Matt Hasselbeck Show: Risk-reward of Seahawks’ defensive style, what Pete Carroll’s really like

Sep 22, 2021, 2:47 PM | Updated: 3:01 pm
Seahawks Jamal Adams...
Seahawks safety Jamal Adams reacts during the third quarter of a game against the Tennessee Titans. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

The Seahawks’ defense had a strong first three quarters against the Tennessee Titans last Sunday, but the fourth quarter and overtime turned out to be the difference.

Two quick and two big fixes for Seahawks after ugly Week 2 loss

There could be a lesson from that about the risks and rewards of specific defenders improvising and following their instincts rather than sticking to their assignment.

Wednesday morning on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Matt Hassellbeck Show, the legendary former Seahawks quarterback related a story from his last season with Seattle – and head coach Pete Carroll’s first – about how Carroll allows some defenders freedom, but why that may have factored in superstar Titans running back Derrick Henry being able to run over the Hawks late in Sunday’s 33-30 loss.

“I remember Earl Thomas intercepted a pass in practice where it’s like, ‘Well, you’re not allowed to intercept that, you’re the middle safety,'” Hasselbeck said about the former All-Pro’s rookie season in 2010. “Like, ‘You’re not allowed over here.’ I remember Pete kinda going towards him quickly – I’m like, ‘Oh, Pete’s going to correct that.’ And Pete was like, ‘I love it. I love it. You knew what was coming, you didn’t worry about the playbook, you just went and made a play.’ And I was like, ‘Whoa.’

“Now, you can’t have a whole team doing that, and you gotta have a guy that’s gonna make more good plays than bad plays. And I see a little bit of that when I see (Seahawks strong safety) Jamal Adams play now. He goes and makes some tremendous, tremendous plays, but it’s team defense. So if you void a gap, you better go make a play or you’re going to be putting the guy next to you on an island. And that might have been what happened on one of those long touchdown runs where now you’ve got a corner in space on Derrick Henry. Good luck to you – there’s very few people that make that tackle.”

Hasselbeck pointed to Henry’s 60-yard TD, which came in the fourth quarter just a few plays after the Seahawks scored on a long touchdown pass to Freddie Swain, as an instance of Seattle giving the Titans hope at the wrong time.

“I thought Seattle played a really nice game on defense except for giving up those explosive runs and then obviously the penalties. They gave Tennessee the chance to get back in the game. They gave them the feeling like, ‘Hey, maybe we can come up here and win,’ because it felt like that was the time they could have just put them away.”

Is Pete Carroll as easygoing as he seems?

After Monday’s edition of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Pete Carroll Show, Mike Salk noted how Carroll did not seem to “display his usual level of patience” in his answers after the loss to the Titans. According to Hasselbeck, though, that was Carroll just revealing more of his coaching style than he typically does publicly. He explained how with another amusing story from his time playing for Carroll:

He would sort of trick the defense. We’d be in a team meeting and he’d say, “What kind of defense are we going to be? Are we going to be the hardest-hitting, nastiest, most physical defense? What do you say, Lofa Tatupu?” And he’d be like, “Yes, coach.”

“No, I don’t care about that! I don’t care about that. I want the football. I want the football back. Marcus Trufant, are we going to be intimidating? Are people going to be afraid to come across the middle against us?”

“Uh, yeah, coach.”

“No, I don’t care about that! I want the football. It’s all about the football. I don’t care about that.”

So when you see these, I think it was three unnecessary roughness penalties and then a taunting penalty – maybe this is how it is on your old team, but that’s not Seahawk football. That’s not Seahawk defense. We want the ball.

While Salk said Carroll can seem like the “comforter-in-chief” when talking to the media after a loss, Hasselbeck said it’s different in the locker room.

“That was not my experience. My experience with Pete was, I don’t care who you are, where you were drafted, how much money you make, how many times you’ve been a starter. We’re going to tell the truth in the team meeting room in front of each other. We’re gonna call it like we see it.

“We’re gonna say, ‘Hey, you got your butt kicked by this practice squad guy.’ We’re gonna just say it. ‘Hey, you did the wrong assignment. Hey, guys, we were really undisciplined on defense. You gave up a 60-yard run.’ Why did they score a 60-yard touchdown run? Well, it’s because somebody was undisciplined and didn’t do their job on this one play and boom, this guy made us pay. That’s what it’s like, I think, behind closed doors. He very much will call you out for your mistakes.”

The Matt Hassellbeck Show airs from 9-10 a.m. every Wednesday during 710 ESPN Seattle’s The Mike Salk Show. Listen to this week’s edition here for more, including why Hasselbeck said the Titans played more of a Pete Carroll-style game than the Seahawks, and his thoughts on Russell Wilson’s decision-making during Seattle’s ill-fated possession in overtime.

More Seahawks coverage from

Jake Heaps’ Chalk Talk: Why Tyler Lockett keeps getting better
Dave Wyman’s Football 101: Hawks adjust midgame to Titans’ passing attack
Clayton: Where Seattle stands after blowing lead to fall to 1-1
How Tyler Lockett has started the 2021 season off red hot
Heaps: Importance of running game to Seattle on display in loss
Groz: Why defense is the big concern after Week 2 loss

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