Pete Carroll Show takeaways: Who gets credit for Seattle’s big day on defense?
Jan 6, 2020, 4:05 PM | Updated: 4:17 pm
The Seahawks played the Philadelphia Eagles twice this season – first in Week 12, then in Sunday’s Wild Card playoff game. Seattle won both games by a final score of 17-9, and much like the first time around, the postseason victory was a banner day for the defense.
Seattle may have allowed the Eagles to march up and down the field, but it never let them reach the end zone – Philadelphia’s nine points came on three field goals. So in eight quarters of football against the Eagles, the Seahawks allowed only one touchdown, with that lone TD coming with just 20 seconds left and Seattle comfortably ahead 17-3 in the Week 12 game.
The Seahawks struggled some on defense coming into the postseason, however, with Seattle going 2-3 and giving up at least 24 points in each of its last five games of the regular season. So what was different Sunday?
On 710 ESPN Seattle’s Pete Carroll Show on Monday morning, the Seahawks coach told Danny and Gallant that at least some of the credit belongs with two players who made an impact after missing some time due to injury.
First was Quandre Diggs, who wasn’t the safety that everybody was raving about after the game. But as Carroll explained, strong safety Bradley McDougald’s impressive performance against Philadelphia had a lot to do with Diggs’ presence.
“I didn’t really realize it until I watched the film last night – man, he had a great game. He was all over the place,” Carroll said of McDougald. “… I think having Q back there behind him, those guys communicating – I wish you guys could see how they study together and how important it is for them to be on the same page and communicate, calling stuff out, calling routes out, letting each other know what’s coming and all that. It just makes them play better. … His security with knowing that Q’s on the back-end for him just cut him loose even more.”
With Diggs back from a high-ankle sprain that kept him out for two games, McDougald made a team-high 11 tackles (eight solo) with a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss. Carroll said McDougald particularly made an impact defending the run.
“What we’ve watched Bradley take hold of is what he does in the running game and how he fits in, and he’s just really an expert at it right now and he’s playing great ball. He took advantage of the scheme and making the hits that were available and just kept knocking them down one after another after another.”
Another player Carroll made sure to praise was defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who has a core injury that will need to be addressed with surgery in the offseason and was held to 33 snaps in Week 17 against the 49ers. Seattle gave him more opportunities Sunday, and the team had one of its better pass-rush showings of the season, registering seven sacks.
Carroll sees a correlation.
“He’s a factor. He had a terrific game,” Carroll said of Clowney, who had five tackles (all solo), a sack and two TFL. “He was all over the place and active as can be and causing problems. He had two or three just crazy big plays by getting off and using his instincts and responding to the opportunity. … He causes problems and he draws the focus. The quarterbacks can feel him. Even if he’s not the guy that’s making the sack, he’s causing problems and penetrating and all that. I think that’s the obvious plus (to the pass rush).”
The Seahawks have been without veteran offensive linemen Duane Brown (minor knee surgery) and Mike Iupati (neck), and Carroll didn’t make it sound like either are 100% expected to return for the second-round playoff matchup with Green Bay next Sunday.
“Duane, it all depends on how he responded to treatment here over the weekend,” Carroll said. “Michael, he’s still got issues with the stingers that he had.”
Seattle had a good day in pass protection against the Eagles, however, and Jamarco Jones and George Fant filling in for Brown and Iupati wasn’t something Carroll was going to gloss over.
“The other side of that, Jamarco played a terrific football game… (and) George played really well on his side. Those guys did a really good job for us. That doesn’t happen with the protection like that unless those guys are playing good football. If (Brown and Iupati) don’t make it back, we’re gonna take a step ahead, we’re gonna stay like we were this week. (Jones and Fant) came through in really good fashion and we’ll count on those guys to play really well again,” Carroll said.
Looking forward to Seahawks-Packers
Carroll provided a look ahead to Seattle’s trip to Green Bay with his quick impression of the second-seeded Packers, who await the Seahawks after getting a bye in the first round.
“Their running back (Aaron Jones) is really good. Their running game is much improved and the commitment there is more obvious than it’s been to complement Aaron (Rodgers). Aaron’s still doing all his stuff, all the fantastic plays that he can make and the movement and the vision that he has and the extraordinary throws that he comes up with, very much as Russell (Wilson) does. Very dangerous player. Their defense is playing really good. They have a style about them where they do a lot of stuff and they’ll try to fool you with the things that they do. They’ll try to give you looks and take them away and all of that. It’s a complex defensive system so we have to really we dig in there to make sure we make sense of it all.”
You can listen to the full Pete Carroll Show in the second half of this podcast.