As the celebrations continued in the visitor’s locker room at MetLife Stadium, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll pondered on how far his team had gone since a sloppy second half cost them a season-opening defeat to the Rams.
The Seahawks had just ended a 24-3 triumph on the basis of a great defensive effort for their third consecutive victory, and Carroll couldn’t control his enthusiasm for what this club may become in the future as they headed into the bye week.
“With a lot of hope and looking toward the future, and developing the young guys, seeing them able to play a role for us just gives us the confidence that we’re going to keep getting better,” Carroll said. “We’re not a finished product; we’re just getting started.” It’s thrilling to be able to say that because I’m probably most proud of how we performed in the second half of the previous three weeks. We played excellent football and got it rolling, and we were able to put games away after cleaning up some of the issues that transpired in the early half of those games. That finishing mindset is quite significant to us, and we want to expand on it.”
Quarterback Geno Smith, like his coach, is optimistic about the future not because of what he has seen so far, but because he believes the Seahawks are capable of greater things.
“I think we’re still getting better as a team,” Smith said. “I believe we have a lot of room for improvement overall.” I believe a lot of men fought; a lot of individuals stood up. We put offensive linemen in left and right, and players stepped up and made plays. The defense performed well. One of the finest games I’ve ever seen them play. Guys stepped up all over the place, and Witherspoon had a fantastic day. The defensive line, linebackers, and secondary all performed well, and I believe it was a good victory for our squad.”
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) October 3, 2023
As was the case last year, the Seahawks have relied on young players in key positions, whether it’s first-round picks Devon Witherspoon and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who both have significant roles; or Derick Hall, who is making his presence known in the outside linebacker rotation; or rookie offensive linemen Anthony Bradford and Olu Oluwatimi, who have filled in for injured starters; or running back Zach Charbonnet, who has emerged as a physical
All of those players have already contributed, and they should all take advantage of this early bye to learn from their past experiences and prepare for what comes ahead.
“This is a really good time for us,” Carroll said. “It’s a good time for us to return with a fresh perspective for the young guys, where we can talk about what they’ve accomplished and how far they’ve come.” To me, there’s a lot of emphasis on those individuals and their ability to contribute as we go ahead. In that way, I believe this is an excellent stopping place for us. We’ll undoubtedly focus our efforts to assist them in continuing to grow. It’s critical for us to get those players involved, and it’ll be a huge element for us once we cross the halfway point of the season and into the second half.”
The Seahawks have plenty of reasons to be optimistic, particularly after their defense produced three interceptions, a franchise-record matching 11 sacks, and held the Giants to a single field goal. Obviously, not every game will be the same, but the consistent run defense across four games, the more effective pass rush, Witherspoon’s performance in his first few games, and the return of Jamal Adams are all reasons to hope that Seattle’s defense is on the right track. On the other hand, despite significant offensive line injuries, Geno Smith’s offense has been quite strong early on. Things should only get better on that side of the ball as that unit nears full strength and Smith-Njigba becomes more involved—something that seems to be a matter of time.
Carroll cited the offensive line’s performance, which included four backups and starting center Evan Brown playing out of position at left guard in the second half, as well as the pass rush, before noting, “It just reminds us that we’re just getting started, we’re just getting going.” We’re just getting started, and a night like tonight for our defense to be able to play that explosively, three turnovers and whatever, double-digit sacks – I can’t remember seeing double-digit sacks – I can’t remember seeing double-digit sacks.”
Carroll says he’s still punishing himself for the second half of the season-opening defeat, but he’s also seen the sort of second half, or in the case of the victory in Detroit, overtime finishes he wants from his teams in the previous three games.
“We screwed up the freaking second half of the first game and I haven’t forgiven myself for that,” he said. “The Rams have done well since then, playing good football.” But we simply didn’t play the second half as we did the first. This is how we were meant to end, and we simply didn’t, so I’m going to hate myself for that one, but there are a few of teams who are 4-0 and it’s very tight.”