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A day after the Seahawks dropped their season opener at Denver, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made his usual appearance on 710 ESPN Seattle to discuss a game in which the Seahawks “missed an opportunity.”

“We had a great opportunity,” Carroll said. “We made the plays to get us ahead with a great touchdown pass to (Tyler Lockett), and we just needed to hold it, and we didn’t do it.”

Here are six takeaways from Carroll’s weekly appearance on the Brock and Salk Show:

1. Big plays were a killer.

The Seahawks defense played well in spurts, particularly in the second half, but when asked his single biggest takeaway from the loss, Carroll quickly pointed to the big plays Seattle gave up, which included two long touchdown passes.

“We didn’t play good enough football,” Carroll said. “I say that because we had two enormous plays on defense that changed the game, we busted both of them. They were just busts. Sometimes you survive those kinds of plays and get onto the next, but for them to throw a flat route for a touchdown, and then they throw a crossing route for a touchdown and it’s a gimme, that’s too much in that game. Make them earn their way down the field, maybe they kick field goals instead and it’s a totally different outcome. It’s our inability to just be really clean throughout the game. We showed some newness, and unfortunately it got us.”

2. Russell Wilson “got hammered,” but also can be better.
When asked to assess the play of his quarterback, Pete Carroll noted that Russell Wilson was under pressure quite a bit, though the quarterback himself acknowledged that a few of the six sacks he took were his fault.

“He got rushed,” Carroll said. “He got hammered, we got sacked six times in the game. He was in the midst of some of those, he bailed a couple of times and got in trouble, but we didn’t protect him as well as we needed to throughout… Unfortunately we didn’t protect him enough to have a really clean game.
“I think it was a hard game. Right off the bat we got hammered. He got hit a couple times in this game, it makes a difference. Every quarterback who has ever played feels that stuff, so you have to get around it. I thought he bounced back when he could, we didn’t quite it done—what really shows up is the third-down numbers, 2 out of 12, you’re not going to get it done. There were too many third-and-longs. That’s enough to wreck your day if you don’t overcome it. We weren’t as clean as we needed to be. He could play way better, he could have gotten us out of some issues early by getting rid of the football a couple of times… Russ needed to do better than he did yesterday, but we needed to help him a lot.”
3. The Seahawks didn’t run the ball enough.
In part because of the aforementioned third-down issues, the Seahawks didn’t get their running game going as much as they would have liked, particularly early, because the offense didn’t stay on the field long enough. The Seahawks finished the game with just 14 rushing attempts by running backs, seven each for Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny.

“We didn’t do it enough,” Carroll said. “That goes back to, we didn’t convert on third down, so then you’re off the field so you don’t get to use the ready list you have. We didn’t get through it, we ran the ball six times in the first half. How many plays did we have, 15 plays in the first half? That’s not enough to figure it out.”
That being said, Carroll still saw some things in those limited opportunities that leave him encouraged about the running game going forward.

“The angle block stuff happened again, we hit the trap, we hit a nice wham play,” Carroll said. “We did some nice stuff, there’s some things there for us that are going to be good, we’ve just got to get to them, we didn’t have the opportunity to access them.”

With another elite pass rusher coming up next week, the Seahawks know they need to run the ball better and more often to keep Khalil Mack from being too disruptive.

“It has to happen,” Carroll said. “It has to happen. We need to do that. You can’t get sacked when you’re running it.”

 

4. “Everybody should be really excited about” Brandon Marshall.
Brandon Marshall made his Seahawks debut a memorable one by recording his first touchdown catch since 2016, a 20-yarder in the third quarter that was also Seattle’s first third-down conversion of the afternoon. What excited Carroll most about Marshall, who had three catches for 46 yards, is that the veteran pass-catcher is just getting going with Wilson and Seattle’s offense.

