Seahawks Takeaways: Clowney’s hip treatment, running back competition
The Seahawks are back home after their 17-9 road win over the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday and sit at 9-2 going into a crucial Monday Night Football matchup at home against the Minnesota Vikings next week.
The team has been performing well on the defensive side of the ball over the last two weeks, which is a good sign after struggling for most of the first half of the season.
Head coach Pete Carroll joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant for his weekly Pete Carroll Show and talked about the surging defense, gave injury updates and talked about much more. Here are a few key takeaways.
The Seahawks forced five Eagles turnovers on Sunday. Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles, and tight end Dallas Goedert also lost a fumble.
Carroll is a huge proponent of winning the turnover battle, and naturally was feeling good about his defense’s performance.
“I was flying high,” he said.
What made the game more interesting was the wind, which caused some kicks, punts and passes to alter their course.
“It was a difficult situation because the wind really was a factor,” Carroll said. “You couldn’t see it but there was enough change in the flight of the ball that did affect the game some. But it was on both sides.”
With the win, the Seahawks are 6-0 on the road, tying the 2013 team’s record for most road wins in a single season in franchise history. The 2013 team won the franchise’s only Super Bowl championship.
“The game all in all I was so proud of that one because we won on the road again, we figured it out, we executed the plan of getting ready to play right mentally and we went out and got it done,” Carroll said.
Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney missed his first game of the season with a hip injury.
He was listed as questionable and did not practice last week, and it was revealed last Friday over the weekend that he flew to Philadelphia before the team to seek treatment in hopes of playing, but ultimately he couldn’t.
“He went out there and they had to evaluate whether they were going to give him a particular treatment,” Carroll said. “The treatment they gave him made him uncomfortable even more so but should have a positive impact moving forward. They felt clear in the diagnosis and all that and he should be able to handle it.”
The hope is to have Clowney back for Week 13 against the Vikings, but it all depends on how he responds. In the end, the treatment was in Clowney’s best interest long-term.
“We’ve got to see how he returns, but he was really uncomfortable more so than before which is often the case but not always the case,” Carroll said. “So we had to take a shot at it and see if it worked out. It will be the best thing for the long haul.”
Another injury on the defensive line was defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who left the game with a sore ankle. That has been a lingering injury, Carroll said.
“He’s been dealing with a sore ankle already, so it’s the same ankle and he re-aggravated it,” Carroll said. “We’ll just have to wait and see how he responds.”
Receiver Tyler Lockett played after suffering a leg contusion in Week 10. He did not return punts or kicks and had just one catch, though it was for 38 yards.
Carroll said Lockett isn’t fully healthy but battled to get onto the field.
“I don’t know what the percentage is,” Carroll said when asking if Lockett was 100 percent healthy. “He wasn’t all the way to his full (ability) I don’t think and we could tell. He had good week (of practice) and he made it through it and he really toughed it out and all that but I think he’ll be better. This injury is one that’s going to go away and he’ll put it in the background.”
Future at running back
Chris Carson didn’t get much going in the running game Sunday and also played a part in two fumbles that occurred on back-to-back plays, one of which the Eagles recovered. Meanwhile, Rashaad Penny had a career-high 129 yards rushing on 14 carries, including a 58-yard touchdown run. Carson had eight carries for 26 yards and also caught four passes for 31 yards.
Carroll said Penny has impressed in practice of late and they wanted to get him more touches in the game.
“It just looked right,” Carroll said of Penny’s impressive play. “It’s just how you do it and just leave him in there and give him another shot. So we had the foreshadowing that it might happen and then when he came through and did some nice stuff and we just stayed with it. It’s a gut feeling and just playing the game.”
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) November 25, 2019
Carson has had persistent fumbling issues this season, and they were back in focus Sunday. On the first of the back-to-back fumbles, Carson took a handoff and appeared to never have full control of the ball. He fumbled it and it was recovered by the Seahawks. The very next play, Russell Wilson put the ball in Carson’s chest, but it fell to the ground and the Eagles recovered it. Wilson looked displeased with Carson, and Carroll said Carson got the play wrong.
“The fumble that got away, he missed the check and he was faking like it was a play-action pass, so he didn’t think the ball was being handed to him,” Carroll said. “So he missed it and everyone else (on the offense) got (the check) so it’s still his error in that, but that wasn’t a fumble that caused because you don’t take care of the football properly. But it’s still a problem.”
Carroll still backed Carson, who has been the team’s starting running back since the start of last year. But he did say Penny has earned more touches going forward.
