The Seahawks don't have much time to digest their Week 9 loss to Washington, not with a Thursday night game in Arizona coming up this week. But before his team began its week of preparation for the Cardinals Monday afternoon, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll met with the media to discuss what he called "a really disappointing game in a number of ways."
"We just didn't perform like we're capable, so we continue to have work to do," he said of Sunday's 17-14 setback at CenturyLink Field. "We made some progress in some areas, and played a really good game on defense and had a really good fourth quarter finish rolling there for the offense, and then we gave it away. It was a good win for them, and we've got some real serious stuff we've got to get better at."
Here are five things we learned from Monday's press conference:
1. The offense is "getting in our way too much."
Following Sunday's loss, the Seahawks have the No. 4 offense in the league in terms of yardage, averaging 378.6 yards per game, yet they rank 10th in scoring at 23.6 points per game. So where is the disparity between moving the ball and actually producing points?
To Carroll the biggest issue is the costly, self-inflicted errors, most notably the penalties—Seattle had a seasons-high 16 on Sunday. The Seahawks have also struggled a bit in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on half of their red-zone possessions, which is tied for 19th in the league.
"I think it's getting in our way too much," Carroll said. "We haven't scored in red zone, the numbers have not been quite what we want. And these penalties creep into this as well. I think we have an opportunity to be really explosive and a really good-looking offense. We're making first downs and we're moving it and getting explosive plays and all that; we've got to cash in on the drives and cash in on the opportunities. Instead of kicking three field goals this week, we need to score some touchdowns here."
After Sunday's loss in which the offense was penalized 10 times, quarterback Russell Wilson noted, "That's our weakness right now, the penalties. But I think that we can fix that. It's all fixable things, and we plan to fix that—we have to fix it—and we're going to."
As for those penalties…
2. The Seahawks will "keep working at" cleaning up penalties.
The Seahawks came into the game leading the league in penalties enforced against them, then added to that total with 16 more, so obviously that is an area of concern for Carroll heading into this week's game.
"We're going to keep working at it," he said. "We've got a number of things that we are going to do. We'll get after that again today and step it up. It's a group thing obviously when you have a bunch like this, but it comes down to individual choices and making good decisions and doing things right. So we're going to jump all over it with another emphasis today."
With as hard and aggressive as his team plays, Carroll is willing to live with some penalties, but the ones at the line of scrimmage like false starts and defensive linemen jumping offside, those bother him the most.
"There were five at the line of scrimmage, those always irk me the most because those are the ones that are totally self-inflected," he said. "But they were kind of across the board. There were a couple holds on scrambles and some things that we know that we worked to learn in the nature of our play. Russell's running around and those offensive linemen have to know when to release and feel that, and we didn't make that choice a couple times, properly. So there's just stuff that continues and needs focus."
3. Dwight Freeney "continues to show why he's Dwight Freeney."
Dwight Freeney spent the first seven weeks of the NFL season hanging out at home and working on his admittedly shaky golf game. He's also 37 years old, which makes him six years older than the next oldest player on Seattle's defense, Michael Bennett. But neither age nor lack of football activity seem to be slowing Freeney down very much, because after two games with the Seahawks, he already has three sacks, including two in yesterday's game. Freeney's two sacks Sunday moved his career total to 125.5, which ranks 17th all time, one sack behind No. 16 on that list, former Chiefs great Derrick Thomas.
"How about that?" Carroll said. "He has been involved in three sacks already and he had two or three other rushes where he was as clean as you can get—if the ball didn't come out right now, he would have had sacks then too. He just continues to show why he's Dwight Freeney and why he's had all these numbers in the past. And not only in his own rushes, but he has done a really nice job in games too in the first couple of weeks for us. He's a good complement to the guys too; he'll do his part to get other guys clean too. He's really sharp and disciplined about that."
4. Washington's offense made a couple of good plays to beat aggressive defense.
The Seahawks didn't go into prevent mode in the final minutes of the game, both because they trust their cornerbacks and safeties in coverage, and also because of how effective the pass rush had been in the game, recording six sacks. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, Washington made two very good plays that beat Seattle's defense, setting up the final score.
"Often the outside observations are that you play too soft and give up too much when you play prevent, and we certainly didn't do that," Carroll said. "There's a time to mix, and in that one, they got us. It happened really fast, it was two plays, bang-bang and they were there.
"It's because we were playing aggressively throughout the game and we had been rushing really well, and those were the choices—we didn't have a chance to show you all the thoughts we had right there, because it went bang-bang and they were all the way down to the 1-yard line."
Asked about those two big plays that set up the winning score, a 31-yard pass to Brian Quick with Justin Coleman in coverage and a 38-yarder to Josh Doctson with Shaquill Griffin in coverage, Carroll said, "Well the one to Justin was a fantastic throw by the quarterback under duress, and the catch was good too. They just got separated a little bit on the break. And on the go-ball, Shaq was in good position until about the 30-yard mark, and then there was a little bit of separation that occurred, a little bit of separation that happens sometimes, and the guy made a great catch on a great throw. Both of those were exquisite throws and catches, and sometimes that will beat it."
5. The running game took "a step in the right direction."
After rushing for just 33 yards in a Week 8 win over Houston, the Seahawks were hoping to get the running game on track against Washington, and while there is still room for improvement, they did take a step in the right direction, even after losing starting running back Eddie Lacy early in the game with a groin injury. The Seahawks rushed for 148 yards, their second highest total of the season, and averaged 5.3 yards per carry. Russell Wilson had a big role in that success, rushing for 77 yards on 10 carries, but Thomas Rawls added 39 yards on nine carries, while J.D. McKissic added 12 on three carries.
"When you look at the numbers, all three running backs were over 4 yards a carry, that's a step in the right direction," Carroll said. "Russell's numbers added to it of course. There was a portion of the game where we wanted to see if we could get back on track (passing) and we kind of went around the running game a little bit just to see if we could get a better rhythm than we had, so we lost a few runs in there. But I thought the guys ran hard and ran well. It was cleaner."
Head to the Seahawks' sideline for an up-close-and-personal look at players and coaches during Seattle's game against the Washington Redskins.