The Seahawks are back from Miami where they improved to 4-0 after winning what Pete Carroll described as "a hard game to play" because of the heat and humidity. And while it wasn't a perfect first quarter to the season, it was an unbeaten one, and Carroll likes where his team is at knowing that there is still room for growth.
"It was a real successful day on the road again," Carroll said. "I'm liking that the way we're playing is had been consistent enough to get us wins with a lot of room to get better. There's so many areas for the players and the coaches to work on with stuff that we can improve on. We've got a good feeling about that, and are looking forward to getting back out there again, having a good week and get cranking and see if we can keep rolling."
Here are six things we learned from Carroll's Monday presser:
1. K.J. Wright is "playing very active football" in his 10*th* season.
While K.J. Wright wishes he had come down with two potential interceptions on Sunday, he was still one of the best players on the field, recording three pass breakups, eight tackles, a forced fumble and a couple his trademark blowing-up-a-screen-pass-in-the-backfield plays.
Making Wright's recent strong play all the more encouraging is that he's doing it from strongside linebacker, not his usual weakside spot—at least when the Seahawks are in their base defense. Wright played strongside linebacker early in his career, but moved from that spot on the line of scrimmage to the off-ball weakside spot in 2013 when the Seahawks moved Bruce Irvin from end to strongside linebacker. With Irvin going down to a season-ending knee injury, and with Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton better suited to play the weakside spot than strongside, Wright made the switch, though when the Seahawks are in nickel he's still one of the two linebackers on the field with Bobby Wagner.
"He sure has been really active," Carroll said. "You know, playing on the edge, it really seems to put him in position to see some things a little bit differently, and he's able to be a factor in a lot of stuff, so we're really excited about it. We've got to get him to catch the football, but other than that he was all over it and played a great game. He has been playing very active football for us, so I'm really happy with his production."
While Wright has shown he's more than capable of playing all the linebacker spots—he started at middle linebacker as a rookie—the two spots do have their differences, and it's no small thing for a 10-year veteran to move from his most comfortable spot for the good of the team.
"He's been a great teammate about that and said, 'Well I'll do whatever you want me to do,'" Carroll said. "And he's played really well, so we're excited about that."
Carroll later went on to add that the move showed how Wright is "a perfect teammate, he really is a perfect teammate… And he's really not just survived it he's excelling in doing great. So it says everything about him I think, but he's been speaking and screaming loudly about who he is for years around here."
2. Ryan Neal has made a statement with his play the past two weeks.
Ryan Neal spent the first two weeks of the season on the practice squad, but after replacing an injured Jamal Adams in Week 3, then starting for Adams on Sunday, Neal has made it clear not just that the Seahawks have a quality backup while Adams is out, but a player who could help them in some capacity even after they're at full strength. "
"What I'm surprised at is how he made the transition so comfortably," Carroll said of Neal, who has an interception in each of the last two games. "He hasn't played a lot of football, so you're not sure what's going to happen when he gets into game time, but he's really carried his preparation to the game field and looked very comfortable and at ease and aggressive, not hesitant at all. And he's played smart; he's playing good solid football for us, so that's just a really good sign. He has made a statement that there's a place for him to play some, so we'll see how that works in the future. For right now he's playing, and I'm really happy about that, really happy for him to. He's a great kid."
3. Special teams has been "Really, really solid."
While discussing his team's win over the Dolphins on Sunday, Carroll didn't take long to bring up special teams play. And it's worth noting that just about every week, Carroll is bringing up that phase of the game, unprompted, despite there not being many of the big splashy plays that usually get people excited about special teams. The Seahawks haven't had any huge returns—though Travis Homer and David Moore have both had a couple of nice returns—fake punts, and there's been only one takeaway. But even if there haven't been a ton of spectacular special teams plays, the overall play across the board has been outstanding, from the punt and kick coverage to the kicking of Jason Myers and punting of Michael Dickson, to the fact that the Seahawks have not committed a penalty on special teams in their first four games.
In addition to strong leadership from veterans like Nick Bellore and special teams captain Neiko Thorpe, Carroll also pointed to the development of second-year players who make up a significant portion of Seattle's core special teams group.
"It seems like the second-year guys have been improved," Carroll said. "Homer in particular, he's had influence. He's just such a good player in general, he's done a nice job for us. He's such a good mentality guy on your special teams, but he's just right in the middle of all of it. Leadership from Bellore and Neiko has been solid. Our guys kicking together, again, both doing a really good job in both aspects of the kicking part of it. Then the discipline of staying out of the penalty situation has really helped us too. They've been great in that regard, we haven't given up anything to our opponents, so far, So it's just been really, really solid, and it's just such a good part of your team whenever you can count them. We got our hands on a couple kicks—Mayowa had a finger on one early, and Tre got one last week and. So there's just some cool stuff happening, and we really haven't even had any big plays occur yet for us in the returns, so it's been just been a really good part of our game."