“We’ll look after him. Chris is a guy that’s a big part of our program and we’ve got to keep working,” Carroll said. “He’s doing everything he can to do right and we’ve just got to take care of the football better. What’s really a good thing is competition is a beautiful thing. Rashaad played really well yesterday and there’s no reason not to get him back in there next week and we’ll look forward to those guys hammering it away and we’ll see how it works out.”
Flea flicker action
The Seahawks’ offense wasn’t its usual high-scoring self, but it scored enough to get the win.
On Seattle’s first touchdown of the game, Wilson handed the ball to Carson, who ran to the right before throwing the ball back to Wilson. The Seahawks quarterback then threw a beautiful deep pass to wide receiver Malik Turner, who made a sort of basket catch towards the back of the end zone.
— Malik Turner (@leekleek217) November 24, 2019
“That was a great play,” Carroll said. “Malik did such a fantastic job of selling that he was blocking … it took a lot of patience and poise to wait that long to take off and Russell just throws a dime and drops it right on him and then he finishes the catch at the back of the end zone and stays in-bounds. I thought that was awesome. What an amazing play.”
Pass rush continues surge
The Seahawks’ pass rush was next to nonexistent for the first nine weeks of the season but came alive in a Week 10 win over San Francisco led by the efforts of Clowney, who won NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his play. But Clowney was inactive against the Eagles, which meant others on the defensive line needed to step up. They did just that.
“Coming off last week’s game where Jadeveon had such an impact … it didn’t change us at all,” Carroll said of Clowney’s absence. “My guys up front continued to bring the heat. We were getting in the backfield, we’re on the field a lot, (defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.) is doing a really good job moving out lineman and giving them a chance to be active.”
Among those players were Shaquem Griffin and Ziggy Ansah.
Griffin got consistent snaps for the second-straight week as a rotational pass rusher.
— shaquem griffin (@Shaquemgriffin) November 24, 2019
“Griff helped us out,” Carroll said of his undersized pass rusher. “He has a style all his own, and when you’re 213 pounds rushing the passer that’s not supposed to work, but he’s having an effect and we’re really excited about that and he brings all that speed, which is obviously necessary.”
On one of the Seahawks’ three fumble recoveries, Griffin helped blow up a run play and the ball went to the ground. Quinton Jefferson recovered it, and while running downfield he started to get tackled and he pitched the ball to safety Quandre Diggs. The ball once again fell to the ground and eventually Griffin scooped it up and ran it inside the red zone. The extra yardage didn’t count, however, as Jefferson was down before the initial lateral.
“The whole play was a phenomenal play,” Carroll said. “It goes against everything we stand for in taking care of the football, but I loved the play.”
What made the play more interesting was that Griffin initially ran to the sideline to celebrate the fumble before realizing the play was still alive. Then he ended up with the ball.
“He went the wrong way, he’s celebrating,” Carroll said, laughing. “That’s not the way we want it to happen. We’d like to finish the play and then celebrate but that’s not how it went and it sure was an interesting play. That was such an unusual play and it was good on good, it looked like it was going to go bad and then Shaquem scoops the ball up and he almost finished in the end zone so it was pretty amazing.”
Griffin appears to have earned himself more playing time after making an impact the last two weeks rushing the passer.
“His speed is extraordinary, and he has a real knack too and he’s got a very good motor. You can just feel him on the field so we’re doing some things to try and help him out and make him effective and it’s exciting to see that he found a spot to help us.”
Ansah, who has started every game in which he’s been healthy enough to play, had by far his best game of the season, recording 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He was consistently making life hard for Wentz, and also had another sack and forced fumble that was wiped out because of a penalty. Carroll was really pleased with the defensive end’s performance. Part of that was an increase in weight and strength coming off the bye week.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) November 24, 2019
“It’s something I’m kind of pumped up about because we kicked him into a sort of upscale strength program a few weeks ago to try to get his weight back up, because he was really 15 to 18 pounds under what his playing weight had been in year’s past just because he wasn’t able to lift with the shoulder through the offseason,” Carroll said of Ansah, who had shoulder surgery between the 2018 and 2019 seasons. “We just thought let’s start working him in addition to the normal work our guys do and see if we couldn’t get a response, and in actuality his weight, he’s the heaviest he’s been, he’s over 260 and his strength is improving and it looked like maybe there was a threshold there in the hard work. I don’t know what it was but he did play his best football game here.
“He always gives great effort. He was more physical, he used his hands better, he used his right shoulder a number of times in his pass rush and playing the run.”
Carroll also talked about Quandre Diggs, the play of his starting linebackers and much more with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant. Listen to The Pete Carroll Show at this link or in the player below.