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Keeping The Pass Rush Intact & Other Notes From Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll's End-Of-Season Press Conference

News and notes from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll’s final press conference of the 2020 season. 

The Seahawks saw their 2020 season come to an end on Saturday with a loss to the Rams in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, and on Monday head coach Pete Carroll addressed the media to talk about the season that was and look ahead to the offseason. In addition to Carroll’s thoughts on wanting to get the running game going more next year, as well as why he's so proud of how his team handled a pandemic, here are six takeaways from Monday's press conference:

1. Carroll wants to keep the pass rush intact.

After recording only nine sacks in their first six games, the Seahawks had one of the league's most productive pass rushes the rest of the way, recording three or more sacks in 10 of their final 11 games, Saturday's game included. So it's no surprise that the Seahawks hope to keep that group intact while also adding to it Darrell Taylor, who missed his rookie season with an injury but who returned to practice last week, and while increasing the role of Alton Robinson, who showed a lot of promise, recording four sacks in limited playing time as a rookie.

"I want to put together this pass rush again and see what happens when Darrell comes back and enters into it," Carroll said "We'd like Benson (Mayowa) to come back with us and be part of it, counting on Carlos (Dunlap) to be part of it. Elevate our opportunities to get Alton involved more. Alton was really good on the left side, I like to give him some more rushes over there. That's the main focus--make sure that this pass rush comes back intact, and we can grow from there. We saw a really good play inside, particularly late in the year from (Jarran) Reed—he had a really good finish to the season, was really a factor. And that's because he's feeding off the rush from the guys outside, as it has to work in complement. So we'd like to really work hard to get that done."

2. Carroll wants K.J. Wright back for an 11th season.

A day after K.J. Wright told reporters that he wants to return for an 11th season, Carroll said that is his hope as well after Wright put together one of the best seasons of his career in 2020.

"He had a great year," Carroll said. "He was a factor all year long—in the running game, in passing game, so many timely plays he made. He had a terrific season, he had maybe his best season. So I'm hoping he's coming back and playing for us and we've got a real clear-cut role for him. It doesn't matter how old he is, how many numbers he's got, it's how he plays, and he played really good."

3. The offensive line did a lot of good things, but the interior line play can improve.

The Seahawks have some uncertainty with their line moving forward. Starting center Ethan Pocic will be a free agent when the new league year begins, as will veteran left guard Mike Iupati, but regardless of who is or isn't back, Carroll both likes the potential of that group, and sees room to get better.

"The offensive line is a good spot for us," he said. "I'm hoping that Duane (Brown) will have a great offseason—he goes into the offseason somewhat healthy and he's not in need of surgery at this point. That's a big deal for him so he can have a great offseason. We need to make sure that the inside three guys, that we grow and get better there. Damien (Lewis) is going to be better, Pocic had his first chance of starting at center, he'll get better. And then the left guard spot with Mike and Jordan (Simmons) and (Kyle) Fuller and those guys, we need to improve there and all.

4. Bruce Irvin had another surgery, while Marquise Blair "is flying in his return."

The Seahawks lost two key pieces of their defense to ACL injuries early in the season, linebacker/pass-rusher Bruce Irvin and defensive back Marquise Blair, who had taken over the nickel role in his second season.

Carroll said that Irvin, who is set to become a free agent this spring, had an additional surgery on his knee which has put him behind schedule, though Irvin did "come out of that really well," Carroll said.

Blair, meanwhile, is making a good recovery and should be ready for the start of training camp.

"Marquise is flying in his return," Carroll said. "His attitude is extraordinary. He's doing great, and he should be a big factor. This is a great football player. I'm so excited about this guy. He was looking so good. We had positioned him in the right spot, he was going to play right up in there, he'd have played all year long right, he'd have played so much. He should be back by camp and all that and be ready to go. Fortunately, the injury was early enough in the year."

4. Jamal Adams showed his toughness this year.

Jamal Adams, who was acquired in a trade before the start of training camp, showed not only that he was a playmaker in his first year as a Seahawk, earning Pro-Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors; he also showed his toughness. Adams, who set an NFL record for sacks by a defensive back with 9.5 this season, played through a right shoulder injury earlier in the season, then finished the year playing with two broken fingers, only to then tear the labrum in his left shoulder in Week 17, an injury he managed to play through on Saturday even though it, as well as his broken fingers, will require surgery.

"He was banged up a good part of the season, he was hurt, and he played really hurt in this last game and he found a way to do it," Carroll said. "There was a question, is he going to be affective enough to let him play, but his will was so strong, and he just wouldn't be denied on it, and I wanted him to be part of it. But he had to struggle through some plays in this game. His toughness is just undeniable. His self-proclaimed warrior mentality or whatever he said, that's the truth. That's what he lives up to and that's what he is. He's a great player… What a great addition to the team."

5. Thoughts on pending free agents.

As is the case every offseason, the Seahawks are going to have some tough decisions when it comes to free agents, a group that this year includes Wright, Shaquill Griffin and Chris Carson, to name a few, and as is the case every offseason, the Seahawks hope to bring as many of those players back as they can. The issue, as always, will be making it work with the salary cap, but Carroll hopes to see a lot of his 2020 roster back in 2021.

On Carson, Carroll said, "Chris is a huge priority, we'd love to have him back."

And on Griffin, he said, "Shaquill, we'd love to keep him with us."

Two players who dealt with injuries this year, receiver Phillip Dorsett II and cornerback Quinton Dunbar are players Carroll said he'd also like to bring back. Dorsett, a free-agent addition, missed the entire season with a foot injury, while Dunbar, a trade acquisition, battled a knee injury that eventually required surgery and landed him on injured reserve.

"We're trying to get both those guys back," Carroll said.

6. Carroll is counting on retaining his coaching staff, but nothing is set in stone.

Carroll was asked multiple times if he was going to make any changes to his coaching staff, and while he said he won't speculate on that right now while everything is still being evaluated, he's planning as of now to bring everyone back.

"We're going to figure out what we need to get better, just like we always do," he said. "I love my guys, I love the way they worked and the dedication they brought. I'm counting on everybody coming back."

Carroll did add that some coaches are in talks with other teams about jobs, which could affect things. Seattle already lost run game coordinator Brennan Carroll, Pete's son, to the University of Arizona, which named him its offensive coordinator last month.

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