After his team allowed 519 yards and 37 points in a stunning overtime defeat at Arizona on Sunday night, coach Pete Carroll said the Seahawks will employ some different defensive strategies when the two teams play again in Seattle on Nov. 19.
But as much as scheme, what Carroll also says will help the increasingly leaky defense is a return to full health.
Specifically, what will the defense be like with strong safety Jamal Adams back in action?
“I’d really like to feel the continuity of everybody that we can count on,” Carroll said when he talked with media members via Zoom Monday afternoon. “… I’d like to see where that leaves us.”
Ominously, though, Carroll would not commit to Adams returning to play Sunday against the 49ers after he had said Friday that he anticipated Adams making it back this week.
Adams has missed three consecutive games with a groin injury, with Seattle initially hoping he could return for the Arizona game, which followed the team’s bye.
“I don’t know that yet,” Carroll said when asked if Adams would make it back this week. “I talked to him on Saturday before we left and his workouts are going great and all that — he really wants to get back. But he’s going have to show it, that he’s capable of doing all the stuff that we need to do football-wise. Because he’s so close to being back, I think this will carry into late in the week, and we’ll see if it works out. But I can’t tell you conclusively right now.”
Adding to the “oh no” factor is that starting left cornerback Shaquill Griffin is dealing with not only a concussion — the injury that was announced as the reason he left the game Sunday — but also a hamstring issue.
“He’s got a little hammy thing that’s gonna nag him a little bit, too, so we’re going to see how he does,” Carroll said. “It’s really up to (the doctors) and taking care of him through the process. Probably by Thursday, we’ll know what’s going on.”
In better news, the Seahawks should get end Rasheem Green back this week from a neck/stinger issue that has held him out since the first game. Carroll said the plan is for him to return to practice this week.
Carroll also raved about the play of first-round draft choice Jordyn Brooks, whose return after missing two games should help solidify the linebacking position.
Still, the Seahawks simply have to find ways to slow down opposing offenses.
Carroll said Seattle’s basic plan was to try to force Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray to throw from the pocket as often as possible. As such, the Seahawks didn’t bring a lot of pressure. They also employed Shaquem Griffin for a season-high 40 snaps as something of a spy on Murray.
Carroll said he thought the plan was working OK at halftime, with Seattle ahead 27-17, and that he thought then that the Seahawks could “outlast” Arizona.
But the Cardinals went to more four-receiver sets to spread out the Seahawks as the game wore on. Arizona gained 235 yards in the second half, with Murray completing 16 of 24 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. Arizona also rushed for 45 yards on just five attempts in overtime and 61 on nine in the fourth quarter.
Carroll hinted that when Arizona went to that strategy the Seahawks needed to counter with more blitzes.
“We just didn’t play as aggressively as we would like to,” Carroll said.
Carroll ‘not worried’ about Wilson interceptions
Of all the crazy numbers Sunday, Carroll said Russell Wilson’s three interceptions — and a subsequent 3-2 deficit in the team turnover margin — might have been the most significant.
Wilson threw for 388 yards and rushed for another 84, compelling Carroll to say “it was a spectacular game for him in a number of ways. But it all gets clouded and mired in three picks.”
It was only the fourth time Wilson had thrown more than two interceptions in a game and first since a defeat at Jacksonville in 2017. Wilson had not thrown more than one interception in any game since the opener of the 2018 season at Denver.
Carroll said during his radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle that he’s “not worried’’ about the interceptions, noting that each had some extenuating circumstances.
The first came on the throw at the goal line for Chris Carson that was instead picked off by Budda Baker, who ran 90 yards the other way before being tackled by DK Metcalf.
Carroll said the team practiced the play all week and said it’s designed to be “a lob over edge pressure. … He just couldn’t imagine anyone getting in the way of it or he wouldn’t have thrown it.’’ Carroll said it was simply a good play by Baker to make the right read on what was basically a bang-bang play.
The second came on a third-and-five play from the Arizona 30 early in the fourth quarter with Seattle ahead 27-24, when Wilson tried to lob a pass to Metcalf near the end zone.
Carroll said Wilson was “kind of half throwing it away (and half) giving DK a jump-ball opportunity. … Just didn’t gauge it quite right.’’ Patrick Peterson instead picked it off in the end zone when the pass overshot Metcalf.
The final one came in overtime, when Wilson read an Arizona blitz and tried to fit a pass into Tyler Lockett over the middle. Instead, Arizona’s Isaiah Simmons picked it off to set up the Cardinals’ winning field goal.
That came on a third-and-14 play from the Seattle 48, and Carroll said Wilson was trying too hard to make something happen.
“He saw something in the pressure coming,’’ Carroll said, saying receivers didn’t appear to have made the same read as Wilson of the blitz. “Russ saw something, he wanted to try to make something happen, and it just goes awry.’’
Carroll said it’s not something he thinks will happen often with Wilson.
“Usually when we make big mistakes in our plays it’s because we are trying more than we should, and that’s a little bit of what happened on that one,’’ Carroll said.
Carroll noted that the Cardinals began blitzing more as the game wore on, saying that “later on, when the game was desperate, they got into that mode.’’
That coincided with Seattle losing Travis Homer as its third-down, two-minute back, a role in which he has emerged as maybe the team’s most adept blocker against pressure.
“We needed Homer in there,’’ Carroll said.
That role instead fell to rookie DeeJay Dallas in overtime, and Carroll said “it was hard on DeeJay.’’ Dallas appeared to go the wrong way on one blitz that turned into a sack of Wilson.
“We missed a couple of blocks,’’ Carroll said. “Misread a couple of things.’’
Penalties were unfortunate and critical
Seattle had three key penalties in the final two quarters and overtime that all proved crucial.
The first came when linebacker Bobby Wagner was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for a hit after the play on a third down after Seattle had taken a 27-17 lead. The penalty sparked a drive that allowed Arizona to cut the lead to 27-24.
Carroll said it was a judgment call that could have gone either way.
In the fourth quarter, Benson Mayowa was called for going offsides and then for trying to get leverage on an Arizona field-goal attempt. That gave the Cardinals a first down, and meant that, instead of Seattle being ahead 34-27 with 3:02 left, Arizona was able to drive for a touchdown to cut the lead to 34-31.
Carroll said had Mayowa not gone offsides he likely wouldn’t have committed the leverage penalty.
Carroll said Mayowa was falling into the line of scrimmage “and then it looked like, ‘Oh geez, he’s jumping.’ It happens sometimes.’’
The third and most critical was a holding penalty on David Moore that wiped out an apparent 48-yard touchdown pass to Metcalf that would have won the game with 1:13 left. Wilson’s third interception happened on the next play.
Carroll said it was initially “a heck of a block’’ but then the defender turned and Moore had his hands on him. “One of the three officials looking at it saw it that way (as a penalty),’’ Carroll said.
Carroll said the penalties and other mistakes made it a particularly frustrating defeat as Seattle fell to 5-1.
“We’re frustrated because we know exactly how we should have won that game,’’ Carroll said.
- Rookie Alton Robinson played just seven snaps after playing 30, 27 and 35 the previous three games. Carroll said the main reason he played so few was the use of Shaquem Griffin, whose speed, Carroll said, they thought would be a good way to defend Murray playing both on the edge and behind the ball.
- Asked about the third-and-two play on Seattle’s final series of regulation when Carlos Hyde was stuffed for no gain, Carroll said the Seahawks had been having success with that play and also anticipated that the Cardinals might assume Seattle would call something that would have the ball in the hands of Wilson. “We just didn’t quite hit it to make the first down,’’ Carroll said.