DANNY AND GALLANT

Pete Carroll Show: What was behind Bobby Wagner’s explosive day in Seahawks’ win

Nov 2, 2020, 2:24 PM
Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner...
Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner looked unblockable at times against the 49ers. (Getty)
(Getty)

The Seahawks are 6-1 after a 37-27 win over rival San Francisco 49ers, and as you’d imagine, the head coach really enjoyed what he saw from his team in Week 8.

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As he does the day after each Seahawks game, head coach Pete Carroll joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Dany and Gallant for The Pete Carroll Show to recap the last game. Here’s what he had to say about the team’s first divisional win of the year.

49ers ‘couldn’t block’ Bobby Wagner

The Seahawks’ defense had a much better game than the 27 points allowed would suggest, holding the 49ers to seven points in the first half and pressuring starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and limiting the 49ers’ explosive rushing attack. The biggest reason? The play of defensive captain Bobby Wagner, the All-Pro linebacker.

Wagner had 11 tackles, two sacks, four QB hits and three tackles for loss on the day. Carroll said the defense took after Wagner’s lead.

“He was challenging the guys like ‘we’ve got to get to that point (of playing angry and aggressive)’ and he just went out there and like always, he did what he says he’s going to do,” Carroll said. “And he followed through and he held himself accountable and played really well and took advantage of a really good plan for him to pressure and you could see, they couldn’t block him.”

The Seahawks blitzed a lot on Sunday, with Wagner a regular part of that game plan. Carroll said bringing Wagner and others on blitzes was due to the mentality of his defensive players.

“Just time to get to a different level of calling on the fellas. Really it’s just playing to the nature of our crew,” he said. “They want to be aggressive, they want to play aggressive. We started off the season that way and then we kind of drifted away from it a little bit because of personnel and we just decided to make the commitment of let’s just make sure that we’re making it hard on the offense. That’s basically what we’re always trying to do, we just did a little ore in a different fashion this week.”

D.J. Reed’s emergence

Defensive back D.J. Reed made his Seahawks debut against the team that drafted him.

The 49ers waived the 2018 draft pick as he recovered from a torn pectoral muscle. He was claimed by the Seahawks and once he was able to play, he shined, recording six tackles and an interception while breaking up two passes and bringing pressure as a blitzer.

Reed started at nickel corner in place of the injured Ugo Amadi and needless to say, Carroll was really happy with the spark Reed brought to his defense.

“He played really well. He’s a good football player,” he said. “(Seahawks general manager John Schneider) picked up on D.J. a while back when he was hurt, so to make that move was really a big-time move to project six to eight weeks from now this guy is really going to be a factor if we need him. And sure enough, Ugo gets banged up and the week (Reed) is available to us he jumps back in and plays his football. He’s sudden and instinctive, a very aggressive kid, so it’s a really nice addition for us.”

Stephen Sullivan’s move to defense

Sticking with the defense, one interesting storyline entering the game was how 2020 seventh-round pick Stephen Sullivan was going to be making his NFL debut as a defensive end, not as a tight end like he was drafted to be.

Sullivan was promoted to the game day roster from the practice squad and played over 20 snaps and assisted on a tackle for loss. Carroll said that trying Sullivan as a pass rusher was out of “necessity” and has been in the works for just over a month.

“He started I’m talking from scratch … He didn’t know anything other than what he’d done in high school,” Carroll said. “We went back and captured some of his high school film to see what he looked like and he looked pretty good, which is the same way I would have looked at him like when I was (coaching in college at USC) recruiting, you know? We used that kind of film to evaluate the potential of it.”

Carroll said Sullivan has developed fast in the four to five weeks he’s been at the position, but that the rookie is easily athletic enough to be a solid defensive end, despite still being someone who can play tight end at the NFL level.

“You can’t get a better looking athlete now. He’s almost 260 pounds and he runs (4.5-second 40-yard dashes), he’s real tall and long and quick and natural,” he said. “This is a whole other level of attitude and mentality that he’s trying to acquire, and he’s having fun doing it. We’ll see what happens.”

Sullivan’s move to defense prompted Paul Gallant to ask Carroll if there were any other Seahawks players he’d like to see try their hand on the other side of the ball. Naturally, Carroll went with another freak athlete.

“Sometimes I wonder what DK (Metcalf) would look like coming off the edge in a pass rush,” Carroll said. “That’s not out of the realm of possibility. I haven’t mentioned it to him, but I keep thinking how are they going to block him over there?”

DK is pretty good on offense, though

Despite some fantasies of Metcalf coming off the edge on defense, the Seahawks have a pretty good thing going with Metcalf the wide receiver. He had 12 catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns against the 49ers, including this one where he simply outran everyone using his 4.3 speed.

Carroll thought that was enjoyable to watch, as you’d expect.

“It’s really fun to watch that guy when he gets going, man,” he said. “It was kind of a take off of last week where you saw how fast he is. He is extremely fast on the football field, and particularly in long speed. You give him a chance and you can’t catch him.”

Metcalf is in his second NFL season and is quickly emerging as one of the league’s best receivers and players. Carroll said Metcalf can be great like he’s been because of mentality.

“The makeup of what he has is what’s going to make him great,” Carroll said. “His physical ability, he’s talented as can be, but it’s his mental approach to the game and the serious nature of his competitiveness and how he’s so receptive and open to learn and to grow and just expand his mentality. We’re watching something really unique and we’re thrilled he’s so humble, he’s so tremendously humble.”

Except when it comes to his style of clothing, it seems.

“Not in the clothes he wears all the time, or his dress. The pink suit he had on was freaking lights out,” Carroll said.

Listen to this week’s Pete Carroll Show from Monday’s edition of Danny and Gallant on 710 ESPN Seattle at this link or in the player below.

Follow Danny O’Neil and Paul Gallant on Twitter.

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