The Seahawks head into their bye week with an impressive 8-2 record thanks to Monday night's overtime win over the previously unbeaten San Francisco 49ers. Prior to enjoying a bit of time off, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll met with the media Tuesday afternoon to talk about his team's fifth road victory in as many tries this season. In addition to an encouraging update on Tyler Lockett's leg injury, here are six takeaways from Carroll's press conference:
1. Heads or tails?
For as long as Carroll can remember, he has had his backup quarterback handle the coin toss in overtime, and for the second week in a row, Geno Smith and the Seahawks won the coin toss and got the ball.
On Monday night, Smith called heads, the coin landed heads, and the Seahawks started overtime with the ball. Both teams ended up getting multiple possessions in overtime before Jason Myers' game-winning field goal, so that coin toss didn't determine much of anything, but a social media controversy started not long after the game because, depending on who you ask or which version of the audio you listen to, it kind of sounds like Smith said tails.
"How about that?" Carroll marveled. "Has everybody done that?"
Must like the debate over whether the dress was blue or gold, or whether that viral audio clip said Laurel or Yanny, this heads or tails debate has led to a lot of arguments on twitter.
Ultimately, however, the most telling evidence probably comes from 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, who was his team's representative for the coin toss. If there was any doubt to what Smith called, Sherman is about the last person in the NFL who would let that go without a debate with the referee.
"Richard would've griped, I would think," Carroll said. "He would for sure if he heard something different than what happened. I'm going with that more than anything."
Oh, and if anyone wanted Carroll's take on previous debates such as this, he said the dress is blue, and Laurel.
2. The safety play was "the best we've seen it this year."
After missing his first two games with the Seahawks due to a hamstring injury, Quandre Diggs started Monday's game at free safety, while Bradley McDougald started at strong safety. Diggs came through with a few physical hits, and most notably an interception that he returned 44 yards to help set up a touchdown, and overall Carroll was very happy with what he saw out of what was the fifth different starting safety combination used by Seattle this season.
"I thought both the safeties played really well," Carroll said. "I thought B-Mac played well, too, and was very active in this game. I think the settling presence of a veteran, and also, (Diggs) is a hitter. He's a real hitter and he goes for it. He had a couple big shots. Had a big shot in the toss. Had a couple shots on receivers that I think had a factor later on in the game. Bradley had a couple hits, too. You combine what they did, I thought the safety play was the best we've seen it this year. I thought that was the best game that our safeties have played. I'm hoping that we can continue to grow and get better and feed off it. It's an early assessment because Q's just played one game. He can do a lot of things, so we'll be anxious to figure out how he can complement what we're doing and utilize him now that he's crossed the threshold of playing time for us."
3. Jadeveon Clowney's dominant performance was just as impressive on film.
Carroll and just about anyone else asked about Jadeveon Clowney's performance following the game raved about the impact the defensive end had on the game. Evaluating that performance on tape after the game only further emphasized how good Clowney was on a night where a stat line of one sack, one forced fumble, one fumble return for a touchdown and five quarterback hits doesn't begin to tell the story of the impact he had on the game.
"Golly, what a fantastic football game he played," Carroll said. "He just was unlockable. He just continued to weave his way into the backfield and make plays, the run and the pass. And the plays that he wouldn't get credit for that he affected were many and all across the board."
4. Ball security needs to improve.
Taking care of the football is one of the most important things for any Pete Carroll coached team, and just last season the Seahawks had the fewest turnovers in the NFL with 11. This year, however, the Seahawks have struggled with fumbles, a problem that showed up again Monday with the offense losing three fumbles. That needs to change if the Seahawks are going to get to where they want to go this season, and Carroll says that starts with him.
"I've got to do a better job," Carroll said. "I have to do a better job of setting the thing in motion and how we emphasize it. It is the most emphasized aspect of our program but, it isn't good enough. We aren't doing it well enough… We won't have a chance. We won't have a chance if this keeps going on. You can't win like that. We're so fortunate. Think how fortunate we are to win that game, that tight of a game, and kick the ball all over the field. Terrible."
5. The Seahawks will continue to look at Shaquem Griffin in a pass-rush role.
Second-year linebacker Shaquem Griffin played exclusively on special teams in Seattle's first nine games, but on Monday he saw 14 snaps on defense, playing as a stand-up rusher in passing situations. Griffin didn't record any sacks or hits in that role, but the Seahawks will explore that role further, Carroll said, looking to take advantage of his speed.
"He's active," Carroll said. "We're going to find ways to utilize him. It's really clear, more than it has been, that we might be able to build a role that could be a factor We have to work at that more so just to use his speed. He's instinctively a good rusher, he's just not very big. You have to do special things with him. We'll put that together and see if we can make that a good complement to what we're doing."
6. Jacob Hollister "is just a good ballplayer."
A week after Jacob Hollister had the first two touchdown receptions of his NFL career, he had another big game, recording a team-high eight catches for 62 yards and another touchdown. That performance was particularly important because Hollister was Seattle's only available tight end after Luke Willson went down with a hamstring injury, and it was just the latest way in which the former practice squad players has made a strong impression.
"Jacob is just a good ball player," Carroll said. "He's a really good football player. I think he's a really good all-around athlete, and I love that he was a quarterback growing up and played other sports. He's just a really good ball player. He's tough as hell. He's delivering blows and taking hits. Competing like crazy. It shows up. When a guy is really good on special teams and he gives great effort in blocking and he catches the football, that's a complete package guy. I think Jacob is going to be a tremendous asset for us going on. I don't think this is any fluke or anything.
"He's just a good football player. He's learned well. It's like you see the ability of Russell and Tyler to fit so well together. It's because they're guys that just understand ball. They make sense and they communicate and the transition. It's like we just saw with Josh (Gordon). Guys that really understand the game, the transition in the communication just seems to be wide open and fluent. You can benefit from that. The play that they made for that touchdown pass, Russell see's that (Jaquuiski) Tartt's back is to him and he can't tell what's going on. So, Russ knows, I got this. Jake kind of had a feel for it. Yeah, just go ahead, we got this guy. They kind of both knew what was happening and he dropped the ball on him to make a beautiful touchdown play. Didn't even look like there was any way you can make that play, but those two guys both thought it could happen and they say it that way. That's a special guy that adds to Russell. You can just tell. That's why he's been able to be part of this thing so quickly and really, in a big way. A heck of a game by Jacob yesterday."