On top of addressing "a lot of positive things" in regards to his club's injury situation, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll used his Wednesday press conference to comment on Sunday's matchup with the NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers, a franchise that Carroll said is "a totally different team. Totally different scheme, different approach, different defense. Everything about them is different. They're just a brand new team" under first-year head coach Chip Kelly.
"It's a big deal coming home," Carroll said of returning to CenturyLink Field to face the Niners in Week 3 following a loss last week against the Rams in Los Angeles. "Coming home, got a division game coming up. Want to bounce back. We need to get right. Guys are excited to be playing at [CenturyLink] again and want to get on the right track here."
"We're looking forward to putting together a great week," Carroll later added. "This is a huge opportunity for us. We want to take advantage of it."
Carroll's full press conference is embedded above, but here are three more key takeaways from his 20-minute conversation:
1. Jimmy Graham Will "Play A Lot, He'll Be A Big Factor That We Can Count On"
Tight end Jimmy Graham saw a big uptick in play time against the Rams, moving from playing 21 percent of Seattle's offensive snaps in Week 1 to 82 percent in Week 2 as he works his way back from last November's season-ending knee injury. Through his 55 plays at L.A. Memorial Coliseum, Graham made three grabs for 42 yards, good for the second-most receiving yards on the team. Going into that game, Carroll said the club wasn't sure how Graham would handle the increased workload, but now that the team is three days removed Carroll said Graham had no issues recovering and "did a marvelous job, so we're ready to go with him."
"Jimmy is going to be a big factor for us," Carroll said. "He's going to be a big factor. He played 50 plays last week and that means he's playing a regular amount of football. Now that he's back in there, we can't keep him out of the forefront, he's just that good of a player. The week before he played 12, so this was a big jump for him and I think he, as well as the coaches, think it's back to normal now.
"He'll play a lot, he'll be a big factor that we can count on."
Added offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell: "He'll continue to grow with us and be able to get more opportunities."
And with Graham missing much of the offseason while rehabbing from his torn patellar tendon, Bevell also said he expects the rapport between Wilson and Graham to improve the more time they spend together.
"You can see that in us last year as the season progressed and it's something that we have to get through this year," said Bevell. "I think Jimmy and Russell are just where they are right now, I wouldn't say it's outstanding but I wouldn't say it's bad. We'll continue to grow there and they work every day at it."
2. Behind A "More Explosive" Frank Clark, The Pass Rush Has "Started Much Faster"
The Seahawks have recorded 8.0 total sacks in 2016, tying the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos for second-most in the League through the NFL's first two weeks. Last year, it took Seattle until Week 5 of the regular season to top the eight-sack mark. Carroll said he has been impressed by how comfortable the Seahawks are with their defensive line rotation this season, calling attention to second-year defensive end Frank Clark, who leads the team with 3.0 sacks, as one of the reasons for the group's accelerated development.
"We've started much faster and I think Frank has been a really good complement to the other guys," Carroll said. "He's been more of a factor and it just brings out the best in Cliff [Avril] and Mike [Bennett]. I think he's made a difference. Just his factor in there. We're moving him around a lot like we talked about, and everybody is kind of doing the things that they have done. He's more explosive than we've seen and I think it's been a better factor for us."
Carroll also pointed to contributions from defensive end Cassius Marsh, noting that "in general we're just better and we're more active" when it comes to putting "pretty good heat on the quarterback."
"We feel more comfortable with the rotation," Carroll said. "We didn't have quite that last year, maybe the last two years, as we did a few years back. It's just nice to keep those guys fresh and keep them coming in. It is helping us, and I think that's a real positive. They're getting quality snaps, too. They're being a factor when they're in there, too. It helps in all ways."
3. Turnovers Come "In Bunches And We're About Ready For That To Happen"
The Seahawks have finished each of the past four seasons holding the NFL's best mark in scoring defense, and through Seattle's first two games of 2016 the unit has remained on top, allowing a League-best 9.5 points per game in addition to ranking first in total defense, allowing 248.5 yards per game. But despite the unit's early success, it has not managed to generate a single turnover, something several Seahawks players and coach Carroll spoke about following last Sunday's loss to the Rams. Carroll said Wednesday that an improved pass rush would usually account for a greater chance at turnovers, but to this point, opposing offenses "have been really good against us. They have not given us many chances."
"They've been pretty conservative because the score has been so tight, they've been able to," Carroll said. "They've done a nice job of keeping the ball away from us. Generally, you look at the pass rush, and you think, well that's where you get a lot of issue for your opponents, you get the ball in the quarterback's hands, they throw some balls poorly. We've rushed the passer really well the first couple weeks, so that's not really the factor."
Carroll said if the Seahawks can stake early leads in ballgames the turnovers should start to come.
"We've got to force situations and we've got to get ahead," he said. "We've got to get up on them so it's harder for our opponents. It's been kind of tight and close to the vest and it's worked out in their favor for the most part. I think this is going to flip like it does, it happens in bunches and we're about ready for that to happen."
The Seahawks returned to practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Wednesday to prepare for their home game against the 49ers.