Seahawks’ Carroll: What went right on defense, wrong on offense

Oct 16, 2023, 1:34 PM

Seattle Seahawks Dre'Mont Jones...

The Seattle Seahawks' Dre'Mont Jones sacks Bengals QB Joe Burrow on Oct. 15, 2023. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

(Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

If there is one way to describe the Seattle Seahawks’ game on Sunday at Cincinnati, head coach Pete Carroll has found it.

“Oh man, we missed a great opportunity. Shoot,” he said to open Monday’s Pete Carroll Show on Seattle Sports.

Seattle Sports’ Instant Reaction: What happened in Hawks’ loss to Bengals?

Why that hits the nail on the head is because it hammers home how one phase of the team couldn’t take advantage of what another provided in a 17-13 loss. On defense, the Seahawks held the Bengals to just 214 total yards and two touchdowns, including none after halftime. But on offense, Seattle scored a touchdown just once and were just 1 for 5 in trips to the red zone, including two that ended with a turnover on downs late in the fourth quarter.

On Monday, Carroll went in depth on why the defense had a good day and why the offense didn’t come through against the Bengals. Let’s take a look at what he said.

Offense comes up short

Carroll believes the Hawks could have scored plenty to win considering how well the defense held down the Cincinnati offense led by quarterback Joe Burrow, who had just 185 passing yards on the day.

“The frustration comes from all of the opportunities we had to win the football game. We could have scored 28 points easy in the game – easily,” Carroll said.

So why didn’t the Seahawks do just that?

“We didn’t fit it together well enough, we got beaten in pass rush a little bit. They did a nice job ‘zero’ blitzing, changing up,” he said. “We had our ‘opps’ to get it but we didn’t convert, so it was a combination of things, it wasn’t any one particular thing.”

Carroll didn’t want too much blame to land on quarterback Geno Smith, including for a play in the fourth quarter where Smith scrambled for a gain while rookie wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba was wide open for what could have been a go-ahead touchdown. The Bengals sacked Smith four times and had 13 QB hits on the day, and Carroll pointed to that pressure as an issue.

“The focus goes to Geno because he’s got the ball in his hands, but he had a lot of stuff going on with the pressure coming,” said Carroll. “We just didn’t hold up the way we needed to to function right at the end. The chances are there and we need to execute a bit better. We missed a big play, I think you guys probably found the one – we missed a big play to Jaxon when we had him wide open. That was the play that we were really waiting on all game long, and a couple guys flashed on ‘G’ and he took off with the ball and ran with it, but man, that was the touchdown to put us ahead right there so we missed that opportunity.”

Making the loss hurt a little worse is the fact that the 3-2 Seahawks could have gained ground on the NFC’s top two teams, the San Francisco 49ers (5-1) and Philadelphia Eagles (5-1), who both suffered their first losses of the season on Sunday.

“It feels like missed opportunities that get in the way of us taking advantage of a great day. Shoot, the Niners go down, Eagles go down,” Carroll said. “That was a great opportunity for us, and unfortunately we had to live with it.”

Defense finds its groove

On to the more positive side of things.

When it comes to the defense’s recent rise, Carroll gave credit to the group of players the Seahawks have put together.

“There’s a lot of good players on the field, and when their opportunity comes up to make a play, they’re making it,” he said, “whether it’s diagnosing a screen, making a tackle in the open field. I think we missed (only) four tackles in the game yesterday, which is phenomenal. ”

The secondary had a big day against Cincinnati, with Tre Brown’s interception, his second of the season, a specific highlight. Carroll had nice things to say about him as well as fellow cornerbacks Tariq Woolen and Devon Witherspoon.

“We have really good guys covering and they’re making plays. Tre’s making plays, Tariq’s making plays, ‘Spoon’ had three passes defensed yesterday.”

From there, he shined a light on the defensive linemen and pass rushers, including Dre’Mont Jones, Jarred Reed and Boye Mafe.

“The effort up front is really consistent so that when the opportunities arise, you don’t know who’s gonna make the sack but somebody’s gonna get there,” Carroll said. “Dre had a nice one, J-Reed had a real nice one, and Mafe got a freebie by design – you know, we had a good pressure that was called that freed him up. So there’s a lot of good players and they’re making things happen so there’s not spots where you can take advantage of us.

“You can just feel it, we’re better than we’ve been. … There’s guys that are all across the field that are going to make plays. The playmakers are there, that shows up.”

The Seahawks might take another step forward on defense, too, with strong safety Jamal Adams getting back into the mix. The former All-Pro played his first full game back after over a year out of action due to a quadriceps tear. He suffered a concussion in his initial return on Oct. 2 and had to leave before the end of the first drive of that game.

“Jamal finally got his game played and he’s out there doing it,” Carroll said. “He did a really nice job yesterday throughout. It’s a big step for him.”

The Pete Carroll Show airs live at 9:30 a.m. Monday after Seahawks games during Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports. Listen to this week’s full edition in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks lament wasted chances in red zone in loss to Bengals
Seahawks’ offense spoils big day by defense in loss to Bengals
The Big Plays: Video highlights from Seahawks loss in Cincy
Recap: Bengals’ D shuts down Seattle Seahawks late to seal 17-13 win

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