Pete Carroll met with the media on Wednesday ahead of his team's Week 6 matchup with the undefeated Carolina Panthers at Seattle's CenturyLink Field. Carroll provided several injury updates on key personnel, which you can read about right here, but here's three more things we learned from the Seahawks head coach:
1. Carolina is "Killing" the Turnover Game
Through their 4-0 start, the Panthers defense is allowing an average of 339.0 yards (10th NFL) and 17.8 points (4th NFL) per game. Those numbers are good, but the statistic that sticks out most is one that Carroll is constantly preaching the importance of to his players in Seattle. The Panthers are plus-eight in turnover differential, a number that's tops in the League thanks in large part to the team's eight interceptions (T-2nd NFL) on the year.
"They're killing it," Carroll said of Carolina's ability to force turnovers. "They're picking off balls at a great rate. It's really obvious that they're all over it. The rush is good, but on the back end, [Panthers cornerback] Josh Norman is having a great start to the season. He's all over stuff."
Norman is tied for the NFL lead with four interceptions, including one that he returned for a touchdown the last time the Panthers played. The cornerback is paired in the Carolina secondary with Charles Tillman, who has a knack for forcing fumbles that Carroll called "the best in the NFL."
"He's teaching Josh how to do it too," Carroll said of the Norman-Tillman cornerback tandem. "They're punching out the ball and stuff, it's really fit together for them well."
2. Seattle is Searching for Fourth-Quarter Answers
After letting a 17-point fourth-quarter lead slip away against the Bengals this past Sunday, as well as fourth-quarter leads in games against the St. Louis Rams and Green Bay Packers earlier this season, Carroll was asked what he's seen from the way his defense has played in the game's final 15 minutes.
"I have looked at it in depth to try and see what kind of patterns are there and it's interesting to see how it goes," Carroll said. "When a team does make it back into a game and they're successful, then there's similar things that happen. There's usually a couple big plays in there, sometimes there's a penalty in there that makes a difference in the field position, that changes it. They're able to capture the moment. We've missed a couple of those moments and those opportunities in there, sometimes because we're just a bit out of alignment, we're trying to make a play that isn't quite there."
A follow-up question came that asked if there's anything Seattle's defense will do differently down the stretch moving forward.
"There is," Carroll admitted before adding, "I'm not telling you. Why would I tell you? There are some things that we can try differently in subtle ways. We're just looking for a play here or there. In this game in particular, it came down to no time on the clock in the field goal and banking one off the goalpost to beat us. They were very fortunate and that means that there's a place somewhere in the game that could have taken those seconds away for the opportunity to tie it, on both sides of the ball and in special teams, so there's a lot to look at."
3. This is the "Best" Russell Wilson Has Played From The Pocket
Despite being sacked an NFL-high 22 times in 2015, quarterback Russell Wilson is completing 70.7 percent of his passes, the best completion percentage he's posted through the first five games of a season in his four-year career.
"He's by far, in our opinion, the best he's been in the pocket, really solid, and really accurate and hanging in there fine," Carroll said.
That comment came up after Carroll was asked about the challenge Wilson faces when trying to balance getting the ball out quickly versus holding onto the ball in an attempt to make a play with his legs.
"It is a challenge at times, and there are a couple plays a game when he may have been able to hang in there, but he saw something that made him go," Carroll said. "It depends on the game, some games more so than others, it depends on what kind of protection we have. That is part of what comes along with Russell, he makes those marvelous plays because he does have the instincts."
Even though the Seahawks have found ways to generate explosive plays with Wilson's scrambles, Carroll said it's still critical for Wilson to try and get the ball out early.
"It's always important," Carroll said. "If you look at our style, there are a lot of play actions, a lot of movement of Russell in general. Those are longer rhythm plays. In the drop back game, we like to be really quick with the football. We're not a big drop back team on early downs, we're trying to mix our game. In third down is when we have to feature it. We really, in this game, all games, we're trying to keep his rhythm quick, and get the ball out to help protection, and just to take advantage of his style. He's good at that. Hopefully we'll see more of that."
- Alvin Bailey, who's listed as the backup at every offensive line position except center, was inactive for the first time all season at Cincinnati. Carroll said Seattle was comfortable with left guard Justin Britt being the team's backup tackle against the Bengals while having Bailey inactive allowed the team to "take a look at some guys."
- Carroll reiterated a point he made on Monday about Kam Chancellor's involvement on the two touchdowns scored by Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert in this past week's loss, noting the strong safety was not at fault for the scoring plays. "You have to make sure when you're asking that question that you realize that the two touchdown passes were not his responsibility," Carroll said when responding to a question about Chancellor's pass defense in Week 5. "I know whatever goes out of the TV, you guys think happened. That's not what happened. He played a solid football game, he had quite a few opportunities. There were a couple of tackles that got away from him, but other than that he was pretty much on point."
Spirits were high on "Competition Wednesday" thanks to some musical guests and a new addition to the roster, CB Crezdon Butler, as the team prepares to return to CenturyLink Field and take on the Panthers this Sunday.