“He played great,” Carroll said. “He really practiced beautifully through the last couple of weeks, really finally got into shape and looked good and felt confident in his breaks and his cuts and his catches and all that. He’ll improve a lot with Russ. There’s a chemistry here that can go to a real high level. They’re working at it and communicating well, but it’ll get better. Russ knows that he’s open, he knows he can make the catches, he’s looking at him with the thought that he can make some stuff happen. We went right to him in the red zone. Unfortunately we get the (offensive pass interference) penalty on the first one, he should have had two touchdown catches on the day. I think everybody should be really excited about this. I know we are.”
5. Earl Thomas’ return was handled well on all sides.

Earl Thomas returned to the team last Wednesday after a holdout that covered all of training camp and the preseason, and not only did Thomas play well on the field, recording five tackles and an interception that set up a touchdown, he and the rest of the team also impressed Carroll with the way everyone responded to Thomas’ return.

“What was really exciting to see is just how it all came down,” Carroll said. “The way Earl handled it, the way the players handled it. Our guys in here really dealt with it just right, and Earl was embraced. Everybody made him feel comfortable. We realized that he might be the most uncomfortable guy in the place, just not knowing how he would be received, and our guys couldn’t have done it better really.”

6. Injury updates.
Receiver Doug Baldwin left the game with what Carroll said was an MCL sprain, and as of Monday morning there were no new specifics for Carroll to report.

“I haven’t heard back,” Carroll said. “He was sore last night, but he was walking OK and all that, he wasn’t hampered in that regard. He got hurt. There isn’t anybody tougher than him, and if he can come back he’ll come back. That’s why he went back in the game, and they were trying to talk him out of it to get him out of there.”
Linebacker K.J. Wright, who missed Sunday’s game while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, will run hard on Monday, but Carroll made it sound like it’s unlikely Wright will be back for Monday night’s game at Chicago.

“K.J. is running today for the first time really hard, so we’ll find out,” Carroll said. “It would be a miraculous return if he makes it back this week.”

Carroll doesn’t yet know if D.J. Fluker will get back from a hamstring injury, but if he has to miss a second straight game, the Seahawks feel confident with J.R. Sweezy at right guard.

“D.J., we’ve got to make sure we don’t take him too far too fast, we’ve got make sure he gets through,” Carroll said. “And Sweez did a good job in there for him, so we’re OK there if we’ve got to hold him another week.”

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Back when David Moore was an under-recruited receiver at Gainesville High School, his mom offered up some advice before he eventually went on to a successful college career at Division II East Central University.

“Listening to my mom, she would tell me, ‘it’s not about where you go, it’s what you do when you get there,’” Moore said. “Then when I got (to ECU), I had a good connection with my coach, and it just felt like home. The rest is history.”

It turns out Angie Moore might have been onto something. Because even if her son had to go to a Division II school in Oklahoma to show what he could do on the football field, Moore’s talents still got him noticed by NFL teams, including the Seahawks, who selected him in the seventh round of the 2017 draft. Moore spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad before eventually earning a late-season call-up, and now with a year of experience under his belt, he looks not just like somebody who’s likely to make the team, but like a potential impact player.

“He has shown us that he really has special catching ability,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s got really good ability at the point of attack… At the point of attack, he’s really strong. He doesn’t look as studly as he is, he’s about 216, 218 (pounds), and he plays to that strength and it works for him. And he’s really good when the ball’s contested. So, that’s the thing that we like the most about and we know he can make things happen, so we really want to keep working to fit him in. He came from a program that was not at the same level that we’re at, so he’s been in the catch-up mode for some time. But, he’s way farther ahead than he was last year at this time, and we clearly have an appreciation for what he can do with the ball. He can catch the kicks too and punts, he’s ready to do all that stuff when we want him too. He’s really just become a bigger factor, and now we got to see how we can use him and see if we can get him in the right spots to utilize his talent.”
What’s most noteworthy about that praise being heaped upon Moore isn’t so much that an NFL head coach said those things about a former D-II player and seventh-round pick, it’s that Carroll said all of that two weeks ago before Moore was a standout in Seattle’s second and third preseason games. In Seattle’s second preseason game at Los Angeles, Moore made one of the plays of the preseason, somehow snatching the ball away from two defensive backs for a 52-yard gain. On the very next play, Russell Wilson went back to Moore, who drug his defender to the 1-yard line for a 19-yard catch. Last week in Minnesota, Moore caught a 36-yard touchdown pass from Alex McGough, and he also returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown, but that play came back due to a holding penalty.

