The Seahawks held on for a 12-10 victory over the Miami Dolphins, and after reviewing the game film, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll saw his team prevail in a "really aggressive football game. A very tough game."
Carroll's overall assessment was that there was some "really good stuff," but also that "we've got a lot of stuff to clean up though." And in addition to providing the latest update on quarterback Russell Wilson, Carroll also talked about some of the specific things that stood out in Sunday's win after giving the game a more thorough look.
1. "The pass rush was really good."
Some years, the Seahawks have seen their pass rush take some time to get going as rushers form a chemistry over the course of a season, but the defensive line was on it right out of the gate on Sunday, collecting five sacks and nine quarterback hits. It was the most sacks the Seahawks have recorded in a game since their Week 7 win at San Francisco last season when they had six.
"The pass rush was really good," Carroll said. "This reminded me of a few years back, the way we came off the ball and the way we pressured with really great intensity. I thought it was the best feel that we've had and a really good factor. It was hard on them to throw the football and all. That was a really good job. Then (defensive coordinator Kris Richard) did a really good job of mixing calls and moving guys around. (defensive line coaches) Travis Jones and Dwaine Board did a nice job of moving our guys around to get the matchups that we wanted. A pretty experienced looking effort out there for us, and they took advantage of some good things there."
In particular, Carroll is excited about what he saw out of second-year defensive end Frank Clark, who recorded the first of those sacks.
"He's so explosive," Carroll said. "I hope the thing that you guys will pick up on is how hard he plays and how hard he chases the football. Watch his effort, he's just a relentless pursuit guy. The motor he runs on is so high. That's what we like about him wherever he's playing. Then on the inside he's very long, he uses his arms well. Then he's very fast. He runs a 4.6 (40-yard dash) it's a big speed change up from what the O-line is usually used to. He's a more quick outside rusher but he can be effective and we can stunt him and do a lot of things with him as we move him around."
2. All three cornerbacks "played really well and really consistent."
After DeShawn Shead had taken over the starting role opposite Richard Sherman midway through the 2015 season, and after Jeremy Lane returned from the physically unable to perform list, the Seahawks enjoyed very strong cornerback play down the stretch, and with Lane re-signing as a free agent this offseason, Carroll's hope was that those two, alongside Sherman, would give the Seahawks a strong trio of corners heading into this season. On Sunday, all three played big roles in a dominant defensive performance.
"I thought the corners played really well and really consistent," Carroll said. "Their coverage, their technique, the consistency of their play and the consistency of the challenge that they posed. It was really good and it has looked like it was coming that way through offseason and through camp that these guys might be at the best they've been. It was a really good start for them.
"They've been around enough and they know what we want and they practice their stuff. It's a real art playing out there. They have to really carry the consistency and discipline of it to game time. You can see as they gain their experience and confidence that can happen, and that's what showed."
3. The offensive line "played pretty solid" but has room for growth.
Perhaps most significantly, the Seahawks offensive line protected Russell Wilson very well on the final drive of the game, allowing the offense to score the go-ahead touchdown. But the running game "wasn't as productive as we count on," Carroll said, and Russell Wilson was sacked three times and hit nine times, though he was the first to say those weren't all on the line.
In particular, Carroll said Justin Britt was "really solid" in his first start at center, having played tackle and guard the previous two years.
"He played just like he's been playing, exactly like he's been doing," Carroll said. "There is a little ripple in the force when you change one of the five guys like it had to happen, but I thought the guys handled it well and took care of J'Marcus (Webb) as best they could. The guys who were playing played pretty solid."
Webb, who started in place of an injured Germain Ifedi, had played tackle throughout camp and the preseason before moving to guard this week, so if he plays again in Week 2—Carroll said they won't know Ifedi's status until late in the week—the Seahawks expect Webb will improve with more time at guard.
"He'll improve," Carroll said. "It was a challenge for him because of the guy he's playing against. That guy (Ndamukong Suh) is as tough as you can get, and he held up, but he'll improve quite a bit technique-wise. Some of the technical parts of it, he'll just feel better a week later and that's what we're counting on."
4. The winning drive was a "beautiful illustration" of the team's preparation.
When the Seahawks drove 75 yards in the final minutes to take the lead, left tackle Bradley Sowell said the offense was calm to the point that "It just felt like we were in another practice out there."
That's not by accident that Sowell felt that way. Just as Carroll doesn't want his players to get too high or too low from game-to-game, that also applies on a play-to-play and series-to-series basis as well. Carroll preaches to his team that "practice is everything" hoping that if they prepare the right way each week, they'll be ready for the defining moments in games when they face them.
"I think it's crucial," Carroll said. "I think the time we spend is really focused with the intent on getting them to feel comfortable in those situations so they can think clearly and focus really well, and obviously perform well. I thought it was a beautiful illustration of those guys being comfortable, even on the fourth downs, there was nobody that was going crazy and trying to do something outside the lines of what we try to do. Everybody just did what they were supposed to do, all the way throughout, and we used our time outs and did everything we needed to do to handle the situation and it worked out great."
5. The winning touchdown was the result of years of work between Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin.
Wilson's game-winning 2-yard touchdown pass to Baldwin wasn't just an adjustment made by Wilson at the line of scrimmage, it was an audible Baldwin said he and Wilson had discussed in the past in regards to a specific look from a defense, but had never actually made in a game. But with the game on the line, Wilson saw a look he liked, subtly communicated that to Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, who was also involved in the play helping disrupt coverage with his route, and the result was a go-ahead touchdown that might not have happened the way it did in years past.
"That was done perfectly in a crucial situation," Carroll said. "The guys that had to do something just did it perfectly. You couldn't tell what we were signaling. You couldn't tell what we were messaging. It was just hidden beautifully and the throw and catch was perfect. That's just an indication of a lot of hard work. It takes a long time to do stuff like that. To see the right situation, to communicate it properly, and then go out there and execute it and all that, that just doesn't happen. You'd luck out maybe a few years ago to do something like that. That's the type of stuff I talked about. How far Russell has come. How the communication and chemistry that they have (has come so far.) That's really an illustration of that."
Check out some action photos of Seahawks vs Dolphins Week 1 at CenturyLink Field.