The Seahawks were back to work Monday following a tough home loss to the Ravens, a game that served to reinforce head coach Pete Carroll's "It's all about the ball" philosophy.
"We had a tough ball game yesterday that just hammered home one of the real lessons in our program, it's all about the ball," Carroll said. "… When you give the ball up a couple of times, it's hard to win. You give up a couple of scores, it's really difficult to figure out a way. You've got to match them back up and neutralize them, and we weren't able to do that."
In other words, as Carroll put it, "the lessons couldn't be more obvious" coming out of the game. In addition to that lesson, here are six things we learned from Carroll's Monday press conference.
1. Marquise Blair earned more playing time.
With Bradley McDougald (back spasms) and Lano Hill (elbow) both sidelined by injuries, rookie Marquise Blair got his first start, and the second-round pick out of Utah made a good impression on his coaches. Blair had six tackles on defense, two more on special teams, and had a third-down pass breakup to help the defense get off the field. Carroll said that level of play earned Blair more playing time going forward.
"I thought Marquise did a really good job," Carroll said. "I thought he was active, physical, covered well, made a couple of things happen that were real positive, and avoided a couple of other things on mistakes that he made—our guys covered for him pretty well, and that helped us. But I liked his play. Really, it was kind of like what we would expect, and it showed up immediately as we saw on the first kickoff too. He had had a couple of plays in the kicking game that really kind of knocked him down a notch a few weeks back; he jumped right back in and was a special factor. He helped himself. He's going to play some more."
Asked if that meant Blair would start again this week, Carroll stopped short of making that declaration, but said, "He's going to play some more. I'm going to say it that way for right now. I'm fired up about him."
As for Hill and McDougald's injuries, Carroll said Hill "won't be able to get back this week," while McDougald is day-to-day.
"He's a little bit better, but he didn't just pop out of it yet," Carroll said of McDougald. "He didn't come back today ready to go. So we'll take it all the way through the week and see what happens. Obviously he's got a little issue that's keeping him kind of in the spasm mode, he has not been able to shake it yet. So we're working on him and we'll see what happens, and we'll go day to day."
2. Injury updates on Duane Brown, D.J. Fluker & Ziggy Ansah.
In addition to McDougald and Hill, Carroll also provided updates on left tackle Duane Brown, who has missed the past two games with a biceps injury, D.J. Fluker (hamstring) who was healthy enough to be active, but who did not start, and defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who was out with an ankle injury.
On Brown, Carroll said, "It's a day at a time now. He's closer obviously after a couple of weeks sitting out. He wants to get something done on Wednesday, we'll find out if he can. He's determined to try to make it back. I don't know if that's going to work out or not."
Carroll noted that team doctors and athletic trainers are going to be "a little bit more cautious than (Brown) is. He's aggressively wanting to go for it. If he can, he's going to be on the field on Wednesday, but we'll see what happens. We may have to protect him from himself in this regard."
On Fluker, who was active but did not play, with Jamarco Jones starting a second straight game in his place, Carroll said, "Fluke will be back and ready to go. Fluke just barely made it back for the game, he was available to us… He will be ready to compete this week for playing time."
Carroll also said that Jones has played well enough to be in the conversation for a starting job going forward: "He's competing and he has done well, that means he has raised the questions, does he deserve to play and should he start? He has played terrific for us three weeks in a row now. So it's a good situation for us, it's as competitive as it can be. D.J.'s got to come back raring to go, which he is, his attitude is great, he can't wait to get back out there, so we'll see what it all means."
On Ansah, who injured his ankle while forcing and recovering a fumble in Seattle's Week 5 win in Cleveland, Carroll said, "It's a day-to-day deal. He's got an ankle that he's got to come back from. He's going to be somewhat like Duane—he's going to want to come back Wednesday, Thursday or so and see if he can get back out there. We're going to need to see him, see that he can get off, put some pressure on it, all that kind of stuff. I don't think we'll be able to go all the way the game time not playing him at all during the week and then just see that he can play. I don't see that happening, I think we need to get him work during the week so we can prove that he's OK."
