Pete Carroll Show: Metcalf’s mistake, ups and downs of Seahawks’ defense
Through three weeks, the Seahawks’ defense has been, well, not great, allowing just under 500 yards per game.
Despite this, the Seahawks are 3-0 and head coach Pete Carroll said there are positives on that side of the football, including in his team’s most recent win over the Dallas Cowboys. The Seahawks also overcame a huge mental error from one of their top players on offense, which could have cost them the game.
Carroll joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant on Monday morning and shared his thoughts on his defense, DK Metcalf’s mistake and much more. You can listen to The Pete Carroll Show in full at this link or in the player at the bottom of this post. First, a closer look at what Carroll had to say.
DK’s big mistake
If you haven’t seen or heard about it by now, second-year Seahawks receiver Metcalf made a costly choice that nearly proved fatal as far as the Seahawks beating the Cowboys.
Metcalf ran by rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs in the first quarter and quarterback Russell Wilson hit him on a beautiful deep pass that looked like a touchdown. Instead, Metcalf caught the ball and slowed down in front of the end zone, and Diggs caught up to punch the ball loose. The ball went out of the end zone and instead of the Seahawks adding another touchdown, the play resulted in the Cowboys gaining possession.
DK Metcalf fumbles the score away after TOASTING Trevon Diggs
— PFF (@PFF) September 27, 2020
The Seahawks ultimately won by five with Metcalf catching the game-winning touchdown and having over 100 yards on the day, but that play could have sunk Seattle. Needless to say, Carroll was not a fan of what happened.
“The play that happened earlier in the game was a horrible play for us,” he said. “It goes against everything we believe in and DK knew it and all that. It’s one of the harder lessons he’ll have to learn, but it’s a lesson for all of us … It was unfortunate because it was such a significant play for us, but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen again to any of us, so let’s learn that lesson, win a game and get better for it.”
When asked what Carroll told Metcalf after the play, Carroll said their interaction was very brief.
“I looked at DK as he came off and he looked (back) and we just went like ‘OK, we get it,'” Carroll said. “There’s not much that needs to be said as demonstrative of a moment that was for the right and the wrong.”
Carroll said he’s confident a play like that won’t happen again because they’ll be reviewing it in film, as well as the fact that the play went viral online and is all around the league.
Run defense has played well
The Seahawks have allowed just 200 rushing yards this season on 67 carries, good for less than three yards per attempt. While the passing defense (more on that next) has struggled, Seattle’s run stopping has been great.
“It’s been really consistent and when you look at what’s happened in the games, teams are coming out trying to mix their game,” Carroll said.
Teams are obviously passing more on the Seahawks due to Seattle scoring early and often to build a lead, but Carroll said early on, opponents are trying to run the ball. Opposing teams have run around 43% of the time in the first quarter compared to roughly 10% in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve discouraged people from running the football and draw them into this throwing thing as they’re trying to catch up because we’re ahead and they’re putting up a ton of yards on us,” he said. “The running game, that’s a really steady part for us. We’ve got to keep that going and that will continue to give us a chance to play winning football.”
Pass defense, not so much
The Seahawks have shut down the run, but the pass has been an entirely different story.
Seattle allowed well over 400 yards to Matt Ryan in Week 1, then 397 yards to Cam Newton in Week 2, and Dak Prescott threw for 472 yards Sunday. Prescott’s total is the most passing yards the Seahawks have ever allowed in a game as a franchise.
What made matters worse was that instead of allowing the Cowboys to drive with short passes, Dallas beat the Seahawks deep a number of times, including for three touchdowns of over 40 yards. Carroll said that has to change going forward.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) September 27, 2020
“This is such a big emphasis that when it doesn’t come through and we don’t respond properly, then all we can do is go back at it again and try to find our ways for emphasis,” he said. “The time when (Shaquill Griffin) got beat deep, it was a backed-up situation, which we always know that teams like to throw deep balls (out of), and you watch both corners, they both bailed out early to take care of the deep ball. Well, the guy ran by us anyway. The mentality was there, the coaching was there, the execution of the emphasis was there for both players, but we got outplayed on the play. We have to come through and make our plays when the time comes.”
Griffin led the Seahawks with 11 tackles and also recorded his first interception since early 2018. Carroll said he’s happy with many aspects of Griffin’s play, but that he and the rest of the secondary have a lot of room for improvement.
“He had some great plays, he made a great pick, but we need to play better on the back end. We gave up too much,” he said. “(Griffin) was involved in it and all of our guys had some contribution to it and we need to do better. But the fact that Shaq is so active and he’s playing so hard and he’s giving it up and making terrific plays, that’s obvious, but when you throw it (57 times), there’s going to be plays made on the other side and that’s a lot of shots at our guys.”
In addition to the run defense being great so far, the good news for the Seahawks’ defense, like in 2019, is its making just enough plays to win. Seattle had two interceptions, a fumble recovery and recorded a safety against Dallas.
“What did happen again is you’re seeing some really outstanding plays by our defense that are really giving us a chance to change the situations and guys are really coming through,” Carroll said. “We just need to clean up some stuff so that those plays are really the part we’re emphasizing in this day after the game. That’s coming.”
‘We’re going for the touchdown’
The Seahawks were up by 15 in the second half at one point but suddenly found themselves down by a point late in the fourth quarter. Ultimately the Seahawks would get a touchdown and two-point conversion to win the game 38-31.
Carroll said he and Wilson had a special moment before the offense took the field on that last drive.
“There was really a good moment as we’re getting ready from the break to go out on the last drive and Russ and I were just face to face and I said, ‘You know, a field goal wins it,'” Carroll recalled. “And he looked at me and I looked at him and I said, ‘We’re going for the touchdown,’ and we both said it at the same time. It was an awesome moment and the best part about it was after the game just before he was going to his press conference we revisited that moment because it’s just the way we look at it. Let’s go for all of it and get it and I couldn’t be more in sync with him in that sense and there was no doubt what he had in his mind.”