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Red Zone Success & Other Takeaways From Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll's Monday Press Conference

News and notes from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll’s press conference a day after his team’s win at San Francisco. 

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The Seahawks got back to work Monday to kick off a short week of preparation for their Thursday night game against the Los Angeles Rams, but before the team hit the field for a late walkthrough, head coach Pete Carroll met with the media to discuss Sunday's win over the 49ers, as well as what lies ahead this week.

In addition to some injury updates, here are five takeaways from Carroll's Monday press conference:

1. Russell Wilson had a "classic" outing.

Russell Wilson didn't put up huge numbers on Sunday, passing for 149 yards and two touchdowns, but it was still a great performance, not just in its efficiency—he finished with a 116.0 passer rating—but also with how he managed the challenges that came with facing a tough 49ers defense and helped the offense get past some early-game struggles. 

"When you take it out there in the first series and you get dumped and sacked, the second series again, and the third series again, it's a challenge to anyone in any endeavor," Carroll said. "How do you hang when it starts to get difficult? He didn't even falter or waver, he hung in there and came back like we always know him to do, and he did it again. He put together an excellent game for us. One of my favorite games because of that, the circumstances of being on the road, with the crowd, the pass rush was roaring, and then after the first three series, they didn't get him again. When he needed to get out, he did, and when he needed to scramble to throw it and win the game with a touchdown pass, he did it. I was really proud of that outing and thought it was one of his classics. To me, it's one of the really special ones."

2. Carroll's assessment of the cornerback play.

The Seahawks made a change at cornerback for Sunday's game, putting Sidney Jones IV in at left cornerback, and moving D.J. Reed from the left side to right cornerback, the position he played for most of the second half of last season.

Asked what he saw, Carroll noted that there were things to clean up, but for the most part he came away encouraged by what he saw.

"D.J. played very comfortably on the right side, it's his best side so that was a good move in that sense," Carroll said. "Sidney had some good plays, he did some nice things, but got in trouble a couple of times. It was just first-time out stuff, but he was comfortable in the game, he responded well, adjusted well as we did stuff in the game, and he competed really well."

Asked if they'll stick with that combination again against the Rams, Carroll said, "It's a really short week and those are big decisions, so we haven't gotten there yet. If we were playing tonight, they would be playing again."

3. Alex Collins' contribution "was really obvious."

The Seahawks put Alex Collins into the game late in the second quarter with the offense looking for a spark, and he provided it immediately, catching a short pass and taking it down the left sideline for a 28-yard gain, the first play of an 80-yard scoring drive. Collins later added an impressive 14-yard touchdown run, and finished the game with a team-high 44 rushing yards on 10 carries. 

 "It was really obvious," Carroll said. "He had the big catch and run which was easy for him but a nice play, it changed field position and got us moving a bit. His running was really effectively and consistent, then he had the really nice touchdown run where he was dancing through the mess, it looked great. Alex has really been a come through guy for us, he has really done a nice job when we've called on him. He practices really hard, he's tuned in everyday, so he prepares to do well, and it happened. It was great."

4. Why so good in the red zone?

The Seahawks finished last season with the No. 3 red zone offense in the NFL, and they were in the top five the year before that. And this season the Seahawks have scored touchdowns on 90 percent of their red zone trips, the third best mark in the league, and they were four for four on Sunday. Asked about that red-zone success, Carroll said Wilson plays a big role in that.

"A lot of it has to do with the quarterback," Carroll said. "If you watch and you look at the young quarterbacks trying to function down there, the elements that change down there make the game different. The teams are so good and they move so well. There's little room for error down there that young quarterbacks can struggle in that situation. That's why you try to run the ball with those guys to try to keep them out of the throwing situations as coverages change and concepts adjust. It does take experience. It also takes play making ability. Russell's uncanny movement skills that give him another chance and another look at stuff, is really, really hard to defend. Just his experience and the style of throws that he's good at and us connecting with that. Knowing his receivers and what they're good at because mannerisms and characteristics of individual players down there tend to stick out more. Big receivers, tough runners, guys that can get open in short areas, all of that. There's a lot of elements down there. Russ just happens to be really good at it. He takes great pride in it. He's had great experience. I can go all the way back to the first time we were in the red zone to win a game with the Cardinals, that opening game years ago. His first game. I think we had three or four shots from the seven yard line. Now I know. When we get down there, there's a really good chance he'll figure it out and find a way to get it in the end zone. Whether we run it or throw it or we've got to run it to do it. He's just the best he's ever been. There's a lot that goes into it."

5. The safety play stood out on Sunday.

The Seahawks used their dime (six defensive backs) package more on Sunday than they had in the previous three games, meaning significant playing time for Ryan Neal, and he came through with three tackles on third down as well as a third-down pass breakup. And Neal wasn't the only safety making plays on Sunday. Quandre Diggs had Seattle's first interception of the season, and both he and Jamal Adams had several big hits, including one by Adams on George Kittle that prevented a touchdown late in the game.

"What you saw yesterday was really exciting play from our safeties," Carroll said. "I thought both of those guys played great. They were all over the place, making hits, and getting in the way of the throwing game. They were making crucial tackles when we weren't getting it done upfront and hitting like crazy. What Ryan adds to it is the special juice that he brings, the toughness that he brings, and the willingness to throw his body around, he had a huge hit on the sidelines. He had another couple of good smacks that adds to it. In that regard, everybody can feel that in general, they can feel the fuel of that. I thought that was pretty exciting yesterday. I was really happy with all three of those guys, the safeties for us. I thought their play was really noticeable."

Seahawks players arrive at Levi's Stadium for Week 4 vs. the San Francisco 49ers on October 3, 2021.

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