DANNY AND GALLANT

Pete Carroll Show: Seahawks’ defense ‘felt different’ in Week 4

Oct 5, 2020, 12:28 PM
Seahawks defense...
The Seahawks' defense allowed one TD and had two interceptions in Week 4. (Getty)
(Getty)

The Seahawks’ defense was the best it’s been in 2020 in a Week 4 win over the Dolphins, allowing just one touchdown, making two interceptions and forcing Miami to settle for field goals five times. Additionally, the Seahawks allowed 415 total yards and 312 passing yards, both season lows.

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Head coach Pete Carroll was happy with the progress he saw from that side of the ball, which was without three starters in Miami. Here are some takeaways from Carroll talking about the defense and some of its standout players with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant on The Pete Carroll Show Monday morning.

Less big plays means big defensive improvement

When the Seahawks pulled out a tight win over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3, the defense really struggled to contain the Cowboys’ deep aerial attack, allowing three touchdown passes of over 40 yards to go along with many other long passing plays. That wasn’t the case against the Dolphins, whose longest pass play was a 26-yard reception by running back Matt Breida.

Limiting those big plays was a huge point of emphasis for Carroll’s Seahawks after Week 3.

“The guys did a really good job. I thought it was a good job of adjusting and being clear about our intent,” he said. “We were trying too hard to make things happen and kind of overshot some things in the last couple weeks and we really balanced it out. It’s a real step in the right direction and a chance for us to continue to improve. There’s a lot of things we can clean up, of course, but I was really happy to see the change. It certainly felt different in this game.”

Shaquill Griffin playing like a Pro Bowler

For the second week in a row, cornerback Shaquill Griffin recorded an interception. He has two of Seattle’s six interceptions this season, and Carroll loved what he’s seen from his No. 1 cornerback, especially in Week 4.

“He went to the Pro Bowl last year and he’s playing like that now. He’s on it,” he said. “The three breakups he had were all marvelous plays and the pick was a beautiful play of him playing zone and feeling the inside route and making a play. He was way ahead of that ball. He was 5 yards ahead of the receiver on that one. It was a great pick.”

The interception came at a great moment for the Seahawks, as the Dolphins had the ball trailing by nine points with just over four minutes left. Griffin’s interception would set up Chris Carson’s second rushing touchdown, giving Seattle a 31-15 lead two plays later.

Next man up

The Seahawks were without two starting defensive backs (three if you count Marquise Blair, who suffered a season-ending injury in Week 2) against the Dolphins. Not only that, but starting safety Jamal Adams’ backup, Lano Hill, was also inactive. That meant Ryan Neal, who played late in Week 3 and was promoted to the active roster from the practice squad last week, got the starting nod at strong safety. He definitely made the most of his opportunity.

Neal, who recorded the game-ending interception in Week 3, followed that up with an interception of Ryan Fitzpatrick on the Dolphins’ fourth offensive snap. That set up a Carson rushing touchdown.

“It fires us all up to see him come through like that. He’s such a hardworking kid,” Carroll said of Neal, who played all 71 defensive snaps for the Seahawks, making six tackles and two pass breakups.

Neal was signed to the Seahawks’ practice squad in 2019 after Carroll and general manager John Schneider saw tape of him playing in a preseason game for the Atlanta Falcons.

“He’s been working it in the program, got his chance and has just shined in the two chances he’s had. He played really well yesterday,” Carroll said. “It wasn’t just one or two plays, he played well the whole day disguising and moving around and making his fits in the running game and all that. I’m really fired up for him.”

Carroll said Neal is very smart and that gives him confidence when he’s out on the field.

“Some guys can be too smart for their own good but he’s got the way of handling it to make it come to life,” he said. “And two picks in two games, this thing looks easy.”

K.J. Wright’s great day

One of the stars of Seattle’s defense for a long time now is outside linebacker K.J. Wright, who is in his tenth NFL season – all with Seattle.

He shined again for the Seahawks against the Dolphins, recording eight tackles, a tackle for loss and three pass breakups. He also did the typical K.J. Wright thing of reading a screen play and blowing it up.

Carroll liked what he saw from Wright but admitted Wright left some plays out there.

“He’s always been a really instinctive football player … He’s just got great knack and great instincts and he’s playing with a lot of confidence and we’ve just got to get him on the Jugs machine,” Carroll said jokingly, alluding to Wright dropping three potential interceptions.

Danny O’Neil made the case that Carroll was being hard on his veteran linebacker and that coming down with even one of those interceptions would have been a great play. Carroll conceded that, but only to an extent.

“Every one of them was a good play just to get the ball knocked down but, you know, high expectations,” he said.

Listen to The Pete Carroll Show at this link or in the player below.

Follow Danny O’Neil, Paul Gallant and Michael Bumpus on Twitter.

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