4. Carroll is "fired up" about a penalty-free day.
The Seahawks were among the league leaders in penalties with 20 enforced against them through the first three weeks of the season, but on Sunday the Seahawks had zero penalties enforced against them. How rare is that accomplishment? The Seahawks last had a penalty-free game in Week 16 of the 2007 season, and they had only accomplished that three times in franchise history before Sunday.
"I think we can probably count on no penalties here for quite a few weeks coming up here," Carroll quipped. "No, I don't know, have we ever done that before? I don't think we have. I was really fired up about that. We were so bad here a few weeks ago that I made the point, 'let's just get the average.' Challenged the guys to see if we can get in the middle somewhere, and we jumped all the way in the top 10 here, so we're excited about that in terms of penalties. It's a really important part of the game for just playing really clean football. It makes you hard to beat when you don't make those kinds of mistakes."
The Seahawks deserve credit for cleaning up the penalties, but there is also a league-wide trend of fewer penalties being called, a change Carroll welcomes.
"I would say that this is a new day in officiating," he said. "It feels different, and I really like it, they're letting us play, and the game is flowing well. There's just a clear sense that you've got to do something egregious, and if you do then they're going to get you, and if you don't, then we're playing on. I like that when the officials have that kind of influence in the game in that manner where they don't over influence it. I like it, I hope we can keep going.
5. Injury updates.
While the Seahawks didn't sustain any new significant injures on Sunday, they do have some players trying to get back from injuries that kept them out that game, and Carroll provided some updates.
On cornerback Quinton Dunbar, who has missed two games with a knee injury, Carroll said, "Quinton was running today and working out today. I won't know until tomorrow how that worked out. He's trying to get back for this weekend."
Carroll said Jamal Adams, who has a groin injury, isn't running yet, but that his status isn't yet known for the week: "I know he's dying to get back, he's been sending me messages about how much he wants to play and get out there, but we'll have to wait and see how that works. It's just too early in the week to know."
Running back Carlos Hyde practiced last week in a red non-contact jersey to protect an injured shoulder, and did not play in the game. Carroll said Hyde could get back this week, but also indicated that the Seahawks could wait so he gets the benefit of Seattle's Week 6 bye to further recover: "Carlos was able to practice all of last week because we had him in in red shirt so he wouldn't get banged on the shoulder. So he looked fine all week long, but it got to the weekend, it just wasn't feeling strong enough to go ahead and go. We'll just go at it again this week and take the same approach. He'll be able to practice this week, which is great. He's not going to lose a step or anything, but we'll have to wait and see. That could be one of those ones that if we just wait one more week, then we get the whole other bonus week in there, we'll have to see."
Carroll also gave some updates on players who have been out the entire season so far but are hoping to return soon, running back Rashaad Penny and defensive end Darrell Taylor.
On Penny, who tore his ACL late last season, Carroll said, "He's working really hard, he's running hard. I can't tell you that three weeks from now he'll be ready to go, I don't know that. What I have told you is that we're not going to rush him. We're going to make sure that he's back and he's really fully returned to full strength and full speed and all of that. But he's really hopeful, so we'll see how it goes."
As for Taylor, who is still working his way back from leg injury in college that required offseason surgery, Carroll said, the second round-pick is making "good progress… I'm really excited about the return of Darrell. If he can get back out there with us, I think he's going to be a real accent to what we're doing, and hopefully he can make it in the next few weeks. I don't know that."
And speaking of players coming back from injuries…
6. The Seahawks are planning on D.J. Reed playing this season.
When the Seahawks claimed defensive back D.J. Reed off of waivers in August, it was unclear if he was in the team's plans for 2020 or an investment in the future. A 2018 fifth-round pick of the 49ers, Reed tore a pectoral muscle in an offseason workout and was waived with a non-football injury designation, a move that would have allowed the 49ers to keep him on injured reserve had he gone unclaimed. But the Seahawks did claim Reed, and Carroll said Monday that he could be back relatively soon and compete for playing time.
"He's going to be back," Carroll said. "He looks great running. I've seen him work out quite a bit. He's going to make it back very soon. We're really excited about him. He's a very versatile football player, really aggressive playmaker type. He has played corner and safety and nickel, he's played all those spots. So he's an exciting guy to add in. I think he'll come in competing for playtime. We'll have to figure out what's best based on what's going on at the time. I'm not sure what his date is, but he's soon to return though."
The best photos from Week 4's Seahawks-Dolphins game at Hard Rock Stadium. Presented by Nesquik.