The Seahawks returned from Arizona late Sunday night, and with a Saturday Wild Card game coming up, they quickly got to work on preparing for the Los Angeles Rams. With the short week, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll will hold his first press conference of the week on Tuesday, but he did join the Danny O'Neil and Paul Gallant on 710 ESPN Seattle Monday morning for his usual weekly appearance, and gave a few updates on injuries and more heading into the week.
Here are five takeaways from Carroll's Monday appearance on 710 ESPN Seattle:
1. The status of Jamal Adams and Jarran Reed is unclear heading into the week.
Safety Jamal Adams left yesterday's game with a shoulder injury, though he was back on the field for two plays late in the game—the 49ers' two-play possession that ended with a Benson Mayowa sack/forced fumble that was recovered by Rasheem Green—playing a deep safety look on both plays that had him away from the action.
Asked if there was anything new on Adams' injury Carroll said, "I haven't seen him today. It was late last night when we parted. He's real disappointed. He wants to play and he wants to get out there. He hasn't been to the playoffs, and he wants to be part of it and all of that. So it kind of crushed him. He's very emotional and all, and he's going to deal with it. We'll see what happens in the next couple of days, see how he feels and all. But he got hurt. He handled it and wanted to go back in, and we had to take his helmet away on the sidelines because he wanted to fight with his guys. We'll see what happens. I can't tell you right now. I don't know."
Another injury to watch on Seattle's defense is the oblique strain that knocked defensive tackle Jarran Reed out of the game.
"He's pretty sore," Carroll said. "He's had this injury before, it's an oblique strain. We don't know how difficult it'll be to come back, I don't know that, but he was pretty uncomfortable last night."
2. The offensive line should be at full strength.
The Seahawks have had their offensive line depth tested, particularly in recent weeks. Right tackle Brandon Shell has missed five of the last six games, first because of an ankle injury, then this past weekend because of he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list due to a close-contact situation and not a positive test. Left guard Mike Iupati has missed the past two games with a stinger, and also missed four games earlier this season. But with Cedric Ogbuehi filling in for Shell and Jordan Simmons for Iupati, the Seahawks have been impressed with their line depth this season.
"I think the guys coming off the bench have been the highlight that they've been able to come in and help us keep going forward," Carroll said.
The good news this week is that the Seahawks should have all their starters back: "We're going to be at pretty much full strength this weekend. Brandon Shell will be back and Mike Iupati will be back, and this will be fun to have those guys all back together. But if anybody's got to come out, we're OK. Cedric has done a nice job, J-Simmons has done a nice job, so fortunately we have real good backup help… We're very fortunate we're going to be back on track, full-go."
3. Carroll was surprised by Seattle's penultimate play too.
The Seahawks offense caught just about everyone off guard when, with only 22 seconds left on the clock, Russell Wilson threw a short pop-pass to an in-motion David Moore rather than take a knee. As Wilson later explained, it was an audible he and quarterbacks coach Austin Davis made to get Moore one more reception that would allow him to hit a $100,000 contract incentive, and while Carroll wasn't in on the plan at the time, he liked what it said about his players.
"Well, I was surprised by it, I didn't know what they had cooking in there," Carroll said. "Once it happened, I thought it was kind of cute that they were taking care of each other and that kind of thing, and they pulled it off—every once you do something a little bit out of whack, but they made it happen, made it work. So in this case, good for David, and I just thought it was a good moment for the guys to take care of one another."
4. The move to strongside linebacker continues to pay dividends for K.J. Wright.
K.J. Wright didn't necessarily want to move to strongside linebacker, a spot he played early in his career before moving to weakside linebacker, but the move made sense for the team after Bruce Irvin went down with a knee injury early in the season. With Irvin, the usual strongside linebacker out, the best linebacker combination for the Seahawks was to move Wright to Irvin's spot and play rookie Jordyn Brooks at weakside linebacker.
And that move has been a very positive one for the Seahawks, not just because Brooks is playing very well, but also because Wright is thriving in that strongside role, playing some of the best football of his career, and he showed it again Sunday with yet another tackle for loss on a screen pass thrown to tight end George Kittle, a huge hit on 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk after a short reception, and a number of other plays that may not show up in the box score but that contributed to another strong defensive performance.
"Those are all awareness plays," Carroll said of Wright's ability to wreck screen passes. "That's not about how fast you are or any of that kind of stuff, that's seeing the game and watching it unfold and then having the guts to go for it and take his shot. He had a really cool game yesterday and made some big plays on the good players. He's had a really, really special season. The position shift has really helped. It has really made him even better than ever, and I know he's having a blast playing it, he's really in command of what's going on. He gets attacked a lot because they're coming at us. It's not because he's not capable, it's just the way the defense is structured and people are running the ball at him a lot, and he's handled it beautifully."
5. Carroll sees value in close games.
With the exception of a blowout win over the Jets, the Seahawks have won a lot of close, low-scoring games while winning six of seven to close out the season, and with those strong finishes—be it the defense coming up with stop after stop against the Rams, or the offense going on two long touchdown drives in the fourth quarter on Sunday—Carroll sees his team gaining one of the most important traits a team can have going into the playoffs: confidence.
"There's nothing more powerful on the team than when they know; when they know who they are, they know what they're all about, and they know what they're capable of doing," Carroll said. "That's what great teams have, and what I'm trying to instill and nurture along the way that they believe. There's nothing more powerful than that. It isn't about the best players or the fastest guys and that kind of stuff, it's really about the team that really knows how to count on one another, and they can come through regardless of what the circumstances are. That's why I like these games so much, because these games help us develop resolve and understanding and depth of belief that you always have faith that you can get it done. That's why these close wins are so valuable to you. The other ones, they're good and all that, but there's going to be a couple really tough games in these playoffs if we're able to get through them, and we're going to have to have all of that mentality it takes to finish right and do right at the end, and that's exactly what you watched us do the last couple of weeks. And I'm thrilled about that, because that gives us a real shot. It doesn't matter where we go, who we're playing or whatever, we're going to have to execute on our end of it, and that's the big challenge, so we'll see what happens."
The best photos from Week 17's Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers game at State Farm Stadium in Arizona. Fueled by Nesquik.