 on third down, and were just 1 for 5 in the first half.
"The third-downs came back around numbers wise, but that happened late, so we weren't really functioning as well as we need to on third down, which is another area we keep focusing on," Carroll said.
4. Carroll is confident the Seahawks will play a lot better going forward.
Nobody is going to argue the Seahawks are playing their best football right now, particularly on offense, but all things considered, the Seahawks aren't in a bad place with a 4-2-1 record that has them in first place in the NFC West ahead of the 3-4-1 Cardinals and 3-4 Rams.
"Where we are, we're very fortunate seven game in and here we are in the division and all that, and we're not even close to playing as good as we're going to play," Carroll said.
In particular, the Seahawks know they have room to grow on offense, especially when it comes to creating explosive plays.
"The explosive plays just aren't happening," Carroll said. "Those numbers are down. We really have typically been a very explosive team, and we're not getting those plays, so the field isn't shifting."
Carroll sees his offense turning things around in the near future, especially as Wilson gets healthier: "I think we're going to turn here. In the next couple of weeks, you're going to see something really shift. I'm really excited about it. We may have been fortunate to be as far along as we are right now. With everybody coming back together—Russell really will be at his very best. I don't know that he's 100 percent, but he'll be at his very best. He looked good yesterday. He had a great naked (bootleg) that he ran to the left, which is the best he has looked on the run throwing, and he hit a great shot there. I think you're going to see some things happen that will help us get a little bit better here. I'm really looking for the turn here.
"We haven't hit it clean yet. I think you're going to see us turn the corner here. We'll balance out offensively, we'll be making more plays like we're accustomed to. We have to get Doug (Baldwin) more involved. He's doing well, but we need to get him the football more."
5. Seattle's goal-line defense was "thrilling to watch."
While Brees was able to dive over the pile from the 1-yard line and just get the ball into the end zone in one of New Orleans' trips to the red zone, the Saints did have to settle for a pair of chip shot field goals because they were unable to score on Seattle's goal-line defense. Particularly impressive was a third-quarter goal-line stand that was set up by Richard Sherman and Kelcie McCray combining to stop Saints tight end Coby Fleener just short of the goal line after a 13-yard catch.
On the next three plays, Tim Hightower was stuffed for no gain, Brees threw an incomplete pass, then Hightower was tackled for a 2-yard loss by Ahtyba Rubin.
"It's discipline," Carroll said of his team's stout goal-line defense. "It's really discipline. You have to do things exactly right, because there's no margin for error. That gives you a chance, then you have to be very physical. What really makes a difference his how aggressive, how much you attack on defense, because you have to stop them for nothing. So it starts with, you have to do things right—if you make a mistake, they walk in—so you have to do things right, then you have to do it really technically well, then you have to have a great attitude about it.
"Their attitude was just phenomenal. To just keep coming back and keep coming back, I thought that was thrilling to watch."
The Seattle Seahawks took on the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday.