Pete Carroll said "there was not a big difference" having Earl Thomas on the field against the Broncos, criticized the defensive line and also talked about the difference in Von Miller and Khalil Mack.
Despite what the numbers may have illustrated Sunday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he didn’t think there was a big difference in the Seattle defense when Earl Thomas was on the field at free safety against the Broncos or Tedric Thompson.
Carroll also gave some injury updates and talked about the team’s pass rush and the value of the running game when he met the media Thursday.
Here are five things that stood out:
‘Not a big difference’ in the play of Earl Thomas, Tedric Thompson
Thomas played all but 10 snaps of Sunday’s game with Carroll saying that was more than the team anticipated in what was his first action of any kind since last December. Thomas returned to practice last week after his lengthy holdout and had just three practices before Sunday’s 27-24 loss at Denver.
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Thomas sat out all of the third series of the game, which was Denver’s first touchdown drive, a seven-play, 75-yard march. That followed a Seattle touchdown that was set up by Thomas’ interception and return to the 15-yard line.
Thomas then sat out three plays of a Denver drive in the fourth quarter that followed a go-ahead touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett.
Denver had gains of 14, 5 and 25 yards on three plays — the first two runs and the last a pass — before Thomas returned. Denver went on to score the winning touchdown on that drive, aided by a 22-yard pass to tight end Jake Butt on third-and-10, a play on which Seattle also had two defensive penalties.
In all, the Broncos had 119 yards on the 10 plays Thomas missed, an average of 11.9 per play, compared to an average of 5.6 on the plays for which Thomas was on the field.
But Carroll said any statistical discrepancy was not due to Thomas being on the field or Thompson.
“There was not a big difference,’’ Carroll said Thursday “Earl had two huge plays early on right out of the chutes with the tipped ball that could have been a pick and then the one that he got. But those plays and those opportunities didn’t arise when Tedric was back there so you couldn’t tell. But Tedrick has been really solid for us. We didn’t feel like it changed much at all. If you are hinting that the results of the drives were because Tedric was in the game that’s not what happened.’’
That might also be a sign that if anyone thought what happened Sunday might compel the Seahawks to soften their stance on signing Thomas to a long-term extension, it didn’t.
Pass rush has to get better
As he did Tuesday, Carroll talked frankly about the struggles of the team’s pass rush which resulted in just one sack and five quarterback hits against the Broncos.
Once again, he said one of the biggest issues was the inability of the rushers to recognize play-action passes and respond accordingly.
“We got stuck at the line of scrimmage on play passes, that was really the stuff that was disappointing, that we didn’t respond better to get into our pass-rush mode,’’ Carroll said. “So that’s one phase of it. And we would like to have gotten off on the edge a little bit better than we did. So just stuff we’ve got to just keep working on.’’
So does the running game
Carroll also again acknowledged that the running game was nowhere near what it needs to be as Seattle had just 64 yards on 16 carries — and just 59 on 14 by the team’s running backs — in what was the first game for the Seahawks in a season in which they have said they want to revive their rushing attack.
“It’s huge,’’ Carroll said of getting the running game going Monday at Chicago. “It’s huge for us, and we have to convert on third downs so we can get the next series going and expand the play list and let’s just see what we are trying to do.’’
Carroll reiterated that the biggest issue in the game was going just 2 for 12 on third downs and 0 for 5 on third downs of 5 yards or fewer.
“We messed it up,’’ Carroll said. “We didn’t give ourselves a chance to convert five third-and-five or lesses and we needed to get every one of those and we didn’t.’’
Not many injury updates
Carroll didn’t offer a lot new on known injury situations.
Carroll said a quick “no’’ when asked if there was anything new on the status of receiver Doug Baldwin, who figures to miss at least a couple of weeks with a sprained MCL.
Carroll also said guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring) is “day to day’’ and offered no real timeline for his return.
And he said linebacker K.J. Wright has begun running and working out after having arthroscopic knee surgery two weeks ago but also offered no set timeline for his return.
Khalil Mack and Von Miller: Different players but equally tough to handle
One of the main story lines this week is that after allowing three sacks last Sunday to Denver’s Von Miller Seattle again faces one of the best pass rushers in the NFL in Chicago’s Khalil Mack.
Mack was acquired in a trade from the Raiders before the season and could hardly have done more in his Bears’ debut with a sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery and interception return for a touchdown in 42 snaps.
The theme in Chicago this week is that Mack figures to be turned loose even more now that he has a week in the team’s defense under his belt and also with his conditioning likely a little better after not taking part in the preseason or training camp.
Carroll said that Miller and Mack are somewhat different players, essentially that Miller does a bit more with his speed and Mack more with brute power.
“They are different-style athletes but they are both extremely effective and really difficult,’’ Carroll said. “Khalil is just a stronger-looking guy, plays more at you and brings the attack to you and Von is all over the place. He is so athletic and so quick. They are just different style guys but their effect is very similar.’’