Seahawks HC Pete Carroll provides a closer look at his team’s defense
The Seahawks are finally back and practicing later than many would have expected once the 2019 season concluded, but head coach Pete Carroll is excited to have his team all together.
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“It’s been a long haul getting to today. Today to us is actually the first day of practice because it’s the first day we can go against each other,” he told 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton before the team’s Friday practice “The first two days out there, the offense was on one field and the defense was on the other … It’s been good mentally and there’s a lot of reps in the walkthroughs and all that, so we’re ready to crank it up and everybody just wants to go out and run around and play football, so that’s what today is all about.”
Carroll, whose background is on the defensive side of the ball, is also ready to get his defense back to among the league’s best after an extremely disappointing season in 2019. Aside from takeaways, Seattle’s defense struggled in virtually every other aspect of the game. As a result, the team added plenty of talent to the defense through the draft, free agency and in trades. Here are a few takeaways from what Carroll had to say regarding his defense.
Plenty of speed
Clayton asked Carroll about the speed of his football team. After talking about the receivers and running backs, Carroll quickly shifted to the defense, and pointed out three offseason acquisitions in particular.
“With Bruce (Irvin) coming to us, he’s got terrific athleticism and speed and it shows up immediately,” Carroll said. “Benson (Mayowa) has got good quickness off the edge, too. And then you can’t help but watch 33 out there. When Jamal (Adams) is running around, he just flashes so often and he gives you a real sense that we can fly to the football and it’s fun to see it out there.”
Speaking of Adams
Adams was the prized offseason addition for the Seahawks and cost quite a bit to get. Seattle gave up two first-round draft picks, a third-round pick and safety Bradley McDougald.
Adams, a 2019 First-Team All-Pro with the Jets, did a little bit of everything on defense, such as man-to-man coverage, zone coverage, rushing the passer and playing close to the line of scrimmage. Carroll said there’s plenty of ways that the Seahawks can use Adams.
“He’s going to be used like he’s capable of being used. That means he can do a little bit of everything,” he said. “… He is just very capable and he can cover guys in zone or man, he’s a really good tackler and good defender on the edge, he’s a good defender in the box and he can really come up when he’s pressuring as well. He brings you everything you could hope for and he’s got a great, tough attitude about him and our fans are just going to love the way he plays.”
Before the Seahawks acquired Adams, the big splash on defense they made was acquiring cornerback Quinton Dunbar from Washington for a fifth-round pick. Dunbar was Pro Football Focus’ second-rated cornerback in 2019 and he had four interceptions.
But Dunbar was accused of armed robbery in Florida, which resulted in him surrendering to police. He was later placed on the NFL’s Commissioner’s Exempt List, and recently, it was revealed he would not be charged and he was removed from that list. Dunbar is set to start practice soon.
“He’s going through the quarantine period and today he gets his physical and I think tomorrow we’ve got a shot to get him out there, so that will be the first time,” Carroll said. “We’ll go really easy on him and make sure w get him back and get him going, but we’re glad to have him. It’s going to be fun to see him out here in the uniform and see what he looks like.”
Competition in the slot
Carroll had one of the greatest secondaries in NFL history with the Legion of Boom, which manned the Seahawks’ secondary for many years in the early- and mid-2010s. With Adams and Dunbar joining Pro Bowl cornerback Shaquill Griffin and safety Quandre Diggs, there’s plenty of excitement on the back end of the defense. But Carroll was quick to point to a different aspect of the secondary that he’s keeping a close eye on.
“I’m anxious to see how Ugo (Amadi) battles with Marquise Blair at the nickel spot and what we’re doing there,” he said. “We think (Blair) gives us a real physical player to mix in there and he’s done well so far starting to get the book down. It’s going to be a very good group. I think we should be very aggressive in our style of play by the makeup and the nature of the guys we have and hopefully we’ll be really physical, too.”
State of the linebackers
The Seahawks have had one of the top linebacker duos in the NFL with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. The last two years now, Seattle has added tremendous depth to that room, drafting two linebackers in 2019 and using the team’s 2020 first-round pick on Jordyn Brooks. Irvin also returned and has experience alongside Wagner and Wright.
“Bruce gives us great flexibility because he can play the SAM linebacker spot and he’s the best SAM linebacker we’ve ever had here, so it’s great to have him back. But he can also play the LEO spot, which is more oriented to rushing the passer more consistently, so he can play on both sides, which he’s done already, and that gives us a really good flexible format for how we play our guys,” Carroll said. “K.J. can play around … Jordyn Brooks has played a lot of different stuff in his days coming up. He played a lot of football in college and we’ve seen him play everything. We do have a lot of flexibility.”
And while Wagner, Wright, Brooks and Irvin are getting most of the attention, Carroll doesn’t think anyone should sleep on last year’s third-round pick.
“Cody Barton gives us great flexibility too. He can do everything,” he said. “He played SAM, MIKE and WILL last year as a rookie and he’s at the top of the class as far as knowing his stuff and and making the calls and commanding the schemes.”
Listen to the full conversation with Carroll at this link or in the player below (28:33).
Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton on Twitter.
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