3. Carroll's thoughts on the pass rush.
The Seahawks recorded only one sack in Sunday's game, and had none in their previous two games, so Carroll obviously sees room for improvement there, but he also isn't panicking about the lack of sacks because for the most part teams aren't having a lot of success throwing on Seattle of late.
"That (sack) number isn't going in the right direction. But the passing game—there were two plays in the passing game, and the rest of it was really well done by our guys making plays. We pressured a number of times and got good disruption out of it. We found our way into chasing the quarterback when we pressured—we got him out of the pocket, knocked him off the spot, but that wasn't the best thing that could happen. But you needed to do it, you've got to go after him and change the rhythm."
To Carroll's point, Lamar Jackson completed 9 of 20 passes for 143 yards and a 69.4 passer rating, and 50 of those yards came on a coverage bust after Lamar rolled out of the pocket, not because he had all day to sit in the pocket and throw. Last week, the Seahawks didn't have a sack, but they intercepted Baker Mayfield four times, leading to a 54.9 passer rating. And since Seattle's Week 3 loss to New Orleans, no opposing quarterback has had a rating higher than Jared Goff's 83.3 in the past four games.
"We'd love to get more sacks, we'd love to have more hits on the quarterbacks, because that gives us the ball for the most part, but we're just going to keep battling away," Carroll said. "If we're going to get better, it's going to happen the next couple of weeks. I think the fact that (Jarran) Reed is back out there should make a difference."
4. Jarran Reed came through his 2019 debut well.
Reed not only played Sunday after just one week of practice, the defensive tackle started and played 50 of 59 defensive snaps, the most of any D-lineman. That showed the work Reed put in while away from the team during his six-game suspension, and the Seahawks expect he'll only get better as he knocks off any lingering rust.
"He played real hard, came out of the game healthy and all of that," Carroll said. "Being his first game in a month and half, he'll get better and help us… He played fine, he played good hard football. He had a couple of plays that he would like back, but other than that he played tough, he felt good coming out, felt good in the game conditioning wise, and came out fine. So that's a big positive. It could have had a big impact on him if he wasn't ready, but physically he did a fantastic job of getting prepared so he could go for it when he returned. We're really pleased with that."
5. Tre Flowers has taken a step forward in recent weeks.
Second-year cornerback Tre Flowers had his first career interception in Seattle's Week 6 win in Cleveland, then on Sunday he had one of his better games, an effort that included a pass breakup as well as a very physical hit for a third-down stop on a tight end who outweighs him by more than 50 pounds.
"He played really good ball," Carroll said. "He had a couple of plays in the game, he did a nice job. He has taken a technical step forward here in the last few weeks with his game, and I'm fired up for him. His confidence is up, he's more aggressive, his technique is really the best it has been all year, and he can feel it coming. We got good play out of him and a couple of really nice plays."
6. Tyler Lockett is impressive even when his catches don't count.
Tyler Lockett, who led the Seahawks with 61 receiving yards on five catches, had a couple more spectacular catches on Sunday, including a diving 8-yard touchdown, as well as a 33-yard reception despite physical coverage. But what might have been his most impressive catch was one that didn't count, a diving effort out of the back of the end zone that saw him just avoid the goal post to make a grab that didn't show up on the stat sheet.
"I thought that was a really impressive play," Carroll said. "Matter of fact, that one in particular—he caught another one, made another great catch. OK, it would have worked up in British Columbia or something, but not here. He caught it going into the wall too, it was awesome. He has been spectacular, his play has just been spectacular. The connection with Russ as we saw again and again—the (33-yard) throw down the middle was a phenomenal throw and catch. That's about as challenging a play, under the full-blitz situation that happened and all that, as you can make. I can't wait to see what he does next."