When Seahawks coach Pete Carroll reviewed the film of Sunday night's loss in Green Bay, he more or less saw the same thing that he witnessed live at Lambeau Field. Carroll was disappointed with what he saw, but not to the point that he couldn't make a joke about it.
"Well after watching the film, nothing changed," he said. "I was hoping that it would, but it didn't."
Carroll can bring a little bit of levity to an 0-2 start because, like his players, he understands that the season is too long and that his team is too talented to start panicking after two games.
"Difficult 0-2 start for us, but one that challenges us," Carroll said. "We feel like we have a lot of good football in us, a lot good stuff ahead. We're very close to doing some very good things."
Carroll's lack of concern highlights five takeaways from his Monday press conference.
1. Carroll is disappointed by the results, but not overly worried.
Even in their most successful seasons, the Seahawks have had rough patches, and while losing two in a row to open the season might make some people worry, Carroll realizes his team has a lot of games left to determine their 2015 fate.
"I'm not really concerned about that at all," he said. "I'm concerned about this game coming up and getting going. There are a lot of games left. I know you like to see everybody just go perfectly as they roll through this thing, but it isn't like that. There are great challenges to it. We were 3-3 last year, and everybody was wondering, where are we? What's going on? And we hadn't found our stride yet. So here we are, two games, we gotta see what happens. We're two games old."
Asked if he reminds this year's team of that 3-3 start, Carroll said he doesn't necessarily need to do that, but says that's just an example of what most NFL seasons are like.
"There's always stuff that you have go through," he said. "You have to find yourself, find your way, and sometimes it has to get way hard before it gets good. I like the other guys to learn the hard way, but sometimes you've got to learn it yourself."
2. Yes, the Seahawks are trying to get the ball to Jimmy Graham.
Jimmy Graham had a solid opener, catching six passes for 51 yards and a touchdown in his first game as a Seahawk, but he was limited to just one catch in Green Bay. Despite Graham's quiet night, the Seahawks are most definitely trying to get the ball to their playmaking tight end, it just didn't work out in Green Bay.
"I'm disappointed, because we have really had intent—exactly like you guys would think and everybody thinks, we want him to be a big part of the offense," Carroll said. "Five balls in the first game and a touchdown, that's a pretty good day. On this day it didn't work out. We were trying to go him four out of the first five passes; it's just the way it has worked out. I'm not panicked by that at all. We're working at it, and it's going to get worked out. We just want him to be a factor, just like he wants to too, desperately, that's what he's here to do. We're going to get that worked out, but it just didn't happen in this game for us. We certainly had a bunch of calls, a bunch of call, where it could have happened, he was working hard and we're working hard. It just didn't come together."
Carroll said that getting Graham fully immersed in the offense could take a little bit of time, comparing the situation to how the 2013 Seahawks needed time to get their defensive line rotation settled (and that turned out pretty well by the end of the season, by the way).
"Even though we thought maybe we were a little further ahead than that, as we saw in the first two games, we've got work to do yet," Carroll said. "We're not backing off at all, we're ready to crank that up and make that a challenging part of our offense."
As a competitor, Graham might be frustrated, Carroll said, but not in a way that will hurt the team.
"He's a competitor, he wants the ball, he wants to help us win," Carroll said. "I feel that too, but he has worked hard, he's great about it, he wants to do everything he can to help us. I don't have any doubt about that."
3. The secondary has flexibility.
When the Seahawks faced St. Louis in the opener, Richard Sherman played two roles, playing both his usual left cornerback spot and nickel corner when the Seahawks had three cornerbacks in the game, with DeShawn Shead playing left corner. Dion Bailey, meanwhile, started at strong safety. Against Green Bay, however, Shead moved from corner to safety, starting ahead of Bailey, while Marcus Burley played nickel corner, allowing Sherman to spend the game at his usual spot. Those changes aren't necessarily a permanent one, Carroll said, but rather a sign that the Seahawks might be inclined to mix and match this season depending on matchups.
"They played pretty well, they both did well," Carroll said of Shead and Burley. "The matchups worked out OK, Marcus made some good key tackles. Shead played well too. (The Packers) have moved their tight ends around a lot, and the background that DeShawn has as a corner and the size that he has allows us to match up when they do them outside as a wide receiver. We anticipated seeing that some, so we wanted to control that matchup. He did a good job."
Carroll said depending on the matchups, they could go back to Bailey, who as a former linebacker at USC is better suited to play the run than Shead, but not as strong in coverage. Sherman's willingness to take on an additional role also adds flexibility.
"That's what we're talking about when we talk about determining the matchups week to week and seeing how it fits," Carroll said. "That's why the flexibility of Richard going inside is a real positive for us."
4. The pass protection improved.
The Seahawks decided to throw the ball more in the second half in part because they were trailing, but also because of what they saw from their offensive line in the first half. Realizing that the Packers were committing to stopping the run, and that the pass protection was holding up well, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and offensive line coach/assistant head coach Tom Cable decided to get more aggressive in the passing game. The result was two touchdown drives which, for a while at least, gave the Seahawks the lead.
"Without question we protected the passer way better in this game, and that's a big positive for us," Carroll said. "You saw us rely on that in the second half. We wanted to come out and see if we move the ball throwing it a little bit, and that happened. That was really generated because we had looked pretty solid in the first half, and we just needed to get a little bit of momentum going, and it turned for us."
5. Carroll expects the defense to finish better.
Asked what he saw out of the defense in Sunday's game, Carroll didn't hesitate with his answer: "Not enough. Not enough finish."
The Seahawks have been the best defensive team in football over the past few seasons, and usually that includes helping the team close out games, but the Seahawks had the lead in each of their first two games at some point in the fourth quarter, and were not able to hang on. That's not something Carroll expects to see turn into a trend, however.
"We haven't come up with the play that you need," he said "Usually you knock the ball out, you pick one off, you tip a ball or something like that happens and it's over. That hasn't happened for us. We're executing much like we have been in the games, but the play that we need hasn't shown up. I think that will turn, I don't think that's going to continue. In the last three or four games we've had chances to be ahead and be challenged and lost the lead. That hasn't happened very much in our history, so we've got to get that turned around."
Of course when it comes to Seattle's defense not holding the lead, the play of Aaron Rodgers has to be mentioned. Rodgers, last year's league MVP, made a number of big plays that few, if any, other quarterbacks could make. On the 29-yard first-quarter touchdown pass, Rodgers moved to his left, drawing safety Earl Thomas with him, then fired a dart while rolling left that snuck just between Thomas and Sherman.
"It was a great throw," Carroll said. "He knew what he was doing. He drew (Thomas) with him on the float of the scramble, then just in a flash, ripped the ball back in… It was a great throw."
"That is as challenging of a game for the entire group as you can get," Carroll said of Rodgers' ability to scramble, then make big plays. "… There isn't a more challenging player in football when he's running around."