Through three preseason games, Moore has a team-high 142 receiving yards and his five catches are the most among Seahawks receivers. He has also been a regular contributor on multiple special teams units before adding return duty last week. Moore said a year of NFL experience, even if most of it came in the form of practice, has made a world of a difference.

“When I was a rookie, it was all new, so having a year to learn it and learn from the best, I’m a lot more comfortable and I’m playing faster,” he said. “.. It’s just having another year under my belt. Last year was a learning process, just gaining knowledge from the veterans and coaches, and just getting some trust. I’m just coming out here playing fast, being more comfortable.”
And for all the spectacular plays Moore has made in preseason games, what really helps his chances of having a bigger role in 2018 is the way he performs on a daily basis in practice.

“It’s really nothing that we don’t see every day in practice,” offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said of Moore’s big-play ability. “We see it all the time in practice. What he’s doing now, which is cool, is the consistency. He’s doing it day-in, day-out. It used to be, when I first got here, there’d be a practice he’d have a great one then he’d take a couple steps back. We’re not seeing that; we’re seeing him play consistent. He’s so big, so powerful, and how competitive he can be to go up and fight. And that one catch (against the Chargers), I still don’t know how he got it, it’s pretty amazing.”

Moore’s playmaking ability has him looking like a player capable of a breakout season in 2018, something that seemed a long ways off when he was heading off to begin a Division-II college football career. Fortunately for Moore and the Seahawks, he followed the advice of his mom, and continues to do so today.

It’s not about where you go, it’s what you do when you get there.

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RENTON Nothing new about Earl Thomas. He missed another Wednesday practice, for the fifth consecutive game week.

But this is new: Seattle’s All-Pro safety is much more iffy to play than he has been all season.

Thomas continues to rest and get rehabilitation on his strained right hamstring he sustained late in last weekend’s win over Houston. He may not practice until Friday, if then. The Seahawks may not know until pregame warmups before they host Washington on Sunday if Thomas can play.

“No, not yet. We are going to wait a couple days,” coach Pete Carroll said before Wednesday’s practice. “We will see on Friday.”
Bradley McDougald is readying to make his first Seahawks start.

General manager John Schneider and his personnel staff signed the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers starter in the spring, to backup both Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor. His coaches have been finding increasing roles for him as a bigger, fifth, “nickel” defensive back inside against big receivers including tight ends.

“I’ve been working to be a starter since I’ve been here,” McDougald said. “So this is nothing different.”

Carroll says the Seahawks are lucky to have him.

“Very fortunately, on our end of it, Bradley has been a starter in the league for years and he’s got the experience, the savvy,” Carroll said. “He is a play maker. He is really tough. He’s a good tackler, and we have spotted him all over the place to do things in coverage as well as the running game. He is just a really, really good football player to be able to set up.

“There is no question. We don’t have any hesitation in him playing or keeping the plan, principles intact or anything of that. This was a guy that we were very fortunate to get in the offseason. John figured this one out early on and he’s been a great addition to our team and now he is ready to go. He is excited about it and I’m anxious to see him play.”
The Seahawks had 10 players sit out practice. That’s not entirely alarming on any November Wednesday after banging for seven games.

#Seahawks practice: Earl Thomas may not play; Jarran Reed new. Others seem vet rest/maintenance–except for Lane still coming back from HOU pic.twitter.com/DV5hBXfCN9

— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) November 1, 2017
Of those, Chancellor, Wagner, Bennett and Freeney seemed like veteran rest and/or maintenance days for nagging aches.

