The Seahawks returned from Cleveland Sunday night with another victory, but also knowing that they still have things to clean up as the season progresses.
"It was a hard game," Carroll said. "A really challenging game that called on us to really keep hanging until we could get our football going. We got off to a terrible start and they jumped right on us, got on top of us… We won a really difficult football game and a good one to get. Another really difficult environment. The crowd was great. Cleveland fans are terrific and made it challenging and all that. It's really good for our guys to get through that and have another experience on the road knowing that we can go and play wherever it is and whatever the time frame is and play good, solid football by the end of it. It wasn't a full, complete game in that the start was so off. We came back and regained it. I was really proud to see that happen. It was a good win."
In addition to a number of injury updates, here are six takeaways from Carroll's Monday press conference:
1. J-Reed is back.
The Seahawks are getting back a big piece of their defense this week, with defensive tackle Jarran Reed eligible to return from a six-game suspension. With the time he has missed, Reed might need some time to get fully up to speed, but his return will be a welcome one nonetheless.
"It's great to have J-Reed come back to us," Carroll said. "He's like a little kid with Christmas time. He's so excited to be back with his teammates and be back with us. It seemed like it went kind of fast to us, but it didn't for him. I asked him specifically that, seemed like it took forever. He's been such an integral part of our club. It's great to have him back in the locker room. His play is exceptional, too. I don't know what to tell you about how it's going to go. I haven't seen him on the field yet. I know he worked really hard, from everything he said, to stay abreast with his conditioning and all of that. He looks strong and we'll just have to wait and see how he handles it… This is the first day we've seen him in a month and a half. Generally, it just depends on each guy. I know he worked diligently from what he said and his routine. We're expecting that he'll be able to help us this week. I don't know how much."
Reed is coming off of a 10.5-sack season, so his return could provide a big boost for Seattle's pass rush.
"There's no question that when he's back to full speed playing, whenever that happens—if that's now, it would be welcomed—he's a big factor," Carroll said. "He's a big factor. The spacing that happens with a guy that causes problems there, in the sets that happen to take care of him, open up areas and spaces for the other guys. We've been rushing with Al (Woods) as a nose tackle playing a three technique. You've seen us with Poona (Ford), too. Those guys are nose tackles types and that's not their strong point. They're run defenders and terrific run defenders at that. When we mix it up now and we get Quinton Jefferson in there and J-Reed, it's going to be a better look for us. It's going to be more of a problem for our opponent. Hopefully, that'll open up things for everybody."
2. Carroll liked seeing Russell Wilson run the offense.
As quarterback Russell Wilson detailed after the game, there was a brief portion in Sunday's game in which his in-helmet communications were out, meaning he couldn't hear offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's play calls. That wasn't a big deal for a quarterback as experienced as Wilson—he sometimes calls plays when the Seahawks are in hurry-up offense, and he has the power to make changes to calls at the line of scrimmage—and Carroll enjoyed seeing Wilson lead a third-quarter touchdown drive without coaching.
"I was fired up, I was fired up for him," Carroll said. "He lives for those kinds of opportunities. He did a great job. He took it over and made a couple great calls and moved the ball right down the field. Schotty was screaming to the guys to get the other helmet organized and to get it out on the field. He was busy doing that but, it was good opportunity, a good moment in the game for Russ to take charge of it and he did quite well."
3. Shaquill Griffin continues to have a great season.
While the Seahawks feasted on Browns miscues Sunday, recording three interceptions, the best performance by a defensive back might have come from one who didn't record an interception. As has been the case all season, third-year cornerback Shaquill Griffin was outstanding in coverage, recording multiple pass breakups, including one in the end zone that was intercepted by Tedric Thompson.
"He continues to play really well," Carroll said. "His numbers are starting to add up about his passes defensed and all. He'd been very consistent. That was a huge play on the goal line. It was a great break on the ball. It was a great job of getting the ball tipped up so Tedric could make his play. Shaq has just been playing great football. The jump where he went year one to year two, which really didn't happen, honestly, it just didn't show as much, is now totally visible. He's banking on all the two years that he's had. Fit and strong and confident."
4. Carroll likes seeing some competition at safety.
In general, the Seahawks have stuck with the same two safeties throughout games, either Tedric Thompson and Bradley McDougald, or McDougald and Lano Hill when Thompson was out with a hamstring injury. On Sunday, however, Thompson and McDougald started, but the Seahawks also mixed in Hill in a few packages, and gave rookie Marquise Blair some playing time as well. Carroll doesn't sound like he's gong to make any dramatic changes to the lineup, but said they won't really know what they have in different players if they don't get them some game action.
"We got some play from Lano, playing in the dime package, he was fine there," Carroll said. "We got Blair—Blair didn't play a bunch of plays, I think it was eight plays or something like that—he was out there. To me, it's kind of like breaking him in and getting him going. We'll see how he fits. He did fine in the plays that had. Drew a foul, which was good. It's just a process. We're getting these guys more activated and kind of ready to jump on the opportunities as they arise. We're going to give (Blair) some more looks and we'll continue to do that… He's got to show it, he's got to prove it, and that's what the competition is all about."
Asked how Thompson handled some potential competition, Carroll noted, "he played pretty good yesterday. Competition is a beautiful thing."
5. The Browns neutralized Seattle's pass rush in part because of a quick passing game.
The Seahawks defense made a number of big plays Sunday, including four takeaways and a goal-line stand, but they were not able to record a sack or a quarterback hit on Baker Mayfield. While the Seahawks always want to find ways to get pressure and feel like they can do better there, Carroll said one reason for a lack of pressure Sunday was the way the Mayfield got rid of the ball so quickly.
"The ball came out lightning fast," Carroll said. "Threw a ton of quick game and their RPO stuff. They limited the amounts of times to rush. They did a nice job in that. We had a couple plays that got away from us. For the most part, we were able to maintain control of that. We just weren't able to get to him. When you look at his passing efficiency for the day, we would've taken 50 something (passer rating), whatever that was, if we knew that was going to happen regardless of how the rush was. We were effective. In pass rush, just the numbers, it stands out a little bit that we didn't get to him."
6. Carroll likes having to give up his seat in first class.
The Seahawks started a tradition during the 2017 season that saw coaches and executives give up their usual first-class seats to veteran players on the flight home following road wins. Seattle's 3-0 road record means Carroll and company have had to ride in coach on the way home from every 2019 road trip, but he will gladly trade some extra comfort for victories, even if some assistants jokingly gripe about it.
"It started as an incentive," Carroll said. "A little challenge incentive. I don't know what I like more, the good part of the players getting moved up, or how much the coaches are pissed about having to move back. That's a good tradition. I love sitting in the second class."
Game action photos from the Seattle Seahawks' Week 6 matchup against the Cleveland Browns.