NFL teams have known for a while that this will be a most unusual season, with the most unusual aspect remaining that games, for now, figure to be played mostly without fans.
That was the case for the Seahawks on Sunday in Atlanta, where no fans were in attendance. Fan noise instead was piped in, as monitored by the NFL and with the league hoping it will mimic each stadium’s usual characteristic.
The Seahawks prepared for the situation by playing two mock games at CenturyLink Field that featured piped-in noise.
Still, doing it for real Sunday took a little while to get used to.
“It was definitely weird, I’m not going to lie,” said safety Jamal Adams via Zoom. “Just going out there not hearing any fans.”
Adams instead said the Seahawks had to “feed off one another” for the energy they might usually get from a full house.
But Adams said the Seahawks adjusted pretty quickly.
“Once after that first series, we were good,” Adams said.
For Pete Carroll, it was among the unique experiences in a coaching career that dates to 1974.
But he also said he didn’t think it had any outcome on the game.
“It was different,” the Seahawks coach said. “But it didn’t matter to the game, I guess. We’re on the road and we didn’t have a crowd screaming at us either. Way back when, I always felt like this was going to work out OK because the guys, they don’t play for the fans on game day; they’re playing to play the game the way they’re supposed to. And there was enough juice and energy there that it was really fun.”
Zoom sessions paid off big
Both Carroll and Russell Wilson mentioned during the week that they actually thought there might have been an advantage in how Seattle was forced to go through its offseason program, with nothing but Zoom meetings instead of the usual in-person meetings complemented by on-field workouts.
Carroll said he thought the way the team played Sunday, especially on offense, proved it.
“We’ve looked like we’re smarter, like we’re farther ahead than normal in the offseason,” Carroll said. “And, you know, I don’t know what to tell you about that, but it’s just, the Zoom process really brought out the best of us somehow, and coaches had a lot to do with that. The leadership (of players) did too.”
Seahawks appear to escape without major injuries
Seattle had only one player leave the game for any time with an injury when defensive end Rasheem Green departed in the first half with a shoulder ailment.
But Green returned to play later, and Carroll said he was fine.
“He just had a little something going on for a bit,” Carroll said.
Lano Hill also left late in the game with what Carroll intimated were cramps.
Otherwise, the Seahawks didn’t appear to have any new injuries.
Carroll said trying to prevent cramping was why the Seahawks rotated players at a few positions.
Specifically, Seattle used Tre Flowers at right cornerback on two series to give Quinton Dunbar — who had a late start to training camp and missed some time over the past few weeks for personal reasons — a little rest.
“That was a lot of work for Quinton today,” Carroll said. “The most he’s had. We’ll see how he recovers. But it’s great to have the ability to rotate.”