SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Pete Carroll Show: Seahawks’ D ‘turned a corner,’ offense’s struggles, injury updates

Oct 26, 2021, 11:53 AM | Updated: 12:22 pm
Seahawks Rasheem Green...
Rasheem Green of the Seahawks sacks Jameis Winston of the Saints on Monday night. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seahawks suffered another disappointing loss on Monday, falling 13-10 to the New Orleans Saints to drop to a 2-5 record on the year. It was the Seahawks’ third loss in a row, which is the first time the team has lost three consecutive games since 2011.

Rost: Why did the 2-5 Seahawks’ latest loss feel so ugly?

As he does after every game, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll joined Mike Salk on 710 ESPN Seattle’s The Pete Carroll Show Tuesday morning to break down the team’s latest loss.

One thing Carroll wanted to make clear is that he doesn’t think the Seahawks’ playoff hopes are dead despite his team’s 2-5 record.

“Not at all,” he said, later adding, “You have to just hold on. Hold on to the hope of it that you’re going to get it turned and all of a sudden these games are going to go your way.”

Carroll pointed to the 2013 season, when the Seahawks won the Super Bowl. That team won many close games, while that hasn’t happened for this 2021 club.

“That’s how it goes sometimes,” he said.

As far as the game against the Saints, Carroll thought both teams appeared to be prioritizing taking care of the ball and keeping the game close.

“It kind of came out like we thought,” he said. “We just needed to finish it and make a couple plays at the end to get it done … In a game that close, every play and every penalty are amplified in significance. That was the game we were ready to win and unfortunately we couldn’t get it done in the end.”

Defense has ‘turned a corner’

After starting the year at a historically poor level, the Seahawks appear to be on the right track defensively. Carroll certainly thinks so.

“There’s no doubt. This defense has turned a corner,” he said. “It started a month ago. We started winning on third down and started making the stops in key situations and coming through.”

Since Week 4, the Seahawks have the NFL’s best third-down defense, and against the Saints, Seattle allowed just 13 points and 304 total yards.

“We’ve really turned it and I’m expecting them to be a big part of the second half (of the season),” Carroll said.

Carroll said that the Seahawks’ defense has typically been solid on the back end in preventing big plays, and that’s the case again this year.

“It starts there. If teams can score from a long way out, you’re lousy. You stink. So you have to start there,” he said.

Then it goes to the front of the defense and stopping the run.

“We took care of the deep end, we took care of the running game and then we fought it out the rest of the way and unfortunately, we needed a couple more sacks,” he said.

Evaluation of Geno Smith’s play

On the flip side, the Seahawks’ offense struggled overall against the Saints, tallying just 90 rushing yards despite running the ball 28 times. Quarterback Geno Smith, starting his second game in place of the injured Russell Wilson, completed 12 of 22 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown.

“We have to keep battling because it’s so close. We just have to keep clawing and scratching and we’ve got to keep building the game around Geno and making sure he’s functioning at a high level,” Carroll said. “… That’s why we have to run the ball as much as we’re doing it, to keep him moving forward and make positive plays. He’s competing his tail off and doing everything he can to do that.”

Carroll thinks Smith has been solid in his two starts, especially in terms of protecting the football. But there is one clear area where Smith can improve.

“He’s managing the game well,” Carroll said. “I’d like him to get the football out and being more open to throwing the ball away.”

Smith was sacked five times against the Saints, including one sack that pushed Jason Myers’ field goal try back roughly 15 yards; Myers then missed from 53 yards out.

Smith also took two sacks on Seattle’s final drive.

Carroll said he and the coaches told Smith that there’s nothing wrong with giving up on a play that’s not there and throwing the ball away to punt.

“We took two or three sacks last night that we shouldn’t have taken,” he said.

So is Smith the guy next week when the Seahawks take on the Jacksonville Jaguars?

“Sure. He is and we’re counting on him to just keep getting better and we have to play better around him,” Carroll said.

Play-calling

When an offense struggles, someone who is always looked at closely is the offensive coordinator. For the Seahawks, that’s first-year play-caller Shane Waldron.

“He’s already been through the spectrum,” Carroll said.

Waldron went from running a high-powered offense with Wilson to “losing that element” and having to adapt, Carroll said.

“We have to adapt the game to fit the makeup of our players,” he said. “Shane has been right in the middle of all of that. He’s had to make that kind of a shift early in his time calling plays and I think he’s doing a really good job.”

The Seahawks’ best play on offense was an 84-yard touchdown pass to receiver DK Metcalf, a play that Carroll called “extraordinary.”

But aside from that play, Seattle’s offense didn’t do much. That 84-yard score accounted for more than half of Smith’s total passing yards, and Metcalf didn’t get a second target until the fourth quarter.

Carroll said Metcalf was involved in the play calls but the ball just didn’t get to him partly because Smith was under duress from the Saints’ pass rush.

“The whole game plan is to get him, Tyler (Lockett) and really Gerald (Everett) the ball in the throwing game,” Carroll said.

Injuries

The Seahawks missed Marquise Blair last year after he went down in Week 2 with a torn ACL, and unfortunately it appears he’ll miss significant time again with another knee injury that he suffered in the fourth quarter Monday night.

“He had a patellar injury and his kneecap got fractured, so he’s going to have to get that cleaned up,” Carroll said of the young defensive back.

The Seahawks were without two key players up front against the Saints in left guard Damien Lewis (shoulder) and defensive end Darrell Taylor (neck). Both were close to playing on Monday but ultimately landed on the inactives list, Carroll said. He expects both to play on Sunday.

“I’m counting on both of those guys to make it. I’d be surprised if they don’t,” he said.

The Seahawks will host the 1-5 Jacksonville Jaguars, who are coming off their bye week, at 1:05 p.m. Sunday. Coverage will begin on 710 ESPN Seattle and KIRO Radio 97.3 FM with the pregame show at 10 a.m.

Listen to the full edition of Tuesday’s Pete Carroll Show at this link or in the player below.

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