Pete Carroll: Seahawks Defense 'Coming to Knock the Hell Out of You'
From a defensive standpoint, the Seahawks were far from perfect in last Sunday's season-opening 38-25 win over the Falcons. They surrendered over 500 yards of total offense, including 450 passing yards to Matt Ryan and over 100 receiving yards to three different receivers, while giving up two late touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
But despite giving up way more yardage than he would have liked, coach Pete Carroll felt Seattle was "in control" most of the afternoon, feeding off of a phenomenal performance by Russell Wilson and the offense. Following the lead of Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams, he saw a far more physical defensive unit, particularly against the run and short passing game.
"The nature of these guys, they're going for it. I love it," Carroll told reporters on Wednesday. "I love the way we were able to show first time out how we want to play. There's a lot of improvement to be had, but I'm glad that the message was clear, that we're coming to knock the hell out of you when you play us. That was fun."
Though Wagner earned First-Team All-Pro honors for the fifth time last year, he struggled compared to his normal standards in coverage. Per Pro Football Reference, he allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 80 percent of their passes and post a 108.2 passer rating against him.
But on Sunday, coming out of camp fully healthy unlike a year ago, Wagner looked like his vintage self. Targeted seven times by Ryan, he only allowed three completions for 18 yards and made several third down stops against receivers short of the sticks. Additionally, he made a crucial tackle for loss in the first quarter on third down, setting the stage for a Benson Mayowa pass deflection on the next play to hand the ball back to Wilson and the offense.
"I thought Bobby played his best game pass defense-wise than he ever played," Carroll remarked. "Active on point with the breaks he was making. He impacted our play quite a bit. "
Along with Wagner dominating in the middle, it was impossible to keep eyes off of Adams, who shined in his Seahawks debut with a game-high 12 tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack blitzing off the edge. He also nearly recorded his first interception, only for fellow safety Quandre Diggs to pick it off instead.
With Adams, Diggs, and second-year defender Marquise Blair flying all over the field and dishing punishment for the Seahawks, Carroll was thrilled with the overall team speed, energy, and physicality on display at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It was the style of play he's come to demand from his defense over the years.
"You couldn't miss the play by Jamal running and hitting," Carroll commented. "I thought Q Diggs, too, had some good top-off and some nice plays, too. As well as the rest of the guys. [Lano] Hill, Marquise. Having all the speed on the field, we're faster than we've been. It shows up in our pursuit. "
Heading into Week 2, Seattle's defense will face a far different challenge from dual-threat quarterback Cam Newton and New England. The Patriots ran the ball 42 times in a win over the Dolphins last weekend and as Wagner pointed out, these are the types of games that test a team's will.
But Carroll isn't worried about the specific opponent on the other sideline. Regardless of who they play, he wants his Seahawks to consistently maintain the same tenacious mentality defensively each and every week.
"Doesn't matter who we play," Carroll stated. "Really doesn't have anything to do with that in my mind. This is who these guys are. Our job is to continue to be representative of the makeup, the mentality, what do you stand for, all that."
As Carroll also cautioned, this upcoming matchup will test Seattle from more than just a pure physical perspective and will require mental toughness as well. With Bill Belichick running the show, New England will have a well-devised game plan and thrives at adjusting to stay one step ahead of their competition.
To move to 2-0, Adams and the Seahawks will have to bring the hammer as they did last week while also taking it up a notch or two discipline-wise. There will be far less margin for error when it comes to assignment miscues than a week ago, but Carroll believes his team will heed the call and be ready for another championship opportunity.
"Whenever you play a running quarterback [like Newton], it calls for discipline. Not just the hard, physical side of it. It's the attention to the details, particularly a guy who has the capability of running the option, you have to be really strict. This is a really good week to get this challenge underway. It's going to help us."