Lane was still returning from Houston after he failed his physical exam following Seattle trading him to the Texans to get left tackle Duane Brown, who debuted in Seahawks practice Wednesday. McDougald acknowledged that the situation of Lane’s return to the team that dealt him away “is definitely different” and that “Jeremy might be at a weird stage.”

My News Tribune colleague John McGrath details how awkward that whole deal is.

“Jeremy Lane is having one hell of a season,” McGrath writes. “With an emphasis on the hell.”

Reed’s concussion listing was new. He was getting praise last week from Carroll for his advancement in his second NFL season inside on the defensive front.

Britt sprained his ankle two games ago in the win at the New York Giants but finished that game while missing only six plays. He played all of last weekend’s win over the Texans. Carroll said his center and 2016 Pro Bowl alternate is OK to play again Sunday.

“He is fine,” the coach said. “We are going to go light on him today just to make sure from the aftermath of the game but he will be fine and ready to play.”

Freeney didn’t practice because he’s 37 and a future Hall-of-Fame pass rusher, and doesn’t have to.

 

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GREEN BAY, Wis. Jimmy Graham began the final season of his $40 million contract on Sunday.

It was not a roaring start.

On the first play of the Seahawks’ 17-9 loss at Green Bay in the season opener on Sunday at Lambeau Field, Russell Wilson threw incomplete to his star tight end. That was largely because Rees Odhiambo, making his first career start at left tackle, got beaten by a Packers pass rusher at the snap.

On the second play of the season, Wilson flipped a lateral outside right to wide receiver Doug Baldwin. Baldwin lost 3 yards because Graham didn’t block the Packer in front of him.

By midway through the first quarter Wilson was under siege behind the malfunctioning offensive line. The Seahawks began keeping Graham, second tight end Luke Willson, even running backs Tre Madden, Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise in to help on pass protection. At the end of helping, Graham would peel off into short, dump-off routes.

That and a couple incomplete passes on well-covered plays designed for him are why he had three catches on seven targets for only 8 yards on Sunday.
Wilson threw to Graham on two of the game’s bigger—and for Seattle, more frustrating—plays.

On third and goal from the 3 in the third quarter with the Seahawks down 7-3, Wilson scrambled away from more pressure and threw for the 6-foot-7 Graham in the back right of the end zone. Before the high pass arrived, two Packers hit Graham. The officials, two of them on the spot, did not throw a flag for pass interference.

Carroll said he was told it was because the officials deemed the throw uncatchable out of the back of the end zone. The coach noted he saw the ball land in the white, 3-yard, painted border that is immediately past the end line. Wilson also said he thought Graham got hit early on the play.

The Seahawks got Blair Walsh’s second field goal instead and still trailed 7-6. They never got closer to the lead.

With 14 minutes left in the fourth quarter Seattle trailed 14-6 and had another third and 3, from its own 44. Wilson threw a back-shoulder pass deep down the left sideline to Graham, who had beaten his defender deep in Packers territory. Graham turned to his left, had the ball on both hands—then dropped it before it plopped out of bounds into the triumphant Green Bay sideline.

Instead of being poised for a potential tying touchdown, the Seahawks punted for sixth and final time.
Graham is months from the end of the contract Seattle inherited when it traded two-time Pro Bowl center Max Unger and a first-round pick to New Orleans for him in 2015. He could become a free agent in March. Some have looked ahead to the possibility the Seahawks will decide not to invest multiple years in the 30-year-old tight end and instead use their franchise tag to keep Graham for 2018 on a one-year contract. That would be either at the average of the top five salaries for tight ends next year or for a mandated 120 percent of the 2017 franchise-tag salary for tight ends of $9,865,555, or $11,838,666, whichever is higher.

On Sunday, that looked like a particularly steep cost for production gained.